Virginia Men's Basketball: A Remarkable Journey
A Remarkable Journey
A Look Back at UVa Basketball Through the Years
In the Beginning…
Although it’s an American creation, basketball was introduced to Virginia by a Welsh immigrant-Henry H. “Pop” Lannigan. The “veteran trainer,” who coached or trained most of UVa’s athletic teams for a quarter of a century, organized the first basketball team in the fall of 1905. The first game, against the Charlottesville YMCA, was played on January 18, 1906, at the Monticello Guard Armory. Virginia, as it would often do under Lannigan’s tutelage, prevailed, 30-9. In 24 years at the helm, Lannigan’s program enjoyed its finest moment in 1915 when the “Famous Five” of Wellington Stickley, Bill Nickels, Jr., John Luck, Bill Strickling and Andrew Dittrich vanquished all comers on the way to a perfect 17-0 record. Only North Carolina (30-29) and Catholic University (29-28) came close.
Most of the Lannigan-era triumphs were achieved in Fayerweather Gymnasium, a small facility built in 1893. Fayerweather Gym, which featured the University’s first bathtubs, was replaced in 1924 by $300,000 Memorial Gymnasium. “Mem Gym” served as Virginia’s basketball home for 42 winters.
For exactly half of the 42 Memorial Gym years, Virginia basketball was under the guidance of Gus Tebell. Lannigan, who died on Christmas Eve of 1930, had been replaced by UVa assistant football coach Roy Randall in the fall of 1929. Randall’s first and only team went 3-12, prompting a search for a more experienced basketball mentor. Tebell, who had guided North Carolina State to a 75-35 record in six seasons in Raleigh, N.C., was lured to Charlottesville.
A colorful character who served as mayor of Charlottesville from 1948-50, Tebell employed the “Meanwell System,” an innovative pattern offense which he had learned as a student-athlete under Dr. Walter Meanwell at the University of Wisconsin. The “Meanwell System” proved successful enough for Virginia to post a 240-190 record during Tebell’s 21 seasons.
The ’41 Cavaliers earned Virginia’s first postseason invitation. The only school from the South selected to participate in the eight-team National Invitation Tournament in New York City, Virginia lost in the first round to City College of New York.
In the summer of 1951, UVa athletic director Norton Pritchett died and Tebell was named to replace him. Tebell relinquished his basketball coaching duties to one of his former players, Evan J. “Bus” Male.
As athletic director, Tebell’s greatest achievement came late in 1953 when, despite the opposition of UVa president Colgate Darden, he persuaded the Board of Visitors to accept an invitation to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“Buzzy” Steals the Show
UVa basketball in the 1950s can be summed up with one word-Buzzy. Richard Warren “Buzzy” Wilkinson, a quick, 6-2 guard-forward with a repertoire of shots, set school and ACC scoring records in 1953-55 that have withstood the test of time. He averaged 22.7, 30.1 and 32.1 points per game in his three varsity campaigns, becoming the first collegian to average 30 points a game in back-to-back seasons. He totaled 2,233 points for his career.
Gibson and Parkhill Make a Difference
Apart from Wilkinson, Cavalier basketball fans didn’t have much to cheer about in the ’50s and ’60s. Male had resigned following the 1956-57 season, with Billy McCann taking over. McCann was replaced by Bill Gibson for the 1963-64 campaign. A fiercely determined man, Gibson slowly brought Virginia basketball out of its coma.
University Hall opened in December 1965, a giant step in the right direction. Gibson procured a second full-time assistant in 1968 and recruited UVa’s first black scholarship player (Al Drummond) in 1970.
The ’69-’70 Cavaliers weren’t very talented, but they played so hard and with such resolve that they earned the respect of Virginia fans. The final record of 10-15 was better than many had predicted but more importantly UVa created some waves in the ACC Tournament. With Tim Rash scoring 25 points and Chip Case and Bill Gerry each adding 21, the Cavs upset Charlie Scott-led North Carolina, 95-93, in the first round.
