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Feb. 20, 1998

Virginia (1997-98 record: 10-16 overall/2-11 in the ACC) looks to end an eight-game losing streak today against Clemson (1997-98 record: 15-11 overall/5-8 in the ACC) at University Hall at 1:30 p.m.

Television: Today’s game is being televised by ABC. Brent Musburger is the play by play announcer and Dick Vitale is the analyst.

Radio: All UVa games are heard on the Virginia Sports Network originating at WINA/WQMZ in Charlottesville. Mac McDonald calls the play by play. Jim Hobgood provides the analysis.

Nolan Makes Push for Postseason Honors

Norman Nolan may not get the national acclaim that some players get, but he has clearly become one of the top power forwards in the college game today.

He is at the top of his game right now and is a bonafide All-ACC candidate based on his play this season.

After a rigorous off-season where he worked hard on his strength and conditioning, and adding to his outside game, Nolan has picked up his level of play tremendously this year and caused ACC coaches and NBA scouts to take notice.

Were unsure what Nolan asked Santa Claus for this Christmas, but its apparent the jolly man in red filled Nolans stocking with a variety of offensive moves to score and bundles of rebounds to grab.

Nolan has put together a season the likes of which hasnt been turned in by a Virginia big man since Ralph Sampson.

Since Christmas, Nolan has been outstanding. In the 17 games since then, he is averaging 22.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Hes also shooting 51.7 percent from the floor and 71.9 percent from the free throw line.

Nolan has been selected the ACC Player of the Week three times and joins Antawn Jamison (six) as the only players to win the honor more than once this season.

Nolan has also turned in some of the top performances in the league in 1997-98. He is third in the ACC in double doubles this season with 12, two behind Jamison and Matt Harpring.

Jamison leads the conference with 14 games of 10+ rebounds, but Nolan is just one behind.

Nolan and Jamison have each scored at least 30 points in four games this season to lead the league. The rest of the ACC players have combined for seven 30-point games. Nolan and Jamison are the first conference players since Joe Smith (Maryland) in 1994-95 to have at least four 30-point games in a season. (Smith had five.)

Nolans 16 rebounds against George Mason is the most by an ACC player this season, while his 35 points in the first game against N.C. State is the fourth-best output in the ACC.

While he doesnt lead the league in 20-point games, Nolan is one of only five league players with at least 10 20-point games this year. Jamison leads with 20, followed by Harpring with 18, Nolan with 14, and Virginias Curtis Staples and Techs Dion Glover with 12.

Nolan is third in the conference in both scoring (20.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.6 rpg).

He is also fourth in the league in field goal percentage (52.8 percent) and minutes played (35.2 mpg), and sixth in offensive rebounds (2.73 orpg).

Cavaliers Cage Tiger OffenseVirginia has held Clemson to some of the lowest field goal percentages in Tiger history over the last few seasons.

Clemson shot 18.8 percent from the field in the first half of the game in Charlottesville last season. The Tigers caught fire in the second half, shooting 66.7 percent to erase a 10-point deficit and win 62-52.

Only four times in the last 10 meetings has Clemson managed to shoot better than 38 percent from the field.

In Jeff Jones eight years as head coach at UVa, the Tigers have topped 50 percent only three times (high of 53.3 percent in this seasons first meeting). Clemson has scored more than 60 points only seven times in 15 games.

Looking to End Eight-Game Losing Streak

The Cavaliers have lost their last eight games, including four games by eight points or fewer.

The current losing streak is Virginias longest since losing eight consecutive games from Jan. 12-Feb. 6, 1974. The Cavaliers finished 11-16 that season in Bill Gibsons last as coach at Virginia.

UVas last nine-game losing streak occurred from Jan. 13-Feb. 19, 1962.

The Series vs. the Tigers

Virginia leads the all-time series with Clemson 52-42. The Tigers have won four of the last five meetings with Virginia and swept the season series last season. They won the first meeting this season 69-52 in Clemson.

