The Dominion Post  

UVa’s pack line defense concerns Huggins

Created on:   Tue, Dec 5, 2017   12:12 AM

Last modified:   Tue, Dec 5, 2017   12:12 AM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — It’s Virginia’s pack line defense against WVU’s full-court press.

It’s hurry-up vs. take it easy; the tortoise vs. the hare.

The Dec. 5 7 p.m. match-up between No. 15 Virginia (8-0) and No. 18 WVU (7-1) won’t be a game of inches.

Instead, it’s a game of contradictions.

And then come the contradictions to the contradictions, and, well, it becomes easy to see the frustrations both teams will face in this game.

It starts with the Cavaliers’ pack line defense.

In short, it’s a 2-3 zone that concentrates on keeping passes out of the middle and forcing shots to come from the outside and the deep corners.

Virginia is holding its opponents to just 35 percent shooting and 50.1 points per game this season. No opponent has scored more than 67 and only VCU scored more than 55 against the Cavaliers this season.

“The pack line is good,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. Virginia head coach Tony Bennett, “does the best job in the country teaching the pack line. It’s a weapon, not a question.”

But, the key to the pack line comes with a catch.

Huggins said the key to Virginia’s style of play has more to do with the Cavaliers’ patience on offense.

“A lot gets said about their defense but the reality is, they control the game with their offense,” Huggins said. “What happens is, you don’t want to go down and play defense for 30 seconds, come back on offense and take a shot in five seconds and then go back and play defense for another 30 seconds.
”It’s kind of like running the ball in football, you control the clock. They do a great job of controlling the clock.”

WVU’s full-court pressure is the contradiction to Virginia’s style.

WVU is not interested in a slow-tempo game and will work to get the Cavaliers to play out of their comfort zone by speeding things up.

“We were able to speed them up some last year,” Huggins said about WVU’s 66-57 in Virginia last season.

Sitting back and playing 25 to 30 seconds of defense on each possession isn’t what the Mountaineers are looking for.

“What happens is they make each possession so valuable and we’re trying to get as many possessions as possible,” WVU forward Lamont West said. “If we can get them to play a little faster on offense, that will help us.”

WVU’s own offensive possessions will also draw some interest.

The Mountaineers will try to spread the Cavaliers out and make them cover some distance, while Virginia is more interested in staying packed inside and forcing long jump shots.

“They want three yards and a cloud of dust is what they want. It’s like Woody (Hayes, former Ohio State football coach) is coaching over there.”

And maybe one last contradiction: Huggins isn’t interested in his players taking quick shots, unless they go in.

“I’ve never yelled at a guy for making it,” Huggins said. “Sometimes [Virginia] maybe wants you to make a couple, so you’ll keep shooting.

“It comes down to like anything else, whoever is making shots will have the most success.”