Charlottesville, VA (U-WIRE) -- With his 23 point and nine assist effort against Maryland on Saturday, Sean Singletary took another step toward developing into the kind of point guard who can dominate in the ACC. Before fouling out in overtime against the Terrapins, he turned in arguably his finest performance of the season.
"He was unbelievable," coach Pete Gillen said. "Playing with a gimpy ankle, hitting threes, and to shoot threes you really have to use your legs. He was spectacular, and he played against a great player in [Maryland's John] Gilchrist."
Sean Singletary came to Virginia as the prize of Pete Gillen's 2004 recruiting class. After dominating Philadelphia prep hoops for the last two years, he turned down programs like perennial-power Kansas to wear the orange and blue of Virginia. Singletary was expected to contribute immediately and has, earning the starting point guard position before the season began.
In his first real test of the season, against Arizona's Mustafa Shakur, Singletary performed brilliantly, turning in 15 points and eight assists against the Wildcats on his way to leading the Cavaliers to a shocking 18-point upset. Singletary seemed to be progressing faster than anybody had expected.
It was evident how much farther he still had to go, however, once ACC play began. In the first conference game of the season, Singletary drew the daunting task of facing Wake Forest's Chris Paul, potentially the top point guard in the nation. Paul harassed Singletary into only two points on 1-6 shooting from the field while notching 21 points and 9 assists as the Demon Deacons cruised to an easy win over the Cavaliers.
In addition to Paul, the ACC features an unparalleled group of talented point guards. Georgia Tech's Jarrett Jack, North Carolina's Raymond Felton and Maryland's John Gilchrist all have had tremendous collegiate success and most likely will be playing in the NBA. In games against these guards, Singletary had been held below his season average for points and has had difficulty running the offense as Virginia lost each of those games by over 14 points.
In Saturday's game against Maryland, however, Singletary finally broke through against Gilchrist, last year's ACC Tournament MVP. In the game's final minutes, Virginia turned to Singletary to make the big shots, and he delivered, scoring 12 of the team's 20 overtime points.
Behind every successful ACC team is a dynamic, playmaking point guard who is capable of leading his team and taking over games. Teams without a dependable point guard sometimes resort to unconventional styles of play to make up for it, such as last year's North Carolina State team which played small forward Julius Hodge out of position as point guard in certain games. If teams aren't fortunate enough to have the talent to reshuffle their lineup, they will almost undoubtedly struggle.
Gillen recruited Singletary to be Virginia's answer to Felton, Paul and the rest of the ACC's talented point men. And in turn, Virginia's hopes for success will most likely be tied to Singletary's development.
Singletary's determination has enabled him to endure a difficult ACC season for the Cavaliers.
"You can't ever give up," Singletary said. "I never give up, so we're just going to keep playing to the end."
Singletary will get another chance against Chris Paul this Saturday as the Cavaliers travel to Winston-Salem for a rematch with the Demon Deacons.
(C) 2004 Cavalier Daily via U-WIRE
Raymond Felton (UNC), Julius Hodge (NCST) and Daniel Ewing(DU) are tough competition for the Cavaliers' Sean Singletary.