The Virginia basketball team has once again started off strong against its non-conference opponents, boasting a 9-1 record, beating prominent and strong tournament teams such as Iowa, Providence, and Ohio State. This great start would not be possible without its formidable defense that is currently allowing the least amount of points in the nation at 46.7. It all begins with the implementation of the packline defense by Coach Tony Bennett, a defense that is a variation of man-to-man defense. The main tenets of the pack line man-to-man defense is to clog the inside, protect the paint, and prevent dribble penetration. The packline focuses on putting pressure on the ball and creating a trust system among teammates in case they get beat off the dribble. It has also allowed Virginia to get in better position for defensive rebounds, currently grabbing about 36 rebounds a game.
Last year, Virginia was ranked second in the ACC, after cross-state rival North Carolina and defeated traditional ACC powerhouses Louisville, Miami, Notre Dame, and Syracuse. However, Virginia is now without star players Anthony Gill and Malcom Brogdon, who were significant pieces to the Virginia offense and pack line defense. Both of these players were the top scorers on the Cavs, with Gill averaging 18.2 points a game and Brogdon averaging 13.8 points a game. This team’s focal point starts is now senior point guard London Perrantes, who is averaging 9.6 points a game with 4.4 assists a game. He is currently leading a very young team, with freshman talents Kyle Guy, Mamadi Diakite, and Ty Jerome who have displayed offensive prowess this season.
After last night’s win over the California Bears, Virginia is starting to truly possess the ability to still compete on a high level against elite teams especially on the road. Virginia snapped the Bears 27 game home winning streak by the score of 56-52. Freshman guard Kyle Guy shined again as he scored 17 points on 6-10 shooting, hitting two key three-pointers down the stretch. Mamadi Diakite displayed strong rim protection as he affected multiple shots that were taken within the paint and produced two blocks for the Cavaliers and had four points of his own. Veteran senior guard, London Perrantes was the floor general for the Cavaliers as he came up with 14 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds and minimized the amount of turnovers with only two total.
The next game comes again on the road against the Louisville Cardinals, who had just beaten #5 ranked Kentucky at home by the score of 73-70. However, Virginia currently has the Cardinal’s number as they swept them last season on the road and at home by double digits.