Men's Basketball Set to Take on Liberty
December 7, 1998
Virginia vs. Liberty
December 8, 19987:30 p.m.University HallCharlottesville, Va.
The Series vs. the Flames
Virginia is 3-1 all-time against Liberty. The Cavaliers won the first three games in the series–62-49 during the 1993-94 season, 76-48 three seasons ago and 67-54 during 1996-97. The Flames ended UVa’s 42-game winning streak against state teams at University Hall last season by downing the Cavaliers 69-64.
The series follows one clear pattern that favors the Cavaliers tonight–all three of UVa’s wins have come in December, while the lone loss occurred in January.Virginia has led at halftime in all four meetings, but the scoring by half follows a curious pattern. In three games (1994, ’97, ’98), Virginia scored fewer points in the second half than in the first. In all of those games, the Flames scored more points in the final 20 minutes than they did in the first 20. In the only game when the Cavaliers scored more points in the second half than in the first (1996), the Flames scored fewer points in the second half than they did in the first. No game has seen both teams increase their scoring in the second half.
Virginia vs. the Big South Conference
This is the second time in the last three games that Virginia has faced a school from the Big South Conference. The Cavaliers defeated Elon 106-71 10 days ago.
Against the eight current members of the Big South Conference, the Cavaliers are 13-1 all-time. Virginia is 4-0 vs. Radford, 4-0 vs. Elon, 3-1 vs. Liberty, and 2-0 vs. Winthrop.
Of the Big South’s current membership, Virginia has never faced Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, High Point or North Carolina-Asheville.
There have been seven other schools that have been members of the Big South Conference at one time or another since 1986. Virginia is 13-1 against schools in the Big South at game time.
In-State Teams at University Hall
University Hall has gained a well-deserved reputation as a tough place to play, particularly for in-state schools. Old Dominion and Richmond (two wins each) are the only state schools with more than one win at University Hall.
Since University Hall opened on November 25, 1965, the Cavaliers have compiled a 66-7 (.904) record against state schools on the hardwood at U-Hall.
Virginia had won 42 consecutive home games against in-state teams before falling to Liberty 69-64 last season.In all games against in-state opponents over the last 20 seasons the Cavaliers are 85-14 (.859).
“Fun N Gun” Off and Running
New head coach Pete Gillen’s coaching philosophy is to employ an up-tempo style of play. He favors a running and pressing tempo that enables his teams to have fun and lets the players use their creative talents. Gillen’s philosophy is in contrast with the style of play of the last 25 years or so in Charlottesville.
Gillen’s “fun and gun” style is off to a flying start so far this season. The Cavaliers are averaging 83.9 points per game, while forcing 19.5 turnovers per game.Virginia is also shooting 47.6 percent from the field and is getting a lot of shots in transition (such as lay-ups and easy buckets underneath).
Virginia’s 116 points against Hampton on November 25 is the fifth-highest single-game total in school history.UVa also topped the century mark with 106 points against Elon in the next game (Nov. 28), marking the first time since the 1989 NCAA Tournament that UVa has had back-to-back 100-point games.
The Cavaliers have topped 80 points in five games this season, the first time they have done that since topping 80 points five times two seasons ago.
Four Reach Double Figures in Six of Eight
Virginia has had six games already this season when at least four Cavaliers scored in double figures (including four games with five players).
Led by Norman Nolan inside and Curtis Staples outside, Virginia was primarily a two-man offense last season. UVa had only four games all season with four players in double figures (none with more than four).
Virginia has had at least four players in double figures in each of the last four games, including placing five players in double figures in three of the last four games.
Opponents Shoot Blanks at University Hall
Virginia is 30-6 against non-conference opponents at University Hall over the last six seasons. Among the reasons the Cavaliers have been so successful in non-conference games is their ability to out-shoot and out-rebound the other team.
In their wins, the Cavaliers have shot 46.3 percent from the field compared to 36.2 percent for the opposition. Virginia also out-rebounds the other team by more than 10 rebounds per game (44.8/g to 33.9/g).
In contrast, the tables are turned in Virginia’s home losses. The opponents shoot much better than Virginia (42.6 percent vs. 36.7 percent) and out-rebound the Cavaliers by a wide margin (42.5/g to 33.3/g).
Three of the four-highest shooting percentages by non-conference opponents on Virginia’s home floor the last six seasons have come in Virginia losses. Liberty shot 50.0 percent last season and stunned UVa 69-64. Ohio shot 47.4 percent in a 94-83 win during the 1994-95 season, while Connecticut shot 46.3 percent in winning the 1993-94 season opener.
