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College Notebook: Remember Dave Leitao?

After earlier accepting a contract extension through the 2013-14 season, DePaul coach Dave Leitao faced an uncertain future Wednesday as he took the Blue Demons (4-13) into a Big East tournament meeting with Providence on Wednesday night in New York.

Remember Dave Leitao?.

Leitao was the head coach at Virginia for four seasons, 2005-2009, and compiled a 65-60 record. In his last season, Virginia lost 13 of its final 16 games.

In his last game, the Cavaliers were 76-63 losers to Boston College in the ACC Tournament. My abiding memory was of running into then-UVa  associate athletic director Jon Oliver.

The impression with which I was left by Oliver was that Leitao's chances of keeping the job would be dependent on his willingness to make changes to his coaching staff.

In his conversation with me, Oliver indicated that his preference would be for Leitao to make changes in the coaching staff, specifically bringing in an assistant who previously had been a head coach.

As it was, Leitao remained loyal to his coaching staff. which included Bill Courtney, Drew Diener and Steve Seymour. That didn't last much longer.

On hand the next year was new coach Tony Bennett and a staff of Ritchie McKay, Jason Williford and Ron Sanchez. McKay and Sanchez later took head-coaching positions at Liberty and Charlotte, respectively. McKay has taken the Flames to three consecutive Atlantic Sum championships.

IT WILL BE INTERESTING to see where VMI scoring leader Greg Parham winds up after he entering the NCAA Transfer Portal. Parham is making that move after averaging 18.4 points this season for the Keydets (13-12).

Parham, a 6-foot-4 guard from Monacan High School outside Richmond, was not rated among the top 21 prospects in Virginia by 247Sports in 2018, but he had better numbers after three years in college than almost any of the in-state players recruited ahead of him.

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Virginia Defense Made Jones Earn Every Point He Scored

Followers of men's college basketball from southwestern Virginia and beyond were no doubt aware of the threat Virginia faced from Louisville guard Carlik Jones, who was named the Big South Player of the Year as a redshirt junior at Radford in 2019-20.

Jones subsequently entered the NCAA Transfer Portal and elected to spend his final season of eligibility at Louisville, where he is averaging a team-leading 17.0 points per game and has a Louisville-high of 82 assists.

Louisville, the host team, entered Saturday's game as a two-point favorite over the Cavaliers, who never trailed in a 68-58 victory at KFC YUM! Center, where UVa has won five of the last six games between the teams.

Jones entered the weekend as an ACC player-of-the-year candidate and would go on to make the All-ACC first team Monday as the third-leading vote-getter.

That followed an unexpected performance against Virginia, which held Jones to six points. He was 2-of-15 from the field and did not attempt a 3-pointer. That was not his specialty during a season when he averaged fewer than three 3-point attempts and one made 3-pointer per game.

"I think he's one of the best penetrators in the country," Louisville coach Chris Mack said after Saturday's game. "And, he does so much for our team … he lives in the lane. I'd probably have to go and watch the film, but he was in the lane a lot.

"Now, in the lane against the 7-1 guys [like UVa's Jay Huff] is a little different and so a few of his touch finishes that we’ve all seen go in, went in and out."

At 6-foot-1, Jones has a couple of inches on UVa point guard Kihei Clark, whom the Cavaliers list at 5-9, but Virginia also has a freshman, Reese Beekman, who is listed at 6-3.

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Family Of VA Governor Hopeful Has Deep Basketball Ties

Television advertisements for gubernatorial candidate Glen Youngkin may have elicited some curiosity among viewers who previously were unaware of his college basketball background.

It turns out that Youngkin scored 82 points in 58 games at Rice from 1985-89.

His son, Grant, played at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., before walking on at Rice, where he played in eight games over three years.

The most distinguished basketball player in the Youngkin clan is the late Carroll Youngkin, who died in 2019.

