Ralph Sampson will live out his final year at Virginia on The Lawn, in a modest room where the only plumbing is a sink. The 7'4" center is one of only 54 students, all seniors, who rate a room on the hallowed greensward, where in winter residents have to slip on a coat before they head to the head. Sampson got his choice of The Lawn rooms because the classmate who won the lottery for first dibs turned his pick over to Big Ralph. And for all these years we believed it was Mr. Jefferson's university. The Man at The University is on The Lawn for what should be The Year the Cavaliers win the NCAA title.
Of course, more bizarre things have happened to preseason favorites than even Edgar Allan Poe, a onetime resident on The Lawn, could have imagined.
All-ACC Guard Othell Wilson is Virginia's leading returnee in assists and steals. At the other backcourt spot junior transfer Rick Carlisle will probably start for the departed Jeff Jones. Carlisle, who averaged 14.3 points a game on 55.0% shooting in two years at Maine, is a clone of his court-smart predecessor. And junior backup Ricky Stokes will again be around to provide last-second heroics. Twice last season Stokes won games at the end, saving UVa's opener with a steal and an ACC tournament game by banking in an off-balance shot at the buzzer.
Both forwards have something to prove: Craig Robinson that his strong 1981-82 season (9.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game), following two disappointing ones, was no fluke; Tim Mullen that his jump shot can make a comeback after disappearing last spring. Jim Miller, a 6'8" reserve who has dressed up as Ronald McDonald to entertain kids at local franchises, didn't deserve a break (of his ankle) the first day of school, but that's what he got. He'll be ready for the opener. Sampson's backup, if there can be such a thing, is 6'1" Kenton Edelin.
Weaknesses? Well, last season UVa shot only 68.0% from the line, and a certain two-time College Player of the Year made a miserable 61.5%. "Now it's a percentage play to foul him," says Coach Terry Holland. "As long as that's true, it'll be no fun for him to play." But, all things considered, it's no fun to play against him, either.