Jan. 16, 1998

Cavs Travel to Clemson for ACC Showdown

Virginia at Clemson
January 20, 1998 * 8:00 p.m.
Littlejohn Coliseum
Clemson, S.C.

The Series vs. the Tigers
Virginia leads the all-time series with Clemson 52-41. The Tigers have won three of the last four meetings with Virginia and swept the season series last season. Virginia has won 11 of the last 15 games dating back to the 1989-90 season.

All-time the Cavaliers are 13-16 at Littlejohn Coliseum and 17-26 in Clemson.

Jeff Jones is 10-4 against Clemson as UVa's head coach. The Cavaliers are 29-13 against the Tigers since Jones was a freshman guard at UVa during the 1978-79 season.

Nolan photo
Norman Nolan (File photo)

Nolan Among Nation’s Best Power Forwards
Norman Nolan may not get the national acclaim that some players get, but he is becoming one of the top power forwards in the game today.

The 6-8, 253-pound senior from Baltimore, Md., came to Virginia as a high school All-American. His first year he played behind Junior Burrough, who nearly led the Cavaliers to a Final Four berth in 1994-95.

Nolan started as a sophomore in 1995-96 and averaged 9.5 ppg and a team-best 7.0 rpg.

He was again the Cavaliers’ main man underneath last season and led the team in rebounding (7.4/g), while adding 11.3 ppg.

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.

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

Since Christmas, Nolan has put together a series of performances the likes of which haven’t been seen by Virginia fans since the days of Ralph Sampson.

Over his last nine games, Nolan is averaging 26.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He’s also shooting 53.6 percent from the floor and 76.4 percent from the free throw line.

He had reached the 20-point plateau in seven straight games leading up to last Thursday’s game against Georgia Tech, but fell one point short of extending his streak by scoring 19 points vs. the Yellow Jackets.

He got back on track in a big way Sunday by pouring in a career-high 35 points to power Virginia to an important ACC win over N.C. State.

Cavaliers and Tigers Play Nailbiters
In the 35 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 Virginia’s 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.

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

Cavaliers Cage Tiger Offense
Virginia 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 first meeting against Virginia 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 three times in the last nine 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 twice (51.3 percent at UVa 1991-92 and 51.0 percent in Clemson last season) and have scored more than 60 points only six times in 14 games.

Cavaliers Must Cut Down on Turnovers
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 16.6 turnovers per game and have three games of 20+ turnovers.

The Cavaliers have 92 more turnovers than the opposition so far this season. They have also attempted 44 fewer shots despite having 23 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 two games by five points, and others by four, eight and 11 points.

Strangely, two of Virginia’s three-lowest turnover totals have occurred in losses. The Cavaliers turned the ball over just 12 times against Richmond in the opener, but the Spiders scored 12 points off those turnovers and won by four points in double overtime.

The Cavaliers turned the ball over 12 times against Liberty on January 7. However, the Flames turned the extra possessions into 18 points and won by five points.

Overall this season the Cavaliers have a 0.91:1 assists-to-turnover ratio.

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

Nolan 11th 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 a 9.1 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 has grabbed 653 rebounds in his career, 11th in school history. Wally Walker is currently 10th with 665 career boards.

Virginia Wins with Defense

Jones photo
Coach Jeff Jones (File photo)
UVa has built a reputation for outstanding defensive play over the last 20 years and the tradition continues this season.

Virginia’s opponents have shot 50 percent or better from the field in only 17 of the last 180 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       .401     67.3
Jones’ career .408     67.0

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

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

The Cavaliers bounced back from the poor performance against Georgia Tech by shooting 52.5 percent in defeating N.C. State on Sunday. The Wolfpack came into the game allowing its opponents to make 41.6 percent of their shots, but the Cavaliers became only the third team all season to shoot better than 49 percent against N.C. State.

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

Already this season Virginia has topped 45 percent 10 times in 18 games.

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

Staples Sets ACC Record for Threes
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, ranking second in the nation with an average of 3.8 three-pointers per game.

