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13 Virginia
Seth Davis
November 19, 2001
A badly needed infusion of muscle should make the Cavaliers tougher to beat
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November 19, 2001

13 Virginia

A badly needed infusion of muscle should make the Cavaliers tougher to beat

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STARTING LINEUP

POS.

PLAYER

HT.

CL.

KEY STAT

SF

Chris Williams#

67"

Sr.

14.5 ppg

PF

J.C. Mathis

6'8"

So.

3.4 ppg

C

Travis Watson#

6'8"

Jr.

9.1 rpg

SG

Adam Hall#

6'5"

Sr.

10.1ppg

PG

Roger Mason#

6'5"

Jr.

15.7 ppg

2000-01 record: 20-9
Final rank (coaches' poll): No. 21
#Returning starter

When it came to lighting up opponents, Virginia was as electrifying as any team in the country last season. Its 85.0 points per game were fourth best in the nation. When it came to shutting foes down, however, Virginia's attitude was a little too cavalier. Witness its .498 field goal percentage defense, last in the ACC. Most galling, Virginia could not outscore its final opponent, Gonzaga, which made 56.3% of its three-point attempts en route to beating the Cavaliers by one point in the first round of the NCAA tournament. "We played no defense last year—none," 6'5" senior swingman Adam Hall says. "We thought we could just outscore people, but we learned we couldn't."

Part of the trouble for Virginia was its lack of size. Often the Cavaliers played what amounted to a four-guard offense, with 6'8", 255-pound Travis Watson manning the post. Curiously enough, they led the ACC in rebounding margin (+5.6), but sending so many players to help on the boards left them vulnerable on defense.

Now Virginia will get some assistance inside from freshman Elton Brown, a highly skilled 6'9" 265-pounder who should infuse the Cavaliers with some much-needed toughness. That was apparent during the first week of practice, when coach Pete Gillen had to cut short a scrimmage after Brown and 6'8" sophomore J.C. Mathis almost came to blows.

The challenge for Gillen is to make sure that infighting doesn't cause the Cavaliers' downfall. "We have plenty of talent," says Gillen, "but chemistry is a concern. If the older guys start worrying about their pro careers, that's a problem."

Virginia has four starters back, so putting points on the board shouldn't be a problem. First, however, the Cavaliers will again have to overcome the loss of point guard Majestic Mapp, who missed all of last year after tearing the ACL in his right knee. Mapp's knee never fully healed, and he will be out for the second straight year after having surgery. Until 6'3" freshman Keith Jenifer is ready to take over—Gillen hopes that will be by mid-January—the position will be manned by 6'5" junior Roger Mason, who ably backed up Donald Hand last year.

Though his surname suggests a proficiency in bricklaying, Mason, Virginia's leading scorer (15.7 points a game) last season, displayed a soft touch, draining 44.2% of his three-point attempts while also leading the ACC in free throw shooting (88.4%). He should get plenty of help from Hall, who averaged 10.1 points, and Chris Williams (14.5).

If the addition of Brown and memories of last season's early demise aren't enough to get the Cavaliers to stiffen their defense, the seniors can simply recall the humiliations they suffered three years ago during a 4-12 ACC campaign. "I've still got vengeance on my mind from when people used to leave their starters in when they were beating us by 50," Hall says. "It's our turn now."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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