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Playbook: Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs Virginia Tech Hokies

Defensive struggles continue

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Virginia Tech Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

The defensive struggles have returned for the Demon Deacons. After a solid defensive outing against the NC State Wolfpack, the Deacs gave up 87 points on 56% shooting in their loss against Virginia Tech yesterday. I kind of had a difficult time coming up with something to write about here because Virginia Tech really didn’t do anything all that special. Coach Danny Manning summed it pretty accurately in the post game when he said that we didn’t take anything away from them; the Hokies basically did whatever they wanted on offense.

That being said, there is always something to look at, so let’s take a look at our close outs. One of the reasons I think we struggle to keep teams from scoring at such a high percentage is that we don’t do a particularly good job of closing out on shooters.

When you listen to coaches talk about close outs, most of them point out the same key aspects: stay low with your hands high, finish with short, choppy steps, and stay on balance. If the defender is off balance, the opponent can easily blow right by them and get to the rim. You can see above that Chaundee Brown’s last step is extremely long, leaving him off balance and completely unable to stop Nickeil Alexander-Walker from driving into the lane. Just for the sake of comparison, here’s a clip of former Wake assistant Chris Mack demonstrating a close out.

Here are a few more example for yesterday’s game.

As you can see, we aren’t under control or on balance at all, and VT has no issue going right around us and getting layups.

In my opinion, an improvement in our close outs would have a drastic effect on our ability to keep opponents out the paint and our defense as a whole.