The following night, Virginia just missed advancing to the championship game, losing to N.C. State, 67-66, in the semifinals. The ’69-70 season served as a genesis. With Gerry returning for his senior season along with the dedicated junior class of Rash, Scott McCandlish, Frank DeWitt and Chip Miller, and the addition of stylish sophomore guard Barry Parkhill, the “Amazin’ Cavaliers” were born in 1970-71.
Virginia opened the ’70-71 season with six straight victories, its best start in over 30 years. With four wins in eight days in mid-January, the record went to 11-2 and the Cavs cracked the Top 20 (No. 19 AP) for the first time ever.
The media dubbed Gibson’s eighth team the “Amazin’ Cavaliers.” U-Hall attendance nearly doubled, from an average of 4,000 a game the year before to 7,500. Although the Cavs ran out of gas down the stretch, they finished 15-11, the first winning season in 17 years at Virginia.
The 1971-72 Cavaliers went beyond “Amazin’.” Parkhill and company won their first 12 starts and stood at 18-1 in mid-February, good enough to garner the No. 6 spot in The Associated Press’ Top 10. Virginia won at Duke for the first time in 32 years, embarrassed No. 5 Maryland 78-57 in U-Hall, and joined the 20-win club for the first time in 44 seasons. The Cavs, who lost to Lafayette in the first round of the NIT, finished 21-7.
The charismatic and unflappable Parkhill enjoyed one of the finest individual seasons ever by an ACC player. He led the conference in scoring (21.6), was the only unanimous choice on the All-ACC team and outpolled UNC’s Dennis Wuycik, 80-12, in ACC Player of the Year balloting. He was named to a number of All-America teams and finished third in AP balloting for National Player of the Year.
Parkhill led Virginia to a third-straight winning season in 1972-73, marking the first time since 1943-45 that had been achieved. Parkhill’s No. 40 became the second UVa jersey to be retired, joining Wilkinson’s No. 14 in the trophy case.
Holland-Led Cavaliers put UVa on the Map
The winning continued in 1975-76 under second-year head coach Terry Holland. Seeded sixth for the ACC Tournament in Landover, Md. (Capital Centre), Virginia pulled the execution switch three straight times, knocking off No. 17 NC State (75-63), No. 9 Maryland (73-65) and No. 4 North Carolina (67-62) to capture the tourney championship. Wally Walker, whose quick release and velvety touch enabled him to average 22.1 points a game in his final season, earned the Everett Case Award as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
After the “Miracle in Landover,” Virginia fell to 12-17 in 1976-77. But the following year, with the addition of a pair of Kentucky schoolboys, Jeff Lamp and Lee Raker, Virginia basketball underwent a metamorphosis. In four years, the two Ballard High School teammates combined to play over 7,300 minutes in Virginia uniforms, scoring over 3,700 points.
The Cavaliers won 92 games while losing only 33 during the Lamp-Raker regime and participated in postseason play all four years. Lamp, one of those rare players who wanted the ball in critical situations, scored 24 points in his very first collegiate game and went on to record 2,317 career points, eclipsing Wilkinson’s record. His No. 3 jersey was retired moments after his final U-Hall appearance in 1980-81. Raker, a tenacious player who television commentator Bones McKinney dubbed “The Marine,” earned Top-10 status on Virginia’s career scoring ladder at the time of his graduation with 1,423 points.
As freshmen, Lamp and Raker, along with senior Marc Iavaroni, led Virginia to a 20-8 season. The Cavaliers climbed as high as No. 11 in the AP poll, ending the season with a tough 70-68 loss to Georgetown in the first round of the NIT.
In 1978-79, Virginia finished 19-10 and earned third place in the ACC. Lamp led the conference in scoring, his 22.9 points per game average the best by a Cavalier since Bob McCarty tallied 23.1 an outing in 1955-56. An eight-footer by Lamp with six seconds to play gave Virginia its first-ever postseason triumph, a 79-78 win over Northeast Louisiana in the opening round of the NIT.
The Sampson Years
A household name before he played a single minute of college basketball, Ralph Sampson ended an intense recruiting war and announced he would play for Virginia on May 31, 1979. The 7-4 freshman was a catalyst for reinless expectations. Virginia was tabbed No. 9 and No. 13 in the two 1979-80 preseason wire service polls.
