Boeheim, Guy: Virginia Defense Better Than Last Year

By Jerry Ratcliffe

File photo by John Markon

SYRACUSE — Virginia fans, and even its coach wondered what this new version of the Cavaliers might be like heading into Wednesday night’s season-opening game at Syracuse.

While the offense still has work to do, which isn’t unusual for early season college basketball, the Wahoos’ defense hasn’t skipped a beat. That was evident early on in UVA’s 48-34 win over the Orange, the fewest points scored by a Syracuse basketball team since the end of World War II in 1945.

“We were not ready to play against that defense,” Boeheim said after watching his team shoot a paltry 23.6 percent (13 of 55) from the floor, and 5 of 29 from the arc (17.2 percent). “You don’t want to play [Virginia] the first game.”

Just how good was Tony Bennett’s “Pack-Line” defense against the Orange? Damned good.

“I thought they were better defensively than last year,” said Boeheim, the second-winningest coach in major college basketball history. “I know Tony won’t agree with me. But we were able to get by (Kyle) Guy and (Ty) Jerome a little bit last year. We couldn’t get by these guys. We couldn’t get by the little kid.”

Boeheim was referring to UVA point guard Kihei Clark, who played terrific defense and never came off the floor the entire game. Clark also recorded a double-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds, and wasn’t that far away from only the fourth triple-double in school history as he posted seven assists.

Boeheim wasn’t alone in his thoughts. Guy, now a member of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings organization, tweeted last night that he thought this was a better UVA defense than last year’s team when the Cavaliers won the national championship.

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