Wednesday, February 8, 2012

game preview: Wake Forest

Date/Time: Wednesday, February 8; 7:30


Record against the Deacons: 59-69

Last matchup: Wake 76, UVA 71; 1/29/11; Winston-Salem

Last game: FSU 58, UVA 55 (2/4); NCSt. 87, Wake 76 (1/4)

Opposing blogs: Blogger So Dear

KenPom breakdown:

UVA: 60.2 (#341)
Wake: 67.6 (#124)

UVA: 105.9 (#84)
Wake: 98.9 (#194)

UVA: 86.3 (#9)
Wake: 102.2 (#199)

UVA: .8914 (#19)
Wake: .4166 (#197)

Common opponents:

Virginia Tech: UVA lost 47-45; Wake won, 58-55
NC State: UVA won, 61-60; Wake lost, 76-40 and 87-76
Duke: UVA lost, 61-58; Wake lost, 91-73
Boston College: UVA won, 66-49; Wake won 71-56
Florida State: UVA lost, 58-55; Wake lost 75-52
Clemson: UVA won, 65-61; Wake lost 71-60

Projected starting lineups:


PG: Jontel Evans (6.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.7 apg)
SG: Sammy Zeglinski (8.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.7 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (12.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.6 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (17.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.4 apg)
F: Akil Mitchell (3.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.8 apg)

Wake Forest:

PG: Tony Chennault (10.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.0 apg)
SG: C.J. Harris (17.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.4 apg)
SF: Travis McKie (15.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.1 apg)
PF: Nikita Mescheriakov (7.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.4 apg)
C: Ty Walker (5.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.7 apg)

Attention Virginia fans.  It has come to my attention that, despite the fact that we are having a season in which the media has made liberal use of the phrase "not since Ralph Sampson," many of you are dissatisfied.  This manifests itself in repeated calls to replace Sammy Zeglinski in the starting lineup with Malcolm Brogdon.  There's some pretty twisted logic in demanding that a .315 three-point shooter replace a .366 three-point shooter because the latter is not good enough at shooting threes, but I will not even mention that.  Instead, I will point out two important things: we are eighteen and four, and two of those losses came by three points each to two of the best teams in the conference country.  ON THE ROAD.  And you want to pull a fifth-year senior for a freshman. #OnlyVirginiaFans

Well, we're kinda crazy like that.  I've always said UVA fans are far too willing to sacrifice present-day success for the possibility of future success.  That's how you get people demanding we play Mike Rocco over Marc Verica and then demanding Rocco be sat down for David Watford.  This is not the time and place to be thinking about the future of basketball; there is business to take care of now, and tonight, business is named Wake Forest.

-- UVA on offense

Let me start by giving you a partial list of teams that have scored more than a point per possession so far on Wake Forest: NC Central, High Point, UNC-Wilmington.  All outside the KenPom top 200.  NC State also managed this twice, most recently by a lot with 87 points in 66 possessions, a whopping 1.3 per.  Let's hope the ability to score like that isn't limited only to teams from North Carolina.

Jeff Bzdelik is well-known for running a match-up zone defense, in which defenders will guard their man closely on the ball-side and stick to their zone on the weak-side.  They're not assigned a specific man; rather, bigs will guard whoever comes down low and guards will defend the perimeter.  Wake has a seven-footer in the game at all times in either Ty Walker or Carson Desrosiers, and 6'10" Daniel Green gets spot minutes in the rotation; this philosophy of sticking to the post combined with having the necessary bigs means that Wake is actually one of the best shot-blocking teams in the country.  Walker and Desrosiers can be expected to reject a few layup attempts.

However, when it comes to forcing turnovers and getting rebounds, Wake does a poor job.  Even Sammy Zeglinski, who has to go to tiptoes to reach six feet, is nearly as good a defensive rebounder as Wake's forwards like Nikita Mescheriakov.  (Not that that's a matchup thing - it's just for comparison's sake.)

