The long road back to victory
Cavaliers' comeback among the best in program's history
Richmond Times-Dispatch Jan 30, 2007
With 8 minutes to play Sunday, Virginia trailed ACC rival Clemson by 16 points at Littlejohn Coliseum. Second-year coach Dave Leitao's team scored the game's final 15 points and shocked the Tigers 64-63 - a rally that ranks among the greatest in the history of the U.Va.'s men's basketball program.
Courtesy of the school's athletic media relations department, here are some of Virginia's other memorable second-half comebacks:
Jan. 14, 1995: U.Va., which trailed by 23 points with 17:47 left in the second half, rallied to beat 16th-ranked Duke 91-88 in double overtime at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Wahoos trailed by 14 with 6:41 left in regulation.
Jan. 29, 1970: U.Va., down 63-41 with 12:21 to play in the second half, came alive and rallied to beat William and Mary 87-81 in overtime at Williamsburg.
Dec. 1, 2001: Virginia Tech led ninth-ranked U.Va. by 16 with 17:38 left at University Hall. The Cavaliers rallied to win 69-61.
Feb. 3, 1981: Top-ranked Virginia trailed No. 11 North Carolina by 16 with 11:53 remaining in regulation at Chapel Hill. The Cavaliers rallied to win 80-79 in OT. - Jeff White
Joseph plays key role in Cavs' surge
By Whitelaw Reid / email@example.com
January 30, 2007
Whether you are the go-to player on the No. 1 team in the country, a walk-on bench-warmer, or Bobby Boucher the waterboy - understanding your role on a team has to be considered at least half the battle.
It’s taken Adrian Joseph some two years to find his niche at Virginia. Now that he has, it’s no coincidence he’s playing some of the best basketball of his career.
“Basically my game is all about coming in the game and scoring,” said the 6-foot-7 junior from Trinidad, “so I just try and come in the game and do that.”
On Sunday afternoon, Joseph’s offensive contributions were a major reason why Virginia was able to overcome a 16-point, second-half deficit on the road and shock No. 19 Clemson.
Joseph, who had 11 points and three rebounds in UVa’s 64-63 win, came up huge in crunch time.
First, he hit a 3-pointer from the corner - off a nice drive-and-dish from Sean Singletary - that pulled Virginia to 63-60 with 1:33 remaining.
On UVa’s next possession, he drilled a short jumper to make it a one-point game.
“Those were big shots for us,” said Virginia senior J.R. Reynolds. “He did a great job.”
On Virginia’s final possession, Joseph missed a driving shot. However, by taking it strong to the hoop - instead of settling for a contested jumper - he essentially drew defenders from the rim and paved the way for an easy Jason Cain putback basket that gave the Cavaliers the win.
“Just being in a situation like that, it’s a great feeling for a shooter,” Joseph said. “Being in those situations - I just like taking those kinds of shots.”
Last season, it was Joseph who hit the go-ahead 3-pointer against Virginia Tech that gave UVa its only league road win.
“The fact that he made a big 3 on the road against Tech last year - it just speaks to a mindset more than skills,” said Virginia coach Dave Leitao. “Obviously he has the skills to do it, but circumstances don’t really bother him a lot.”
The way Leitao was talking about Joseph following the win over Clemson, you’d think he was talking about a great baseball closer such as Mariano Rivera, or a stud field goal kicker like Adam Vinatieri - players who thrive when the pressure is on.
“Guys can get distracted by their surroundings sometimes,” Leitao said. “Adrian, by his personality, never does.
“There are times when you want him to be a little more charged, and he really isn’t. Then there are times when you’d think he’d really be bothered by something, but he isn’t. He just kind of lives in that box mentally.”
Joseph’s teammates seem to get a kick out of his care-free, everything-is-cool-mon attitude that he’s had since his days as a cricket player in Trinidad.
“He was messing with me the other day saying, ‘A shooter never thinks there is a bad shot’ or something like that,” said Reynolds, laughing. “He just stays in the same [mindset] all the time.”
This season, Joseph is averaging about two points per game less than he did last season. However, he is shooting 46 percent from the field as opposed to 40 percent. And, with the addition of Will Harris, Jamil Tucker and Solomon Tat, he’s playing four fewer minutes per game than last season.
A year ago, Joseph started 19 games. This season, he’s come off the bench in 18 of 21 games.
Joseph’s role of coming into the game and firing up shots, a la former Detroit Pistons star Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson, suits him just fine.