Only 11 of the last 36 non-conference opponents to come to University Hall have managed to make more than 40 percent of their field goal attempts.
Small Line-up Gets Out-rebounded
With only seven scholarship players on the roster, the Cavaliers suffer from a sheer lack of numbers. The roster includes seven walk-on players, including five selected in October following a tryout from among the student body.
The Cavaliers feature only two players taller than 6-8, but only Kris Hunter is available for action. (Colin Ducharme is out with a broken ankle.)Frequently operating with a small line-up, the Cavaliers have been out-rebounded so far this season by an average of 0.4 rebounds per game.
In UVa’s three losses, the Cavaliers were out-rebounded by 27 boards (9.0/g). In its five wins, UVa has out-rebounded the opposition by 23 (4.6/g).
Lack of Depth Presents Problems
One area of concern for head coach Pete Gillen is the lack of depth of his Cavalier squad. The roster features just seven scholarship players (of whom only five are currently healthy) and seven walk-ons.Virginia has managed to build a double digit lead in every game this season, but has lost three games in the closing moments with fatigue caused by lack of depth a factor.
The problem was particularly evident at the recent Top of the World Classic in Alaska. In the first round game against Arkansas, Virginia built an early 10-point lead and maintained a lead until midway through the second half. The Razorbacks’ depth proved to be too much as the Cavaliers ultimately lost 85-83.
The following afternoon against Wisconsin, Virginia was really in a bind. Three starters became ill prior to the game (Willie Dersch, Kris Hunter, Chris Williams). Hunter missed the game entirely, while Dersch and Williams weren’t at full strength. Nonetheless, Virginia built a 10-point lead early in the second half before the Badgers’ superior size and depth prevailed down the stretch. The Cavaliers made only five field goals in the second half and lost 66-56.
The final game in Alaska against Washington State also proved to be a nailbiter. The Cavaliers held an 18-point lead seven minutes into the second half (50-32) before going scoreless for 11:02. Washington State used the UVa drought to go on a 15-point run to cut the lead to 50-47. Hand canned a huge three-pointer with 2:26 left to cut the Cougars’ momentum as UVa held on to win 62-53.Virginia held a 14-point lead with just over seven minutes remaining against Florida State last week, but lost 72-69 when the Seminoles rallied down the stretch.
Non-Conference Teams at University Hall
Virginia is 171-26 (.868) all-time in University Hall against non-conference opponents since the building opened for the 1965-66 season.
The Cavaliers have won 53 of their last 60 home games against non-conference opponents dating back to the 1989-90 season (basically this decade).
Fifteen Threes Tie School Record
Due mainly to the presence of NCAA three-point record-holder Curtis Staples, Virginia has been known recently as a team that shoots a lot of three-pointers. The Cavaliers made just two (in 13 attempts) in the season opener against VCU.
Since then the Cavaliers are averaging 9.0 three-pointers per game, with 63 in the last seven contests.The UVa bomb squad tied the school record by making 15 threes in 29 attempts in the win over Hampton two weeks ago. That tied the 15 three-pointers Virginia made in 32 attempts against North Carolina on Feb. 14, 1990.
Rookie Adam Hall was perfect from behind the line, hitting all five attempts. His performance tied two other players for the best perfect game in school history.Willie Dersch made a run at Hall’s record against Elon. Dersch connected on his first six three-pointers, but missed his last three to finish six of nine against the Fightin’ Christians. The Cavaliers tossed in 13 three-pointers (in 27 attempts) in the game.
Virginia made 11 of 22 three-point attempts Saturday against New Hampshire, with Hall leading the way again. The rookie from Katy, Texas, was true on all three of his attempts.
Kris Hunter Makes Presence Felt Inside
Junior center Kris Hunter fell ill during the Cavaliers’ recent trip to Alaska, missing one game as a result. He didn’t stay down long, though.
In UVa’s 116-66 win over Hampton two weeks ago, he gave the Cavaliers a big spark off the bench. Head coach Pete Gillen labelled Hunter, “the star of the game.” The tallest player on the team (and the only healthy scholarship player taller than 6-6), he scored seven points, tied his career high with nine rebounds and rejected a career-high six shots.
He was an influence inside as UVa started three guards against Elon, scoring 10 points, pulling down six rebounds and blocking one shot in just 19 minutes of action.
