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Jacobs For The Defense

Nearly half the teams in the ACC are doing an impressive job suppressing opponents’ field goal accuracy. But it’s awfully early to take such numbers seriously, particularly as several of those squads are among the league’s weakest. The competition is about to get a lot tougher, as the Bethune-Cookmans, Shawnee States, and Stetsons are replaced on the schedule by conference rivals.

That said, after watching N.C. State thoroughly throttle George Washington, then 12th-ranked and undefeated, one would do well to pay close attention to what is an exceptional defensive unit, as its early field goal percentage defense attests.


Best Field Goal Percentage Defense By ACC Teams Since 1964,
When League Began Reporting Both Teams' Statistics
.359 N.C. State* 2006
.364 Wake Forest 1997
.371 Wake Forest* 2006
.378 Maryland 2003
.382 South Carolina 1970
.384 North Carolina# 1998
.388 Georgia Tech# 2004
.388 Maryland 1999
.388 Wake Forest 1995
.390 Miami* 2006
.390 Virginia* 2006
.390 Duke 2005
.390 Virginia 1995
.390 N.C. State 1968
.391 Georgia Tech 2005
.391 Florida State 2003
.391 North Carolina 2001
.391 Duke# 1999
.393 Georgia Tech* 2006
.393 North Carolina 1999
.393 Wake Forest 1996
* Through games of January 1, 2006
# Reached Final Four

More and more, this appears to be the best team of Herb Sendek’s nine-year tenure at Raleigh, despite the coach’s protestation it “would be reckless of me” to make such an observation a dozen games into the season.

Others are less reticent.

“They’re capable of winning the national championship,” said GW coach Karl Hobbs, whose teams made 30.5 percent of its shots and scored 26 points below its average at Raleigh on Dec. 30. “They play great team defense. They’re always in help position, and this is the thing: They really do trust each other defensively, and that’s a hard thing to teach.”

Fifth-year senior Ilian Evtimov said that aptitude reflects the character of the squad -- a more cohesive unit, perhaps, now that Julius Hodge is gone. “I just think the unselfishness of this team makes it better than any team I’ve been on,” Evtimov observed. Sophomore center Cedric Simmons said the avid defensive commitment also arises “because coach gets on us so much in practice.”

The squad’s overall quickness and versatility is amply augmented by the emergence of the long-armed Simmons, a genial post player with a tattoo on his forearm exclaiming, “Only God Can Judge Me.”

Simmons is second to Duke’s Shelden Williams in blocks per game despite playing significantly fewer minutes (5.7 an outing), and sixth in the ACC in defensive rebounds. His presence already has a game-altering effect. “I don’t think I’m intimidating yet,” said the product of coastal North Carolina. “I’m only getting four (blocks) a game.”

There’s plenty of offensive balance, and perhaps the league’s best post tandem in Simmons and classmate Andrew Brackman. But it’s defensively that the Wolfpack shines.