“[Shooting] is one thing I love doing,” Joseph said. “When I come into the game, I always try and be focused and confident. When I get the open shots, I take them and I’m confident that I can make them.”
Virginia working on counterattack
By Jerry Ratcliffe / firstname.lastname@example.org | 978-7251
January 30, 2007
Scattershooting around the ACC, while wondering what scalpers will be asking for UVa-Duke tickets on Thursday ...
In this columnist’s opinion, this will be the biggest basketball game at Virginia since 2000, because a win would give the Cavs another win over a ranked team and set up UVa nicely for its first run at an NCAA Tournament bid since 2000.
Virginia coach Dave Leitao said Monday that having a few days to prepare for the Blue Devils means that some of his most-used players can get some rest and give the Cavaliers coaching staff a little extra time to anticipate what Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski may be planning.
“It gives us time to get a great game plan in because Duke is probably the best team in the league in their preparation in taking away another team’s strength,” Leitao said. “We’ve got to have a couple of wrinkles just in case their preparation is so good that it takes away [Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds].”
Devils without McClure?
David McClure, who scored the controversial winning basket against Clemson last week, may not be available for the game at Virginia. He was injured in Duke’s win over Boston College on Sunday.
“I talked to our doctors late [Sunday] night and I stayed with Dave about an hour after the game,” Krzyzewski said Monday afternoon. “The MRI made [McClure] feel better. We’ll see how he’s walking. We’re going to give him a break and see how the process moves along.
“I anticipate taking him to Charlottesville no matter what. I don’t know if he’ll play in Charlottesville,” said Coach K. “I just don’t know enough yet. If he’s going to play, we’ll let you know. Even if he’s not, we’ll let you know. We’re not trying to hide anything.”
McClure missed all of last season with a knee injury, so Duke coaches held their collective breath when he went down Sunday. Apparently there is no significant damage to his leg.
“What Dave gives us a chance to do is switch,” Krzyzewski said. “He can guard the perimeter guys. It’s not just his defense, but his rebounding.”
Virginia’s strength is the perimeter, so his absence would be noticed.
Duke will arrive in Charlottesville late Wednesday and get in a workout, then come back sometime Thursday for a shootaround.
It will be Krzyzewski’s first visit to the new arena.
“I have not seen it,” Krzyzewski said Monday. “I’ve seen pictures of it and heard a lot about it, and actually know a few of the people who helped make that happen. I think it’s great for the conference and for Virginia’s program to have this facility.”
Maryland coach Gary Williams spit a little venom after his Terps knocked off visiting Georgia Tech last week, extending the Jackets’ road misery - Tech hasn’t won an ACC road game since March 2005.
Williams had been catching heat after the Terps’ 1-4 ACC start.
“It’s nice to be able to throw it back at some people sometimes,” Williams said of his critics and cut off a questioner several times in his post-game interview session.
Asked if fans had lost faith in the program, Williams said, “Not in the program, but maybe in this team. Since we have the second-best winning percentage in the ACC for the last 10 years, I hope they don’t lose faith in this program.”
Virginia Tech center Coleman Collins said he had a burning desire to beat Georgia Tech on Sunday in Atlanta.
Collins, who grew up in Stone Mountain, just outside Atlanta, had 13 points and seven rebounds in the win that put the Hokies alone in first place in the ACC.
Collins said he had followed Georgia Tech ever since he picked up a basketball and felt slighted because the Jackets didn’t recruit him.
“Every time I come [to Atlanta], I want to come out with a win,” he said. “When I woke up [Sunday] morning, I woke up to win.”
Quote of the Week
Wake coach Skip Prosser after watching his team miss 11 of 16 free throws in suffering its worst loss in more than a decade to UNC:
“They weren’t guarding us from the foul line, that I remember. [The Tar Heels] are like Jaws,” Prosser said. “They smell blood and it becomes a feeding frenzy. Even if you make a couple of free throws, you can’t stop the bleeding. It became a full-blown hemorrhage there after a while.”
Stat of the Week
Virginia senior J.R. Reynolds moved into 16th place on the school’s career scoring list this week (past legendary Barry Parkhill) and now has 1,441 career points. Reynolds needs 29 to pass Othell Wilson (1981-84) for 15th.