Staples photo
Curtis Staples (File photo)

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

Staples has tossed in at least five three-pointers in eight 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 connected on three three-pointers in the win over N.C. State on Sunday. His third trey of the game was memorable for several reasons. It came with 1:21 left in the game and gave the Cavaliers the lead for good at 55-54.

The three-pointer also enabled him to move past former Georgia Tech standout Dennis Scott into first place in ACC history with 352 career three-pointers. Scott finished his career with 351.

Staples is now sixth in NCAA history with 352 career three-point field goals.

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

NCAA ACC  Player, school, years               3FGM
1.        Keith Veney, Lamar/Marshall, 93-97   409
2.        Doug Day, Radford, 1990-93           401
3.        Ronnie Schmitz, Mo.-K.C., 89-93      378
4.        Mark Alberts, Akron, 1988-93         375
5.        Jeff Fryer, Loyola Marymount, 87-90  363
6.   1.   Curtis Staples, Virginia, 1995-98    352
7.   2.   Dennis Scott, Ga. Tech, 1988-90      351

Something About the Water
That Curtis Staples is among the top three-point field goal shooters in NCAA history shouldn’t come as a surprise. What might be surprising, however, is the fact that he is one of three Virginia natives in the top-seven in NCAA history in three-point field goals made in a career.

Doug Day, a bomber at Radford University from 1990-93, is second in NCAA history with 401 career threes. He hailed from Blacksburg and Blacksburg High School.

Current NBA standout Dennis Scott played at Georgia Tech from 1988-90 and is second in ACC history behind Staples with 351 treys. He hails from Reston, and played his high school ball at Flint Hill.

Staples, from Roanoke, is sixth on the NCAA’s all-time list. He moved past Scott on Sunday with three three-pointers against N.C. State to run his career total to 352. He began his high school career at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, before concluding his prep days at Oak Hill Academy.

Nolan Leads ACC in “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 shaping up to be the best season of his career.

He is third in the ACC in both scoring—21.8 ppg—and rebounding—9.1 rpg—this season.

He leads the ACC in “double doubles” with 11 this season, including two in ACC contests.

Nolan’s 11 “double doubles” this season equals Junior Burrough’s total in 1994-95. Nolan has also tied Burrough for the most “double doubles” by a Cavalier in a season since Ralph Sampson’s career ended in 1983.

Nolan had six “double doubles” last season and now has 21 for his career.

He turned in a fabulous Rainbow Classic in Hawaii, recording “double doubles” in all three Virginia games.

Upon his return to the mainland, Nolan picked up where he left off in Hawaii by tying his then career-high of 31 points against Wake Forest in the first game of the new year. He also pulled down 12 rebounds for his fourth consecutive “double double.”

After consecutive near misses at “double doubles” against Liberty and North Carolina, Nolan recorded his 10th “double double” of the season against Virginia Tech last Monday by scoring 20 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. He got his 11th “double double” against Georgia Tech last Thursday with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

The series of “double double” near misses continued Sunday against N.C. State. Nolan poured in a career-high 35 points and had nine rebounds to fall one rebound short of a 12th “double double” this season.

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
Last 9 avg.    53.6%   76.4%  9.9   26.1
Season Avg.    54.3%   66.7%  9.1   21.8

Four in Double Figures
Virginia spread its scoring around in the win over Virginia Tech last week as four Cavaliers reached double figures, led by Norman Nolan’s 20 points. Colin Ducharme scored a career-high 16 points, while Curtis Staples added 13 and Willie Dersch chipped in with 10.

It was the fourth game this season at least four Cavaliers scored in double figures and Virginia has won them all.

In Jeff Jones’ eight years as Virginia’s head coach the Cavaliers have been remarkably successful when placing at least four players in double figures. His Cavalier squads are 70-15 with at least four players in double figures and have won nine of the last 10 games.

Cavaliers Connect from Charity Stripe
Virginia entered the Wake Forest game two weeks ago shooting 62.5 percent from the free throw line.