The blending process was a bit uneven, but following a roller-coaster regular season, the Cavaliers proceeded to best Lafayette, Boston College, Michigan, Nevada-Las Vegas and Minnesota to win the NIT championship. Sampson became the first freshman to be named MVP of the NIT as Virginia finished with a school-record 24 victories.
That record didn’t last long. The 1980-81 Cavaliers sprinted to a 23-0 start before Notre Dame’s Orlando Woolridge ended the nation’s longest winning streak with a last-second shot. It was a season of giddy firsts. Virginia climbed to No. 1 in the AP poll before getting upset by the Fighting Irish. The Cavaliers ran away with the regular season ACC crown, winning 13 of 14 league starts. And Terry Holland’s seventh team earned a trip to the Final Four.
Sampson averaged 17.7 points and 11.5 rebounds per game on the way to the first of three straight national Player of the Year awards. The redoubtable Lamp averaged 18.2 points a game and joined Sampson on the U.S. Basketball Writers Association 10-player All-America squad.
Tennessee (62-48) and Brigham Young (74-60) were disposed of as Virginia claimed the East Regional championship in Atlanta, Ga. Lamp earned MVP honors with Sampson and Raker joining him on the All-Regional tourney team. It was on to Philadelphia and a third meeting with North Carolina in the national semifinals. Virginia had rallied to beat the Tar Heels twice in regular season play, but this time Al Wood scored a semifinal-record 39 points to spark UNC to a 78-65 triumph. Virginia bested LSU for third place to complete a 29-4 season. The Cavs were ranked third (UPI) and fifth (AP) in the final wire service polls.
With Lamp and Raker gone, Virginia was an unknown quantity when the 1981-82 season opened. But not for long. The Cavaliers won 27 of their first 28 games, with a 74-58 blowout of UNC in early February catapulting Sampson and company into the No. 1 slot in both the AP and UPI polls. Sampson again earned National Player of the Year laurels, while Virginia shared the ACC regular season title with North Carolina. Handicapped by the loss of first-team All-ACC guard Othell Wilson, Virginia lost to Alabama-Birmingham 68-66 in the NCAA Mideast Regional semifinals to conclude a 30-4 season. The Cavs finished third in both final wire service polls.
The winter of 1982-83, Sampson’s last season at Virginia, saw the Cavaliers fashion a 25-3 regular season record. That included a 68-63 triumph over Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in the most ballyhooed collegiate confrontation since Lew Alcindor and UCLA locked horns with Elvin Hayes and Houston in 1968.
Sampson averaged 19.1 points and 11.7 rebounds in his swan-song season. He led Virginia to the West Regional title game, where the Cavaliers lost a seven-point lead in the final seven minutes in a heartbreaking 63-62 setback against eventual NCAA champ N.C. State.
Virginia finished 29-5, making the collective total for the Sampson era 112-23. During the Ralph regime, Virginia was 50-2 in U-Hall, 63-5 against non-ACC teams and a member of the AP’s Top 10 for 49 consecutive weekly polls. Sampson finished with totals of 2,228 points and 1,511 rebounds, becoming only the sixth player in NCAA history to score 2,000 points and grab 1,500 rebounds.
Ralph-less Cavaliers Continue to Win
In what marked the first season of “Life after Ralph,” Coach Holland’s 1983-84 Cavaliers left little doubt that Virginia basketball would continue to remain in the national spotlight. Led at the end of the season by an unheralded starting five that included guards Othell Wilson and Rick Carlisle, forwards Jimmy Miller and Kenton Edelin, and center Olden Polynice, Virginia made its second trip to the NCAA Final Four in four years by stringing together impressive postseason victories over Iona, Arkansas, Syracuse and Indiana.
During the 1987-88 season, Virginia became the 52nd Division I program in the nation to win 1,000 games (with a 69-50 win over Dayton) and the fourth ACC school to reach that plateau.
The Cavaliers closed out the decade of the 1980s the following season by posting a remarkable 22-11 record and advancing all the way to the 1989 NCAA Final Eight with postseason wins over Providence, Middle Tennessee State and Oklahoma. The Cavaliers were sparked by the steady, heads-up play of sophomore point guard John Crotty, whose 208 assists set a UVa single-season record, the explosive scoring (20.4 points per game average) of senior guard Richard Morgan and the consistent inside play on both ends of the floor by freshman forward/guard Bryant Stith (15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds per game).
