Defense Plagues Hoos

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Dave Leitao said he is “very” disappointed in his team’s defensive struggles.

When Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski was asked about Kyle Singler shortly after his team defeated Virginia on Wednesday night, the veteran coach inadvertently pinpointed one of the issues plaguing the Hoos. Krzyzewski said with a chuckle: “Well, I told him – he missed a lot of open 3’s – I said ‘You’re never going to get that many.'”

Therein lies the key culprit to the struggles of this year’s Cavaliers. They don’t defend consistently. Or to put it more bluntly: Virginia’s defense stinks.

The statistics in Virginia’s 14 losses are telling. Opponent’s field goal percentage: 47.9%. Opponent’s points per game: 81.8. In ACC play, the Cavs are dead last in scoring defense, allowing 77.8 points per game in league games. Not surprisingly, the bottom of the defensive rankings nearly mirror the standings as 4 out of the 5 worst teams in conference scoring defense sit 8th, 10th, 11th, and 12th on the charts.

Just this week, Miami and Duke became the seventh and eighth teams in conference play to shoot better than 48% this season and the sixth and seventh to crack the 50% barrier against the Hoos. UVa is 0-8 in those games.

Simply put: you don’t defend, you don’t win. It’s a pretty straight forward formula.

“For what we do, or don’t do, it’s always on the defensive end,” Cavalier coach Dave Leitao said. “I don’t think that we had for about 30 minutes the kind of defensive aggression [you need]. If you do, you make the proper rotations quicker, you switch better. We got caught not communicating and that’s a byproduct of a lack of aggression on our part from an attitude standpoint. Good teams like [Duke] exploit it.”

As that statement shows, Leitao knows why Virginia struggles. Lack of aggression, lack of communication, lack of execution. But where are the breakdowns occurring specifically? A closer look follows.