Virginia handled N.C. State last week in somewhat less than convincing fashion, the key to its victory the fact it has two superior guards, Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds. The pair combined for nearly as many points as the entire Wolfpack (56 to 58). Then the Cavaliers traveled to Clemson, and edged a far tougher team.The games reinforced the impression that UVa is a dangerous team despite having no interior game to speak of, a middling set of wing forwards, no front-rank freshmen, and a coach, Dave Leitao, who at times appears emotionally brittle.
The Cavaliers are capable of losing on a neutral court to Appalachian State and to a struggling name program such as Utah (7-12). They also are capable of beating Arizona, Gonzaga and Maryland, albeit in Charlottesville. Their scoring margin and scoring defense are among the worst in the ACC, but their starting backcourt, overall offensive production and free throw accuracy (.734) keep them afloat.
The remaining ACC schedule is kind. Two games with wounded Miami and a visit to lowly Wake Forest await, along with home games against Duke, Longwood, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. With four league wins already, and no trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium this season, the Cavs stand a good chance of breaking even in conference play and posting a sufficiently impressive record to merit NCAA tournament consideration.
This despite the fact their squad depends heavily on the scoring and ballhandling of two players. "Good guards win games," N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe, once an outstanding playmaker for the Wolfpack (1980-83), said of Singletary and Reynolds. "Those are good guards."
Like Duke in 2006, this reliance on a pair of upperclassmen has proven effective. Through Jan. 25, Singletary led the ACC in scoring with a 19.4 point-average and Reynolds was fourth at 18.2. (Last year, Duke's J.J. Redick finished first, Shelden Williams third.)
The guard duo attempts just over half of Virginia's free throws and converts 87.3 percent. Singletary's 92.5 percent accuracy paced the official conference leaders.
The pair also accounts for a shade more than half of Virginia's 3-point attempts, and converts 40.2 percent. This on a squad that leads the ACC by taking 39.1 percent of its shots from the bonusphere.
Overall, Singletary and Reynolds supplied 46.5 percent of UVa's scoring in its first 18 games.
These percentages, while impressive, pale in comparison to recent efforts.
Last year, for instance, N.C. State tried 45.6 percent of its shots from long-range to pace the conference. And, while Singletary and Reynolds clearly are a dangerous duo, accounting for 46.5 percent of Virginia's scoring, their production does not even crack the ACC's top 17 modern point-producing pairs.
|(Since 1980, Totals Through January 25, 2007)|
|Percent OfTeam Points||Avg. Points||School, Season||Players, Scoring Averages|
|63.3*||36.1||Georgia Tech, 1980||Brook Steppe, 18.9; Lenny Horton, 17.2|
|59.5*||39.1||Virginia, 1998||Norman Nolan, 21.0; Curtis Staples, 18.1|
|56.2||45.6||Duke, 2006||J.J. Redick, 26.8#; Shelden Williams, 18.8|
|55.5*||35.5||Duke, 1982||Vince Taylor, 20.3; Chip Engelland, 15.2|
|55.4||49.0||Georgia Tech, 1990||Dennis Scott, 27.7#; Brian Oliver, 21.3|
|52.7*||42.7||Maryland, 1992||Walt Williams, 26.8#; Evers Burns, 15.9|
|52.7||38.6||Duke, 1980||Mike Gminski, 21.3; Gene Banks, 17.3|
|52.6||40.9||Wake Forest, 1993||Rodney Rogers, 21.2#; Randolph Childress, 19.7|
|52.6||37.0||Maryland, 1985||Len Bias, 18.9#; Adrian Branch, 18.1|
|52.4||40.0||Georgia Tech, 1998||Matt Harpring, 21.6; Dion Glover, 18.4|
|52.1*||34.8||Virginia, 1988||Mel Kennedy, 19.2; John Johnson, 15.6|
|51.7||36.9||Wake Forest, 1995||Randolph Childress, 20.1; Tim Duncan, 16.8|
|51.4||41.2||Georgia Tech, 1989||Tom Hammonds, 20.9; Dennis Scott, 20.3|
|50.8||36.8||Virginia, 1990||Bryant Stith, 20.8; John Crotty, 16.0|
|50.7||41.8||Georgia Tech, 1991||Kenny Anderson, 25.9; Jon Barry, 15.9|
|50.3||35.9||Miami, 2005||Guillermo Diaz, 18.6; Robert Hite, 17.3|
|50.2*||32.3||Clemson, 2000||Will Solomon, 20.9#; Adam Allenspach, 11.4|
|* Losing record.|
|# Led ACC in scoring.|
- Eleven of the 17 teams that relied most heavily on two players for their scoring posted winning records overall, including Duke last season.
- Ten of the previous 17 duo-dependent squads had at least three double-figure scorers. Maryland in 1992, Georgia Tech in 1991, and Virginia in 1990 each had four players in double figures. Duke only had two in 2006.
- Over a 27-year period, just two ACC squads were as dependent on a scoring duo as was Duke in 2006. Neither of those managed a winning record.
All charts by Barry Jacobs are the property of Barry Jacobs. The charts cannot be reproduced or disseminated without express written permission of Barry Jacobs.