In the six games since then, the Cavaliers have shot a combined 76.5 percent from the line and upped the season percentage to 67.8 percent.

Among regulars Norman Nolan has led the charge in this span, shooting 83.3 percent (40 of 48). Nolan’s improved shooting is important because he gets to the line almost twice as often as any player on the team.

Colin Ducharme is also above 80 percent in the last six games. He has shot 82.8 percent (24 of 29) and was outstanding last week against Virginia Tech, making 10 of 11 attempts.

Curtis Staples has connected on 79.2 percent of his tries (19 of 24) in the last six games, while Willie Dersch has made seven of nine tries (77.8 percent).

Staples, Nolan Pass Scoring Milestones
Norman Nolan has been on fire offensively since Christmas, averaging 26.1 points per game since Santa Claus made his rounds.

His hot streak has enabled him to become the 32nd player in school history to score 1000 career points. He is now 29th in Virginia history with 1083 points.

Curtis Staples scored 16 points last Thursday against Georgia Tech to become the 11th player in school history to score at least 1500 points. He is 11th on UVa’s all-time scoring list with 1524 points.

Staples etched his name atop the ACC all-time three-point field goals made list Sunday against N.C. State. His three treys increased his career total to 352 and enabled him to pass former Georgia Tech star Dennis Scott (351).

Ducharme Records Career Highs vs. Hokies
Colin Ducharme is one of the team’s most intense players. Sometimes his intensity leads to being overly aggressive and a tendency to commit fouls.

Foul problems have been particularly bothersome for him lately. He was whistled for at least four fouls in six consecutive games leading up to last week’s encounter against state-rival Virginia Tech. In those six games he was averaging just 20.0 minutes of playing time per game.

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

He was able to work free underneath for several thunderous dunks and take some of the inside scoring pressure off Norman Nolan.

Ducharme also made the Hokie big men pay for fouls committed against him by connecting on 10 of 11 free throw attempts.

Playing what head coach Jeff Jones speculated was his best all-around game at Virginia, Ducharme also added nine rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots.

Ducharme leads the team in blocked shots (24), while averaging 7.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

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.

One of the two has led Virginia in scoring in every game this season. There have been 14 games this season where the duo has ranked 1-2 in scoring.

Nolan leads UVa in scoring, averaging 21.8 points per game.

The senior from Baltimore, Md., turned in a fabulous Rainbow Classic in Hawaii recently. He led the Cavaliers in scoring and rebounding in all three games, registering “double doubles” in all three contests.

Since returning to the mainland, Nolan hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down by scoring 31, 30, 29 and 20 points in four games recently. He reached the 20-point plateau in seven consecutive contests until last Thursday’s game against Georgia Tech when he scored 19 points. He got back on track in a big way by pouring in a career-high 35 points in the win over N.C. State on Sunday.

Staples had a rough night against Liberty two weeks ago, scoring just two points, but has bounced back with several solid efforts since that game. He scored 20 points against then #1 North Carolina 10 days ago. He was slowed somewhat by an attentive Virginia Tech defense last week and scored 13 points. He tossed in 16 points against Georgia Tech last Thursday and scored 16 points against N.C. State on Sunday.

He is the only other Cavalier in double figures, averaging 17.2 points per game

Staples paced UVa in the two games leading up to the trip to Hawaii with 20 points against VCU and 23 vs. VMI.

Between them, Staples and Nolan have scored more than half of Virginia’s points this season (702 of 1233).

Staples To Join Select UVa Group
Sharpshooter Curtis Staples has been one of Virginia’s most consistent scorers throughout his career, averaging between 11.9 and 14.0 points per game up to this season. So far this season he is averaging 17.2 points per game, the highest by a Virginia guard since Cory Alexander averaged 18.8 ppg as a sophomore in 1992-93.

Staples is 40 points away from becoming just the sixth player in school history to score at least 350 points in all four years of varsity play.

Jeff Lamp was the first Cavalier to score at least 350 points in four consecutive seasons. He was followed by Ralph Sampson, Bryant Stith, Junior Burrough and Harold Deane.

