Inside the Numbers: #1 Virginia needs to clean up post defense

uva basketballThe #1-ranked Virginia football team was undone in 1990 by a Georgia Tech squad that devised an offensive game plan based on what William & Mary had success with in an early-season UVA blowout win.

Could the #1-ranked Virginia basketball team ultimately be undone by a team that looks at what Georgia Tech was able to do to the Pack Line defense in a double-digit loss?

Center Ben Lammers torched UVA for 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including going 5-for-7 in the paint, in the Cavs’ 65-54 win Wednesday night.

Lammers was just as, if not more, effective as the point man in the high post. He only recorded two assists on the night, but the ball was in his hands seemingly on every Yellow Jackets’ possession, with an entry pass to the foul line extended starting most of Tech’s offensive sets.

From there, Lammers would look for a perimeter cutting through the lane to the rim, or hand off to a second perimeter, then himself rolling to the rim to take the pass as a cutter.

If the Pack Line didn’t help, Lammers would get the ball basically point-blank at the rim. If there was help behind, the area vacated by the help was left open for another cut by a Yellow Jacket.

The flurry of action around Lammers was the basis of a Georgia Tech attack that was successful for the better part of 30 minutes.

The Ramblin’ Wreck scored 45 points on its first 43 possessions, a 1.05 points per possession clip, against a team that ranks #1 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, surrendering .839 points per possession on the season, according to KenPom.com.

Virginia was able to put the clamps down on Georgia Tech in the final 10 minutes, holding the Jackets to 4-of-15 shooting down the stretch.

The bigger issue as the calendar moves toward March is how coach Tony Bennett and his staff close the gaping hole that was just opened in their defensive system.

Lammers is a talented big, a good passer who can handle the ball in the high post, with nice touch around the rim, a solid post-up game and a mid-range jumper. I point that out because, there aren’t a lot of guys with his size, at 6’10”, 240, who can bring to the floor what he can.

But if Virginia sees a team in March with a big who can come close to bringing the skill set that Lammers has, it’s going to be likely that there is more talent around him than what Lammers has at Georgia Tech, no offense to the good folks at Georgia Tech, which, after all, has lost 10 of its last 11.

You can bet that a team that has a big who can handle the ball in the high post and roll to the rim is going to be given some prominence in a game plan with Virginia in the NCAA Tournament, if only because, there aren’t a lot of good ways to attack this UVA Pack Line.

One tried-and-true method is to have NBA-level talent on the perimeter to attack on dribble-drives. Not everybody has NBA-level talent on the perimeter.

Now there’s another approach. Study the game tape of what Georgia Tech did with Ben Lammers, and see if Bennett has the answer.

He didn’t Wednesday night. Lammers just didn’t have the help.

March Madness may not be so kind.

Story by Chris Graham