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Dec. 12, 1997

Virginia Takes on Virginia Commonwealth

Virginia vs. Virginia Commonwealth
December 13, 1997  --  7:30 p.m.
Robins Center 
Richmond, Va.

The Series vs. Virginia Commonwealth

Virginia holds an 8-1 lead in the series against Virginia Commonwealth that dates back to the 1976-77 season. The Cavaliers are 3-1 against the Rams in Richmond when the teams met in the now defunct Richmond Times-Dispatch Invitational Tournament (T-DIT) played on the Rams' home court at the Richmond Coliseum. This is the first meeting between the two schools in Richmond that isn't part of that tournament.

The Cavaliers downed the Rams 80-65 in Charlottesville two seasons ago in the most recent meeting between the two schools. Several current Cavaliers had big games to help Virginia win. Norman Nolan led UVa with 21 points, the first 20-point game of his career. Chase Metheney pulled down a game-high nine rebounds which is still the second-best effort of his career. Curtis Staples tossed in three three-pointers and finished with 13 points. The Cavaliers committed just nine turnovers and shot 47.8 percent from the field. Virginia held VCU to 38.1 percent field goal shooting.

Virginia vs. the CAA

The Cavaliers are 135-68 (.665) against the nine schools in the Colonial Athletic Association. Most of the games occurred prior to a school's membership in the CAA.

In all games against the current membership of the CAA, Virginia is 51-26 vs. William & Mary, 48-36 vs. Richmond, 8-4 vs. Old Dominion, 8-1 vs. VCU, 7-0 vs. James Madison, 6-0 vs. George Mason, 4-1 vs. American, 2-0 vs. North Carolina-Wilmington and 1-0 vs. East Carolina.

Since the CAA's inaugural season in 1982-83, the Cavaliers are 26-5 vs. CAA schools.

This is the Cavaliers' fourth game of the season against a CAA opponent. They began the season with an 83-79 double overtime loss to Richmond at the Robins Center. They bounced back to defeat William & Mary 59-45 and George Mason 60-45 at University Hall.

Virginia won all three games against CAA teams a year ago.

Home Away From Home

This is Virginia's second game of the season at the Robins Center on the campus of the University of Richmond. The Cavaliers are scheduled to play three games, including one ACC contest, in Richmond this season and each of the next three seasons as part of the NationsBank Virginia Challenge.

The Cavaliers kicked off the series (and this season) by losing to Richmond 83-79 in double overtime at the Robins Center last month. Early next month (Jan. 4) they play ACC-foe Wake Forest at the Robins Center.

Returning to the State Capital

This is Virginia's second game of the season in Richmond. The Cavaliers fell to Richmond in the season opener and are slated to play Wake Forest in the capital of the Old Dominion on January 4.

Richmond has been a frequent site for Virginia basketball games throughout the years. In fact, besides Charlottesville, Richmond trails only Lexington, Va., as the most frequent site of Cavalier basketball games.

Through the years, the Cavaliers have played 85 games in Lexington, home of VMI and Washington & Lee.

Tonight's game is the 79th game in the history of the Virginia program played in Richmond. The Cavaliers are 45-33 all-time in Richmond.

Turnovers Kill Cavaliers

In its last two contests, Virginia has out-rebounded top-ranked Duke and #13 Connecticut, shot a combined 43.4 percent from the field and allowed just two opposing starters in each game to score in double figures. Still the Cavaliers have lost both contests, due in large part to turnovers.

The Cavaliers committed a season-high 28 miscues against Duke in losing 103-59. After scoring the game's first two points, Virginia turned the ball over on six of its next seven possessions as Duke scored 13 unanswered points. For the game, Duke scored 34 points off turnovers.

Virginia turned the ball over 19 times against Connecticut and the Huskies scored 16 points off turnovers in a 74-63 win on Wednesday.

So far this season the Cavaliers have not done a particularly good job of protecting the basketball, averaging 19.3 turnovers per game.

Earlier in the season the Cavaliers had 27 turnovers in a 60-45 win over George Mason.

In six of seven games this season, Virginia has had more turnovers than assists. The Richmond game is the exception as Virginia had 13 assists and a season-low 12 turnovers.

A Helping "Hand" Off the Bench

Freshman point guard Donald Hand opened the season in the starting line-up, before giving way to Chezley Watson for four games.