Four others scored 350+ points in their three seasons of varsity play before freshmen became eligible to play in 1972-73. They are Buzzy Wilkinson, Bob McCarty, Jim Connelly and Barry Parkhill.

Freshman Hand Runs the Point
Freshman Donald Hand has started the last nine games at point guard for the Cavaliers, the longest streak by a UVa starting point guard this season. He returned to the starting line-up for the Rainbow Classic after not starting the previous three games and played a key role in Virginia’s 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.

His scoring has been down a bit in the last several games, but he is becoming more assertive in leading the Cavalier attack with each game.

Against Virginia Tech last week, his drives into the lane helped open up things for Colin Ducharme and Norman Nolan inside.

He handed off a team-high seven assists, while grabbing a career-high six rebounds, against Georgia Tech last Thursday.

He tied Willie Dersch for game assists honors with four against N.C. State on Sunday.

Hand leads the team with 21 steals and is second in assists with 54. He is also averaging 4.4 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.

Second Half Rallies Frustrate Cavaliers
Virginia played 125 minutes of basketball in the recent Rainbow Classic and for approximately 95 of those minutes Virginia out-played its opponent. One of the factors that contributed to the Cavaliers’ 1-2 record in Hawaii was their inability to prevent the opposition from putting together impressive scoring runs in the second half. In all three games in Hawaii, the opponent eliminated or chipped away at substantial Virginia leads in the second half. Since returning to the mainland, Virginia hasn’t been able to completely reverse its second half luck.

The Cavaliers led Nebraska 35-28 at halftime, but the Cornhuskers used a 19-4 run to start the second half to grab the lead for good en route to an 80-65 win in UVa’s Rainbow Classic opener.

Virginia built a 23-point lead in its second game against Brigham Young early in the second half, only to see the Cougars cut the lead to four points with a 28-9 run. The Cavaliers regrouped after BYU drew to within 56-52, and cruised to a 72-54 win.

In the final game in Hawaii, Virginia led New Mexico State 50-39 with 14:48 remaining in the second half. The Aggies then outscored the Cavaliers 23-8 over the next 10 minutes to take the lead. The lead seesawed back and forth in the last few minutes of regulation before the Aggies forced the game into overtime. Virginia couldn’t regain the momentum in overtime and fell 87-82.

Virginia led Wake Forest 28-22 at halftime in the first game of the new year, but the Demon Deacons used a 13-6 run to start the second half to take the lead. Virginia fought back to regain the lead, but the Deacs closed the game with a 9-4 run in the last four minutes of regulation to force overtime.

The Cavaliers fell behind early in overtime, but held the Deacs scoreless over the last 3:24 while scoring the game’s final 10 points to win.

Virginia built a nine-point lead against Liberty (51-42) with 10:50 to play in the game on January 7. From there the Flames scored nine straight points to tie the score and they continued to keep the game close. Liberty then gained the upset win by out-scoring the Cavaliers 8-3 in the final 2:30 of the game.

The Cavaliers never had a first half lead Sunday against N.C. State, but did forge a tie at 24 at the break. They opened a quick 10-point lead in the second half (38-28 with 12:45 to play), but the Wolfpack took the lead with a 22-11 run in the next 10 minutes to take a slim lead. Virginia regrouped and took the lead for good (55-54) as Curtis Staples canned his ACC-record 352nd career three-pointer with 1:21 left to play.

Nolan Shines in Hawaii
With many NBA scouts in attendance at the Rainbow Classic in Hawaii, power forward Norman Nolan picked the perfect opportunity to have three of the best performances of his career.

He began the tournament with a 23-point, 11-rebound effort against Nebraska in the first round. Against Brigham Young he scored 24 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in a 72-54 Virginia win. New Mexico State didn’t have much luck slowing him down as he scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

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 Nebraska’s Tyronn Lue). He was the tournament’s second-leading rebounder with 31 boards, one fewer than Lester Earl of Kansas.