"Leaky’s one of the best defenders in the ACC, and he had a couple really good moments," junior forward Garrison Brooks said. "I think he played good defense on (Marcus) Sheffield the whole game."
One particular stretch started with Black sprinting to the corner to get just enough of his fingers on a three-pointer by Elon first-year Zac Ervin that caused the shot to come up short. Minutes later, Black used every inch of his 6-foot-8 frame to box out and rise over an Elon forward to grab an offensive rebound.
"When shots aren’t falling, you obviously try to pick it up in other areas," first-year guard Cole Anthony said.
Black did just that, applying full-court pressure on the Phoenix after a missed second-half free throw by teammate Justin Pierce.
The sophomore guard then continued to shadow Sheffield on the opposite end of the court. Elon's guard couldn't drive to the basket and backed away to the top of the arc before pump-faking a shot. Black bit on the initial fake, but had the quick reactions and instinct to keep himself from fouling while recovering enough to make a second effort at blocking the shot.
Sheffield's shot after the fake never touched the rim.
"Leaky’s a huge part to our team," Pierce said. "He does a lot of things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. He’s one of our great passers, great defenders and he’s just an energy guy that does all the little things."
Black will still go out of his way to make a play that does show up on the box score, though.
The Concord, N.C., native capped off his steady stream of defensive efforts with a monster block on Elon's Federico Poser in the low post. Black's large size for a guard helped him match up with Poser, another 6-foot-8 player, on the block. As Poser rose up to get a shot over Black from just a few feet away from the rim, Black swatted the ball out of the paint to the top of the foul line.
But, as Leaky's teammates will tell you, his size is just one of the pillars that makes up his strong defensive game, a strength of his that looks to be trending upwards after missing 13 games last season with a sprained ankle.
"It’s not just his size," Anthony said. "A lot of people have that size, but not everyone can do what he can do. I think Leaky’s a pro and he’s just gonna continue to show that. He loves the game of basketball and I see that every day in practice ... I’m proud of him."
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