Coaching this particular game -- an 89-70 Virginia win -- meant that Gillen, the first-year Virginia coach, would be pitted against Gaudio, whom he mentored from 1987 to 1993 while both were at Xavier.
For Gaudio, it meant he would have to try to beat his former boss, who is the only thing separating him from "riding yellow school buses on Route 7 in Eastern Ohio" as a high school coach. "My family owes him a tremendous amount," Gaudio said of Gillen. "It's been hard because I usually look to him for advice. This time, that part of the relationship wasn't there."
For Gillen, it meant trying to beat a guy who played a role in his success at Xavier, which included seven NCAA tournament appearances in nine seasons. This paved the way to the big time and an Elite Eight appearance at Providence in four seasons there, which paved the way to Virginia and this game that was to be a simple nondescript meeting between a Jeff Jones-coached team and a Gaudio-coached team.
"He helped us in having great success, so it was a lose-lose situation for me," Gillen said of facing Gaudio. "The game was already scheduled and we fulfilled our commitment."
Which is what the game seemed like for all involved. The hushed crowd of 2,106 should have plenty of energy left over for New Year's Eve, because they didn't use much of it during the game.
"Maybe it was the lack of students," Gillen suggested. Or maybe it wasn't a remarkable game.
Yes, both teams shot better than 50 percent for the game. Virginia hit 13 three-pointers, the fifth time the team had drilled more than 10 from beyond the arc this season, a school record. Chris Williams, who might be the best freshman at Charlottesville since Bryant Stith, continued to build his cult following with a 26-point, five-assist effort that included five three-pointers.
But for the most part, those awake saw what anyone should expect when an Atlantic Coast Conference team plays a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference team, and that's a 19-point win by the ACC team.
They saw Loyola (5-4) given a quick pace that suits it, only to see Virginia (9-4) adapt to that quick pace in a better manner. They saw Virginia shoot better from the outside than Loyola shot inside, with Blanchard Hurd, Roderick Platt and Clifford Strong combining to shoot 11-for-23 inside the paint.
The Cavaliers were forced to bomb away early, with three three-pointers in three minutes sparking a 12-1 run that put the Cavaliers up 28-19 with 7: 57 left, on the way to a 41-31 halftime lead.
"I was impressed that we shot the way that we shot," Gillen said of his team, which has hit 98 three-pointers in the last 12 games. "Sometimes, we're two of 12, other nights are like this."
Loyola, which had 13 turnovers in the first half, continued to be hindered by the tendency to run when it should walk, often negating the 17 turnovers that it forced Virginia to make.
"We didn't play intelligently enough," said Gaudio, who got only 28 frontcourt points from Hurd, Platt and Strong. "When we don't have it, we should back it out."
Jason Rowe led Loyola with 21 points, followed by Damien Jenifer with 13. Chezney Watson also had 20 for Virginia, followed by Adam Hall with 16 and Donald Hand with 13.
Pub Date: 12/31/98