Morgan, a first-team All-ACC selection, finished his career as Virginia’s sixth all-time leading scorer with 1,540 points. Stith, meanwhile, set a UVa freshman scoring record with 513 points and was named the 1989 ACC Rookie of the Year.
Holland Leaves Winning Legacy
Following Virginia’s 1989-90 campaign, Holland departed after 16 seasons as UVa’s head coach to become athletic director at his alma mater, Davidson College. Determined to make Holland’s final season at UVa a memorable one, the Cavaliers did just that-posting a 20-12 record, while advancing to the championship game of the ACC Tournament and earning a bid to the 1990 NCAA Tournament. Stith, a first-team All-ACC selection, led the Cavaliers in scoring (20.8 ppg), while Crotty dished out 214 assists to break his own previous single-season record of 208.
Largely responsible for establishing Virginia as a perennial powerhouse on the conference and national level, Holland guided Virginia to postseason play 13 times (nine NCAA, four NIT), leading UVa to the NIT championship in 1980 and to NCAA Final Four appearances in 1981 and 1984. His Virginia teams compiled an overall record of 326-173 (.653), making him the winningest coach in UVa men’s basketball history.
Jones Continues Winning Tradition
Holland was succeeded as head coach at Virginia by Jeff Jones, a member of the UVa basketball coaching staff from 1982-1990 and a former standout player for the Cavaliers from 1979-1982. The eighth head coach in UVa men’s basketball history, Jones led the 1990-91 Cavaliers to a 21-12 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. In the process, he became the winningest first-year head coach in ACC history.
Jones enjoyed continued success in 1991-92 as Virginia overcame one of the toughest schedules in the country to post a 20-13 record and win the National Invitation Tournament. Jones became the first individual in basketball history to win an NIT championship as both a player (in 1980) and a head coach. The Cavaliers edged Florida 62-56 in the semifinals before defeating Notre Dame 81-76 in overtime to clinch UVa’s second NIT title.
Stith Finishes in Style
Adding to the luster of Virginia’s historic 1992 championship season was the incomparable all-around play of Stith, who was busy making a little history of his own.
The sixth Cavalier to have his jersey number retired, Stith passed Lamp as UVa’s all-time leading scorer with 2,516 career points and became Virginia’s second all-time leading rebounder (859) behind Sampson. He posted the fourth-highest point total in ACC history and became the all-time Division I scoring leader in the state of Virginia. The three-time All-ACC selection averaged 20.7 points per game as a senior in 1991-92 and his 684 points marked the third highest season total in UVa history. The 6-5 swing-man scored a team-high 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds against Notre Dame in the NIT finals as he captured tournament MVP honors.
Virginia soared even higher during its first post-Stith season. The 1992-93 Cavaliers climbed as high as seventh in The Associated Press poll and reached the NCAA Tournament “Sweet Sixteen.” UVa finished with a 21-10 overall record (9-7 ACC) after opening the season with an 11-game winning streak. Sophomore sensation Cory Alexander led the 1992-93 Cavaliers in scoring and assists while establishing himself as one of the nation’s top point guards. Jones became the first coach in ACC history to win at least 20 games in each of his first three seasons.
The 1993-94 Cavaliers were forced to get by without Alexander, who was lost for the season after suffering a broken ankle only 11 minutes into Virginia’s opening game. The Cavaliers nonetheless defied the critics by reaching the ACC Tournament finals for the first time since 1990 and clawing their way to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers finished the season 18-13 while laying a solid foundation for the future.
Comeback Cavs Advance to Final Eight
With Alexander fully recovered, expectations once again were high in Charlottesville for the 1994-95 Cavaliers. Virginia began the season ranked 14th in the nation in The Associated Press media poll and returned four starters along with Alexander. But Virginia finished its early season non-league schedule at a disappointing 6-3 and fell from the rankings.
