Nov. 21, 1997

Virginia vs. George Mason Pregame Notes

November 22, 1997, 1:00 p.m.
University Hall
Charlottesville, Va.

The Series vs. George Mason
Virginia has won all five meetings with George Mason, including wins in the four games in Charlottesville. The first three contests in Charlottesville occurred in the United Virginia Bank Tip-Off/Investors Classic tournament hosted by UVa from 1976-89. Virginia posted a record-setting 128-98 win over the Patriots during the 1994-95 season in the only non-tournament game at University Hall. The Cavaliers won last season's contest 106-93 in the first game on the Patriots' home court. Courtney Alexander led the way for Virginia with 26 points. Joining him in double figures was Curtis Staples (19), and Harold Deane and Jamal Robinson (17 each). Robinson completed a "double double" with a game-high 12 rebounds. Virginia used a hot shooting touch and Alexander's 14 points to jump to a 55-43 lead at halftime. The Cavaliers built the lead to as many as 27 points early in the second half thanks to a stretch where they made 14 of 16 shots. But despite the huge deficit, the Patriots didn't quit. They whittled the Cavaliers' lead to nine points with 6:49 left. Mason drew to within four points (86-82) with 4:23 remaining on a lay-up by Contrel Scott, but Staples' fourth three-point field goal of the game pushed Virginia's lead to seven points (89-82) with 3:36 left. An Avery Carey basket the next time down the court pulled George Mason closer at 89-84. Alexander offset that hoop with another clutch three-point field goal, increasing UVa's lead to 92-84 with 2:53 left. Virginia made 12 of 17 free throws in the final two minutes to hold off the Patriots. Virginia has topped the century mark in the last two meetings vs. George Mason--a school-record 128 points three seasons ago and 106 points last year.

Jeff Jones
Jeff Jones

Virginia vs. In-State Teams
This is the Cavaliers' third consecutive game against an in-state opponent as they open this season by playing three state schools. Virginia lost to Richmond last Sunday night 83-79 in double overtime and downed William & Mary 59-45 on Wednesday. The Cavaliers' loss to Richmond on Sunday snapped their eight-game winning streak over state schools since a loss to Virginia Tech early in the 1995-96 season. Virginia won all six games against state opponents last year. UVa hasn't lost more than one game in a season to state schools since the 1987-88 season when the Cavaliers were 1-3 vs. state foes. Since Jeff Jones arrived on the Grounds of the University as a first-yearman in 1978-79, the Cavaliers are 79-13 (.859) at all sites against in-state opponents. His record as head coach against state schools is 26-5 (.839).

Non-Conference Teams at University Hall
Virginia is 119-10 (.922) at home against non-conference opponents since Jeff Jones came to UVa as a freshman in 1978-79. The Cavaliers were 6-0 at home against non-conference opponents last season. They ran their home non-conference winning streak to 10 consecutive games with a 59-45 win over William & Mary on Wednesday. The last home court loss to a non-conference team was a 61-48 loss to Vanderbilt on December 5, 1995. Under Jeff Jones' direction the Cavaliers are 42-5 (.894) at U-Hall against non-conference teams. The Cavaliers have won 42 of their last 46 home games against non-conference opponents dating back to Jones' first year as head coach in 1990-91. Virginia is 165-24 (.873) all-time in University Hall against non-conference opponents since the building opened for the 1965-66 season.

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. George Mason has never won in four previous trips to University Hall. Since University Hall opened on November 25, 1965, the Cavaliers have compiled a 63-6 (.913) record against state schools on the hardwood at U-Hall. Virginia has won 40 consecutive home games against in-state teams. The Cavaliers' last loss to a state team at University Hall was a 65-61 loss to Old Dominion on December 2, 1978.