Hand returned to the starting five against Duke last Saturday, but was replaced in the starting line-up by Pete McLaughlin for last Wednesday's game against UConn.

As has been the case early this season, Hand seemed to play better against the Huskies after coming off the bench. He responded with eight points and a team-leading six assists in 30 minutes against the nation's 13th-ranked club.

Hand's top-three scoring performances, his three-longest stints and his four top assist totals have all come in games when he has come off the bench.

A look at his starting vs. relief statistics are below.

            Pts. Rebs. Ast. TO   Stl. Min.
starter (2) 2.5  1.5   1.5  3.5  1.0  15.5
reserve (5) 5.6  2.6   3.8  2.6  1.6  20.0
Season      4.7  2.3   3.1  2.9  1.4  18.7

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 44.1 percent from the field. This is a marked improvement from last season's mark of 42.7 percent.

Virginia has topped the 40-percent mark in every game this season. The season high is 46.2 percent vs. Appalachian State, while the low is 41.4 percent last Wednesday vs. Connecticut.

Last season the Cavaliers topped 45 percent 12 times in 31 games, and shot less than 40 percent from the field in 10 contests.

If the Cavaliers can keep going at their current rate this season, it would mark their best percentage since the 1990-91 squad shot 45.5 percent from the field.

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.

Through the first seven games one of the two has led Virginia in scoring in each game.

Nolan scored a career-high 31 points to lead UVa against Richmond in the season opener on November 16. He paced the Cavaliers again with 17 points vs. William & Mary in this season's second game.

He has led the team in scoring the last three contests with 17 points against Appalachian State, 19 points vs. top-ranked Duke last Saturday and 16 vs. Connecticut on Wednesday.

The senior from Baltimore, Md., is fourth in the ACC in scoring with an 18.1 points per game average.

Staples tossed in 26 points against Richmond and 15 vs. William & Mary. He connected on five three-pointers and scored a game-high 23 points in the win over George Mason on November 22. He paced the Cavaliers in scoring for the second consecutive game against Delaware with 19 points. He also tied his career high with nine rebounds.

Staples is second on the team (and sixth in the ACC), averaging 17.4 ppg.

Between them, Staples and Nolan have scored more than half of Virginia's points this season (249 of 446).

Staples Works on the Boards

Curtis Staples has a well-deserved reputation as one of the nation's top long-range shooters, but an overlooked aspect of his game is his rebounding ability.

Standing just 6-3, Staples is second on the team in rebounding this season with a 6.0 rebounding average. His average should come as no surprise as his 4.6 rpg mark was second among ACC guards last season.

He tied his career high with a team-leading nine caroms against Delaware on November 25. He nearly equalled that performance with eight rebounds against Duke last Saturday. His eight rebounds were more than any Duke player had in the game.

In the last 30 years, Cornel Parker is the only Cavalier perimeter player to average more than five rebounds per game in a season. A 6-7 swingman, Parker averaged 6.9 boards per game in 1992-93.

Bench Plays Big Role in Recent Wins

The contributions from Virginia's reserves have been increasing in recent games and the bench has contributed significantly in the Cavaliers' last two wins--over Delaware and Appalachian State.

Colin Ducharme came off the bench against Delaware and turned in a solid performance to help the Cavaliers down the homestanding Blue Hens.

Ducharme scored 11 points and grabbed four rebounds as Virginia won a tight contest 64-57.

Ducharme played another key role in the 62-54 win over Appalachian State. He scored 14 points and hauled in a career-high 11 rebounds in just 23 minutes.

Donald Hand also turned in perhaps his best game against the Mountaineers with a career-high eight assists and eight points. He also snatched four rebounds and made three steals.

Hand's performance was his second fine performance in a row. He scored 10 points and had five rebounds against Delaware in the game right before Appalachian State.

Despite the loss to Duke last Saturday, Monte Marcaccini and Chase Metheney played well off the bench. Marcaccini grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds in 27 minutes, while Metheney tossed in a career-high 12 points in his first game off the bench this season.

Hand and Marcaccini led the reserves with eight points each against Connecticut on Wednesday, while Metheney added seven points. Marcaccini and Metheney each pulled down six rebounds to trail Norman Nolan's 11 for team-leading honors. Hand dished off six assists, while Marcaccini had four.