Hunter scored eight points, led UVa with seven rebounds and blocked four shots last Tuesday against Florida State.
The Tallahassee, Fla., native was one of three Cavaliers to lead the team with 16 points Saturday against New Hampshire. He also pulled down seven rebounds and swatted five shots to make his presence felt inside.One of the fastest shot blockers in the ACC, Hunter has turned away 22 shots in just 170 minutes this season. That’s one every 7.7 minutes.
Field Goal Shooting Improves this Season
Virginia has not been known recently for its field goal shooting proclivity, but so far this season the Cavaliers are shooting 47.6 percent from the field. This is a marked improvement from last season’s mark of 43.9 percent. (Last season UVa was shooting 44.4 percent after eight games.)
The Cavaliers have been above 43 percent in six of eight games this season, including three performances of 50 percent or better.
Everybody Chips In
With a roster that features just seven scholarship players (only five are healthy right now), it stands to reason the Cavaliers need everybody to contribute. So far that’s been the case as Donald Hand became the first player to lead the team in scoring in back-to-back games on Saturday vs. New Hampshire. He was one of three Cavaliers to lead with 16 points vs. the Wildcats.Hand poured in a career-high 24 points in the season opener against Virginia Commonwealth, while Chezley Watson’s career-high 21 points led UVa vs. Arkansas.Adam Hall led in two of the next three games, with Hand leading in the other.
Against Elon on November 28 it was Willie Dersch’s opportunity to carry the scoring load. Dersch, who connected on his first six three-pointers in the contest, finished with a career-high 26 points. The performance marked the first time in his career he led the team in scoring.
Hand led the Cavaliers with 19 points in the 72-69 loss to Florida State last Tuesday.A trio of Cavaliers (Adam Hall, Donald Hand, Kris Hunter) carried the scoring load with 16 points apiece Saturday against New Hampshire. Hunter’s output represents a career high.
The five different leading scorers are already more than UVa had all of last season, when Norman Nolan led 20 times, Curtis Staples nine and Colin Ducharme once.
The last few months have certainly been character builders for head coach Pete Gillen, his staff and the Cavaliers. Perhaps that’s what you can expect when you open the season on Friday the 13th.
First, Gillen had a roster that included just seven scholarship players for this season and two of the players were incoming freshmen. A tryout was held in October to add enough players to fill out the roster.Then in mid-August, University Hall was closed for approximately two months for structural repairs. The repairs forced the team to begin its preseason practice at an on-Grounds recreation center.
Two days after the season opener, starting center Colin Ducharme slipped on some wet steps and broke his ankle. He has since had surgery and is out for an indefinite time.
The recent trip to Alaska for the Top of the World Classic presented additional bad news. Three Cavaliers, Willie Dersch, Kris Hunter and Chris Williams, became ill shortly after UVa’s first round loss to Arkansas and had to be hospitalized. Hunter missed the game against Wisconsin the next day, while Dersch and Williams played but were not at full strength.
All told, the Cavaliers played three games in 41 hours in Alaska.
The bad luck continued last Tuesday night against Florida State as Chezley Watson sprained his right ankle midway in the first half and missed the rest of the game, reducing UVa’s number of available scholarship players to five. Watson missed Saturday’s game against New Hampshire and is listed as day-to-day.
Offense Explodes in Second Half vs. Hampton
The Cavaliers held a 28-point halftime lead (55-27) against Hampton two weeks ago. They didn’t let up in the second half, scoring 61 points in the final 20 minutes despite playing the final five minutes with a line-up of walk-ons.
Virginia’s 61 points in the second half are more than the Cavaliers scored in nine games last season.The Cavaliers have scored 50+ points in six halves already this season after reaching that figure only twice last season.
Rookies Provide Scoring Punch vs. Hampton
Virginia’s two leading scorers against Hampton on November 25 were freshmen. Adam Hall led the way with a career-high 27 points, while classmate Chris Williams also set a career high with 21 points.
Their performance marked only the second time since 1972-73 (when freshman eligibility was restored) that two Cavalier rookies scored 20+ points in a game. Cory Alexander scored 24 and Junior Burrough 22 against North Carolina on February 19, 1992.
Add walk-on freshman Cade Lemcke’s three points and UVa’s rookies scored 51 points vs. Hampton. That is the UVa record for combined freshmen scoring in a game. The previous record was the combined 46 points by Alexander and Burrough in that 1992 game against North Carolina.