The Cavaliers have not lost more than three consecutive games to the Tigers in over 30 years. Clemson won 11 consecutive meetings from 1960-1965.

Virginia has won 11 of the last 16 games dating back to the 1989-90 season.

Virginia is 30-14 all-time at home against the Tigers, including 24-8 at University Hall.

Jeff Jones is 10-5 against Clemson as UVa’s head coach. The Cavaliers are 29-14 against the Tigers since Jones was a freshman guard at UVa during the 1978-79 season.

Cavaliers and Tigers Play Nailbiters

In the 36 games between the two teams since the 1981-82 season, 20 have been decided by eight points or less. Virginia has won 14 of the 20 games. The largest margin of victory by either team in that time was Virginias 89-60 win at home in 1982. Seven games during the period have been decided by one or two points and Virginia has won them all. Virginia has won eight consecutive games decided by one or two points in the series going back to the 1972-73 season.

Clemsons 71-65 win in Clemson last season broke a string of five consecutive games that were decided by at least 10 points.

Tigers Cage Staples

Just like home run hitters, long-range shooters sometimes have a tendency to be streaky, mixing torrid performances with dry spells.

Staples has established himself as one of the nations top long-distance shooting threats and has been able to bounce back from a subpar performance with a strong one. Hes coming off a tough game against N.C. State where he scored just 10 points and made one three-pointer.

And he might be coming into todays game with some trepidation as Clemson has done a good job of putting the clamps on him throughout his career.

He is averaging just 11.3 points per game against Clemson, his second-lowest average against any ACC team. (He averages 11.0 vs. Florida State.)

He has been remarkably consistent in his scoring against the Tigers, scoring between 11 and 14 points in six of seven games. His low is a two-point outing in last seasons match-up at University Hall. That is his lowest output in an ACC game since being held scoreless by Wake Forest during his freshman season.

The Tigers are also the only ACC team that he hasnt scored 20 points against.

Staples is averaging 3.4 three-pointers per game during his career, but is averaging just 2.1 threes against Clemson, his lowest average against an ACC school.

Nolan, Staples 1-2 in Scoring

As Virginias leading returning scorers, it is no surprise that Norman Nolan and Curtis Staples have carried the scoring load this season.

One of the two has led the team in scoring in every game this season except the Clemson game on January 20 when Colin Ducharme led with 16 points.

Overall this season there have been 20 games where the duo ranked 1-2 in scoring.

Nolan leads UVa in scoring, averaging 20.9 points per game, and has been on fire since Christmas. In the 17 games since Christmas, he is averaging 22.7 points per game, while shooting 51.7 percent from the field and 71.9 percent from the free throw stripe.

Staples is the only other Cavalier in double figures, averaging 18.1 points per game. He has been UVas leading scorer in four of the last six games scoring 24, 25, 21 and 31 points to lead the Cavaliers.

With a combined scoring average of 39.0 ppg, they are the most prolific Cavalier duo in over 40 years. Buzzy Wilkinson (32.1 ppg) and Bob McCarty (19.7 ppg) had a combined scoring average of 51.8 ppg in 1954-55.

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 44.6 percent from the field. This is a marked improvement from last seasons mark of 42.7 percent.

Virginia topped the 40-percent mark in the first 16 games of the season before shooting 34.4 percent against Georgia Tech last month. (The season high is 58.9 percent vs. VMI on December 22.)

Already this season Virginia has topped 45 percent 14 times after doing so just 12 times in 31 games a year ago. The Cavaliers have only two sub-40 percent games this season after compiling 10 last year. Their 30.0 percent performance against North Carolina last week is the season low.

The Cavaliers field goal shooting percentage this season is their best since shooting 45.5 percent in 1990-91.

Dersch Leads Team in Assists

Willie Dersch has struggled with his shooting touch throughout the season, but he hasnt let that bother other parts of his game.

He leads the team in assists with 87 (3.3 apg) and has been Virginias leader 13 times this season.

What makes Derschs situation so unusual is that hes a frontcourt player.

His 87 assists this season are the most in school history for a frontcourt player. Jason Williford held the previous record with 75 assists in 1993-94.

