Virginia Hosts New Hampshire
December 4, 1998
December 5, 1998 – 1:30 p.m.
The Series vs. the Wildcats
This is the first meeting between Virginia and New Hampshire, a member of the America East conference.
Virginia transfer Keith Friel hails from Durham, N.H, the home of the University of New Hampshire. His father, Gerry, coached the Wildcats from 1970-89 and compiled a 200-335 record. Gerry Friel is currently the Director of Athletic Fundraising at UNH. Keith Friel transferred to UVa from Notre Dame after last season.
Cavaliers vs. the America East Conference
Virginia plays two games against schools from the America East conference (formerly known as the North Atlantic Conference)-today’s encounter against New Hampshire and a December 27 match-up vs. Delaware. The Cavaliers are 16-3 all-time against the 10 teams currently in the America East.
This is the third season in a row the Cavaliers have faced an America East school. They have defeated Delaware the last two seasons.
Virginia is 4-0 vs. Towson State, 1-0 vs. Hartford and Northeastern, 9-1 vs. Delaware and 1-2 vs. Hofstra. The Cavaliers have never faced Boston University, Drexel, Maine, New Hampshire (until today) or Vermont.
“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 82.6 points per game, while forcing 18.9 turnovers per game.
Virginia is also shooting 47.7 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 is the fifth-highest single-game total in school history.
UVa also topped the century mark with 106 points against Elon last Saturday, 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 four games this season, the first time they have done that since topping 80 points five times two seasons ago.
Four Reach Double Figures in Five of Seven
Virginia has had five games already this season when at least four Cavaliers scored in double figures (including three 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 three games, including the two games prior to the Florida State game when five Cavaliers reached double figures.
Opponents Shoot Blanks at University Hall
Virginia is 29-6 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 37.4 percent for the opposition. Virginia also out-rebounds the other team by more than 10 rebounds per game (46.4/g to 35.0/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.
(Elon shot 56.0 percent last Saturday, but lost to the Cavaliers 106-71.)
Only 11 of the last 35 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.)
Hunter missed the Wisconsin game two weeks ago due to illness. His absence forced head coach Pete Gillen to start walk-on Raleigh Harbour (6-8) at center against the Badgers. It was the first game of Harbour’s career.
Frequently operating with a small line-up, the Cavaliers have been out-rebounded so far this season by an average of 1.6 rebounds per game.
In UVa’s three losses, the Cavaliers were out-rebounded by 27 boards (9.0/g).
In its four wins, UVa has out-rebounded the opposition by 16.
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 Tuesday night against Florida State, but lost 72-69 when the Seminoles rallied down the stretch.
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 no player has led the team in scoring in back-to-back games.
Donald Hand poured in a career-high 24 points in the 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.
Last Saturday night against Elon 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 on Tuesday.
The four 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.
Kris Hunter Returns with a Vengeance
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 10 days 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 when UVa started three guards against Elon last Saturday, 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 on Tuesday against Florida State.
One of the fastest shot blockers in the ACC, Hunter has turned away 17 shots in just 136 minutes this season. That’s one every 8.0 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 47.7 percent from the field. This is a marked improvement from last season’s mark of 43.9 percent. (Last season UVa was shooting 44.1 percent after seven games.)
The Cavaliers have been above 43 percent in five of seven games this season, including three performances of 50 percent or better.
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 8.7 three-pointers per game, with 52 in the last six contests.
The UVa bomb squad tied the school record by making 15 threes in 29 attempts in the win over Hampton 10 days 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 last Saturday 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.
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 Tuesday night 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’s availability is doubtful for today’s game.
Offense Explodes in Second Half vs. Hampton
The Cavaliers held a 28-point halftime lead (55-27) against Hampton 10 days 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 five 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.