People are still talking about Sean Singletary’s huge offensive
rebound that helped Virginia beat Clemson on Sunday. The 6-foot guard out-leaped 6-9 James May to grab Mamadi Diane’s missed shot, and, even though he was lying on the floor, got the ball to Adrian Joseph, leading to the upset over the No. 19 Tigers.
Clemson coach Oliver Purnell was not happy about his team’s poor rebounding and said Monday that if his team misses the NCAA Tournament for the ninth straight year, that a lack of rebounding will be the culprit.
“I just don’t think we regard it as importantly as we should,” said Purnell, whose team has been beat on the boards for five straight games after not being out-rebounded once when the Tigers were 17-0.
Florida State has a major problem: defense, or perhaps lack thereof. The Seminoles have allowed three of their last five opponents to shoot better than 50 percent, which is why they are 11th in the ACC in field goal percentage defense.
In four ACC losses, opposing point guards have averaged 18 points and shot 64.3 percent from the field (52.9 from 3-point range) against the Noles, which must leave Sean Singletary frothing at the mouth to meet FSU.
“Stopping penetration is probably the most difficult thing to do in basketball, especially with the type of quickness and speed that you’re playing against in the ACC,” said FSU coach Leonard Hamilton.
The ACC is ranked the No. 1 conference by both the RPI and Sagarin Computer and is the only league with seven teams ranked in the RPI’s top 35. ... Maryland football got a big transfer last week when former Parade All-American safety Antwine Perez, transferred in from Southern Cal, giving the Terps a second big-name transfer in the last two seasons. QB Josh Portis, who began his career at Florida, will be eligible for Maryland this year after sitting out last season. ... UNC will try to extend its string of wins over N.C. State to seven straight on Wednesday night. ... Wake is 0-3 in ACC home games this season, losing by an average margin of 17.3 points. ... Now saddled with a seven-man rotation, BC players may be looking at some heavy duty minutes down the home stretch of league play, but don’t look for sympathy from Eagles’ coach Al Skinner, who commented: “These guys are playing for a guy who played every minute that was available to him (Skinner played in the ABA and NBA in the ’70s). I never wanted to come out. To be a player in [the ACC], a real player, you’ve got to play 40 minutes ... as far as fatigue goes, I’m not the guy that understands that.” ... Maryland AD Deborah Yow has agreed to a contract extension through 2013 that will pay her a guaranteed $350,000 annually and Yow said she expects the new deal to take her to retirement.
McClure likely to miss UVa game with injury
BY BRYAN STRICKLAND : The Herald-Sun
Jan 30, 2007 : 12:12 am ET
Duke sophomore David McClure didn't suffer serious damage to his left knee in Sunday night's victory over Boston College, Coach Mike Krzyzew-ski confirmed Monday.
But Krzyzewski also said it was doubtful that McClure would be ready to play when the Blue Devils return to action Thursday night at Virginia.
"We're not sure if he'll be ready to play this week, but we don't think it will be long-term," Krzyzewski said. "We'll see how he responds to treatment this week. We're pleased that the test results showed no structural damage and that at some point he will be back.
"He's had a tremendous impact on this year's team, and we need him."
The Blue Devils had to fear the worst when McClure went down and stayed down with six minutes left in Duke's 75-61 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Going up for a defensive rebound against two Boston College players, McClure fell to the floor when Boston College center Tyrelle Blair crashed into teammate Jared Dudley, knocking Dudley to the floor when his leg whipped against McClure's left knee.
But while Dudley got up quickly, McClure did not, assuming a fetal position while clutching at the knee that sidelined him for much of his freshman season and all of last season.
McClure had two surgeries on the knee as a freshman: one midseason to repair an injury that had bothered him all season and a second after the season that revealed a missing bone and forced McClure to sit out all of last year.
McClure won't need another surgery for what is being termed a hyperextended knee after an MRI late Sunday night.
"I did talk to our doctors real late [Sunday] night after the MRI, and Dave stayed around and I stayed with him for about an hour the game. He's in good spirits," Krzyzewski said. "We'll see now the day after and what he does with therapy and how he's walking.
"Obviously, we're going to give him a break and see how that process moves along."
The Blue Devils (18-3, 5-2 ACC), ranked eighth in the latest Associated Press poll, took Monday off before getting back to the business of preparing for Thursday's 9 p.m. game at Virginia (13-6, 5-2).
McClure, who hit a buzzer-beater to beat Clemson last Thursday, is averaging 5.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He averages a rebound for every 4.2 minutes played, tops on the team.