Rallying from behind, however, was no problem for this Cavalier team, which relished its underdog role throughout the season. Virginia opened its ACC campaign with a 4-0 start, including a 91-88 double-overtime victory on the road against 16th-ranked Duke. Down 23 points early in the second half, the Cavaliers posted one of the greatest comeback wins in school history.
Virginia also refused to fold following the sudden loss of Alexander, who suffered a season-ending broken ankle against N.C. State in early February. With numerous players again stepping up in his absence, UVa won 11 of its final 14 games.
For their effort, the 1994-95 Cavaliers were rewarded with one of the finest seasons in Virginia basketball history. Ranked eighth by USA Today/CNN and 13th by the AP in the final polls, UVa finished with a 25-9 record (12-4 ACC) and advanced to the Midwest Region finals of the NCAA Tournament for Virginia’s first “Elite Eight” appearance since 1989. The Cavaliers also claimed a share of their first ACC regular season title since 1983.
UVa’s NCAA Tournament success was highlighted by a 67-58 win over fifth-ranked and number-one seeded Kansas in the regional semifinals.
Senior forward Junior Burrough turned in an outstanding senior season, leading the Cavaliers in both points (18.1 per game) and rebounds (8.7 per game).
With a thrilling 63-62 victory over Virginia Tech in Richmond on Feb. 28, Jones gained his 100th career victory in only 155 games and became the second-fastest in UVa history to reach the century mark.
Faced with the departures of front line stalwarts Burrough, Jason Williford and Yuri Barnes, and NBA first-round draft choice Alexander, Virginia suffered its first losing season in eight years in 1995-96.
The Cavaliers resumed their winning ways in 1996-97, finishing 18-13 and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in seven years under Jones. Virginia fought its way through a rugged regular season schedule-defeating three nationally-ranked opponents-before losing to Iowa in the first round of the 1997 NCAA West Regional.
Staples and Nolan Leave Indelible Mark
Although the 1997-98 Cavaliers enjoyed little team success-finishing 11-19 overall, 3-13 in the ACC-Curtis Staples and Norman Nolan gave two of the finest individual performances in school history. Staples averaged a career-high 18.1 points per game and led the nation with a school-record 130 three-point field goals (4.3 per game average). He finished his collegiate career with NCAA records for three-point field goals made (413) and attempted (1079). He scored 1,757 career points to rank eighth in school history.
While Staples excelled from beyond the arc, Nolan did most of his damage inside the paint. The power forward averaged 21.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in 1997-98 to rank third in the ACC in both categories. His 21.0 points per game average marked the highest by a Cavalier since Jeff Lamp led the conference with a 22.9 scoring average in 1978-79.
Jones resigned as Virginia’s head coach in March of 1998 after compiling an eight-year record of 146-104. He led UVa to five NCAA tournament appearances and the 1992 NIT championship.
Gillen has Cavaliers Off and Running
Pete Gillen was named Jones’ successor on March 28, 1998. He accepted the Cavalier coaching post after previously directing nationally-successful programs at Xavier and Providence.
Rallying behind their new coach and his trademark up-tempo style of play, Virginia finished the 1998-99 season with a deceiving 14-16 record under difficult circumstances.
UVa entered the season with just seven scholarship players (no seniors) and seven walk-ons, five of whom were added from open tryouts among the student body. The Cavaliers were also hit hard by injury and illness, losing starting center Colin Ducharme for all but one game due to a broken ankle.
In spite of such obstacles, Gillen’s first UVa team captured the hearts of Virginia fans and gained praise from opposing teams and the media alike for its all-out effort, exciting play and courage. Picked by many observers to go winless in the ACC, Virginia notched conference wins over 25th-ranked Clemson, Florida State, Wake Forest and NC State.
Freshman Chris Williams became the third Cavalier in school history to earn ACC Rookie of the Year honors, joining Sampson (1980) and Stith (1989).
With a renewed sense of optimism surrounding the Cavalier basketball program, Virginia returned nine lettermen in 1999-2000, including four starters from the previous season and Ducharme. Joining the veterans were Keith Friel, a sharp-shooting transfer from Notre Dame who sat out the 1998-99 season, and five new scholarship players.
It didn’t take long for the increased depth and talent to make a positive difference.
