This was probably the best defense Miami Hurricanes hoops played so far this season. The aggressiveness and quick rotations were reminiscent of the defense that got Miami to the Elite 8 last season.
Virginia only scored 26 points in the first half while shooting 34% from the field. Norchad Omier was elite on defense, he ended the game with 4 blocks and 2 steals. There was also a noticeable drop off with the interior defense when Omier wasn’t in. Virginia had 9 of their 11 offensive rebounds when Omier was not on the floor.
The defense from the guards really impressed me as well. Wooga Poplar had 3 steals and was big on the defensive glass. He used his length and athleticism to wreak havoc in the passing lanes.
Bensley Joseph provided great on ball pressure that forced Virginia to play faster than they wanted to. Virginia’s offense had more success in the second half, but it was still a great all-around effort defensively from Miami.
This team has shown flashes of being able to be a good defensive team. If Miami can play great defense on a more consistent basis there is no question, they could be a national contender.
Isaiah Wong is ELITE
Prior to this win over Virginia, Isaiah Wong had struggled playing against this Virginia defense. Wong dominated Virginia and was able to get whatever he wanted. Isaiah Wong has been playing like one of the best players in the country. Over the last 4 games he is averaging 26 points, 7.3 assists, 5.8 rebounds, while shooting 58% from the field and 46% from 3-point range. Simply put, Isaiah Wong is one of the best players in all of college hoops right now.
Wong’s playmaking ability is what has really stood out to me so far this season. He has been able to get others involved while also taking care of the ball at a high level.
Defensively Isaiah Wong has taken a step up as well. He has provided great ball pressure and played passing lanes at a high level. Wong is averaging a career high 1.8 steals a game.
Late Game Decision Making
The last two minutes of the game was almost catastrophic for Miami. The Canes gave up numerous offensive rebounds, after Omier fouled out. There were a couple bad fouls including a foul on Kihei Clark while shooting a 3PT shot. There was also a defensive breakdown that gave Virginia a wide-open dunk.
It’s unfortunate and frustrating to watch, but the most important thing is that Miami won. You would rather have these late game errors happen early on in the season rather than in March.
Miami hosts Vermont next Wednesday night at 8:00 PM ET. After the Vermont game, the Canes dive straight into full ACC play.
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