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March 7, 2002

Day One from Charlotte, North Carolina…

Excitement is beginning to heat up as everyone arrived into town ready to begin the 49th annual ACC tournament. Teams arrived yesterday as they start to get mentally prepared for the challenges that are soon to follow.

Prior to leaving Charlottesville, Virginia held one final practice before saying goodbye to the friendly confines of University Hall. Coach Gillen wanted to get a final workout in before the big trip. All of the players were excited and eager to get things underway when they arrived to their Omni hotel in downtown Charlotte about 5:00 in the afternoon.

Last night was pretty low key for everyone besides Clemson and Florida State. Those two teams each held a shootaround in preparation for tonight’s game. The other seven teams did the same this afternoon. Each team is allowed 60 minutes of floor time. Following the shootaround, coaches and players took time to speak with all of the media that were in attendance.

Top-seeded Maryland was perhaps the most energetic team of the day. Juan Dixon stressed how eager everyone was to get the games going. Following practice, guard Steve Blake emphasized that the team was not looking past this weekend towards greater things. According to Blake, “We definitely want to win this tournament, and we’re going to play the best we can.”

As for Virginia, their hour at the Coliseum began at 12:00. All of the players were focused for the big game with NC State tomorrow afternoon. Defense was the topic of discussion following the practice. According to Chris Williams, “For us to beat NC State, we have to be patient on defense… play defense for the whole 35 seconds.” Everyone emphasized playing as a team. As for defensive leader, Adam Hall, he is confident his sore thumb will not be an issue come game time.

Coach Gillen complimented the success NC State has had this season. Gillen explained that, “They are a good team. They have won twenty games, they are quick, they play hard, and they play us tough.” This evening, the team gets the night off as they get prepared for the game tomorrow.

As for Clemson and Florida State, they will kick things off tonight with their game at 7:00. Let the games begin…

Bryan Wyker

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