- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 8, 2006

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Virginia point guard Sean Singletary gingerly walked toward his seat after a practice yesterday at Greensboro Coliseum, clearly tired as the end of the season nears.

Perhaps it is the cumulative effect of playing 33.6 minutes a game and hoisting 374 shots for a team that perhaps has relied more on its backcourt than any other in the ACC. Singletary leads the Cavaliers with 17.8 points a game.

“It’s definitely been a long year, playing so much,” said Singletary, whose seventh-seeded Cavaliers (14-13, 7-9 ACC) meet No. 10 Virginia Tech (14-15, 4-12) tonight in the first round of the ACC tournament. “I didn’t have to play this much last year. It’s just a learning process, so it’s something I have to deal with. …

“It definitely creeps up on you and just makes you kind of tired and sick, but it’s just things you have to play through.”

Virginia coach Dave Leitao said after Sunday’s 71-70 loss to Maryland that he had asked much of his undermanned team, which has only eight scholarship players and has lost three straight. Singletary’s backcourt mate, J.R. Reynolds, is averaging 16.9 points and 32.9 minutes.

“Those who are competitors look at it as another challenge,” said Leitao, whose team was picked to finish last in the conference during the preseason. “We’ve had enough time between games to get the proper physical and especially mental rest that’s needed so that you can look at the second season the right way.”

Though weary, Singletary has maintained his sense of humor. He was named both the league’s best trash-talker in an informal poll and to the All-ACC first team by a vote of conference media. When asked to select which meant more, Singletary smiled and said, “I can’t pick.”

Hamilton holds court

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton, never one shy to express an opinion, expressed befuddlement over the possibility his team might not earn an NCAA tournament berth.

“I don’t even know why I’m sitting here in fifth place in the ACC having to defend anything,” Hamilton said. “I’m really confused about that. Matter of fact, I think we need six or seven teams.”

The fifth-seeded Seminoles (19-8, 9-7 ACC), who play Wake Forest this afternoon, navigated a nonconference schedule that ranks 317th out of 334 Division I teams and have only two wins against top-50 teams.

Both came since Feb. 22, though Florida State likely would be perched on the bubble if it loses today to a team ranked outside the top 100.

“The process is interesting because no one can come to a consensus as to what all the numbers mean,” Hamilton said. “I have to believe there would be very few people who would not say we are a team that should be included in the 65. I’m not real sure a lot of people would like to play us.”

The Seminoles probably can take care of any concerns with one more victory, which would relieve players who really aren’t certain what they need to do for an NCAA berth.

“Honestly after the Duke and Miami games, I thought we were in,” Seminoles forward Al Thornton said. “You really don’t know. If we do well in the tournament and get the Wake win, I feel like we’ll be in. Overall, you really can’t worry about that too much.”

Hope at the bottom

Wake Forest closed its disappointing regular season with an emotional victory against N.C. State. The Demon Deacons (15-15, 3-13) might need a repeat of that effort and a bit more to win four games in as many days.

How much more? Maybe an extended run from a single player that would rate among the best in tournament history. Wake probably has two players — seniors Justin Gray and Eric Williams — capable of such a stretch.

“We had that edge, ‘it’ if you will, and we’re gonna have to bring that to the game and to the tournament,” coach Skip Prosser said. “I think we’re also going to have to have a Randolph Childress or Wally Walker [performance]. Someone’s going to have to surface there that has a special weekend of basketball.”

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