Jan. 26, 1998

Virginia to Visit Wake Forest Tuesday

Virginia vs. Wake Forest
January 27, 1998 at 8:00 p.m.
Lawrence Joel Coliseum
Winston-Salem, N.C.

Nolan Makes Push for Postseason Honors

Norman Nolan may not get the national acclaim that some players get, but he has clearly become one of the top power forwards in the college game today. He is at the top of his game right now and is a bonafide All-ACC candidate based on his play to date. 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 11 games, Nolan is averaging 24.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. He's also shooting 52.0 percent from the floor and 74.1 percent from the free throw line. He had reached the 20-point plateau in seven straight games leading up to the Georgia Tech game on January 15, 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 the next time out by pouring in a career-high 35 points to power Virginia to an important ACC win over N.C. State. He leads the ACC in "double doubles" this season with 11 and has been named ACC Player of the Week three times. He also has the top-three scoring outputs and the top rebounding effort in the ACC this season. Nolan is third in the conference in both scoring (21.2 ppg) and rebounding (8.8 rpg).

The Series vs. the Demon Deacons

Virginia won this season's first meeting 73-64 in overtime, but Wake Forest has won eight of the last 10 meetings and holds a 54-51 lead in the all-time series. Virginia has not had much luck on the western end of Tobacco Road. The Cavaliers are 2-6 in the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum and 10-27 all-time in Winston-Salem against Wake Forest. The Cavaliers' last victory at Wake Forest was a 61-59 win on January 26, 1994. Jason Williford was Virginia's star that evening. He scored 23 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Virginia's win over the Demon Deacons earlier this season was its first win in the series since a 67-49 win in Charlottesville two seasons ago. The Cavaliers have an opportunity to sweep the season series for the first time since the 1988-89 season. Virginia won nine consecutive meetings from 1986-1990, but has not had a winning streak of more than two games since.

Tough to Shoot Well vs. Wake Forest

Virginia has had a rough time recently on the offensive end against Wake Forest. Since Jeff Jones took over the coaching reins in 1990-91, Virginia has shot 50 percent or better from the floor against Wake Forest only twice (1990-91: 50.0%/33 of 66, UVa 83-WFU 80, University Hall; 1995-96: 60.5%/23 of 38, UVa 67-WFU 49, University Hall). In the 19 games Jones has coached against the Deacons, UVa is shooting 41.0 percent from the floor and is averaging 63.8 points per game. On the other hand, the Cavalier defense has been almost as stingy as Wake's. The Demon Deacons are making 42.2 percent of their field goal attempts over the last 19 games and are averaging 66.1 points per game. Wake Forest has topped 50+ percent from the floor only twice since Jones has been the head coach at Virginia. Those games are--52.1 percent (25-48) in a 74-66 win in Winston-Salem on February 10, 1991 and 55.8 percent (29-52) in an 81-64 win in Winston-Salem on January 24, 1996.

Turnovers Decrease Chances to Win

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 16.7 turnovers per game. Virginia has three games of 20+ turnovers and two others of 19 miscues. The Cavaliers have 102 more turnovers than the opposition so far this season. They have also attempted 41 fewer shots despite having 21 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, seven, eight and 11 points. Virginia committed 15 turnovers against top-ranked Duke on Saturday, while the Blue Devils had just eight. The differential proved to be important as Duke held a 17-6 scoring advantage in points off turnovers. The points were pivotal as Duke escaped with a seven-point win (72-65). 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 0.90:1 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 an 8.8 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 664 rebounds in his career, 11th in school history. Olden Polynice (ninth/667 rebounds) and Wally Walker (10th/665) loom immediately on the horizon for Nolan.

Virginia Wins with Defense

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 18 of the last 182 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  .408   67.7
Jones' 
career   .409   67.1
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 45.0 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 four games ago. (The season high is 58.9 percent vs. VMI on December 22.) The Cavaliers have gotten back on track since the Georgia Tech game, shooting a combined 46.8 percent from the field while facing some of the best defensive clubs in the nation (N.C. State, Clemson, Duke). In fact, Virginia has two of the top-five performances against Duke this season (46.2 percent and 45.5 percent). Already this season Virginia has topped 45 percent 11 times in 20 games after doing so just 12 times in 31 games a year ago. The Cavaliers have only one sub-40 percent game this season after compiling 10 last year. The Cavaliers' field goal shooting percentage this season is their best since shooting 45.5 percent in 1990-91. For the first time in nine seasons, Virginia has three players shooting better than 50 percent from the field while playing at least 10 minutes per game (Colin Ducharme, Kris Hunter, Norman Nolan). The 1988-89 squad had four (Matt Blundin, Bryant Stith, Kenny Turner, Curtis Williams).

Staples Sets ACC Three-Point Record

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, leading the nation with an average of 3.9 three-pointers per game. 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 nine 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 nine days ago. 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. That three-pointer also enabled him to move past former Georgia Tech standout Dennis Scott into first place in ACC history in career three-pointers. Scott finished his career with 351. Staples is now sixth in NCAA history with 361 career three-point field goals. His place on the NCAA career three-point list is below.

