From Inside Carolina
Pete Gillen got a vote of confidence from his athletic director and the school president after a thorough review of the Cavalier basketball program, but that doesn't mean the scrutiny is over for the veteran coach.
Gillen took the Cavaliers to postseason play for the fifth consecutive season last year, but for the fourth time, that trip was to the NIT. Virginia was 18-13 overall, reaching the second round of the NIT, and the critics were in full voice by the end of the season.
Since then, the only notable changes in the program have been the departures of assistant coaches Rod Jensen and Scott Shepherd. Veteran John Fitzpatrick, most recently on the Houston Cougars' staff, was hired, along with Mark Byington, who becomes the administrative assistant. Former administrative aide Alexis Sherard moves up into the third assistant's job.
Gillen actively pursued former Clemson head coach Larry Shyatt to join his staff, but Shyatt ultimately landed at Florida, where Shyatt felt there was more stability on the coaching staff.
PROGRAM OVERVIEW: Pete Gillen has four starters and eight of his top 11 players back, though valuable junior reserve forward Derrick Byars has left the program.
Byars, who averaged 7.5 points and 3.4 rebounds, is transferring to Vanderbilt, where he will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.
Freshmen T.J. Bannister and J.R. Reynolds both moved into starring roles down the stretch last season as Virginia won five of its last eight games. While young last season, the Cavs improved their once-porous defense and can also look forward to the return of four of the top five top scorers this season.
Looking even further ahead, the new, $130 million, state-of-the-art John Paul Jones Arena is scheduled to open on campus in 2006.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think this is an underrated class and that's fine. I don't mind that. I agree, sometimes our classes have been overrated, but I think this one's better than perceived." -- Coach Pete Gillen on the incoming recruiting class.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
KEY RECRUITS AND TRANSFERS: Forward Adrian Joseph -- A 6-7 forward originally from Trinidad, Joseph played this past year at Brewster Academy in New Jersey. Joseph has slipped through the cracks for recruiting analysts because he was too old to continue playing in high school in New Jersey. A great run-and-score player and superb defender, Joseph was high on Maryland's recruiting list, too, but got away during the Terps' ill-fated pursuit of Rudy Gay.
Guard Sean Singletary -- The 5-11 guard is the key signee coming aboard. The Philadelphia product is the highly touted point guard that Virginia has been desperate for since injuries ruined Majestic Mapp's career four years ago. Singletary may not beat out T.J. Bannister next year but he is the future for Virginia and Gillen.
Center Tunji Soroye -- The 6-11 Nigerian was a late addition to the class. He averaged 11.2 points and 8.9 rebounds at Montrose (Md.) Christian School last year and led the team to a two-year record of 45-5. Soroye is a potentially dominant shot-blocker but his game is raw, probably too raw for him to help much this season.
INJURY IMPACT: Senior forward Devin Smith was plagued by a bad back through the latter part of last season, missing four complete games and limited in several others. His healthy return -- as a 6-5 linchpin on both ends of the court -- is a key. He averaged 12.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, second to senior center Elton Brown in both categories.
|07-13-2004 06:20 PM