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Feb. 13, 1998

Cavaliers Tangle with Yellow Jackets

Virginia at Georgia Tech
February 14, 1998 - Noon
Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald's Center
Atlanta, Ga.

Virginia (1997-98 record): 10-14 overall/2-9 in the ACC) looks to end a six-game losing streak today against Georgia Tech (1997-98 record: 15-9 overall/4-7 in the ACC) at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald's Center. Tip off is set for noon.

Television: Today's game is being televised regionally by HTS, Fox SportSouth and the Sunshine Network. Bob Rathbun is the play by play announcer and Brad Daugherty is the analyst.

Radio: All UVa games are heard on the Virginia Sports Network originating at WINA/WQMZ in Charlottesville. Mac McDonald calls the play by play. Jim Hobgood provides the analysis.

nolan photo
Norman Nolan.

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 this season.

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.

Nolan has put together a season the likes of which hasn't been turned in by a Virginia big man since Ralph Sampson.

Since Christmas, Nolan has been outstanding. In the 15 games since then, he is averaging 22.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. He's also shooting 51.0 percent from the floor and 71.8 percent from the free throw line.

He had reached the 20-point plateau in seven straight games leading up to this season's first game against Georgia Tech 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 is second in the ACC in "double doubles" this season with 11, two behind Matt Harpring and Antawn Jamison. He has also been named ACC Player of the Week three times.

Nolan has turned in three of the top-eight scoring outputs and the top rebounding effort in the ACC this season.

Nolan is third in the conference in both scoring (20.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.6 rpg).

The Series vs. the Yellow Jackets The Cavaliers hold a 24-23 lead in the series with Georgia Tech, but the Yellow Jackets have won 13 of the last 18 meetings. The Jackets hold a 14-6 advantage in games played in Atlanta in the series.

Georgia Tech won this season's first meeting 83-65 in Charlottesville on January 15.

Virginia's 83-60 win in Atlanta three years ago was the Cavaliers' most recent victory on the Yellow Jackets' home court. The 23-point margin of victory is Virginia's biggest in the series since a 91-59 win in 1984 in Charlottesville.

Virginia has won the last three overtime contests against the Yellow Jackets, including an 88-85 double overtime affair in Charlottesville three years ago.

These Games are Barn Burners
Even though six of the last seven meetings between these two teams have been decided by at least nine points, people shouldn't be surprised if this one goes down to the wire this afternoon.

Of the 34 games since the 1983-84 season, only 10 have been decided by 10 or more points. Sixteen of the games have been decided by a margin of four points or less with UVa winning nine of them. The Cavaliers have won all three games (1987, 1990 twice) decided by two points.

From 1985 to 1990 the teams played 15 consecutive games that were decided by fewer than 10 points with Virginia winning eight of those games.

A breakdown of the close games in the series since the 1983-84 season is below:

1 point - 3     4 points - 4    8 points - 1
2 points - 3    5 points - 1    9 points - 2
3 points - 6    7 points - 4

Jacket Offense Shoots as Well as Any vs. UVa
While Virginia has a reputation as an outstanding defensive club under head coach Jeff Jones, Georgia Tech has done a good job of shooting the ball against UVa.

Georgia Tech has put together the two best shooting peformances against Virginia since Jones took over the head coaching reins in 1990-91. In fact, the Yellow Jackets are the only team to shoot better than 56 percent from the field against UVa in the last eight seasons.

The Yellow Jackets shot 56.9 percent (29 of 51) in winning this season's first meeting 83-65--the best performance by a Virginia opponent ever against the Jones-coached Cavaliers.

Tech's 56.6 field goal shooting in the 1992-93 game at Virginia's University Hall is the second-highest field goal percentage allowed by the Cavaliers under Jones.

The Cavaliers have held the opposition to a composite 40.9 percent field goal shooting, while allowing the opposition to score an average of 67.1 points per game, during Jones' head coaching career at Virginia.

But Georgia Tech has defied the numbers, shooting 46.0 percent and averaging 72.9 points per game in 17 games against the Jones-coached Cavaliers. Georgia Tech's field goal percentage against Virginia is the best of any ACC team since Jones became the Cavaliers' head coach.

In Georgia Tech's 12 wins over the Jones-coached Virginians, the Yellow Jackets are shooting 48.6 percent from the field, while averaging 74.3 points.

That is a contrast to Georgia Tech's performance when Virginia wins. In Virginia's five wins over Georgia Tech under Jones, the Yellow Jackets have shot 40.2 percent from the floor and scored an average of 69.6 points.

In the last five Virginia wins dating back to the 1993-94 season, Georgia Tech has not shot better than 43 percent from the field.

