- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 10, 2009

CHARLOTTESVILLE | Sylven Landesberg is more than just meeting the high expectations he brought with him to Virginia. The 6-foot-6 guard is fast becoming a star.

Averaging 18.3 points, the freshman out of New York is among the top scorers in the ACC, and he’s making a mark in the league record book, too.

His 28-point college debut against VMI ranks as the second-highest scoring debut in ACC history, trailing only the 31 scored by J.J. Hickson for N.C. State last season against William and Mary. Landesberg was the first player in the ACC to win the rookie of the week award in the first two weeks since Chris Bosh for Georgia Tech in 2002-03, and he set a school mark with 26 points in his ACC debut, an 88-84 overtime victory at Georgia Tech.

In the VMI game, he also flirted with a triple-double, finishing with eight rebounds and eight assists. He said his early contributions have surprised even him.

“I’m doing a lot of things that I didn’t expect to do,” he said after scoring just four points in a victory against Brown. “I wanted to come in and make as much of an impact as I could; I just never expected it to be this much.”

A head cold was partially to blame for his 0-for-6 effort against the Bears, coach Dave Leitao said, but as the Cavaliers (7-5, 1-0) prepare for 15 consecutive games against ACC foes beginning with Saturday’s visit to Virginia Tech, Leitao said he doesn’t expect a drop-off.

“We’ve played a very difficult early schedule against some high quality teams, and he’s proven that he can perform and perform consistently well at that level,” Leitao said. “Now, it’s only going to get harder. Defenses are going to be bigger, stronger, quicker, faster, and scouting reports are going to catch up to him. So he’s going to continue to have to make adjustments in his game and have his game grow and expand to be successful.”

The challenge ahead is what attracted Landesberg to Virginia.

“There’s no conference better than this, and I’m just real anxious to get out there playing against the North Carolinas, the Dukes, the Wake Forests,” he said. “I’m just waiting for those chances.”

Landesberg’s humility is one of the things that Leitao said he most appreciates.

“I didn’t expect that in the first two games he’d get 28 and 21 [points],” Leitao said after Landesberg scored 21 against South Florida. “But I never really worried about his presence. He’s got a quiet, without cocky, presence as a basketball player and I noticed that early on, and it’s just getting him caught up from an experience standpoint. But he’s got a very good mind for the game and a very good competitive spirit.

“Most good players that grow up in New York City have that by reputation, and his reputation happens to be true.”

Landesberg’s teammates have come to know it pays to find No. 15 on the floor.

“I kind of compare him to Paul Pierce because he has that lazy change-of-pace game where it looks like he’s going to slow up and then he just attacks the rim so well,” forward Mike Scott said. “He’s always on the free throw line and brings a lot of energy to the team.”

Landesberg is second in the ACC with an average of eight free throw attempts a game. When he scored 22 points against Radford in his third college game, he joined Kenny Anderson of Georgia Tech (1989) as the only players in conference history to open their careers with three consecutive 20-point performances.

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