Caid Kirven Caps Magical Senior Finale At JPJ

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Teammates mob Virginia’s Caid Kirven to celebrate is Senior Night 3-pointer. ~ Kris Wright

With time dwindling Saturday night in Virginia’s 68-46 victory against Louisville, a game punctuated by the play of the seniors on Senior Night, only one thing could have added to the magic. Coming right up.

Senior walk-on Caid Kirven provided that thrilling moment for a sold-out John Paul Jones Arena that serenaded its seniors in the final home game of a remarkable time in the program’s history. UVA’s senior class has posted 107 wins, the third most in program history. During that four-year run, Kirven had scored 8 points in 40 games for his career and missed his only 3-pointer. Until that corner shot was heard round JPJ, Kirven had missed his only career 3-point attempt.

So while a third straight ACC Regular Season title was not in play due to UNC’s win at Duke earlier in the day, Kirven’s team, including fellow seniors Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill, Evan Nolte, and Mike Tobey, erupted in jubilation when the 3-pointer fell through the net.

Gill joked that it reminded him of Kirven’s turn as JMU’s Andrey Semenov in preparation for that matchup last season.

“The only time I’ve ever seen Caid make a three in practice was when we were doing the JMU scout,” Gill said smiling. “Ever since then, he hasn’t hit a three in practice. And then tonight, he finally hit one in the game, which was awesome. I thought we were going to get a technical foul because everybody pretty much ran onto the court when he hit it. It was just an awesome moment.”

For UVA coach Tony Bennett, the moment was both a reminder and a reward. The Cavaliers ended the 2013-2014 season with a 75-56 win over Syracuse, capturing an outright ACC Regular Season Championship for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era as a result. The game was the last home game for seniors Joe Harris, Akil Mitchell, and walk-on Thomas Rogers, who hit a 3-pointer in the waning moments of that game that prompted a huge celebration as well.

Just like Rogers’ 3, Kirven’s 3 was the perfect end for the closely knit group. Plus, it embodied one of Bennett’s 5 Pillars of Humility, Passion, Unity, Thankfullness, and Servanthood. Kirven, of course, sees little playing time as walk-on and member of the Green Team scout group.

“The way the four seniors started and then Caid hitting that shot. It reminded me of Thomas Rogers on his Senior Night,” Bennett said. ”I’ve watched Caid shoot in practice a lot and him knocking down that three might have been the biggest surprise of the game. I was so happy for him. He’s had a role that’s been so significant in practice. He’s a true servant with a servant’s heart.”

Nolte, who knocked down a pair of his own 3-pointers to spur Virginia to an 8-0 lead in Saturday’s win, likened the seniors’ final game at John Paul Jones Arena to something out of a “fairy tale.”

“This is one of those things for me, it kind of hit me like a week or two ago that I am not going to be back here,” Nolte said, “but when Caid let that ball go, I thought, ‘This cannot be true. It is too good to be true,’ and it went in and it took me back to Thomas Rogers.”

More reaction to Kirven’s moment from UVA Twitter …

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