Feb. 23, 1998
February 24, 1998
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 18 games since then, he is averaging 22.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. He's also shooting 51.9 percent from the floor and 70.5 percent from the free throw line.
Nolan has been selected the ACC Player of the Week three times and joins Antawn Jamison (six) as the only players to win the honor more than once this season.
Nolan has also turned in some of the top performances in the league in 1997-98. He is third in the ACC in "double doubles" this season with 13, one behind Jamison and Matt Harpring.
Nolan holds the conference lead with Jamison and Harpring with 14 games of 10+ rebounds.
Nolan and Jamison have each scored at least 30 points in four games this season to lead the league. The rest of the ACC players have combined for 11 30-point games. Nolan and Jamison are the first conference players since Joe Smith (Maryland) in 1994-95 to have at least four 30-point games in a season. (Smith had five.)
Nolan's 16 rebounds against George Mason is the most by an ACC player this season, while his 35 points in the first game against N.C. State is the fourth-best output in the ACC.
While he doesn't lead the league in 20-point games, Nolan is one of only six league players with at least 10 20-point games this year. Jamison leads with 21, followed by Harpring with 18, Nolan with 15, and Virginia's Curtis Staples and Tech's Dion Glover with 13. Shammond Williams of North Carolina has 10 games with at least 20 points.
Nolan is third in the conference in scoring (21.0 ppg), rebounding (8.7 rpg) and field goal percentage (52.9).
He is also fourth in the league in minutes played (35.6 mpg) and fifth in offensive rebounds (2.74 orpg).
The Series vs. the Terrapins
Maryland leads the series with Virginia 88-60 in a rivalry that dates back to the 1912-13 season. After winning five consecutive meetings between 1992-1994, the Cavaliers have lost six of the last nine contests against the Terrapins.
UVa has won five of the last six games between the two teams at University Hall and nine of the last 12. Virginia is 37-33 all-time on its home court against Maryland, including a 20-12 record at University Hall.
This is the 51st consecutive season the Cavaliers and Terrapins have met (every season since 1947-48), Virginia's second-oldest opponent in terms of consecutive seasons met. They have played 110 games in that span. (Virginia's oldest opponent in terms of consecutive seasons played is Virginia Tech--64 straight seasons).
Four to Make Their Final U-Hall Appearance
Tonight's game marks the final University Hall appearance for Mike Curtis, Pete McLaughlin, Norman Nolan and Curtis Staples.
Curtis and McLaughlin joined the team as walk-ons in 1994-95. They have not seen much playing time, but have made valuable contributions as members of the scout team in preparing the starters for game action.
Curtis has appeared in four games this season and scored two points. McLaughlin has played in 12 contests, with three starts early in the season, and has scored three points and handed off 10 assists.
Nolan, a native of Baltimore, Md., is having by far the best season of his career in leading the Cavaliers in scoring (21.0 ppg) and rebounding (8.7 rpg). He is 19th in school history in scoring and seventh in rebounding.
Staples is nearing his quest to become the most prolific long-range shooter in NCAA Division I history. He has connected on an ACC-record 403 three-pointers, six behind NCAA-leader Keith Veney. He has scored 1713 points and stands eighth in school history in scoring.
Ranked Teams Fall on "Senior Night"
Tonight is "Senior Night," when Virginia recognizes its seniors in their final home game at University Hall. The Cavaliers have played with a lot of emotion on recent "Senior Days," posting huge victories against several ranked teams.
Three years ago the University Hall crowd bid farewell to Cory Alexander, Yuri Barnes, Junior Burrough and Jason Williford with a rousing 92-67 triumph over sixth-ranked Maryland. The defeat ranks as Maryland's sixth-worst defeat under Gary Williams.
Two seasons ago 10th-ranked Wake Forest came calling. With Chris Alexander and Maurice Watkins in their final U-Hall appearance, Virginia handed the Demon Deacons a 67-49 setback, the fourth-worst loss for Wake during the Tim Duncan era.
Last season the Cavaliers downed 16th-ranked Maryland 81-74 in the last U-Hall game for Harold Deane, Jamal Robinson and Martin Walton. Deane led five Cavaliers in double figures with 18 points.
Get Ready for a Nailbiter
The recent series with Maryland has featured several close games. Ten of the last 15 games have been decided by eight points or less. Fifteen of the 24 games since 1987 have been decided by eight points or less, with UVa winning nine of the close games.