In 10 of the 17 games against UVa going back to the 1990-91 season, Georgia Tech has topped 46 percent from the field.

Staples Sets School Record for Three-Pointers
Long-range bomber Curtis Staples has connected on 104 three-point field goals this season to break his own school record. He made 103 threes as a freshman in 1994-95.

Staples, who has his sights set on the NCAA record for career three-pointers, has turned in two of the top-five seasons in ACC history.

He has led the ACC in three-point field goals in his first three seasons and is the league leader by a wide margin this season. If he leads the ACC in three-pointers this season, he will become just the third player in ACC history to lead the league in a statistical category for four consecutive seasons. (Ralph Sampson and Tim Duncan led the league in blocked shots four straight seasons.)

The top-five seasons in ACC history for three-point field goals made are below.

   Player, school, year                3FGM
1.  Dennis Scott, Ga. Tech, 1989-90     137
2.  Scott, Ga. Tech, 1988-89            116
3.  Curtis Staples, UVa, 1997-98        104
    Rodney Monroe, N.C. State, 1990-91  104
5.  Staples, UVa, 1994-95               103

Staples Eyes NCAA 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 4.3 three-pointers per game.

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

Staples has tossed in at least five three-pointers in 12 games this season, including a season-best eight threes against Wake Forest late last month. Against the Demon Deacons, Staples connected on eight of 15 attempts from behind the arc to pace the Cavaliers with 24 points. He missed the school record for most treys in a game by one.

He established a school record for three-point attempts in a game with 17 against North Carolina on Wednesday.

Staples has seven of the top-nine performances in the ACC this season for threes made in a game. (He tossed in seven threes against Richmond, Maryland and North Carolina, and has three games of six three-pointers.)

He has had a remarkably hot hand lately, averaging 6.5 treys and 21.5 points in the last four contests.

With a minimum of six games left this season, Staples needs to average 3.8 three-pointers per game to break the NCAA record. Keith Veney, who played collegiately at Lamar and Marshall, is first with 409.

Staples' place on the NCAA 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.  Curtis Staples, Virginia, 1995-98       387

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 19 of the last 186 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         .415    67.6
Jones' career   .409    67.1

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 16.5 turnovers per game. Virginia has three games of 20+ turnovers and two others of 19 miscues.

The Cavaliers have 114 more turnovers than the opposition so far this season. They have also attempted 37 fewer shots despite having 15 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 three games by seven points, two games by five points, two games by eight points, and others by four and 11 points.

In games when the Cavaliers have had as many or more turnovers than the opponent, they are 9-13.

Incredibly, five of Virginia's six-lowest turnover totals have occurred in losses. The Cavaliers have turned the ball over in a game 13 times or fewer six times this season and lost five of those contests. The season-low is 10 turnovers in a win over VCU.

Overall this season the Cavaliers have a 0.87:1 assists-to-turnover ratio.

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

Nolan Second in 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--20.5 ppg--and rebounding--8.6 rpg--this season.

Nolan has 11 "double doubles" this season, two behind ACC leaders Matt Harpring and Antawn Jamison.

Nolan's 11 "double doubles" equal 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 had 24 as a senior in 1982-83.

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 seven 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
Wake Forest     7-12    2-4     8       16
Maryland        9-19    2-6     7       20
Fla. State      10-18   6-7     6       26
North Carolina  3-12    1-1     10      7
Last 15 avg.    51.0%   71.8%   8.7     22.4
Season Avg.     52.4%   65.5%   8.6     20.5

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 44.4 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 34.4 percent against Georgia Tech last month. (The season high is 58.9 percent vs. VMI on December 22.)

Already this season Virginia has topped 45 percent 13 times after doing so just 12 times in 31 games a year ago. The Cavaliers have only two sub-40 percent games this season after compiling 10 last year. Their 30.0 percent performance against North Carolina on Wednesday is the season low.

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).

Freshman Hand Runs the Point
Freshman Donald Hand has started the last 15 games at point guard for the Cavaliers. As he has gained experience, he has stepped up his level of play. Hand's efforts were particularly important recently since back-up point guard Chezley Watson missed four games due to the removal of his appendix on January 22. (Watson returned to action on Wednesday against North Carolina.)

Hand 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.

Hand 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 on January 15.

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 against Clemson.

Hand dished off a career-high nine assists against top-ranked Duke on January 24, while playing 38 minutes.

He scored 11 points, the second-highest total of his career, against Florida State, while playing a career-high 39 minutes.

Hand leads the team with 30 steals and is second in assists with 73. He is also averaging 4.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.

Hand is second among ACC rookies in assists, fourth in steals and fifth in starts (17).