In the first season of the new millennium, the Cavaliers went 19-12 overall and tied for third in the ACC with a 9-7 finish. Virginia defeated North Carolina both times during the regular season, winning in Chapel Hill and sweeping the Tar Heels for the first time since 1981. The Cavaliers also defeated 17th-ranked Maryland at home (89-87 in overtime).
UVa returned to postseason play for the first time in three years, losing to Georgetown 115-111 in triple overtime in the opening round of the 2000 NIT at University Hall.
The positive momentum surrounding the men’s basketball program continued to build throughout the 2000-01 season as Virginia compiled a 20-9 overall record (9-7 ACC) and reached the NCAA Tournament.
UVa was ranked in both major polls for all but one week of the 2000-01 season, climbing as high as sixth in the AP poll (in early February) and ninth in the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll (on five occasions). Virginia received final rankings of 16th in the AP poll and 21st in the USA Today/ESPN poll.
Returning to NCAA postseason play for the first time since 1997, Virginia fell to Gonzaga 86-85 in the opening round of the South Region Tournament in Memphis, Tenn.
Ranked 11th by the AP in the preseason, the 2001-02 Cavaliers soared to No. 4 in the national polls (AP and USA Today/ESPN) after racing to a 9-0 start that included notable road wins over Auburn and against 16th-ranked Georgetown in the John Thompson Foundation Classic.
Despite Virginia’s early-season momentum, injuries, youthful inexperience and other factors took their toll on the Cavaliers.
Virginia dropped 10 of its last 13 games to finish 17-12 overall (7-9 ACC). One of the three victories was a nationally-televised 87-84 upset over No. 3 Duke in the Cavaliers’ final home game of the regular season.
The Cavaliers ended the 2001-02 season with a 74-67 loss to South Carolina in the first round of the NIT at University Hall.
Junior Travis Watson led the ACC in four statistical categories in 2001-02, including rebounding (272, 9.7 rpg) and double-doubles (17). He became the first UVa player to lead the ACC in rebounds since Sampson in 1983.
The loss of four starters signaled a season of major transition for the 2002-03 Cavaliers. After a promising start, a schedule that featured 10 games against ranked opponents eventually took its toll on the Cavaliers. Virginia dropped 12 of its final 17 regular season games, including a first-round ACC Tournament loss to Duke.
Despite falling out of contention for the NCAA Tournament, Virginia received a bid to the 2003 NIT. Making their fourth consecutive postseason appearance under Gillen, the Cavaliers defeated Brown at home before losing on the road in the second round to St. John’s. Virginia finished the 2002-03 season with a 16-16 record (6-10 ACC).
Virginia’s 2003-04 team reached postseason play for the fifth consecutive season as the Cavaliers finished with an overall record of 18-13 and advanced to the second round of the National Invitation Tournament for the second consecutive year.
Gillen won the 100th game of his Virginia career when the Cavaliers won at Clemson on Feb. 21, 2004. He is the sixth UVa men’s head basketball coach to win 100 games with the Cavaliers.
Celebrating 100 Years
Virginia opened its 100th season in 2004-05 with six consecutive victories, including a 78-60 win over 10th-ranked Arizona at University Hall and a 48-44 victory at Northwestern in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Cavaliers stood 8-1 as they celebrated New Year’s Day 2005.
That would be the apex of the season for Virginia. The Cavaliers struggled the rest of the way, compiling a 6-14 record over the last 20 games to finish 14-15 overall and 4-12 in the ACC. It was UVa’s first losing season since Gillen’s first season in Charlottesville in 1998-99.
Gillen stepped down as Virginia’s men’s head basketball coach on March 14, 2005. His seven UVa teams compiled an overall record of 118-93 and competed in five postseason tournaments (one NCAA and four NIT).
Virginia Athletics Director Craig Littlepage announced the appointment of Dave Leitao as men’s head basketball coach on April 16, 2005.
The Leitao Era Begins
The 2005-06 season marked the beginning of one era in Virginia’s men’s basketball history and the end of another. The season was Dave Leitao’s first as head coach of the Cavaliers and Virginia’s last with University Hall as its home court.
