Mapp completes long road to recovery

Virginia point guard back after 2 years of knee woes

ACC notebook

January 31, 2003|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Junior backup point guard Majestic Mapp was not the reason the Virginia Cavaliers whipped visiting Florida State two nights ago. Far from it. In nine minutes, Mapp contributed four points and two assists, made his only three-point attempt and committed two turnovers during an 85-72 victory.

But the fact that Mapp was even available to play in his fourth consecutive game was cause for celebration for the Cavaliers.

Mapp has spent the past two years battling knee injuries that appeared to end his collegiate career before it had begun. Two years, four surgeries, multiple setbacks, endless discouragement. Now, Mapp finally has emerged from the training room and taken the ball as Virginia's third point guard.

"Two-plus years of surgeries, rehab, pain. A lot of people thought he'd never play again. I thought he'd never play again," Virginia coach Pete Gillen said. "Majestic just hung in there and kept swinging. Now I think it's gotten to the point where we can put him on the court, and not just as a token. He's important to us."

Mapp has appeared for an average of 8.5 minutes since returning earlier this month. In a victory over Wake Forest last week, he contributed 17 minutes at the point. Eventually, Gillen hopes Mapp can move into the main backup role behind sophomore Keith Jenifer, thus allowing junior transfer Todd Billett to focus more on his off-guard duties as one of the team's prime scorers.

"You do rehab, you get hurt again, you do more rehab. To see [Mapp] go on the court was a great thing," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "You have to salute somebody like that."

Mapp, who told the Daily Progress in Charlottesville recently that he has been practicing without any setbacks for the past month, senses his feel for the game is slowly returning.

"I'm going to have to ice my knee every day for the rest of my life, but my knee doesn't hurt," he said. "Hopefully, I'll get a little further along each time."

UNC's McCants on rise

Unless he suffers an injury that costs him significant playing time, North Carolina freshman 6-foot-3 guard/forward Rashad McCants should walk away easily with the Atlantic Coast Conference's Rookie of the Year Award.

McCants, who has scored in double figures in a league-best 19 straight games, is carrying the youthful Tar Heels (11-8, 2-4) with his dazzling ability as a pure scorer, be it as a post-up player, an offensive rebounder or a three-point shooter who penetrates as well as he curls around screens or spots up on the wing.

He ranks second in the ACC with a 19.4-point average, fourth with a .517 shooting percentage and has made 43.3 percent of his three-point attempts, second in the conference.

"[McCants] plays with such force," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said.

Et cetera

Freshmen and sophomores make up five of the league's top 10 scorers and six of its top 10 rebounders. ... The ACC is 78-19 in nonconference play, including a 22-14 mark against the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC. ... Virginia senior center Travis Watson has a league-high 46 career double doubles. ... Duke freshman guard J.J. Redick went 6-for-6 at the foul line in Saturday's 91-71 victory over Georgia Tech and set a school record for consecutive free throws made with 40.

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