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Basketball Pre-season Preview: Uva

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

November 11, 2002

Track Record

Year ACC Overall Postseason
1993 9-7 (5) 21-10 NCAA Sweet 16
1994 8-8 (4) 18-13 NCAA 2nd Round
1995 12-4 (1) 25-9 NCAA Elite Eight
1996 6-10 (7) 12-15 None
1997 7-9 (6) 18-13 NCAA 1st Round
1998 3-13 (9) 11-19 None
1999 4-12 (9) 14-16 None
2000 9-7 (3) 19-12 NIT 1st Round
2001 9-7 (4) 20-9 NCAA 1st Round
2002 7-9 (5) 17-12 NIT 1st Round

x — won ACC title

2002-03 Roster

Name Ht./Wt. Pos. Class
Jason Rogers 6-11/232 C Sr.
Travis Watson* 6-8/255 BF Sr.
Todd Billet 6-0/192 PG Jr.
Majestic Mapp 6-2/185 PG Jr.
Nick Vander Laan 6-10/255 C Jr.
Elton Brown 6-9/270 BF So.
Jason Clark 6-8/234 BF So.
Jermaine Harper 6-3/165 WG So.
Keith Jenifer 6-3/161 PG So.
Devin Smith 6-5/230 WF So.
Derrick Byars 6-7/200 WF Fr.
  • — returning starter

Building Blocks
Travis Watson led the ACC in rebounding (9.7) last year. He also is the ACC's top returning scorer (14.1), which might surprise some people. As a senior, he is a preseason choice to make first-team All-ACC for the first time, and he finally will have the benefit of playing with another legitimate post player (Nick Vander Laan). Watson needs to limit his foul problems (12 career disqualifications) and become more of an on-court and off-court leader. The only other senior, co-captain Jason Rogers, gets negligible playing time. The other co-captain, Majestic Mapp, may not play this season.

Other Key Returnees
Keith Jenifer started 15 of 29 games last season, including 15 of the last 18, but the Cavaliers are not listing him as a returning starter. Maybe that says something. However, continued delays in Mapp's rehab boosted Jenifer's stock, and he has a chance to start. He is the quickest of UVa's guards but needs to improve his shooting accuracy (37.8) and range (two of 18 three-pointers). A key for the Cavs will be the 2001-02 freshman class, headed by Elton Brown, who had six straight double-

figure scoring games in the middle of the season but a total of five the rest of the year. He was overweight and moody as a rookie, but he has a smooth shooting touch for a big man and an underrated inside game. Improved conditioning could lead to a break-out year. Brown's long-time AAU teammate Jason Clark was a surprise among ACC leaders in blocks last year and can be a quintessential role player.

Some Introductions
Nobody in the ACC has had a higher collegiate scoring average than Todd Billet, who started 58 of 58 games in two seasons at Rutgers, where he averaged 16.6 points in 2000-01. Fellow transfer Vander Laan started 37 games in two seasons at California, where he had five double-doubles as a freshman in 1999-2000. He does some of the little things — screening, etc. — that frequently were missing from UVa's game last season. Coach Pete Gillen said Billet is one of two "definite" starters. Wherever he plays, the Cavs need his shooting; he made 158 threes at Rutgers. Juco transfer Devin Smith made 108 threes last year alone and could share the wing positions with UVa's only scholarship freshman, 6-7 Derrick Byars, who is taller and more athletic than Smith.

Also Worth Noting
For the third year in a row, the Cavaliers will begin a season without Mapp, the only McDonald's All-American on the roster and the cornerstone of Gillen's first (1998) recruiting class. Mapp has undergone knee surgery five times, including two reconstructions, and Gillen admits he isn't counting on him. … At one point in the preseason, injuries or rehab sidelined Mapp, Smith (knee), Clark (ankle) and Jermaine Harper (mono). As a result, Gillen activated four walk-ons to augment a roster that fell to nine able-bodied scholarship players. … After the departure of assistant Tommy Herrion to College of Charleston, Gillen sought to address his team's deficiencies by hiring former Boise State head coach and defensive guru Rod Jensen.