Dawn of a New Era
The Pete Gillen Era is in its early stages at the University of Virginia. Gillen was named the ninth head coach in school history on March 28, 1998, replacing Jeff Jones, who resigned following last season. Gillen brings impressive coaching credentials to Charlottesville.The Cavaliers are 5-3 this season and are playing an up-tempo brand of basketball, the likes of which have not been characteristic of Virginia hoops.
His career record in 14 seasons as a head coach is 279-131 (.680). Prior to coming to UVa, he coached at Providence where he guided the Big East Conference school to a four-year record of 72-53. Two years ago he led the Friars to the NCAA’s “Elite Eight” where they lost in overtime to eventual national champion Arizona in the finals of the Southeast Regional. Under his direction, Providence competed in the NIT in 1995 and 1996.
Gillen’s success at Providence came on the heels of a remarkable nine-year stint as head coach at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. While there, he became the winningest coach in the school’s history with an overall record of 202-75.
Gillen led the small Catholic institution to unprecedented national success. The Musketeers participated in the NCAA Tournament seven times and reached the Midwest Regional semifinals in 1990. Gillen led Xavier to six regular season conference championships and five conference tournament championships.
Double Double in Debut
Freshman Chris Williams scored 20 points and yanked down 10 rebounds to become only the second freshman in Virginia history since the restoration of freshman eligibility in 1972-73 to record a “double double” in the first game of his career.
He joins Scott Johnson as the only Cavalier rookies to accomplish this feat. Johnson scored 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 27 minutes in the 1995-96 season opener against Tennessee-Martin.
Williams also became the second Cavalier rookie since the restoration of freshman eligibility in 1972-73 to score at least 20 points in the first game of his career. Jeff Lamp scored 24 in his debut against James Madison in 1977-78.
The performances of several notable Cavaliers in their college debuts are listed below.
Who? Opp./Yr. Pts. Rebs.Junior Burrough W&M/91-92 17 6Bryant Stith Dartmouth/88-89 12 6Olden Polynice Lafayette/83-84 8 5Ralph Sampson Johns Hopkins/79-80 17 8Jeff Lamp James Madison/77-78 24 3Marc Iavaroni W&L/74-75 14 9Wally Walker WFU/72-73 7 3
Walk-on Tryouts Held
With a roster that features just eight scholarship players (only seven can play) and two walk-ons, the Virginia coaching staff conducted tryouts among the UVa student body to round out the roster for the upcoming season. Approximately 40 candidates showed up for the open tryouts on October 20.
Five members of the student body survived a round of drills and interviews to make the team.
The quintet chosen following the tryout join sophomore Greg Lyons and freshman Cade Lemcke to give head coach Pete Gillen and his staff a total of seven walk-on players to use in game preparation.
Gillen readily concedes that playing time for these players may be limited. Josh Hare has seen the most action. He has played in every game (started vs. Wisconsin and Elon) and is averaging 21.9 minutes per game. He is averaging 3.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.
Raleigh Harbour, a fifth-year student, was pressed into action due to Kris Hunter’s illness and started against Wisconsin. He played 14 minutes, but did not score. He did grab three rebounds.
Jason Dowling and Brandon Lloyd have each played in five games this season. Dowling scored a three-pointer vs. Wisconsin, while Lloyd put the Cavaliers over the century mark against Elon.
Local product Marcus Martin, a high school star at Western Albemarle, has been slowed recently by an injury, but got the first bucket of his college career Saturday against New Hampshire.
The five successful walk-on candidates are listed below.
# Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown05 Brandon Lloyd G/F 6-4 184 Fr. Springfield, Va.21 Jason Dowling G/F 6-2 191 Fr. Brooklyn, N.Y.22 Josh Hare G 6-2 197 So. Vernon, Conn.25 Marcus Martin F 6-5 218 Fr. Charlottesville, Va.55 Raleigh Harbour F 6-8 217 Sr. Hinsdale, Ill.
Rookie Williams Starts Opener
Freshman Chris Williams started at forward for Virginia in its two exhibition games, averaging 23.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in the two contests. He pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with 17 points in the first exhibition game against the Aussie All-Stars on November 3. He came back four days later to score a game-high 29 points and grab seven rebounds against the California All-Stars.
His outstanding performances in the exhibition games insured that he would remain in the starting line-up for the season opener against VCU. He became the sixth freshman to start a season opener for Virginia in the 1990s.
Current sophomore Donald Hand started at point guard in last season’s opener.