Any time UVA has trouble scoring, it's usually because of long, tall, athletic guards.  FSU's gave us a thousand fits.  Wake's are only average-sized, so hopefully the shots will be there - we just have to you-know-what.**  The biggest perimeter challenge will probably be Travis McKie, a 6'7" forward with a bigger wingspan and the capability of harassing Joe Harris.  When Wake goes straight man-to-man, whichever seven-footer is in the game will have the Mike Scott watch because I cannot imagine Mescheriakov having even the slightest ability to slow him down.  Scott will abuse that guy.  Mescheriakov has fouled out of two games this year and collected four in six more.  Even though the match-up zone may end up denying a few dribble-drives that Brogdon or Evans might feel like taking, if Wake goes to it heavily then placing Scott on Mescheriakov's side of the zone has the potential for many points, many fouls, and possibly also opening up Akil Mitchell or a three-point shot as the defenders rush to help.

Worst defense in the conference?  Yes.  There are some strengths - mainly the shot-blocking by their centers - but overall it's pretty bad.  Say what you will about our occasionally sputtering offense, but as we saw against GT and in the final ten minutes of the BC game, eventually UVA will throw down and play like an elite offense against lousy defenses.  Despite not having Assane Sene to keep the seven-footers honest, I think we get another 20-point effort from Mike Scott.

**In case you don't: make them.  We have to make them.

--  UVA on defense

Any discussion of Wake Forest's offense starts with C.J. Harris, and progresses quickly to Travis McKie.  Both are versatile, dangerous players, with talent that's hidden by their team's 2-7 conference record.  Harris in particular is nasty good.  His shooting is outstanding: .523 from two and .456 from three, and an excellent free throw shooter besides.  He's not the point guard, but he has almost as many assists as Tony Chennault.  Just a ton of ways he can hurt you.  Zeglinski will have his hands full.

McKie is another problem, albeit a somewhat less consistent one.  While Harris has not yet scored in single-digits this season, McKie can be limited.  He averages 15.8, but has been held to single digits three times out of nine in the conference schedule, including 2 points against NC State and 3 against FSU.  However, when he's on, like Harris he can hit a shot anywhere from 1 to 20 feet from the basket.

After that.....well, that's why Wake isn't much good.  Tony Chennault is a scoring point guard, but largely a volume scorer, taking the most shots on the team after McKie.  The fact that Chennault shoots more than Harris is probably a good reason why Wake stinks.  His 1.37/1 A/T ratio isn't much good, either.

And nobody else is much worth mentioning.  Mescheriakov in particular is horrible.  He takes a lot of threes that never go in - it seems like we have a lot of those players in the league this year - and has a miserable .346 shooting percentage.  Not good for a guy who's supposedly a post player.  The bigs, Walker and Desrosiers, are mainly screeners and don't shoot much.

The long and short of it is that Wake's offense is extremely guard-heavy.  Harris and McKie are excellent, Chennault is OK, and Chase Fischer is a reasonably capable off-the-bench three-point specialist.  Is this good for UVA?  It is if the pack-line defense is humming along like it should, with extreme denial of the driving lanes and getting quickly into a shooter's face.  It's been said if you stop Harris and McKie you stop Wake; truthfully, all you need to do is stop McKie.  Harris is likely to get his, but you can blow Wake out by turning them into a one-man show.  Even if you stop neither, you're still fairly likely to win.

-- Outlook

Hopefully this is an enjoyable game, because it's sandwiched in between two of the nastiest on the schedule.  Next up is UNC in Chapel Hill.  UVA could struggle if the perimeter shots aren't falling and Harris and McKie run wild, but it's at least as likely that we win by 20.  Have to take care of business in this game, because it's the last really easy one left.

-- Final score: UVA 68, Wake 51

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's actually calls for Brogdon to replace Sammy in the starting lineup? That's somewhat befuddling. As much as he's struggled, teams still have to respect him being a threat out there, due to past body of work.

Furthermore, Brogdon is basically our backup point guard, and considering he's a freshman, it's typically good for him to see the game first. He'll be a good starter next year next to Jontel.

Excellent win tonight.