If McClure misses time, more of a burden will fall on freshman Lance Thomas, a starter most of the season in the post ahead of McClure. The good news for the Blue Devils is that Thomas played like a starter against Boston College, scoring 10 points -- the most for him in more than two months -- and grabbing a season-high nine rebounds while avoiding early game foul trouble that has been a problem.
"I was just being more aggressive and not getting any early fouls," Thomas said. "Most of the time I seem to get two early fouls, and that really kills me. As a player, that also takes a toll on your confidence. But I was aggressive but also smart.
"Guys were looking for me. They've seen how hard I've been working hard in practice, and they knew I was capable of it."
Thomas and McClure share essentially the same position on game day, meaning that they match up against each other daily in practice. They've become close friends fast, and whether McClure misses any games or not, the team's goal for Thomas -- who averages 4.8 points and 2.8 rebounds -- is that he consistently play more like McClure has of late.
"They have to give energy to the team and play good defense and do a lot of the little things that a lot of people don't take pride in," Krzyzewski said. "Dave has always been that kind of player, and Lance is learning to be that player. Lance had his best game [Sunday] night. Will that be what he does [from now on]? I don't know. I hope so, but he's still a young player.
"We've just got to play one game at a time and keep working at it at practice. That's how those habits are formed, and I don't think that all of those kids' habits are formed yet."
Dascenzo: Blue Devils attack, opponents crumble
By FRANK DASCENZO : The Herald-Sun
Jan 30, 2007 : 12:12 am ET
Surrounded by camcorders and notebooks while listening to a variety of questions, Duke junior guard DeMarcus Nelson took a deep breath and used an interesting word.
"Attack," Nelson said, emphasizing one of the more important reasons the Blue Devils didn't slip into the second echelon of the ACC after starting the 2006-07 season 0-2 with losses to Virginia Tech and at Georgia Tech.
"We're attacking more and attacking everywhere -- offense, especially," Nelson said. "We've moved the ball better; we're taking better shots. Our defense has always been there, but that's been better, too.
"Offensive rebounds -- we're getting those. You look at the fast breaks -- those, too."
It seemed like a good time to address, with Nelson more than any of the other Blue Devils, the upbeat fashion that Duke has played in winning five consecutive ACC games since losing Jan. 10 at Georgia Tech. Nelson had just gone 36 minutes face-to-face with Boston College 6-7 senior Jared Dudley, a do-it-all player who had arrived at Cameron Indoor Stadium averaging 18.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.6 steals in the Eagles' first 16 games, 14 of which were victories.
Playing Dudley man-to-man has to be one of the most challenging chores in college basketball. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, after the Blue Devils' 75-61 victory Sunday, called the Nelson-Dudley matchup "a game within a game," and it was fun to watch.
Both had 17 points, but Nelson played six more minutes and made three more field goals, eight to five, in a battleline that got the scrutiny it deserved.
Make no mistake, if this wasn't Duke's best win of the season, it's close to it. BC starts a couple seniors and one junior and doesn't back down from anybody. But the Blue Devils aren't 18-3, 5-2 ACC by accident. Krzyzewski has watched his team get better, and Nelson dwelled on it.
"In transition, we're pushing it more and that's something we felt like we weren't doing a good job of earlier in the season," Nelson said. "Right now, we're recognizing what we have to do. If we don't have a shot, we throw it back out and work on something else. We weren't doing that before."
Much of Duke's attack goes through the weaving in and out of defenders by Nelson. Watch Greg Paulus or Jon Scheyer with the ball, then Nelson takes off and gets free, sometimes in the corner, sometimes at the top of the key.
Boston College guards Tyrese Rice and Sean Marshall had to deal with it. Marshall, a 6-5 senior, went 2-of-11, Rice 5-of-15. Nelson's eight field goals were more than anybody in the game. But Nelson also had eight rebounds, as many as Dudley, who led BC. It was Nelson's second straight game with eight boards and his third consecutive game in double-figure scoring.
Was it the matchup against Dudley or something else?
"I was just trying to fight him every possession, ... make him take a tough shot," Nelson said. "He's a really good, veteran, smart, crafty player who tries to draw a foul. I tried to push him off the block.
"Players like that, you've got to make them take their shots. I felt like our defense was pretty good. We could have kept him off the free throw line a little more, but we lost him in transition."