        Player, school, years                   3FGM
    1.  Keith Veney, Lamar/Marshall, 1993-97    409
    2.  Doug Day, Radford, 1990-93              401
    3.  Ronnie Schmitz, Missouri-K.C., 1989-93  378
    4.  Mark Alberts, Akron, 1988-93            375
    5.  Jeff Fryer, Loyola Marymount, 1987-90   363
    6.  Curtis Staples, Virginia, 1995-98       361
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--21.2 ppg--and rebounding--8.8 rpg--this season. He holds the ACC lead with 11 "double doubles," one more than Matt Harpring and Antawn Jamison. 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. 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. Nolan has hit a "double double" drought, going three games without one, his longest streak of the year. 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
Clemson         5-12    0-3     5       10
Duke            7-16    8-10    6       22
Last 11 avg.    52.0%   74.1%   9.1     24.3
Season Avg.     53.3%   66.2%   8.8     21.2
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 eight games since then, the Cavaliers have shot a combined 72.1 percent from the line and upped the season percentage to 66.7 percent. Among regulars Colin Ducharme has led the charge, shooting 84.8 percent (28 of 33) in the last eight contests. He was outstanding in the Cavaliers' win over in-state rival Virginia Tech, making 10 of 11 attempts. Norman Nolan has also improved his free throw shooting which is important for Virginia because he gets to the line almost twice as much as any player on the team. He is shooting 78.7 percent (48 of 61) in the last eight games. Curtis Staples has connected on 73.3 percent of his tries (22 of 30) in the last eight games, while Willie Dersch has made nine of 12 tries (75.0 percent).

Staples, Nolan Pass Scoring Milestones

Norman Nolan has been on fire offensively since Christmas, averaging 24.3 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 1115 points. Curtis Staples became the 11th player in school history to score at least 1500 points earlier this month and is now 10th on UVa's all-time scoring list with 1558 points. Staples also passed former Georgia Tech standout Dennis Scott and moved atop the ACC's all-time three-point field goals made list earlier this month. Staples now has 361 career three-pointers, sixth in NCAA history.

Ducharme Equals Career High vs. Clemson

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, which usually limits his playing time. When he isn't hampered with foul difficulty he adds an extra dimension to the UVa offense. He was whistled for at least four fouls in six consecutive games leading up to the January 12 encounter against state-rival Virginia Tech. In those six games he was averaging just 20.0 minutes of playing time per game. He stayed out of foul trouble against the Hokies and showed what he can do by scoring a career-high 16 points in a career-high 36 minutes of action. Ducharme was in foul trouble in the next two games (Georgia Tech, N.C. State) and fouled out against N.C. State after scoring three points. Ducharme was one of Virginia's few bright spots in last Tuesday's loss to Clemson as he showed once again what he can do when he isn't hampered with foul difficulties. He tied career highs in both points (16) and minutes played (36) against the Tigers and was whistled for just three fouls. This season the Cavaliers are 5-2 when Ducharme commits fewer than four fouls and are 20-8 in his career. Ducharme leads the team in blocked shots (25), while averaging 7.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.

Four in Double Figures

Virginia spread its scoring around in the win over Virginia Tech on January 12 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.

Freshman Hand Runs the Point

Freshman Donald Hand has started the last 11 games at point guard for the Cavaliers, the longest streak by a UVa starting point guard this season. As he has gained experience, he has stepped up his level of play. Hand's efforts will be particularly important in upcoming games due to the loss of back-up point guard Chezley Watson who had his appendix removed on January 22. Hand returned to the starting line-up for the Rainbow Classic after not starting the previous three games and played a key role in the 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. He handed off a team-high seven assists, while grabbing a career-high six rebounds, against Georgia Tech four games ago. In the next game, he tied Willie Dersch for game assists honors with four against N.C. State. His quick hands enabled him to record a career-high five steals in just 22 minutes last Tuesday against Clemson. Hand dished off a career-high nine assists against top-ranked Duke last Saturday, while playing the longest stint of his career (38 minutes). Hand leads the team with 26 steals and is second in assists with 64. He is also averaging 4.2 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. Hand is second among ACC rookies in assists (64), fourth in steals (26) and fifth in starts (13).

Ducharme Breaks Nolan, Staples Stranglehold

As Virginia's leading returning scorers, it is no surprise that Norman Nolan and Curtis Staples have carried the scoring load this season. Before last Tuesday's loss to Clemson, one of the two had led Virginia in scoring in every game this season. Overall this season there have been 15 games where the duo ranked 1-2 in scoring. Things changed against Clemson as Colin Ducharme pumped in a career-high tying 16 points to pace the team for the first time in his career. Nonetheless, Nolan and Staples are still counted on to provide the bulk of the team's points the rest of the way. Nolan leads UVa in scoring, averaging 21.2 points per game, and has been on fire in the last 11 games. During the 11-game span he is averaging 24.3 points per game, while shooting 52.0 percent from the field and 74.1 percent from the free throw stripe. Staples is the only other Cavalier in double figures, averaging 17.2 points per game. As a deadly long-range shooter, it's not surprising that teams pay particular attention to him, throwing a variety of defenses and defenders at him. Since leading the Cavaliers with 23 points against VMI, defenses have turned up the pressure on him. In the last 11 games, he is averaging 16.3 points per game and shooting 36.0 percent from three-point range. Between them, Staples and Nolan have scored more than half of Virginia's points this season (768 of 1350).

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. With 344 points this season, Staples is six 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.