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Boyle faces familiar foe

Virginia coach shares common ground with High Point

Coach Joanne Boyle and the Cavaliers will face some familiar competition tonight as the Virginia women's basketball team faces High Point after a convincing 55-38 win against Providence Monday.

The Panthers (1-0) are led by first-year coach Jennifer Hoover, who shares an unlikely double connection to the Cavaliers (2-0). Hoover joined Virginia in 2003 as director of basketball operations after serving as an assistant coach at Memphis. A year later, Hoover returned to the bench to become an assistant under long-time Virginia coach Debbie Ryan before being named the Cavaliers' recruiting coordinator. As coordinator, Hoover recruited guard Monica Wright, who went on to become Virginia's all-time leading scorer with 2,540 career points during a brilliant four-year career from 2006 to 2010 and lead the Cavaliers to three NCAA Tournament appearances.

Then in 2008, Hoover jumped at the opportunity to join Boyle's staff at California, and the Golden Bears enjoyed a dramatic turnaround with three straight years of steady improvement and a 68-28 overall record after 12 consecutive losing seasons.

"It will be interesting," Boyle said of facing her former assistant and friend. "I'm so happy for Jen. She gets to be a head coach. She used to coach here, so she has a history here, too. It will be a good game."

Boyle is not new to the ACC either.

During her star-studded senior year at Duke, Boyle led the Blue Devils to the most overall and conference wins in program history while cementing her legacy as one of the school's all-time greats. She graduated after the 1985 season - a season in which she set the then-Duke record with 75 steals - ranked second in program history in points and assists.

Boyle's job now is simple: convince Cavaliers she has coached for less than a month that she knows how to coach - not just play - winning basketball in the ACC.

"We've been taught certain things throughout our basketball careers and now she's teaching us her way of doing things, so more than anything it's just been a learning process," sophomore guard Ataira Franklin said.

Boyle has spent hours preaching the importance of hustle and hard work on both ends of the floor. Her players have learned quickly that turnovers and sloppy play have consequences which must be paid in sweat, but plenty of positive reinforcement and a growing bond between both parties bodes well for the long season ahead.

"If there's something the coaching staff needs to correct, they're always positive," senior forward Chelsea Shine said. "We know it's not personal. The way they've gotten to know us and spent the time to care about what we have to say and what we do off the court has probably been the biggest thing. You can tell that they're very invested and really genuine, so that makes it easier on the court because when they are correcting something, we know what their intentions are because we have that healthy relationship with them off the court."

The results have been apparent, as the team's zone defense has held opponents to less than 32 percent shooting from the field and less than 22 percent from behind the three-point line. The Cavaliers also have outrebounded their opponents, 89-72, winning their first two games by an average of 24.5 points.

While Boyle gets her new roster up to speed on her system, Hoover will try to establish a coaching identity of her own. Like Boyle, Hoover was an ACC superstar and three-time All-ACC standout at Wake Forest, graduating as the program's all-time leader with 1,728 points and 1,006 rebounds and has a similar job cut out for her at High Point.

Just as Boyle left California after a sixth consecutive winning season to became the third head coach in Virginia program history, Hoover seized the chance to become a head coach for the first time in her career. She takes over a High Point squad which finished 16-15 last year but graduated four of its five starters. Given Hoover's impressive recruiting background, the Panthers are more than willing to go young, and the team will feature six new players including five freshmen to complement senior forward Shamia Brown, the lone returning starter.

Brown scored a career-high 29 points to lead High Point past Virginia Commonwealth during the squad's season opener Friday. The Panthers shot 67 percent from the field in the second half and scored the game's final 14 points to power past the Rams, 82-67.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena.


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