Breaking Down The Wake Forest Loss

Virginia lost its first ACC game of the season over the weekend at Wake Forest, falling 69-57 on Saturday in Winston-Salem. The Cavaliers found themselves in foul trouble, struggling to make shots and out-matched on the boards. In a conference road game, that’s a lot to overcome. So now that we’ve had a few days to digest the defeat, let’s take a closer look at what happened to the Hoos against the Demon Deacons.

Revisiting the Scouting Report

In the Scouting Report I listed three keys to UVa pulling out the victory:

  • Tempo. If I could get away with putting this as numbers 1-3, I would’ve done it. UVa can’t keep up with Wake in a running game, Wake Forest can’t beat UVa slowing down and playing things out in the half-court, so something will have to give. It’s important for UVa to slow down the Deacs to take away easy baskets but also to be able to introduce some ball pressure in the Pack-Line. If Wake is rushing the ball down then there is no way to set up a double-team on the post, or to get ready for the offensive rebounding onslaught that Wake will bring.
  • Keeping Wake off of the offensive glass. Wake is the best rebounding team in the ACC, with the best rebounder in Al-Farouq Aminu. The Deacs are very difficult to keep off the glass on both ends as they very often have four solid rebounders on the court at a time. The thing that blew me away watching the film on Wake is how effectively they hit the offensive glass combined with how well they play transition defense. Outside of East Lansing, Michigan, very few teams can manage to run guys at the glass and pull down boards while not paying for missing it on the other end. Dino Gaudio accomplishes this by instilling the same kind of awareness in his players that Tom Izzo preaches at Michigan State. Wake Forest crashes the glass with discipline, and it always sends two guys and drops three. Sending two and dropping three may sound easy enough, but it is done on the fly and the two who crash have to be determined instantly and with recognition of who is closest to the basket, and where guys are attacking from. For example, normally the two players closest to the basket will crash, but if they were both coming from the same side of the rim then the player that is the farthest away needs to know to turn and run back while the closest player on the other side of the court needs to recognize and crash instantly.
  • Drive the lane. Wake’s biggest weakness on defense is its inability to consistently keep out dribble penetration. When a guard does get past his man, passing lanes open up very easily around the rim. Virginia needs to find at least two players who can get initial penetration to set that up. A lot of Virginia’s shooting sets won’t be successful against the splits Wake takes defensively unless someone is able to beat the first line of defense off the bounce.

In the 3-0 ACC start this season, UVa had won or tied eight out of the nine keys I had laid out for the first three ACC games; unfortunately, Wake Forest took two out of three of the keys in the most recent match-up. In turn, the Demon Deacons were able to come away with the victory.