Double Bonus: Wake Forest

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UVa’s defense likely will face some strategic challenges in the ACC.

After taking down North Carolina at home, the Virginia men’s basketball team fell to 1-1 in ACC play with a 55-52 road loss at Wake Forest on Wednesday night. The Cavaliers fell behind in the first half and couldn’t overcome that deficit despite a late rally. What happened? The “Double Bonus” takes a closer look at some of the details from the Demon Deacon debacle.

Challenging The Pack-Line

Before ACC play started, I typed an article called Is UVa’s Pack-Line Ready For ACC Play? The simple premise: Virginia’s defense on the season had ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring and field goal percentage defense, but the challenge of ACC play awaited. That article followed the Hoos’ win over Wofford, a team that I thought challenged the Pack-Line better than any other team up until that point. Well, Wake Forest takes the throne in that regard now.

The Demon Deacons utilized numerous offensive actions and sets to challenge the Pack-Line defense on Wednesday night. For much of the game, and certainly in the first half, the strategic choices worked. Wake showed numerous 4-around-1 and 5-around-0 sets where four or five players surrounded the perimeter with no one in the paint area. The goal? Spread out the sagging nature of the Pack.

It didn’t stop there, though. The offensive actions included in those spread looks were the key because just spreading the floor for one-on-one drive attempts typically doesn’t work against the Pack-Line D. Wake Forest peppered the UVa defense with backdoor cuts (typically from the corner down the baseline, but also at times from the wing to the block), ball reversal drive-and-kick attempts to attack the defensive closeouts, and multiple on-ball screens on several possessions.

All three of those created problems at times for the Hoos, but the on-ball screen looks are significant. I wrote the following line in the article mentioned above about Wofford’s offense: “Remember, however, that Florida shredded the Pack-Line