Of Virginia's 22 wins over Maryland since head coach Jeff Jones arrived in Charlottesville as a freshman in 1978-79, 14 have been by eight points or less.
In the last 10 seasons there have been two overtime games, with each team winning one.
A breakdown of the close games in the series since the 1986-87 season is below:
2 points - 4 4 points - 1 5 points - 1
6 points - 3 7 points - 5 8 points - 1
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 when Colin Ducharme led with 16 points.
Overall this season there have been 21 games where the duo ranked 1-2 in scoring.
Nolan leads UVa in scoring, averaging 21.0 points per game, and has been on fire since Christmas. In the 18 games since Christmas, he is averaging 22.8 points per game, while shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 70.5 percent from the free throw stripe.
Staples is the only other Cavalier in double figures, averaging 18.5 points per game. He has been UVa's leading scorer in five of the last seven games scoring 24, 25, 21, 31 and 28 points to lead the Cavaliers.
With a combined scoring average of 39.5 ppg, they are the most prolific Cavalier duo in over 40 years. Buzzy Wilkinson (32.1 ppg) and Bob McCarty (19.7 ppg) had a combined scoring average of 51.8 ppg in 1954-55.
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 44.8 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 15 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.
The Cavaliers' field goal shooting percentage this season is their best since shooting 45.5 percent in 1990-91.
Dersch Leads Team in Assists
Willie Dersch has struggled with his shooting touch throughout the season, but he hasn't let that bother other parts of his game.
He leads the team in assists with 95 (3.5 apg) and has been Virginia's leader 14 times this season.
His 95 assists this season are the most in school history for a frontcourt player. Jason Williford held the previous record with 75 assists in 1993-94.
Dersch also leads all ACC frontcourt players this season in assists and ranks 10th overall.
His 1.53:1 assists-to-turnover ratio is tops among ACC frontcourt players with at least 40 assists this season.
Factors to Victory
Conventional baseball wisdom says it takes pitching and defense to win. For Virginia's basketball program it takes shooting, rebounding and defense to win this season. The Cavaliers' statistics in these three categories vary greatly between wins and losses this season.
When they win, they out-rebound the opposition by nine rebounds per game. By contrast, when they lose they have a rebound advantage of less than one.
There is also a great difference in field goal and three-point shooting between wins and losses.
A look at several areas broken down when the Cavaliers win and lose is below.
UVa wins UVa loses
UVa FG% 47.6 43.0
UVa 3FG% 37.4 33.6
UVa reb./g 39.7 33.6
UVa reb. margin +9.0 +0.5
UVa Ast.:TO 0.95:1 0.84:1
UVa PPG 69.2 65.1
Opp. FG% 35.0 47.7
Opp. 3FG% 29.0 40.8
Opp. FTA/g 17.0 27.1
Opp. Ast.:TO 0.83:1 1.31:1
Opp. PPG 56.9 78.1
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 4.4 three-pointers per game.
He has led the Cavaliers in scoring nine times, reaching the 20-point plateau each time.
Staples has tossed in at least five three-pointers in 14 games this season, including a school record-tying nine threes against Georgia Tech on February 14. He also connected on nine three-pointers against UNLV in 1994-95.
He established a school record for three-point attempts in a game with 17 against North Carolina on February 11.
Staples's nine three-pointers against Georgia Tech is the most by an ACC player in two years. He has five of the top-eight performances in the ACC this season for threes made in a game. (He tossed in eight threes against Wake Forest and had seven against Richmond, Maryland and North Carolina.)
After a rough 10-point outing against N.C. State last Wednesday, he came up big in the win over Clemson on Saturday. He led the Cavaliers with 28 points and connected on two free throws with 1.9 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.
In the last seven games, Staples is averaging 6.0 treys and 22.1 points per game.
With a minimum of three games left this season, Staples needs to average 2.3 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. Curtis Staples, Virginia, 1995-98 403
Nolan Records 13 "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 the best season of his career.
He is third in the ACC in both scoring--21.0 ppg--and rebounding--8.7 rpg--this season.
Nolan has 13 "double doubles," one behind Antawn Jamison and Matt Harpring.
Nolan's 13 "double doubles" are the most 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 23 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.
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
Ga. Tech 10-17 4-4 12 24
N.C. State 11-20 4-7 6 26
Clemson 10-18 4-8 12 24
Last 18 avg. 51.9% 70.5% 8.9 22.8
Season Avg. 52.9% 65.3% 8.7 21.0