Two Freshmen Split Point Guard Duties
Head coach Jeff Jones has had a succession of rookie point guards in his eight years at the helm of the Cavalier program. The last two players to see significant action at point guard for Virginia both started as freshmen--Cory Alexander and Harold Deane. This season alone has seen the Cavaliers start two different freshmen point guards--Donald Hand and Chezley Watson. Hand won the preseason battle with Watson for the starting nod at point guard and started the season opener against Richmond last Sunday. Jones shuffled the line-up a bit for the William & Mary game on Wednesday, starting Watson at point guard. Alexander took over the reins for John Crotty as a freshman in 1991-92, Jones' second season as Virginia's head coach, and helped lead the Cavaliers to the NIT championship. When Alexander broke his ankle in the opener of the 1993-94 season, Deane immediately stepped into the line-up and started 27 of 31 games that season. An historical footnote shows that Jones started 13 games at point guard as a Cavalier freshman in 1978-79.

Facing a Former Member of the Virginia Staff
George Mason's trip to Charlottesville represents a homecoming of sorts for Patriot head coach Jim Larranaga. Larranaga, in his first year at George Mason, spent seven years as an assistant at Virginia under Terry Holland during the "Ralph Sampson" years. This game is one of three Virginia plays this season against a former member of Holland's UVa staff. The Cavaliers play Wake Forest, coached by former UVa assistant Dave Odom, twice this season. Jones was pitted against a member of his first Virginia staff last season as the Cavaliers defeated the Brian Ellerbe-coached Loyola Greyhounds 67-61. Holland, currently the athletic director at UVa, coached against one-time members of his Virginia staff several times during his 16-year stint as the Cavaliers' head coach. He coached the Cavaliers to wins against Craig Littlepage, currently a UVa senior associate athletic director, twice; once when Littlepage was the head coach at Pennsylvania and once when Littlepage coached at Rutgers. Littlepage was an assistant on Holland's staff at Virginia from 1976-82 and from 1988-90. He was the head coach at Pennsylvania from 1982-85 and at Rutgers from 1985-88. Holland's last season at Virginia (1989-90) saw him go against Odom's Wake Forest club. Odom was an assistant on the Virginia staff from 1982-89. Holland's Cavaliers gained a 71-70 overtime win over Odom's Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem, but Odom evened the score with a 51-50 win in Charlottesville in Holland's last game at University Hall. Jones, Larranaga and Odom were all assistants for Holland at Virginia for three seasons from 1984-86.

Opponents Shoot Blanks at University Hall
Virginia is 24-4 against non-conference opponents at University Hall over the last five 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 45.0 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 (46.0/g to 34.6/g). In contrast, the tables are turned in Virginia's home losses. The opponents shoot much better than Virginia (40.5 percent vs. 33.3 percent) and out-rebound the Cavaliers by a wide margin (49.5/g to 34.0/g). The two highest shooting percentages by non-conference opponents on Virginia's home floor the last five seasons have come in Virginia losses. Ohio shot 47.4 percent from the floor in a 94-83 win during the 1994-95 season, while Connecticut shot 46.3 percent in winning the 1993-94 season opener. Only eight of the last 28 non-conference opponents to come to University Hall have managed to make more than 40 percent of their field goal attempts.

Norman Nolan
Norman Nolan

Nolan Paces Cavaliers Twice
Senior forward Norman Nolan has been Virginia's primary inside scorer for the last three years. He led the team in scoring on eight occasions last season, the third-best mark on the team. So far this season he's displaying a strong inside game on both ends of the court, leading the team in scoring and rebounding in both games. He was a one-man wrecking crew for the Cavaliers in their loss to Richmond last Sunday. He scored a career-high 31 points, including one stretch where he scored 19 consecutive points for the Cavaliers. He also recorded his 11th career "double double" by pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds. He turned in his second consecutive "double double" Wednesday night against William & Mary, scoring 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. If he gets a "double double" today against George Mason, he would be the first Cavalier to post three consecutive "double doubles" since he accomplished the feat in the first three games of the 1995-96 season. Nolan is averaging 24.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game this season, while shooting 62.5 percent from the field.

Staples Moves Up NCAA List
Curtis Staples is known as one of the top three-point shooters in the nation. He displayed an accurate shooting eye last Sunday against Richmond by hitting seven of 15 three-point attempts and finishing with 26 points. His 15 three-point attempts tied the school record, while the seven made three-pointers is the second-highest total of his career. The ACC leader in three-point field goals made the last three seasons, Staples is 32nd in NCAA history for career three-pointers (293) and is 31st in history for three-point attempts (770). He needs seven threes to become just the 27th player in NCAA history to make at least 300 in a career.

