Zone Presses Remain A Riddle

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Sammy Zeglinski and the Hoos faced a zone press again vs. BC.

No one that met with the media on Saturday could put a finger on the answer. The question? What is it about soft zone presses, typically 1-2-2 alignments, that causes so much trouble for the Cavaliers? Players on the Virginia men’s basketball team seemed as frustrated as any spectators with the results against the tactic, which again created problems this weekend in a 63-44 loss to Boston College.

UVa seemingly had control of the contest on Saturday until the waning moments of the first half. That’s when BC pulled its 1-2-2 zone press out of the bag and rallied from a half-long deficit to the intermission lead, which it never relinquished. Corey Raji and Reggie Jackson each came up with steals during the 1:30 stretch, which accounted for half of the Eagles’ steals on the day.

“I don’t know really. We just got careless with the ball and we take a lot of pride of not being careless with the basketball and not turning it over,” Cavalier freshman Joe Harris said. “It was kind of a softer press and when you get lackadaisical with the ball, you tend to throw it away or get deflected passes.”

“I don’t know. I don’t think we’re attacking it as aggressively as we should be,” Virginia guard Jontel Evans said. “We’re kind of timid with it and careless with the ball so that’s why teams are having success with it. … In practice, we’re very aggressive but we just can’t carry it over to the games. We have to be sharp in the games with it.”

The Hoos have not been sharp against the defensive strategy this season. It’s to the point that it seems like ACC coaches are watching game film and putting the soft zone press into their game plans just for Virginia.