Pack Line (the defensive approach Tony Bennett uses) gets a lot of talk and it’s been hugely effective for him and his team. Simply put, what the Pack Line does is “pack” defenders into help position off the ball, while the man guarding the ball is providing strong defensive pressure. I think it unfairly gets labeled as “sagging” defense, which it’s really not most of the time. They want to encourage you to drive into help (don’t get beat baseline and funnel drivers into the middle of the lane) and they also want to contest post entries HARD. They’ll live with a lot of perimeter jumpers because they think that’s a lower percentage shot (they’re right) and they also believe their defenders can react to provide a strong contest even if the shooter appears to be theoretically open.
On the other end, Bennett will remind you of plenty of teams we’ve seen over the years in the Big Ten. He doesn’t run the Swing stuff we’ve seen from Wisconsin or the kind of read/react stuff Beilein busts out, but in a very generalized sense they will look familiar in that they run their stuff with poise and just don’t make many mistakes. Bennett’s offense gets a lot less talk than his Pack Line defense but it’s also interesting. He inherited the “mover blocker” offense from his dad and UVa runs it very well. Simply put, some guys are movers (shot makers) and some are blockers who are there to set picks and free up the movers. It’s done with basic motion principles but the emphasis is always on getting a good shot as the primary objective and thus UVa is known to run a fair amout of clock in pursuit of those good shots.
His career has proven that to be a legitimate strategy over time. You can argue that you need more/more free flowing offense or 95th percentile athletes to break through and win the whole thing but his tenure at UVA has been very successful…easily the best since peak Terry Holland.
I think he, and his success, is a major reason why the college game reduced the shot clock from 35 seconds to 30.
I like the Bennett style. Maybe not for MSU. I like that it exists as a change-up. It’s just something different to watch and evaluate. I like the variety. I wouldn’t want college basketball to become homogenized the way the NFL and NBA are, with everyone doing the same thing. But the 30-second clock, down from :45 and down from :35, has provided steps in that direction.
I thought it was hilarious when Bennett used to beat Duke and North Carolina and win the ACC with inferior talent. I think that’s good for basketball.