The bench's production recently is shown below.

              FGs   Rebs.   Pts.    Ast.    Stls.   Min.
Delaware     7-18   14      21      3        3      65
App. State  11-20   21      29      10       4      77
Duke         5-13   17      15      3        1      61
UConn        9-18   14      23      10       2      77
Last 4 avg. 46.4%   16.5    22.0    6.5     2.5    70.0

Staples 27th Player in NCAA History to 300

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 by averaging 3.7 three-pointers per game with 26 treys in seven games.

He has led the Cavaliers in scoring twice recently and has topped the 20-point plateau two times this season.

Staples has tossed in at least five three-pointers in two games this season, including a season-best seven threes in the opener against Richmond. In that game he connected on seven of 15 from behind the arc and scored 26 points.

He came back less than a week later against George Mason by hitting five of eight shots from behind the arc and finishing with a game-high 23 points.

In the last four games, defenses have made a concerted effort to limit Staples' ability to get shots off. Appalachian State shadowed him with a much taller player and the strategy seemed to work as Staples was two of seven from bonusland.

Duke, the nation's top-ranked squad and an outstanding defensive team, allowed Staples to attempt just five three-pointers. He made two and finished with 16 points.

He became just the 27th player in NCAA history to make 300 career three-pointers with his three against Delaware.

The ACC leader in three-point field goals made the last three seasons, Staples is tied for 20th in NCAA history for career three-pointers (309) and tied for 18th in three-point attempts (810).

His place on the NCAA career three-point list is below.

      Player, school, years                  3FGM
17.   Bernard Haslett, So. Miss., 1991-94     316
18.   Terry Dehere, Seton Hall, 1990-93       315
19.   Tom Pipkins, Duquesne, 1994-97          311
20.   Curtis Staples, Virginia, 1995-98       309
      Scott Hartzell, UNC-Greensboro, 1993-96 309

Nolan Paces Cavaliers in Early Going

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 five times and in rebounding four times.

He was a one-man wrecking crew for the Cavaliers in their loss to Richmond in the season opener on November 16. 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" against William & Mary, scoring 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

He posted his third consecutive "double double" against George Mason with 13 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.

Saddled with early foul trouble against Delaware, Nolan scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds in only 18 minutes of play. He scored two important baskets in the closing minutes to help the Cavaliers hold off the homestanding Blue Hens.

He returned to the "double double" column with a game-high 17 points and 10 rebounds to help the Cavaliers down Appalachian State 62-54 11 days ago.

One of the few bright spots in Virginia's 103-59 loss at top-ranked Duke last Saturday, Nolan scored a team-leading 19 points.

He paced the Cavaliers in both points (16) and rebounds (11) against #13 Connecticut last Wednesday.

Nolan is averaging 18.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game this season, while shooting 52.5 percent from the field. He is second in the ACC in rebounding, fourth in scoring and fifth in field goal percentage.

Two Rookies Start at Point Guard This Season

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 on November 16.

Jones shuffled the line-up a bit for the William & Mary game, starting Watson at point guard. Watson stayed in the starting line-up for the three contests immediately after that, but Hand returned as the starter against Duke last Saturday.

Alexander took over the reins from John Crotty as a freshman in 1991-92, Jones' second season as UVa'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.

Three See Starting Action at the Point Lately

Head coach Jeff Jones has started three different players at point guard this season--changing in each of the last three games.

Freshman Donald Hand started in the season opener against Richmond, but was replaced in the line-up by fellow rookie Chezley Watson in the next game.

Watson remained in the starting line-up for four games before giving the nod back to Hand last Saturday against Duke.

Hand's stint as the starter was short-lived as he was replaced by Pete McLaughlin for last Wednesday's game against Connecticut.

McLaughlin played 10 minutes against the Huskies in his first career start. Hand played 30 minutes against Connecticut and Watson played the final three minutes in his only action of the evening.

Nolan Leads ACC in "Double Doubles"

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

He is among the top-five in the ACC in scoring--fourth, averaging 18.1 ppg--and in rebounding--second, averaging 9.4 rpg.

Nolan leads the ACC with five "double doubles" in just seven games. He is the first Cavalier to record five "double doubles" in a seven-game span since Junior Burrough ended his stellar collegiate career with five in seven games to end the 1994-95 season.