Curtis Staples
Curtis Staples

Staples off to Fast Start
Curtis Staples poured in 26 points in the loss to Richmond last Sunday. He made nine of 18 field goal attempts, including seven of 15 from behind the arc. He followed that with 15 points in the win over William & Mary on Wednesday and is averaging 20.5 ppg through two games this season. The sharpshooter from Roanoke has typically been a slow starter, not reaching the 20-point plateau until deep into the season. Last season he didn't hit 20 points until he scored 20 against Radford in the 10th game of the season. Two years ago he waited until the 14th game of the year to score 20 against Georgia Tech. As a freshman in 1994-95 he reached 20 points once. He scored 27 points in a win over UNLV in the 22nd game of the season.

Dersch Shines in First Career Start
Willie Dersch came to Virginia a year ago as one of the nation's top recruits. With the Cavaliers featuring several experienced players at his position, he didn't get a lot of playing time last season, averaging 13.4 minutes per game in his 28 appearances. This season things have changed dramatically for the 6-5 swingman from Floral Park, N.Y. He made the first start of his career last Sunday against Richmond and played a fine game. He scored nine points, grabbed six rebounds and led the team wtih five assists in 47 minutes of play. Dersch tied Chezley Watson for game-high honors with four assists in UVa's win over William & Mary on Wednesday. Dersch also added eight points and six rebounds in 31 minutes of action.

Nolan and Staples Provide Scoring Punch
As Virginia's leading returning scorers, it is no surprise that Norman Nolan and Curtis Staples have carried the scoring load this season. Nolan scored a career-high 31 points to lead UVa against Richmond on Sunday. He paced the Cavaliers again with 17 points vs. William & Mary on Wednesday. Nolan leads the team with a 24.0 ppg average. Staples tossed in 26 points against Richmond and 15 vs. William & Mary. He is the only Cavalier besides Nolan to score in double figures this season and is averaging 20.5 ppg. Between them they have scored almost two-thirds of Virginia's points this season (89 of 138).

Colin Ducharme
Colin Ducharme

Three Starters Return for '97-98
The Cavaliers return three starters from last season--center Colin Ducharme, forward Norman Nolan and guard Curtis Staples. Virginia also returns two other players who started at least five games last season--Monte Marcaccini and Chase Metheney. Two others who averaged at least 10 minutes per game a year ago also return--Willie Dersch and Craig McAndrew.

Cavaliers Welcome Three Newcomers
The 1997-98 Virginia men's basketball team features three new faces. Joining 10 returning lettermen, including three returning starters, are Donald Hand, Greg Lyons and Chezley Watson. Hand, a 5-11 guard from Paterson, N.J., averaged 19.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 9.2 assists as a senior last season at Paterson Catholic High School. Lyons, a 6-4 guard from Mineola, N.Y., was a co-captain of the Holy Cross High School squad with current Cavalier Willie Dersch in 1995-96. Watson, a 6-2 guard from Gainesville, Ga., averaged 30.0 points 5.9 rebounds and 6.6 assists as a senior last year at East Hall High School. He also plans to play baseball at UVa.

Pete McLaughlin
Pete McLaughlin

Four Seniors Named Captains of '97-98 Squad
The four seniors--Mike Curtis, Pete McLaughlin, Norman Nolan and Curtis Staples--on the UVa men's basketball team will serve as captains for this season. Curtis, from Richmond, Va., joined the team as a walk-on three years ago. He appeared in six games last season as a reserve guard. Like Curtis, McLaughlin also joined the team as a walk-on. He played in nine games in 1996-97 as a reserve guard. McLaughlin saw his first action this season on Wednesday night against William & Mary and scored one point. Nolan, a two-year starter, led the team in rebounding a year ago with a 7.4 rebounds per game average. He also scored a career-high 11.3 points per game last season. This season he leads the team in scoring (24.0 ppg) and rebounding (11.0 rpg). Staples is Virginia's leading returning scorer this season. He averaged 13.9 points per game last season and led the Atlantic Coast Conference in three-point field goals per game (3.2). He is third in scoring among active ACC players (and 18th on UVa's all-time list) with 1255 points.

