Sunday, January 15, 2012

season preview: Wake Forest

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Media prediction: 11th

Last season:

Record: 8-24 (1-15) - ACC 12th seed
Postseason: none
KenPom: 251st of 345

Returning scoring: 54.1%
Returning rebounding: 65.7%
Returning assists: 62.2%

2010-11 All-ACC:

1st team: none
2nd team: none
3rd team: none
HM: none
Rookie: F Travis McKie
Defensive: none

(Italics indicate departed player.)

Starting lineup:

PG: Tony Chennault (So.)
SG: C.J. Harris (Jr.)
SF: Travis McKie (So.)
PF: Nikita Mescheriakov (5Sr.)
C: Ty Walker (Sr.)


G Chase Fischer (Fr.)
C Carson Desrosiers (So.)
G Anthony Fields (Fr.)
F Daniel Green (Fr.)

Coach: Jeff Bzdelik (2nd season)

ACC schedule:

Twice: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, NC State
Once: Florida State, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech

Last season, the Deacons turned in the worst year for an ACC team in maybe all of time and space.  Which made it that much more fun to lose to them and be the only team preventing Wake Forest from being the only 0-16 team in ACC history.  This season, Wake Forest is better, but still not actually good.

Wake's offense is highly perimeter-oriented; weirdly, their perimeter guys are shooting around .500 while their bigs (except for Ty Walker, who's recently been inserted into the starting lineup) have lousy shooting percentages.  The offense is basically whatever C.J. Harris and Travis McKie do, with some contribution from point guard Tony Chennault.  Harris and McKie each average better than 17 points a game, can both shoot threes, and statistically are basically the same player except that McKie rebounds and Harris distributes some.

They have fair amount of height - between Walker and Carson Desrosiers, Wake almost always has a seven-footer on the floor - and Desrosiers will even take the occasional three.  But Wake gets precious little offense from the frontcourt.  Power forward Nikita Mescheriakov is brutal offensively, and for all that height, the Deacs don't block many shots, either.  And they're a poor rebounding team.

Obviously, Wake Forest isn't going to the tournament this year.  If there were any doubts about that, losing to Wofford cemented it.  But the Deacons have two games each against Boston College, Clemson, and Georgia Tech, who are fellow bottom-feeders in the ACC, and they might've helped create another bottom-feeder by helping run a train on Virginia Tech, which has now lost to Wake and BC.  With the team being such a two-and-a-half-man show, chances are they'll finish with another losing record.  But Harris and McKie are good enough to play spoiler for some unsuspecting team, and Wake has such a cushy schedule that they can't possibly finish 1-15 again.  There won't be any postseason for this team after the ACC tournament, but they have some potential to be dangerous for teams that can't exploit their soft middle, and at least they're moving in the right direction.

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