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Virginia

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

April 7, 2003 The PooP

On one hand, Virginia hasn't won more than 20 games and has only one postseason victory of any kind since 1995. On the other hand, Pete Gillen has provided a significant improvement over the Jeff Jones era, particularly in terms of energy level, recruiting prowess and style of play. By upgrading the talent supply in Charlottesville, Gillen lifted the Cavaliers into the middle of the ACC pack. The next step, a more difficult one, will require a better defensive plan, more toughness and improved chemistry.

Done For Me Lately

Year ACC Overall Postseason
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
2003 6-10 (6) 16-16 NIT 2nd Round

x—won ACC title
ACC: 71-89 (.444); No. 5 in ACC
Overall: 170-134 (.559); No. 5 in ACC

Projected 2003-04 Roster

Player Ht. Pos. Class
Todd Billet 6-0 WG Sr.
Devin Smith 6-5 WF Sr.
Nick Vander Laan 6-10 C Sr.
Elton Brown 6-9 BF Jr.
Jason Clark 6-8 BF Jr.
Jermaine Harper 6-3 WG Jr.
Majestic Mapp 6-2 PG Jr.
Derrick Byars 6-7 WF So.
T.J. Bannister 5-11 PG Fr.
Gary Forbes 6-6 WG Fr.
Donte Minter 6-8 BF Fr.
J.R. Reynolds 6-3 WG Fr.

Another Spring Recruit?
NOTE: Scholarship/rotation players only.

The Good News

While the projected Virginia roster lacks the star power of many other programs in the ACC, it represents a very solid collection of talent from top to bottom. There are plenty of players who have one or two specific skills that they are capable of executing extremely well. If they continue to work through various challenges — health problems, work ethic issues, playing out of position, inexperience, etc. — and show some character and leadership along the way, very good things remain possible.

The Bad News

Something remains wrong with Virginia's defensive philosophy, and Gillen doesn't appear to have the answers. Only coin flips generate numbers in the 50-percent range more often than the Cavaliers' defense, and it's impossible to win consistently under those circumstances. Additionally, the coach finally must decide whether or not he's going to stick with the press-and-run style that earned him headlines in previous stops. It didn't work very well against quality ACC teams upon his arrival in Charlottesville, but he appears intent on going back to it after a year off. Until he picks his approach and sticks with it, UVa won't be more than a middle-of-the-pack program.

The Outlook

Five years ago, when the ACC Sports Journal conducted its "Future Of The ACC" survey, Virginia was a near-unanimous pick for last in the conference. Then Gillen came aboard, and he deserved credit for at least temporarily changing that perception. At the same time, the honeymoon is over, and Gillen still has much left to prove.