Staples Wins Gold Medal
Curtis Staples was a member of the USA's gold medal-winning squad at the World University Games in Italy this summer. Staples averaged 10.0 points per game in six games as the Americans won the gold medal for the fifth consecutive time. He and Eastern Michigan's Earl Boykins (15.7 ppg) were the team's only players to average in double figures. Staples came off the bench in the gold medal game against Canada and scored 12 points to spark the USA to a 72-64 win. He made four of seven shots from the field, including four of five from three-point range, grabbed four rebounds and blocked a shot in 19 minutes of action. His 19 points against Hong Kong was his high for the tournament.

Cavalier Duo Tops 25
Norman Nolan scored a career-high 31 points and Curtis Staples added 26 in Virginia's 83-79 double overtime loss to Richmond last Sunday. This marks the first time in three seasons that UVa had two players top 25 points in the same game. The last time this occurred, Harold Deane scored 28 and Staples 27 as Virginia defeated UNLV on February 12, 1995.

Three Times in a Row?
The Cavaliers have gone over the century mark each of the last two times they have played George Mason, including a school-record 128 points three seasons ago. If Virginia scores at least 100 points today, it would mark the second time in school history the Cavaliers reached triple figures in three consecutive games against one opponent. The Ralph Sampson-led team of 1982-83 scored over 100 points in all three games against Duke that season. Virginia's season high for points in two of the last three seasons has come against George Mason (1995, 1997).

Stokes Returns to His Alma Mater
Ricky Stokes, an assistant coach at Wake Forest for the last eight years, returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach on Jeff Jones' staff on May 8. Stokes, a 1984 UVa graduate, coached at Wake Forest under former UVa assistant coach Dave Odom from 1989-97. He was an assistant coach at Bowling Green in 1988-89 and a graduate assistant coach at UVa in 1985. A native of Richmond, Va., Stokes was a four-year basketball letterman at Virginia. He played in two Final Fours (1981 and 1984), and received the Frances Pomeroy Naismith-Hall of Fame Award in 1984 as the nation's most outstanding senior male collegiate basketball player under six-feet tall. He was co-captain of the team during the 1983-84 season, lived on UVa's prestigious Lawn as a senior and played in a UVa record 134 games. Stokes shot 53.4 percent from the field and 76.3 percent from the free throw line during his UVa career, and is currently ranked seventh on the school's career steals list (140). During his four years in the Virginia program, the Cavaliers compiled an overall record of 109-25 (.813) and participated in four NCAA Tournaments.

Virginia Wins with Defense
Virginia has built a reputation for outstanding defensive play over the last 20 years and last season continued the pattern. The Cavaliers allowed an average of 65.0 points per game and held the opposition to 40.9 percent field goal shooting. Twelve times last season opponents shot less than 38 percent from the field. The Cavaliers held the opposition under 40 percent 15 times. Richmond scored 83 points in downing the Cavaliers last Sunday, but shot just 33.3 percent from the field. As good as the Cavaliers' field goal percentage defense was against Richmond, it was even better against William & Mary on Wednesday. The Tribe scored just 45 points, while shooting 28.8 percent from the field. The Tribe's field goal shooting was the worst percentage by a Virginia opponent in 23 games, dating back to last season's Radford contest (27.9 percent). William & Mary's field goal percentage is the 15th-lowest mark in Virginia history. Virginia's opponents have shot 50 percent or better from the field in only 13 of the last 164 games dating back to the 1991-92 season. Virginia's defensive statistics under head coach Jeff Jones are listed below.

Year            FG% D   PPG allowed
1990-91         .442      68.5
1991-92         .424      65.2
1992-93         .405      69.3
1993-94         .394      65.7
1994-95         .390      66.8
1995-96         .394      68.8
1996-97         .409      65.0
1997-98         .313      64.0
Jones' career   .408      67.0