Dersch also leads all ACC frontcourt players this season in assists and ranks 10th overall.

His 1.45:1 assists-to-turnover ratio is tops among ACC frontcourt players with at least 35 assists this season.

Factors to Victory

Conventional baseball wisdom says it takes pitching and defense to win. For Virginias basketball program it takes shooting, rebounding and defense to win this season. The Cavaliers statistics in these three categories vary greatly between wins and losses this season.

When they win, they out-rebound the opposition by almost 10 rebounds per game. By contrast, when they lose they have a rebound advantage of less than one.

There is also a great difference in field goal and three-point shooting between wins and losses.

A look at several areas broken down when the Cavaliers win and lose is below.

UVa wins    UVa losesUVa FG% 47.4    43.0UVa 3FG%    37.1    33.6UVa reb./g  40.4    33.6UVa reb. margin +9.5    +0.5UVa Ast.:TO 0.94:1  0.84:1UVa PPG 68.3    65.1Opp. FG%    34.0    47.7Opp. 3FG%   29.1    40.8Opp. FTA/g  16.1    27.1Opp. Ast.:TO    0.79:1  1.31:1Opp. PPG    55.2    78.1

Freshman Hand Runs the Point

Freshman Donald Hand has started the last 17 games at point guard for the Cavaliers. As he has gained experience, he has stepped up his level of play. Hand returned to the starting line-up for the Rainbow Classic after not starting the previous three games and played a key role in Virginias win over Brigham Young in Hawaii.

The rookie from Paterson, N.J., tossed in a career-high 14 points and added four assists to pace the Wahoos. Twelve of his points came in the second half as Virginia withstood a furious BYU rally. He connected on three three-pointers in the final nine minutes to spur Virginia.

Hand is becoming more assertive in leading the Cavalier attack with each game.

He handed off a team-high seven assists, while grabbing a career-high six rebounds, against Georgia Tech on January 15.

In the next game, he tied Willie Dersch for game assists honors with four against N.C. State.

His quick hands enabled him to record a career-high five steals in just 22 minutes against Clemson earlier this season.

Hand dished off a career-high nine assists against then top-ranked Duke on January 24, while playing 38 minutes.

He scored 11 points, the second-highest total of his career, against Florida State, while playing a career-high 39 minutes.

Hand leads the team with 33 steals and is second in assists with 83. He is also averaging 4.2 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.

He is sixth in school history in both assists and steals by a freshman.

Hand is second among ACC rookies in assists, and fifth in steals and starts (19).

Staples Sets School Record for Three-Pointers

Long-range bomber Curtis Staples has connected on 114 three-point field goals this season, breaking his own school record of 103 threes as a freshman in 1994-95.

Staples, who has his sights set on the NCAA record for career three-pointers, has turned in two of the top-five seasons in ACC history.

He has led the ACC in three-point field goals in his first three seasons and is the league leader by a wide margin this season. If he leads the ACC in three-pointers this season, he will become just the third player in ACC history to lead the league in a statistical category for four consecutive seasons. (Ralph Sampson and Tim Duncan led the league in blocked shots four straight seasons.)

The top-five seasons in ACC history for three-point field goals made are below.

        Player, school, year    3FGM    1.  Dennis Scott, Ga. Tech, 1989-90 137    2.  Scott, Ga. Tech, 1988-89    116    3.  Curtis Staples, UVa, 1997-98    114    4.  Rodney Monroe, N.C. State, 1990-91  104    5.  Staples, UVa, 1994-95   103

Staples Eyes NCAA Three-Point Record

Curtis Staples is known as one of the top three-point shooters in the nation. So far this season he is living up to his reputation, leading the nation with an average of 4.4 three-pointers per game.

He has led the Cavaliers in scoring eight times, reaching the 20-point plateau each time.

Staples has tossed in at least five three-pointers in 13 games this season, including a school record-tying nine threes against Georgia Tech last Saturday. He also connected on nine three-pointers against UNLV as a freshman in 1994-95.