Nolan, Staples 1-2 in Scoring
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 the team in scoring in every game this season except the Clemson game on January 20. (Colin Ducharme led with 16 points).

Overall this season there have been 18 games where the duo ranked 1-2 in scoring.

Nolan leads UVa in scoring, averaging 20.5 points per game, and has been on fire in the last 15 games. During the 15-game span he is averaging 22.4 points per game, while shooting 51.0 percent from the field and 71.8 percent from the free throw stripe.

Staples is the only other Cavalier in double figures, averaging 17.9 points per game. He has been UVa's leading scorer in three of the last four games scoring 24, 25 and 21 points to lead the Cavaliers.

Between them, Staples and Nolan have scored more than half of Virginia's points this season (923 of 1583).

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 the loss at Clemson on January 20 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.

The Cavaliers are 20-11 in his career when Ducharme commits fewer than four fouls.

Ducharme leads the team in blocked shots (30), while averaging 8.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

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 third on the team in rebounding this season with a 4.5 rebounding average. His average should come as no surprise as his 4.6 rpg mark was second among ACC guards last season.

He is third in rebounding among ACC backcourt players this season behind Dion Glover of Georgia Tech and Florida State's LaMarr Greer.

Staples has led Virginia on the boards twice this season, including against top-ranked Duke on January 24.

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.

They're There Every Night
Norman Nolan and Curtis Staples have started all 24 games this season for the Cavaliers. They are among only 16 players in the ACC to start each of their teams' games this season.

Staples worked his way into the starting line-up late in his freshman year in 1994-95, starting the last 10 games of the season. He has started 91 of the last 92 games in the backcourt for the Cavaliers. The only game he did not start was UVa's last home game last season on "Senior Day," a game where seniors traditionally start.

Nolan has started 76 of the last 82 games over the last three seasons. He started 26 games in each of the last two seasons.

Ducharme, Metheney in Top 10
Two of the most prolific shot blockers in Virginia history are active this season--Colin Ducharme and Chase Metheney.

Ducharme led the team with 41 rejections last season as a freshman. He is pacing the team again this season with 30 blocks.

Metheney, one of the tallest players in ACC history at 7-4, has been among the team's top-three shot blockers each of the last three seasons. He has swatted 20 shots this season, third on the squad.

Their place on the school's all-time blocked shots list is below.

   Player, years               BS
1.  Ralph Sampson,   1980-83    462
2.  Chris Alexander, 1993-96    148
3.  Steve Castellan, 1976-79    108
4.  Junior Burrough, 1992-95    96
5.  Olden Polynice, 1984-86     86
6.  Ted Jeffries,   1990-93     82
7.  Colin Ducharme, 1997-98     71
8.  Chase Metheney, 1996-98     67

Nolan Has Some of ACC's Top Games
Norman Nolan, Georgia Tech's Matt Harpring and Antawn Jamison of North Carolina are the leading scorers and rebounders in the ACC this season.

So it should come as no surprise that this trio has turned in some of the top performances in the league.

Harpring and Jamison lead the conference with 13 "double doubles", two more than Nolan. They also have had 13 games with at least 10 rebounds, while Nolan has 12.

Nolan has scored at least 30 points in four games to lead the ACC. The rest of the players in the ACC have combined for eight 30-point games.

Nolan also has three of the top-eight scoring outputs in the league and is the first conference player since Joe Smith (Maryland) in 1994-95 to have at least four 30-point games in a season. (Smith had five.)

His 16 rebounds vs. George Mason is tied with Matt Harpring for the most in the ACC this season.

While he doesn't lead the league in 20-point games, Nolan is one of only five league players with at least 10 20-point games this year. Jamison leads with 19, followed by Harpring with 16, Nolan with 12, and Virginia's Curtis Staples and Tech's Dion Glover with 11.

Nolan Ninth 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 8.6 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 is ninth in school history with 695 career rebounds. Next on the list is Kenny Turner with 706 rebounds.

Staples Joins 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 17.9 points per game, the highest by a Virginia guard since Cory Alexander averaged 18.8 ppg as a sophomore in 1992-93.

Staples has scored 430 points this season to become 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.

Nolan Gets to the Line
As one of the ACC's top post players, it's not surprising that Norman Nolan draws a lot of fouls while working down low.
He has made 97 of 148 free throw attempts this season, both career high figures.
He is fourth in the ACC in free throws made (behind Antawn Jamison, Matt Harpring and Obinna Ekezie) and tied for third in attempts with Ekezie (behind Jamison and Harpring).
As an interesting aside, Nolan has made 25 more free throws than any other player on the team has attempted.


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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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