If Sampson is the linchpin that keeps the Wahoos whirling under control, Lamp and Raker are equally indispensable in their own way. Against Wake Forest and Duke, for instance, Raker was merely 19 of 23 from the field, scoring 43 points. While Wake was concentrating on bottling up Sampson early in the first half on Wednesday night, Lamp lit up the Deacons for 11 points in the game's first seven minutes without missing a shot. When Lamp quieted down, Raker poured in eight points in two minutes 29 seconds to put the Cavaliers ahead by 10 at halftime. "We decided we would rather have them shoot the jumper than give it to Ralph and let him dunk it all night," said Deacon Guard Frank Johnson, who had 28 points himself. "When they've got those outside guys hitting, they're unstoppable."
Lamp and Raker played together for four years at Ballard High in Louisville, winning a state championship there before leaving for U. Va. Lamp was the star of the Ballard team and Kentucky's Mr. Basketball; Raker was a plugger whose hard work enabled him to finish second in the Mr. Basketball voting. Lamp was sought by a number of basketball powers, but only Vanderbilt, Virginia, Colorado and Louisville went afer Raker. "When we recruited him," says Holland, "we thought he was a nice player, but not strong enough to start at forward or quick enough to start at guard."
Virginia was 12-17 the year before Raker and Lamp arrived in Charlottesville, and Holland wasted no time telling Lamp that he would have to "shoulder the load." Lamp averaged 17.3 points as a freshman, but the floor in University Hall was so hard on his feet and ankles it limited his running and jumping. When a new surface was laid in U. Va.'s arena for the next season, Lamp regained his spring and led the ACC in scoring with a 22.9-point average. In his four seasons at Virginia, Lamp has made 10 baskets that have tied the score or put the Cavaliers ahead with less than a minute to play. In Virginia's crucial 66-64 road win at Maryland this season, Lamp hit a 16-foot baseline shot to tie the score with 11 seconds left and then put the Wahoos ahead with an almost identical shot four seconds later.
More than anyone, Lamp had to make accommodations in his game when Sampson arrived last season. His scoring average fell off by more than five points, and suddenly he was no longer the center of attention. "He's handled it as well as a human being could handle it," says Holland. "I'm sure there were times when he thought to himself, 'Why do they have to ask me questions about Ralph Sampson all the time. I'm a pretty good player myself.' "
For Raker, who had always been in Lamp's shadow, the presence of Sampson simply pushed him farther into the background, not an easy thing to take. "It's important to him to be first in everything he does," says Holland. "When I start to blow the whistle in practice, he watches to see my lips purse so he can be first in the drills." When Raker doesn't play well, he goes to practice early the next day and runs the University Hall steps. "He's like a masochist," Holland says.
Virginia lost six of its final nine regular-season games last year and finished tied for fifth in the conference standings. The Wahoos were eliminated in the first round of the ACC tournament, but regrouped and won the NIT. The decline may have been the result of some bruised egos. In February several players had complained publicly about lack of playing time. Also around that time, Raker had learned that he hadn't been selected to live on The Lawn the following year, a senior honor he'd felt sure he'd win. "It bothered me," he says. "It still bothers me." But Raker expects no recurrence of the February Fizzle. "While we were getting to know each other we lost a lot of close games," he says. "We're winning those games this year. I think a lot of the bad things that happened to us last season are paying off this year."
Another big difference in the Cavaliers this season is the addition of freshmen Othell Wilson and Ricky Stokes. Both are small point guards who love to scavenge on defense and run the fast break. They provide up-tempo relief for junior Jeff Jones, who has led the ACC in assists the past two seasons. After Virginia fell behind North Carolina by seven points with 8:39 left in the second half three weeks ago, Holland sent in Wilson and Stokes to harass the Tar Heels, who had gone into their four-corners offense. With Raker scoring 16 points in the second half and the Cavaliers converting on 18 of their last 19 possessions, Virginia was able to turn what might have been a damaging loss into a 63-57 victory.
The double thrill of being highly ranked and having the game's most visible player seems to be largely lost on Holland. "Being No. 1 at this time of the year really doesn't make a great deal of difference," he says dourly. "It all depends on who has on the prettiest bathing suit."
Holland is considered to be distant, even aloof, by people who know him only casually, but behind the game-face and the cold eyes something altogether different's going on. When Terry and his wife have a spare moment at home, they thumb through sailing magazines and boat ads in newspapers, seeking the perfect vessel in which to sail off into the sunset. "It's something we dream about to get us through the winter," says Ann, "to hold us together." It was Terry who named the family dog. "When we got her, she cried all night long," recalls Ann. "The next morning I asked Terry what we should call her. He said, 'There's only one person I know who cries that much. We'll call her Dean Smith.' "
Though he is in his 12th year as a head coach, Holland has never attended any of the coaches' meetings or clinics that go on at the site of the NCAA final four. "One of his coaching friends was trying to get him to go last year," says Ann, "but Terry said, 'I'll never go until my team goes.' He would never come right out and admit it, but I think that was his way of saying he wants to win the national championship."