Carroll Youngkin, originally from Winston-Salem, N.C., was a key figure on the 1960 team, coached by Vic Bubas,  that rewarded Duke with the 1960 ACC championship, its first ACC championship.

The elder Youngkin finished his career with 1,154 points in 81 games for Duke during a period when freshmen were ineligible.

Glen Youngkin came out of Norfolk Academy and was named first-team All-Tidewater on a squad in 1995 that included future North Carolina star and first-round NBA Draft pick J.R. Reid.

Around The ACC

Prior to its 80-77 overtime loss Tuesday night at Georgia Tech, Duke's 14-game winning streak over the Yellow Jackets was its longest active streak against any ACC team. None of the Blue Devils' eight losses this season have been by more than seven points.

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At A Time When Most Needed, Cavaliers Have The Numbers

At a time when rivals are waging a war of attrition, Virginia has the benefit of a much-valued commodity.

Plain and simple, the Cavaliers have numbers.

Virginia used 13 players Monday night in a 62-51 victory over visiting Miami.

Only one UVa player logged as much as 30 minutes. That was Sam Hauser, who played 32 minutes

No Miami starter played fewer than 36 minutes and the Hurricanes' starting five combined for 188 of a possible 200 minutes.

"I think our effort is good," said Miami coach Jim Larranaga, once a UVa assistant whose Hurricanes got as close as 55-49 with 3:07 left. "It’s the fatigue factor. We can't sustain it for all 40 minutes.

"I think that was a big part of how [UVa]  got the lead at the end of the first [half] and even when we made our runs and got a little closer in the second half half. We just didn't have the bodies to keep the pressure on them."

Tomas Woldetensae had missed two UVa games as the result of contact tracing, and Cavalier hopes were lifted by news of his return, but there should have been enough firepower to fill any void.

Indeed, Woldetensae, who started against the Hurricanes, played only 15 minutes and got his only bucket on a 3-pointer.

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Cavaliers Continuing Their Success In SEC Country

Virginia signed a combined nine players from Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama in its 2020 football recruiting class, and early results indicate the trend is continuing.

Five of the 2020 recruits were from Georgia, and the Cavaliers' 2021 class, according to, includes all-purpose back Rodney Hill from Statesboro, Ga. and 6-7, 218-pound tight end Karson Gay from Chattanooga, Tenn.

Gay has been listed with offers from Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and South Carolina, among others.

Remember when Virginia did not put great emphasis on the tight end position? Now, the Cavaliers' staff can point to Tony Poljan, who had 38 receptions for 411 yards and a team-high six touchdowns in 2020.

In addition to holdovers Grant Misch and Mike Kosar, UVa will be adding a transfer, 6-7, 260-pound Jelani Woods from Oklahoma State. Woods, like Poljan, was a quarterback in high school.

The Cavaliers' 2020 recruiting class, announced in December, included 6-6, 225-pound tight end Jack Witmer from Cypress, Texas.

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Cavaliers Need Woldetensae Back On The Floor

Impressions following a rare third straight loss for the Virginia men's basketball team:

Have the Cavaliers ever been so eager to get Tomas Woldetensae on the floor?

Woldetensae, one of UVa's most dependable 3-point shooters, does not have COVID-19, but has suffered the frustration of contact tracing, meaning he has been in the vicinity of people who did have COVID.

Coach Tony Bennett said after the Cavaliers' 68-61 loss to North Carolina State Wednesday that he expects Woldetensae to be available for UVa's final home game Saturday night against Miami.

Woldetensae currently stands seventh on the team in points per game (4.5) but he is a shooter at a time when it seems that only big men Jay Huff and Sam Hauser can be counted on to make a shot.

At his height, Woldetensae, who is 6-5, would best be described as a two-guard, but that's the problem. Aside from point guard Kihei Clark, who is listed at 5-9, all the Cavaliers have is two-guards and it seems hardly any of them can hit a shot.

