Brian Lester, NCAA.com
Virginia Wesleyan head coach Dave Macedo has quite a track record in his 11 seasons at the school. He has guided the Marlins to six consecutive NCAA tournaments, including a Division III national title in 2006.
This year’s team is on a successful track as well. The Marlins are ranked second in the nation and unbeaten through 16 games. Defense is a huge part of that success.
“You have to be able to play great half-court defense,” Macedo said. “We have performed at a high level, but we can always improve.”
The Marlins used great defense to dodge a bullet in a 53-50 win against Randolph College last week, forcing a turnover with just seconds remaining to seal the deal. They have forced 301 turnovers this season and are giving up only 62.1 points per outing.
VWC’s ability to defend the 3-point shot has played a role in its ability to defend. The Marlins are forcing teams to shoot 30.5 percent from beyond the arc.
“Our philosophy is that we are very afraid of teams making 3-point shots against us,” Macedo said. “We have been able to contest a lot of shots and not give teams good looks at the basket.”
A balanced offense has also been huge for VWC. Four players are averaging at least 11 points per game. Sophomore forward Chris Astorga is averaging 12.4 points per outing to lead the attack.
As great as the Marlins have been, Macedo isn’t about to let his team sit back and take satisfaction in being undefeated.
“We have a good team but we are capable of playing a lot better,” Macedo said. “We want to be able to execute and be more consistent. We haven’t hit our stride yet, but we want to put ourselves in a position to make noise in the tournament.”
Need To Know
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• Junior guard BJ Smith launched a shot from 65 feet away and banked off the glass and in as Widener rallied from a 16-point deficit and topped Lebanon Valley 71-70 in a Commonwealth Conference battle Saturday in Baltimore.
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• After winning 25 consecutive games, Duke had its second-longest win streak in school history end in a 66-61 loss to Florida State Wednesday night in Tallahassee.
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• Jason Adams dropped in 31 points and No. 22 Missouri Southern held off Nebraska-Omaha 98-95 Saturday at Sapp Fieldhouse, notching its best start in conference play since the 1999-00 campaign when it started 16-1.