Double Bonus: Miami

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Akil Mitchell and the Hoos fell short at Miami.

The Virginia men’s basketball team fought to the final buzzer on Tuesday night, but Miami made a pair of clutch plays in the final seconds to get a 54-50 win. That left the Hoos with back-to-back ACC losses. The “Double Bonus” takes a deeper look at three of the key themes in the match-up with the Hurricanes.

On-Ball Screens

In learning more about the Cavaliers’ defensive scheme over the past several seasons, I’ve been interested in the Pack Line defense vs. on-ball screen offense. That became even more true after watching Florida on-ball screen its way past UVa in the NCAA Tournament last season. Why? It’s a special situation for UVa that essentially manipulates the Pack Line concept of crowding the paint. I liken it to the nickel package in football defense in some ways in that it is outside of the base defense; in fact, coach Tony Bennett and I discussed that very thing last spring in an exclusive one-on-one interview found here in the EDGE archives.

In defending on-ball screens, Virginia hedges with the screener’s defender – that means to jump in front of the dribbler – to slow down the driving possibilities of the offense. The catch there, of course, is that it also takes one of the defenders away from that Pack Line help position as he tries to curtail the dribbler. The Cavaliers spent a lot of time in the offseason fine-tuning its strategies and timing to deal with on-ball screens because the program expects offenses to try to challenge the always stingy Pack Line in that way. Of course, the team has had limited availability from Darion Atkins in ACC play due to shin issues and he is one of the best weapons against these on-ball screen sets.

Miami really put Virginia in tough spots on Tuesday night with on-ball screen looks. And why not? Point guard Shane Larkin is one of the best I’ve seen in the ACC in recent years at changing his pace and