Where’s The Defense?

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Coach Tony Bennett must be frustrated with his team’s defense.

In the days since the Cavaliers’ disappointing loss at Wake Forest, one quote keeps jumping out at me. And considering it comes from head coach Tony Bennett, there shouldn’t be any surprise that it’s about defense.

The problem? The Hoos aren’t playing any when it matters most in games and it’s costing them in the win column. It did against Wake.

Bennett says that Virginia isn’t minding the gap.

“We keep a stat where we talk about getting a gap, which means three stops in a row. I really challenged them in the locker room at halftime. Early in the game, we were hoping they missed, and then in the later part of the first half, I thought we were affecting their misses and really making them earn, and I said that you have to really fight to impose your will on them defensively in the second half, because they do have usually four or five who can get going,” Bennett said. “As far as that stat [we call gap], we had one in the first media timeout [of the second half] and did not have a stretch where we got three stops in a row [the rest of the game]. It’s an important stat for trying to get momentum defensively.”

As bad as that quote sounds, it actually was worse. Much, much worse. In fact, after the Hoos took a 48-38 lead at 12:50, they only came up with three stops the rest of the way. That’s right, not only did the Cavaliers fail to come up with a gap statistic – three stops in a row – they failed to come up with more than three stops TOTAL. Wake Forest produced points on 16 of 19 possessions in the final 13 minutes.

That’s miserable defense folks. When Bennett talks about having pride in defense and what it means, this is what he’s talking about. 16 of 19? Come on. I’ve been talking about big stops since November … November of 2009 that is … and it’s just not happening. Anyone thinking about progress and program improvement can just start there – if Virginia doesn’t get better on defense, it won’t get any better results any time soon.

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