Casey Morsell, a top backcourt recruit in 2019-2020, is shooting 26.5 percent (nine of 34) on 3-pointers for the season. Reese Beekman, a starter as a freshman, is shooting 26.7 percent (eight of 30) from beyond the arc.

Trey Murphy III, a transfer fron Rice, was shooting 46.2 percent on 3-pointers for the season until he went 0-for-4 against N.C. State. This was at John Paul Jones Arena on UVa's seemingly familiar home floor.

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Getting 5 Stars: Is It Your Talent, Or Who Is Recruiting You?

As the latest men's basketball game between Duke and Virginia unfolded Saturday, a common thread came to mind.

Duke invariably gets the highest-rated players coming out of high school, but I had never done the math till this weekend, following the Blue Devils 66-65 victory over UVa at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Starting with the 2016 recruiting class, Duke has signed 25 players who were rated as five stars on the five-star scale.

Over the same period, Virginia did not have a single five-star player.

All five Duke starters Saturday were five-star recruits.

Virginia's staring lineup included two four-star recruits, fifth-year senior Jay Huff, and freshman guard Reece Beekman. They were joined by three-star recruits Sam Hauser and Kihei Clark.

The fifth starter, Trey Murphy III, transferred to Virginia after spending his first two seasons at Rice. He is listed by as a 2018 Rice signee, but does not have any stars by his name.

My suspicion is that ratings/stars are determined by the schools that are involved with a certain player. As somebody who has been involved in putting together a list of the state's top football recruits over the past 40 years, I'll admit that a player's offer list is a major consideration.

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Do The Cavaliers Want Kihei Clark Taking 15 Shots?

No one should be surprised that junior point guard Kihei Clark played 38 minutes in Virginia's 66-65 loss Saturday night at Duke.

But, do the Cavaliers want him taking 15 shots?

Another starter, Trey Murphy III, played 36 minutes. He took two shots.

The argument could be made that Murphy needed to become more involved or that teammates didn't get him the ball. Clark was as involved as he could be and maybe moreso.

Seven-footer Jay Huff had a team-high 20 points to go with a game-high 12 rebounds and two blocked shots in a return to his home town. He also had a dunk that didn't count after a buzzer-beating attempt by Clark.

Virginia, now 15-5 overall and 11-3 in the ACC, had entered the game as a 3-point favorite over the Blue Devils (10-8, 8-6). Also top 2019-20 signee Jalen Johnson had left the team with six games remaining in the regular season.

On his radio show earlier in the week, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim had taken a shot at Johnson.

"That guy was hurting them, so they actually are much better now without him," Boeheim said. "They've got very good talent.

"You knew they were going to play out of this thing and now they're [the Blue Devils] playing very well."

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, in his postgame comments Saturday, seemed to be rejuvenated.

"It's sad that fans were not at this game," he said, not that they had a choice,. "This was an epic game.

"This was a great basketball game tonight. Every possession was fought. [It] seemed like every dribble at times. They're [the Cavaliers] poised and they play great defense.

"Huff is a great player. He and [Sam] Hauser are two of the great players in America. Jay is such a good basketball player [with] his footwork, his touch and his ball-handling. [Duke seven-footer] Mark [Williams] hasn’t guarded anyone like that."

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Who IS The No. 2 Player In UVA Men's Basketball History?

Without much in mind earlier this week, I found myself in an on-line debate as to the second-best player to come through the Virginia men's basketball program.

At the time I put in my two cents, there was ample support for Malcolm Brogdon as the No. 2 Virginia player after Ralph Sampson, although I'm not sure Sampson actually was  designated as No. 1.

That was a given.

Sampson wasn't just a three-time ACC player of the year. He was a three-time national player of the year, as well as the No. 1 pick in the 1983 Draft.

The only other former UVa player ever taken with one of the first five picks was De'Andre Hunter at No. 4 in 2019.