What greatly helped the Blue Devils was that Nelson could more than hold his own vs. Dudley, who ranked among the ACC leaders in seven of 13 statistical categories, including first in defensive rebounding (6.43 per game), first in minutes played (39.71), fourth in scoring and sixth in field-goal percentage (.532).
"Our defense, as a whole, was really good," Nelson said. "One thing you've got to do is protect your home court."
For sure, Duke's rematch with the Eagles, Feb. 14 at Chestnut Hill, Mass., will be another Nelson-Dudley confrontation worth keeping an eye on.
So too with the Greg Paulus-Rice matchup.
"He's so good at setting up their flex offense, and we tried to get them to use more of the shot clock and get them to work harder for shots," Paulus said.
"Defensively, not letting the offense dictate to us -- whether they're playing fast or show -- is what we're doing, getting in passing lanes. We're not playing four or five possessions defensively; we're not giving other teams third or fourth opportunities off the boards. I think what DeMarcus means is we're attacking defensively, and then offensively we're being strong, whether that means driving, getting a foul. Instead of maybe trying to double clutch or make a play somewhere else, we're being a little stronger with the ball."
Considering the Blue Devils have nine games in the 28 days of February -- five on the road -- it's not a bad idea to know that attack mode Nelson was talking about is now working well.
Cavaliers rely on Reynolds for wins
J.R. Reynolds has led the Cavaliers to four straight victories, including road defeat of No. 19 Clemson
Anders Sleight, Cavalier Daily Associate Editor
The Virginia men's basketball team has won four straight games. Two victories came against nationally rankedMaryland and Clemson. The Cavaliers have also won two straight ACC road games over N.C. State and Clemson. This recent winning streak would not have been possible if not for the contributions of senior guard J.R. Reynolds.
Reynolds has been on a recent tear in Virginia's last four victories. Over that span, he is averaging 26 points per game and since ACC play started, Reynolds has averaged 22 points per game in ACC matchups.
Reynolds' scoring and leadership have helped to motivate the Cavaliers when they needed it most. His performance has also helped quiet some of Virginia's critics.
Virginia basketball has been criticized consistently in the press because of its poor road play. Reynolds, however, has helped exorcise those demons, at least for the time being--Virginia defeated No. 19 Clemson on the road last Sunday, a win secured in large part by Reynolds.
Trailing by 16 points deep in the second half, Reynolds took over and led the Cavaliers. His big shots helped Virginia score the last 15 points of the game and allowed the Cavaliers to pull out an inconceivable win. Many players and coaches would have quit after facing such a large deficit with little time left in the game; however, Reynolds and the rest of the Cavaliers did not quit and pulled it out in the end.
That is not even Reynolds' most impressive performance to date. Last week, Reynolds poured in 40 points against Wake Forest at John Paul Jones Arena. He set a new career high against the Demon Deacons and his 40 points now stand as the most points scored in a single game in the ACC this season.
"The day was a special day for us because of him and the shots that he made," Virginia coach Dave Leitao said.
Reynolds' recent surge may in part be due to Leitao's coaching. He has stressed Reynolds' role as a shooter and Reynolds has responded extremely well to Leitao's call.
In the aftermath of the Wake Forest game, Leitao addressed Reynolds' growing role.
"He and I have talked about the relative balance between a shooter who can make plays and a player who can shoot," Leitao said. "I thought he was more confined with making plays and wasn't able to shoot. We talked about making the adjustment to being a shooter and making plays from there."
An often overlooked aspect of Reynolds' game is his ability to play point guard. Junior guard Sean Singletary has held the point guard duties for the past three seasons and has established himself as one of the best players in the ACC. When Singletary heads to the bench, however, a player must step up and fill his void. That gap is plugged by Reynolds, who has helped to control the tempo of the game. In two recent games--Wake Forest and Clemson--Singletary ran into significant foul trouble, which forced Leitao to rest the star point guard for long stretches. In his absence, Reynolds stepped up and led the team to victory in both games.
Overall, Reynolds has been the leader of Virginia's recent winning streak and how far the Cavaliers go this season may very well rest upon his shoulders. Thus far, Reynolds has excelled in his leadership duties and has stepped into his role as a shooter. After his career night against Wake Forest, Reynolds addressed his play and his new identity as a shooter.
"We just talked about it the last couple days in practice," Reynolds said. "We sat down and [Leitao] said to me, 'Just remember you're a shooter first and everything else comes after that.'"