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Virginia's Landesberg facing more defensive attention
Virginia guard Sylven Landesberg
Erik S. Lesser/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
CHARLOTTESVILLE--Sylven Landesberg hasn't faced much individual adversity in his first season of college basketball.
Virginia's freshman shooting guard has been near the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring all season and he's been named the league's rookie of the week five times.
But following a career-low two-point performance in an 83-61 loss to North Carolina on Thursday, Landesberg may be forced to adjust his game.
The 6-foot-6 Flushing, N.Y., native was so upset about the worst showing of his young career that he didn't meet with reporters afterward. Sophomore forward Mike Scott said his teammate was "hurting" mentally over the contest.
Landesberg must get over the disappointment in a hurry because the Cavaliers (7-7, 1-2 ACC) visit conference rival Maryland (12-5, 1-2) tonight at 8 p.m. at Comcast Center.
"I know he had a bad game," Scott said. "He's just going to have to shake it off."
North Carolina's defense forced Landesberg to shoot from the outside by taking away his driving lanes and it led to a 1-of-9 effort from the field and an unceremonious exit from the game with more than four minutes remaining.
Still, that didn't change North Carolina head coach Roy Williams' perception of the Cavs' talented youngster.
"He's going to be a complete player. There's no question about that," Williams said. "Right now his game is more driving the ball to the hole. And so we were trying to make sure we cut off his driving lanes."
Virginia head coach Dave Leitao said an off-night wasn't totally unexpected because the experienced Tar Heels (16-2) were coming off back-to-back conference losses and emphasized stopping Landesberg. He said a hungry, talented team may have been too much for his young star and team to overcome.
"It's a difficult position, but to whom much is given, much is expected," Leitao said of Landesberg. "He's going to face that more and he's going to have to continue to grow in his game and make adjustments, because he's not going to be at the rim for the rest of the year."
Landesberg is still sixth in the conference in scoring (17.3 points per game). He has scored a large portion of his points from the free-throw line, where he has taken more than twice as many attempts (102) as the next closest Virginia player (Scott's 43).
Landesberg shoots 82 percent from the foul line, but didn't attempt any free throws against UNC.
"They know what he does: He drives and gets to the free-throw line," Virginia junior guard Calvin Baker said of the Tar Heels. "Of course he's going to be frustrated, but Sylven, being the good player that he is, I know he's going to rebound and work on diversifying his game."
Landesberg's teammates were confident Thursday's game was an anomaly.
They said from the moment Landesberg arrived on campus, he fit in because he had uncommon confidence for a freshman.
"Sylven's a very tough kid," junior forward Jamil Tucker said. "Just seeing him in practice, seeing him around grounds, you know he's going to work on the things he needs to work on. He's going to come back."
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526