He established a school record for three-point attempts in a game with 17 against North Carolina last week.

Stapless nine three-pointers against Georgia Tech is the most by an ACC player in two years. He has five of the top-seven performances in the ACC this season for threes made in a game. (He tossed in eight threes against Wake Forest and had seven against Richmond, Maryland and North Carolina.)

Despite scoring 10 points and making one trey against N.C. State on Wednesday night, he has had a remarkably hot hand recently, averaging 6.0 treys and 21.2 points in the last six contests.

With a minimum of four games left this season, Staples needs to average 3.3 three-pointers per game to break the NCAA record. Keith Veney, who played collegiately at Lamar and Marshall, is first with 409.

Staples place on the NCAA three-point list is below.

        Player, school, years   3FGM    1.  Keith Veney, Lamar/Marshall, 1993-97    409    2.  Doug Day, Radford, 1990-93  401    3.  Curtis Staples, Virginia, 1995-98   397

Nolan Records 12 Double Doubles

Counted on to carry the scoring and rebounding load inside for the Cavaliers, Norman Nolan is excelling in both areas this season in what is the best season of his career.

He is third in the ACC in both scoring20.9 ppgand rebounding8.6 rpgthis season.

Nolan has 12 double doubles, two behind Antawn Jamison and Matt Harpring.

Nolans 12 double doubles are the most by a Cavalier in a season since Ralph Sampson had 24 as a senior in 1982-83.

Nolan had six double doubles last season and now has 22 for his career.

He turned in a fabulous Rainbow Classic in Hawaii, recording double doubles in all three Virginia games. His three double doubles were the most of any player in the Rainbow Classic. In fact, he was the only player with more than one.

For the tournament he finished third in scoring with 71 points (behind Kansas Paul Pierce and Nebraskas Tyronn Lue). He was the tournaments second-leading rebounder with 31 boards, one fewer than Lester Earl of Kansas.

His play since Christmas is outlined below.

FG FT Reb. Pts.
Nebraska 10-22 3-6 11 23
Brigham Young 10-16 4-8 10 24
New Mexico St. 8-19 8-10 10 24
Wake Forest 14-24 3-4 12 31
Liberty 11-17 8-10 8 30
North Carolina 11-20 7-9 8 29
Va. Tech 6-13 8-9 11 20
Ga. Tech 7-18 5-5 10 19
N.C. State 13-19 9-11 9 35
Clemson 5-12 0-3 5 10
Duke 7-16 8-10 6 22
Wake Forest 7-12 2-4 8 16
Maryland 9-19 2-6 7 20
Fla. State 10-18 6-7 6 26
North Carolina 3-12 1-1 10 7
Ga. Tech 10-17 4-4 12 24
N.C. State 11-20 4-7 6 26
Last 17 avg. 51.7% 71.9% 8.8 22.7
Season Avg. 52.8% 66.0% 8.6 20.9

They’re There Every Night

Norman Nolan and Curtis Staples have started all 26 games this season for the Cavaliers. They are among only 16 players in the ACC to start each of their teams games this season.

Staples worked his way into the starting line-up late in his freshman year in 1994-95, starting the last 10 games of the season. He has started 93 of the last 94 games in the backcourt for the Cavaliers. The only game he did not start was UVas last home game last season on Senior Day, a game where seniors traditionally start.

Nolan has started 78 of the last 84 games over the last three seasons. He started 26 games in each of the last two seasons.

Turnovers Decrease Chances to Win

Turnovers are one thing that drive basketball coaches crazy. And this season turnovers have been a big bugaboo for head coach Jeff Jones and his staff as the Cavaliers are averaging 16.5 turnovers per game. Virginia has three games of 20+ turnovers and two others of 19 miscues.

The Cavaliers have 124 more turnovers than the opposition so far this season. They have also attempted 33 fewer shots despite having 16 more offensive rebounds than their opponents.

An inability to maximize their scoring chances has doomed the Cavaliers in several games this season as they have lost three games by seven points, two games by five points, two games by eight points, and others by four and 11 points.

