Cavs Return To Action Against Hampton

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Wahoo fans finally get to see their team in action again this weekend at the JPJ.

The eternally long – or at least it seemed like it – break for finals at Virginia is nearly over and it is time for Dave Leitao’s crew to hit the hardwood again this Saturday. The 5-1 Hoos host Hampton, the first in-state opponent of the season, on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Cavaliers have yet to lose in the new John Paul Jones Arena.

The Pirates are under the direction of first-year coach Kevin Nickelberry, who Leitao has known for many years. Virginia’s coach said Thursday that was just an added incentive to add this game to the schedule.

“We had been talking with the people at Hampton as early as last season before they had a coaching change about the possibility of playing or may even at some point playing down in that area. This came about and it was a time that both schedules matched,” Leitao said. “I know Joe Taylor, the Athletics Director, pretty well. Once they made a coaching change and Coach Nickelberry came aboard, he was someone I had known for a long time so it made that much more sense to play the game.”

As I indicated in The Sabre’s preseason schedule analysis, this game jumped out on the schedule and not just because HU is in an in-state non-conference game. The Pirates lost in the NCAA Tournament play-in game last year after an improbable run to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament title. But that’s not the main reason to keep an eye on this game.

Nickelberry is an ambitious young coach and he was hired he wanted to help the Pirates climb to the top of the MEAC ladder and beyond. He helped the program bring in a truly solid list of recruits for a MEAC school with little tradition or historical success. That class has not gotten off to a great start with a 2-7 record entering this weekend’s contest, but there’s a catch.

Matt Pilgrim, the highest ranked player in the recruiting class and the expected centerpiece