The Dave Leitao era at Virginia began better than most experts and fans had anticipated. Picked to finish last in the 12-team Atlantic Coast Conference in the 2005-06 preseason, the Cavaliers finished the regular season tied for seventh and won seven conference games, three more than the previous season. UVa also won its opening round game in the ACC Tournament and returned to postseason play with an invitation to the National Invitation Tournament. Virginia finished the season with an overall record of 15-15.
UVa’s invitation to participate in the NIT provided the program with its sixth postseason appearance in the last seven years. The Cavaliers’ 65-49 loss at Stanford in the opening round of the tournament ended Virginia’s season.
Sean Singletary, a sophomore, averaged 17.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists a game, and earned first-team All-ACC honors. He was the first Virginia men’s basketball player to earn first-team All-ACC honors since Bryant Stith in 1992.
J.R. Reynolds, a junior, averaged 17.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists a game, and earned third-team All-ACC honors.
The University Hall era as Virginia’s home court came to a bittersweet end on March 5 when Maryland edged the Cavaliers 71-70 in the team’s final game in the building. Many of UVa’s former players were in attendance for the game.
Virginia compiled a home record of 11-3 in its final season at University Hall and in 41 seasons in the building had a record of 402-143 (.738 winning percentage).
After calling University Hall home since the 1965-66 season, the Cavaliers moved across the street to their new facility, the John Paul Jones Arena, for the 2006-07 season.
John Paul Jones Arena Opens
The Cavaliers enjoyed a banner 2006-07 season in their first year in the John Paul Jones Arena. Virginia tied for the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season championship with a conference record of 11-5, finished the season with an overall record of 21-11 and advanced to the second round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. It was the first 20-win season for the Cavaliers since 2000-01 and the most conference wins in a season for the program since 1994-95 when Virginia finished 12-4. The Cavaliers defeated four teams ranked in The Associated Press Top-25 during the regular season. The postseason tournament appearance was the seventh for UVa in the last eight years and the first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001.
The Cavaliers clearly enjoyed playing in the John Paul Jones Arena as they compiled a 16-1 record at home. Virginia established program season records with the 16 home victories and an average per game attendance of 13,521 for 17 home games. UVa was 8-0 at home against ACC opponents.
Virginia head coach Dave Leitao was named the ACC Coach of the Year and was honored as the District 5 Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). He is the first UVa men’s basketball coach to be named ACC Coach of the Year since Terry Holland in 1982.
Singletary earned numerous All-America honors in 2006-07, including third-team All-America recognition by the NABC and Collegehoops.net. It marked the first time a Cavalier player had been named a first, second or third-team All-American since Ralph Sampson in 1983. Singletary was a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, one of 11 players on the Wooden Award ballot and a candidate for the Naismith Trophy.
Singletary also earned first-team All-ACC recognition for the second consecutive season. He is the first UVa player to earn first-team all-league honors twice since Bryant Stith garnered the honor three consecutive years – 1990, 1991 and 1992. He is only the fifth Virginia player to be a first-team All-ACC selection more than once (Stith and Ralph Sampson – three times, Buzzy Wilkinson and Jeff Lamp – twice).
Reynolds earned All-ACC recognition for the second consecutive season. He was a second-team All-ACC selection in 2007 after receiving third-team recognition in 2006.
The season also featured a seven-game conference-winning streak in January and February. It’s the longest ACC winning streak for the Cavaliers since they had 11 consecutive conference victories in the 1981-82 season. There were three road wins in the winning streak, including a remarkable victory at Clemson when UVa scored the final 15 points to win 64-63. Virginia defeated Maryland, Wake Forest, Duke and Miami at home, and also won at NC State and Maryland during the successful stretch.
The Cavaliers finished the 2007-08 season with an overall record of 17-16 (5-11 ACC) and advanced to the semifinals of the inaugural College Basketball Invitational. It marked the third different postseason tournament for Virginia in Dave Leitao’s three seasons as UVa’s head coach.
Virginia opened the season with five consecutive victories and had a record of 10-2 on Jan. 1. Injuries and inconsistent play hampered the Cavaliers in the second half of the season, but UVa rallied to win four of its final six regular season ACC games and six of its final 10 games overall.
