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Leitao's team has come a long way page 2
Steve DeShazo on Virginia vs Duke

Date published: 2/2/2007

By Steve DeShazo


The Cavaliers now have won five straight ACC games (the last two against ranked opponents), and their confidence has grown with each. They're tougher than they've been since early in Jeff Jones' tenure, and they now believe in themselves. Never under Pete Gillen would they have had the resolve to erase a 16-point deficit, as they did last Sunday at Clemson.

"We were mentally tougher on a couple of possessions," Leitao said--and when was the last time a Virginia coach could say that about Duke?

Last night's win didn't come easily. Virginia fell behind by 13 in the first half. That's usually not a daunting deficit to the Cavaliers, who dropped 103 on Maryland a couple of weeks ago and 93 on Arizona. But Duke isn't your ordinary opponent.

Even without the star power of their illustrious predecessors, these Blue

Devils can play defense. They allow just 56 points a game, fourth-best in the nation. This may be one of Mike Krzyewski's best coaching jobs--and that's saying something.

Virginia's upcoming schedule is forgiving; the Cavaliers (14-6) don't play UNC, Duke or Boston College again during the regular season. They now believe they can win every game, and four more victories should get them into the NCAA tournament for the first time in four seasons.

None will be bigger than last night's.

Steve DeShazo: 540/374-
Email: 5443sdeshazo@freelancestar.com

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