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Hokies look to refocus on defense

Entering the year, Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg stressed playing with urgency on defense. The Hokies have done well defending at times this year. But their defense has also fallen by the wayside at times.

As the Hokies (12-2, 0-1 ACC) shift their focus to playing No. 23 Miami (15-1, 1-1) on Wednesday, Greenberg expressed the need for a renewed focus on defense. The Hurricanes are second in the ACC in field goal percentage (49.3) and third in three-point shooting percentage (39.9).

The reason for Virginia Tech’s defensive emphasis became clear after a poor showing in a loss at North Carolina on Sunday. Greenberg stressed that the Hokies need to re-commit to defense, saying, “We can’t get where we want to go defending like that.”

The Hokies played tough defense in the first half against the Tar Heels, making hustle plays to loose balls and grabbing rebounds with physical play in the paint. But the second half was different. While Virginia Tech went on a 4-minute 47-second scoreless drought, what stood out to Greenberg was his team’s lack of defensive grit.

The Hokies played mostly in zone after halftime, and North Carolina shot 65.2 percent; it shot 44.8 percent in the first half. The Tar Heels missed all seven of their three-point attempts in the first half, but hit five of nine in the final 20 minutes.

“I was extremely disappointed with our defensive sense of urgency in the second half,” Greenberg said.

On Wednesday, Virginia Tech will meet a Miami team that is off to its best start since the 1959-60 season.

Miami forward Dwayne Collins, an athletic presence with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, could expose Virginia Tech’s holes defending the paint. Collins leads a Hurricanes team that has performed well offensively, albeit against a walkover non-conference schedule.

By Mark Viera  |  January 12, 2010; 12:10 PM ET
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