Among the season highlights for the Cavaliers were a 75-72 victory at No. 17 Arizona and a 76-74 win at Georgia Tech when guard Calvin Baker made a three-pointer with 4.2 seconds to play.
Guard Sean Singletary completed his outstanding career at Virginia in 2007-08 and his jersey was retired prior to his final regular-season game at John Paul Jones Arena. He averaged 19.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 6.1 assists a game and earned first-team All-ACC honors for the third consecutive year. Singletary is the third UVa player to earn first-team All-ACC honors three times and is one of five Virginia players to score 2,000 career points. He was the only player in Division I during the 2007-08 season to have a 40-point scoring game, a 10-rebound game and a 10-assist game. Singletary concluded his Virginia career by scoring in double figures in a program-record 55 consecutive games and he is the first player in ACC history to have 2,000 points, 500 assists, 400 rebounds and 200 steals in a career.
Freshman Sylven Landesberg became the fourth Virginia player to earn ACC Rookie of the Year honors, senior Mamadi Diane reached 1,000 points for his UVa career and the Cavaliers had home victories over nationally-ranked Clemson and in-state rival Virginia Tech, but unfortunately there weren’t enough other highlights during the 2008-09 season. The Cavaliers suffered through an eight-game losing streak and won just three of their last 16 games in compiling an overall record of 10-18, including a 4-12 mark in the ACC.
Landesberg led the team in scoring with an average of 16.6 points a game, was named ACC Rookie of the Week six times during the season and was a unanimous selection to the conference’s All-Freshmen Team in addition to his Rookie of the Year recognition. Diane finished his Virginia career with 1,022 points and became the 42nd player in UVa’s men’s basketball history to score 1,000 points in a career.
Landesberg scored a game-high 23 points in the Cavaliers’ 85-81 overtime victory against No. 12 Clemson at the John Paul Jones Arena and added a team-high 19 points in the 75-61 win over Virginia Tech.
Former Virginia standpoint Sean Singletary’s No. 44 was retired during ceremonies at halftime of the Clemson game at JPJA on Feb. 15. He is the seventh UVa men’s basketball player to have his number retired.
Leitao resigned as UVa’s head coach after the conclusion of the season in March of 2009. His four Virginia teams compiled an overall record of 63-60 and participated in three postseason tournaments.
Tony Bennett Named Head Coach
The appointment of Tony Bennett as men’s head basketball coach at Virginia was announced on March 31, 2009.
Virginia finished its first season under the direction of Tony Bennett in 2009-10 with an overall record of 15-16 and a 5-11 record in the ACC. The Cavaliers surpassed their win totals from the previous season overall and in the ACC. UVa opened the ACC season 3-0 for the first time since 1994-95, defeated three ranked opponents and had both an eight-game winning streak and a nine-game losing streak during the season. Sophomore guard Sylven Landesberg led Virginia in scoring with an average of 17.3 points a game and earned second-team All-ACC recognition, while junior forward Mike Scott averaged 12.0 points and a team-leading 7.2 rebounds a game. Senior forward/center Jerome Meyinsse received the ACC’s Skip Prosser Award as the conference’s top men’s basketball student-athlete.
Virginia compiled a 16-15 overall record and was 7-9 in the ACC in 2010-11. It was the first winning season for the Cavaliers since 2007-08. UVa’s seven conference wins were the most since 2006-07 when the Cavaliers were 11-5 and tied for the ACC regular season championship. Virginia allowed 62.4 points a game, the fewest points allowed per game by the Cavaliers in the shot clock era. Tony Bennett recorded his 100th win as a collegiate head coach when UVa won at Maryland in the regular season finale. Virginia won four of its last five regular season games. Senior guard Mustapha Farrakhan averaged a career-high 13.5 points a game and earned honorable mention All-ACC honors. Senior forward Mike Scott averaged 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds a game, but played in only 10 games because of an ankle injury. Freshman guard Joe Harris averaged 10.4 points a game and led the team with 65 three-point field goals, the second best total for a Cavalier freshman in a season.
Former Virginia standout Ralph Sampson was one of eight members of the 2011 induction class for the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Sampson was a three-time National and ACC Player of the Year and a four-time All-American at UVa.