Nolan had a career-high six "double doubles" last season and has 15 for his career.

Virginia Wins with Defense

Virginia has built a reputation for outstanding defensive play over the last 20 years and the tradition continues this season.

Richmond scored 83 points in downing the Cavaliers in the season opener, 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 three days later. 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).

George Mason couldn't muster much on the offensive end three weeks ago in Virginia's 60-45 win. The Patriots shot just 30.9 percent from the field and committed 23 turnovers.

Virginia's defensive clamps remained firm in the 64-57 win at Delaware as the Cavaliers held the Blue Hens to just 29.0 percent field goal shooting.

Virginia's opponents have shot 50 percent or better from the field in only 14 of the last 169 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          .372      65.9
Jones' career    .407      67.0

Dersch Leads Team in Assists

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 in the season opener against Richmond and played a fine game.

He scored nine points, grabbed six rebounds and led the team with 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 in the season's second game. Dersch also added eight points and six rebounds in 31 minutes of action.

He didn't score against George Mason, but contributed four assists and three rebounds in the game. His excellent work on the defensive end of the floor helped hold the Patriots to 30.9 percent shooting.

Dersch is having a rough time on the offensive end, averaging only 3.6 points per game, but leads the team with 25 assists.

Marcaccini Tops Double Digits

Junior Monte Marcaccini came off the bench against George Mason on November 22 and gave Virginia a big lift. Inserted for Chase Metheney as the Cavaliers went to a smaller line-up early in the game, Marcaccini responded with 12 points and four rebounds in the best performance of his Virginia career.

A transfer two years ago from Pepperdine, Marcaccini is known for his tough defensive play and rebounding prowess. He had several games last season with more rebounds than points, including an 11-rebound, no points effort against Delaware.

His 12 points in the George Mason game are the most he's scored at Virginia and the most he's scored since getting 20 points against Saint Mary's while at Pepperdine--a span of 27 appearances for him.

Demonstrating that he does the little things, he failed to score against Delaware, but grabbed five rebounds off the bench.

Against Duke last Saturday, he pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds, while scoring just three points.

As the first player off the bench last Wednesday against Connecticut, he scored eight points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out four assists (without a turnover) in 28 minutes of action.

In the last four games he has 27 rebounds and 18 points.

For the season Marcaccini is averaging 4.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. He has had more rebounds than points four times this season.

Four Reach Double Figures in Win

Norman Nolan and Curtis Staples have generally carried the scoring load for Virginia so far this season. They are the only Cavaliers averaging more than eight points per game. Nolan has scored at least 13 points in every game, while Staples has scored at least 15 in every game but one (eight points vs. Appalachian State).

Nolan and Staples were the only players in double figures in the first two games this season--a loss to Richmond and a win over William & Mary.

In those two games Nolan and Staples scored 89 of UVa's 138 points (64.5 percent).

In the five games since then, they have been joined in double digits by several other players.

Monte Marcaccini scored a season-high 12 points off the bench in helping lift Virginia to a 60-45 win over George Mason.

As the season progresses, more players are rounding their offensive games into form.

Four Cavaliers reached double figures in the win over Delaware on November 25. Staples and Nolan were their usual selves scoring 19 and 14 points, respectively, and were joined in the scoring parade by Colin Ducharme and Donald Hand. Ducharme chipped in 11 points and Hand 10 as both reached the 10-point plateau for the first time this season.

Last week Appalachian State held Staples in check with just eight points, but Nolan and Ducharme picked up the slack. Nolan scored 17 points, while Ducharme pumped in a season-best 14 points. Ducharme missed his career high by one point.

Chase Metheney scored a career-high 12 points off the bench in Virginia's loss to top-ranked Duke last Saturday. He scored more points against the Blue Devils than he had all season going into the game.

Nonetheless, one concern for head coach Jeff Jones and his staff is the heavy reliance on Nolan and Staples to provide the scoring. The Cavaliers have not had a starter other than those two score in double digits yet this season. Colin Ducharme scored nine points in a starting role against Connecticut on Wednesday, the most by a starter other than Nolan or Staples since Willie Dersch scored nine points against Richmond in the season opener.

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.


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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.

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