Hall of Fame Head Coach Debbie Ryan has seen some pretty spectacular players during her 33 years at the helm of Virginia women’s basketball. Cathy Grimes. Donna Holt. Dawn Staley. They won national accolades, set records in their time, and had their numbers retired. Yet none of them scored as many points as current senior Monica Wright will when the sun sets on her college career.
“[Wright]’s an incredible leader,” says women’s head coach Debbie Ryan. “You can win a lot of games, but there’s a right way to win, and Monica always does it the right way.”
In all likelihood*, Wright set the Cavalier scoring record on Monday night against Maryland. The game ended too late for press time, but Wright needed only 16 points to surpass Staley’s career tally of 2135 points. She’s on pace to finish her career as the ACC’s third-best scorer.
Staley, now the head women’s basketball coach at South Carolina, is sanguine about ceding the record. “Monica Wright is a good player who works hard to do what the team needs to be successful,” says Staley by e-mail. “That’s the way I played during my career at Virginia, so it’s great that that type of player is overtaking my record.”
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Wright’s assault on the history books is how consistent she’s been. The 5’11" guard from Woodbridge, Virginia, has started every game of her career. As a freshman, Wright averaged 15 points per game and was named ACC Freshman of the Year. Last season Wright led the ACC in scoring, averaging 20.5 points per game, and made first team All-ACC honors. It was enough to put her on the national stage—this season, Wright was preseason All-America.
“She’s grown a lot,” says Ryan. Wright was quieter as a freshman, learning how to lead from point guard Sharneé Zoll. But Wright quickly took over as team roll model. “I thought that was kind of cool,” Ryan says, “watching her go through the paces of how to be an encourager, yet also having to be an enforcer, because she had never really been an enforcer before.”
Despite her leadership and prolific scoring, Wright still has some work to do to join the highest echelon of Virginia basketball. In particular, her teams haven’t had the postseason success of Staley’s teams. While Staley danced three times to the NCAA Final Four—and to the 1991 championship game—Wright hasn’t played in even a Sweet Sixteen. This season, Cavaliers are a solid 11-4 as they enter the conference gauntlet and vie for a place in the NCAA tournament.
Yet regardless what records, trophies or plaques she ends up taking home, Wright will have something at least as valuable: The esteem of her veteran coach.
“Everyone knows that her character is beyond reproach, and that to me is what makes her a great basketball player, that’s what makes her unique,” says Ryan. “I’m as proud of her for the person she is as I am for the player that she is.”
*UPDATE Tuesday, January 12: In the January 11 game against Maryland, Monica Wright scored 20 points, enough for the record, though the Cavs lost by one point.
Last Thursday, six days before the third anniversary of the Unite the Right rally, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors voted 6-0 to remove the statue of a Confederate soldier, known as “Johnny Reb,” which stands outside the county courthouse. The Board of Supervisors vote comes after the
A chorus of “We gon’ be alright” bounced out of DJ Flatline and DJ Double U’s speakers, signaling the beginning of Saturday’s Black Joy Fest. The festival was the first event hosted by the newly formed Charlottesville Black Youth Action Committee. Young people tossed beanbags back and forth at
As the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise in our area, life has become increasingly dangerous for those who do not have a place to call home. To protect these vulnerable community members, local shelters have pivoted from their usual operations and redoubled their efforts over the
Comeback kids? On August 4, UVA announced that move-in and the beginning of in-person classes will be delayed by two weeks, meaning face-to-face instruction will start on September 8. University President Jim Ryan released a video August 7, explaining that the decision to delay was made in
Building bridges After nearly two decades of municipal hiccups and mishaps, the city’s plan to replace the Belmont Bridge is finally coming to fruition. On Monday evening, City Council conducted a first reading on an allocation for the project: The state will pay $12.1 million, the federal
By Claudia Gohn University administrators around the country have expressed concern about whether students would show up for a non-traditional school year (and, accordingly, pay tuition). UVA’s incoming freshmen have shown that they’re so eager to begin their halcyon college years, they’ll do
By Emily Hamilton On August 1, residents of Charlottesville and Albemarle became subject to a new set of coronavirus restrictions: in-person gatherings of more than 50 people are banned; restaurants and other venues such as wineries, breweries, and distilleries can operate at only 50 percent
In June, State Senator Jennifer McClellan announced her candidacy for governor of Virginia. McClellan is a 14-year veteran of the Virginia legislature who grew up in Petersburg. In this year’s session, she was a sponsor of significant clean energy and abortion access bills, as well as
Millions of people hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail annually. Thousands take to the trail in Charlottesville’s own Blue Ridge backyard. But only a few hundred ambitious adventurers make the full 2,190-mile trek between Georgia and Maine. Last year, longtime Charlottesville resident Jesse
On July 5, Dominion Energy abruptly canceled the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, an $8 billion project that would have carried natural gas 600 miles from West Virginia to North Carolina. Environmental activists of all persuasions spent six years fighting the project before finally prevailing over the
Just a quick drive from the most urban sections of Charlottesville is a unique wild environment—acres of boulder forests, sunny woodlands where blueberries grow, and a creek with architectural ruins along its banks. It’s all part of a 144-acre property called the Heyward Community Forest,
Since the violent arrest of an unhoused man on the Downtown Mall earlier this month, Defund Cville Police—along with numerous other activists and community members—have continued to call for the creation of a local mobile crisis unit, which would respond to emergency calls that the police are
Closing the loop The Rivanna Trail has encircled Charlottesville for more than 20 years. Earlier this month, the trail became a little more complete, when a 140-foot-long pedestrian bridge was lowered into place over Moores Creek, closing one of the few remaining gaps in the trail’s 20-mile
Second chance City Council approves Flint Hill development After nearly an hour of discussion, and midway through a meeting that lasted until 2:30am, City Council voted July 20 to move forward with the Flint Hill housing development, a set of new homes to be constructed in Fry’s Spring. Last
By Sydney Halleman Amy has a lot of school spirit. A third-year at the University of Virginia, she’s been active in the UVA community since her first year. She holds leadership positions in multiple clubs. “I go to all the football games,” Amy says. “And I love wearing my UVA gear.” But her
It’s been nearly two months since the murder of George Floyd, but protests against police violence continue around the country, including here in Charlottesville. Over a hundred protesters took to the streets July 17 to amplify Black women’s voices and struggles, and demand justice for those
By Claudia Gohn The latest addition to IX Art Park’s medley of flowery, psychedelic art is a series of circles, painted six feet apart from each other on the ground. The new paint is one part of IX’s plan to begin holding in-person concerts, after the coronavirus pandemic rendered them
Statue disposal Many of Richmond’s Monument Avenue Confederate statues are gone, but debate over their removal continues, and people have wondered where the toppled statues are being stored. This week, some sharp-eyed Richmonders noticed a large collection of monument-shaped tarps standing
In normal times, one in six Charlottesville residents—nearly 8,000 people—lack adequate access to affordable, healthy food. That’s 6 percent higher than the statewide food insecurity rate. And with thousands of citizens newly unemployed due to COVID-19, our food insecurity numbers have
Broker Charles Almy’s wife Katharine was involved in one of Albemarle’s longest—and most bizarre—lawsuits. She sued author John Grisham, St. Anne’s-Belfield development director Alan Swanson, and his wife Donna for emotional distress from accusing her of writing anonymous letters and for going