In games when the Cavaliers have had as many or more turnovers than the opponent, they are 9-15.

Incredibly, five of Virginias six-lowest turnover totals have occurred in losses. The Cavaliers have turned the ball over in a game 13 times or fewer six times this season and lost five of those contests. The season-low is 10 turnovers in a win over VCU.

Overall this season the Cavaliers have a 0.88:1 assists-to-turnover ratio.

Virginia has had more turnovers than assists in each of the last two seasons.

Ducharme Equals Career High vs. Clemson

Colin Ducharme is one of the teams most intense players. Sometimes his intensity leads to being overly aggressive and a tendency to commit fouls, which usually limits his playing time. When he isnt hampered with foul difficulty he adds an extra dimension to the UVa offense.

He was whistled for at least four fouls in six consecutive games leading up to the January 12 encounter against state-rival Virginia Tech. In those six games he was averaging just 20.0 minutes of playing time per game.

He stayed out of foul trouble against the Hokies and showed what he can do by scoring a career-high 16 points in a career-high 36 minutes of action.

Ducharme was in foul trouble in the next two games (Georgia Tech, N.C. State) and fouled out against N.C. State after scoring three points.

Ducharme was one of Virginias few bright spots in the loss at Clemson earlier this season as he showed once again what he can do when he isnt hampered with foul difficulties. He tied career highs in both points (16) and minutes played (36) against the Tigers and was whistled for just three fouls.

The Cavaliers are 20-12 in his career when Ducharme commits fewer than four fouls.

Ducharme leads the team in blocked shots (31), while averaging 8.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

Nolan Eighth in School History

Norman Nolan has led Virginia in rebounding the last two seasons and is bidding to lead for the third consecutive season in 1998. So far he holds a wide lead in the team rebounding race with an 8.6 rebounds per game average.

If he leads the team in rebounding again this season he would be the first Cavalier since Ralph Sampson to pace the team for three straight seasons. Sampson led all four years from 1980-83.

Nolan is eighth in school history with 713 career rebounds. Next on the list is Marc Iavaroni with 718 rebounds.

Nolan and Staples Have 1000 Career Points

Curtis Staples and Norman Nolan are among 15 active ACC players with at least 1000 career points. Staples ranks third among active ACC players with 1685 points, while Nolan is seventh with 1234 points.

Staples is eighth in Virginia history in scoring, while Nolan is 22nd on the schools all-time list.

Both players have an opportunity to move up on UVas list, particularly Nolan.

Their places on Virginias all-time scoring list are below.

        Player,          years     Pts.    7.  Harold Deane,    1994-97   1763    8.  Curtis Staples,  1995-pres.1685            18. Tony Laquintano, 1960-62   1263    19. Marc Iavaroni,   1975-78   1244    20. Tom Sheehey,     1984-87   1241    21. Billy Langloh,   1974-77   1240    22. Norman Nolan,    1995-pres.1234 

Cavaliers Feature Three Ironmen

Virginia has nine players on its roster that average at least 10 minutes per game. Perhaps more interesting is that three players are playing an average of more than 33 minutes per game.

Curtis Staples averages an ACC-leading 39.0 minutes per game this season.

Norman Nolan, who averaged a career-high 28.9 minutes per game last season, is fourth in the league, averaging 35.2 minutes per game.

Willie Dersch has seen his minutes increase substantially. After averaging 13.4 minutes per game as a freshman last season, he is up to 33.9 minutes per game this season. That ranks seventh in the ACC.

No other trio in the ACC averages as many minutes as these three Cavaliers.

Based on available records, if Staples continues at his same pace, he would become just the fourth player in ACC history to average as many as 39.0 minutes per game in a season.

Ex-Georgia Tech standout Dennis Scott averaged an ACC-record 39.1 minutes per game in 1989-90.

Clemsons Butch Zatezalo (1968-69) and Wake Forests Tyrone Muggsy Bogues (1986-87) both averaged 39.0 minutes per game.

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