However, if you're looking at the top players to come through the UVa program, college performance has to outweigh draft placement.

Other UVa players to be picked in the top 10 included Wally Walker at No. 5 in 1976 and Olden Polynice at No. 8  in 1987.

Brogdon was picked by Milwaukee in the second round of the 2016 draft with the No. 36 pick overall, but has far exceeded any draft-day expectations.

After three seasons with Milwaukee, he signed a four-year $85-million contract with the Indiana Pacers, where he is averaging a team-leading 21.6 points after 29 games.

Does that make Brogdon the No. 2 player to come through the UVa program? Eventually, maybe it will. But, from a college standpoint, he ranks ninth in school history in scoring with 1,809 points.

That is more than 700 points behind Bryant Stith, who scored 2,516 points.

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Doughty On UVA Basketball: What Did Loss To FSU Mean?

What is one to make of Virginia's 21-point men's basketball loss at Florida State on Monday?

The first thing that came to mind was a resemblance to a Dec. 26 meeting with then-No. 1 Gonzaga, which blasted the Cavaliers 98-75 in Fort Worth, Texas.

As worriesome as that might have been at the time, the Cavaliers won their next seven games and 11 of the next 12.

Virginia customarily ranks among the men's basketball leaders in scoring defense and, two nights before the FSU game, had shut down North Carolina in a 60-48 romp at John Paul Jones Arena.

Freshman Walker Kessler had a team-high nine points for Carolina, which failed to have a single player score in double figures in a game for the first time since 1966, a 54-year span.

Who would have predicted, two nights later, that Virginia would fall 81-60 at Florida State?

Actually, Florida State was a 2 1/2-point favorite and now has won 11 of its last 12 games with the Cavaliers in Tallahassee, Fla.

Whenever the teams play, the head coaches -- UVa's Tony Bennett and Florida State's Leonard Hamilton -- invariably go out of their way to praise each other.

"We have the utmost respect for Virginia and their outstanding coach; he's one of the best in the country," Hamilton said. "Look what they've done in the ACC over the past five years; they've won more games than anybody.

"They have set the standard that now everyone in the ACC is being judged at. Us realizing we've stubbed our toe a couple times [against UVa] reminded us that we had to be at our very best. Our challenge now is seeing how close we can come to maintaining this."

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UNC Didn't Have A Scorer In Double Digits In UVA Win

Although Virginia has engaged in some low-scoring affairs during Tony Bennett's 12 seasons as men's basketball coach, it was the Cavaliers' opponent that had the statistic of the day Saturday.

In a 60-48 loss to the Cavaliers, UNC did not have a single double-figure scorer.

That hadn't happened since 1966, when  an overmatched Duke team held the ball against North Carolina in an ACC Tournament game, won by the Blue Devils 21-20.

That game was played without a shot clock,

Carolina's leading scorer Saturday was freshman Walker Kessler with nine points off the bench, followed by eight points from starter Kerwin Walton with eight.

Carolina's starters combined for 24 points. Virginia's starters had 52 points. The Cavaliers were 10-of-22 from behind the 3-point arc and UNC was 2-for-16.

UVa frontcourt players Sam Hauser and Jay Huff were a combined 7-of-11 on 3-pointers.

"We don't have a four and five man on the Blue [reserve] team that can go out there and make all those shots like they did," said Carolina coach Roy Williams, whose Tar Heels have lost the last seven games in the series.

It wasn't a two-man show for the Cavaliers. Freshman guard Reeve Beekman had an unusual stat line of seven assists, eight rebounds, one block and one steal, and Trey Murphy was 4-of-5 from the field and finished with 12 points.

"Coming from a high school, where you are the man and you can do anything, it's a big transition coming to a team like this," Beekman told reporters in a postgame Zoom opportunity

it was the fourth win in a row for ninth-ranked Virginia (15-3, 11-1 ACC) as unranked Niorth Carolina fell to 12--7 and 7-5.

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