Thursday, December 27, 2012

season preview: Wake Forest

Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Media prediction: 11th of 12

Last season:

Record: 13-18 (4-12); ACC 9 seed
Postseason: none
KenPom: 210th of 345

Returning scoring: 60.7%
Returning rebounding: 47.1%
Returning assists: 43.8%

2011-2012 all-ACC:

1st team: none
2nd team: none
3rd team: G C.J. Harris
HM: F Travis McKie
Defensive: none
Rookie: none

(Italics indicate departed player.)

Starting lineup:

PG: Codi Miller-McIntyre (Fr.)
SG: C.J. Harris (Sr.)
SF: Travis McKie (Jr.)
PF: Tyler Cavanaugh (Fr.)
PF: Devin Thomas (Fr.)


G Chase Fischer (So.)
G Madison Jones (Fr.)
F Arnaud Adala Moto (Fr.)
F Aaron Rountree (Fr.)

Coach: Jeff Bzdelik (3rd season)

ACC schedule:

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

It's a sad commentary on how bad Wake Forest's supporting cast was last year that C.J. Harris and Travis McKie both got all-ACC consideration (Harris on the 3rd team and McKie getting votes) and Wake was still five games under .500 and 4-12 in the conference.  I mean they had some lousy-assed basketball players, to the point where some of the attrition and graduation they suffered this offseason was addition by subtraction.  Example: Nikita Mescheriakov, an absolute butcher underneath the basket who could not rebound.

What happens when you lose a lot of players like that?  The invasion of the freshmen, that's what.  Harris has never been anything but an outstanding shooter, and McKie is a solid scorer as well plus a near-elite rebounder.  The other extraordinary thing about both: they're the only upperclassmen who play.  There are so many freshmen in the rotation that Wake can go all Fab Five if it wants and still leave one on the bench (not even including the walk-ons.)

The best of that large class is probably point guard Codi Miller-McIntyre.  He hardly ever gets to the free-throw line but otherwise does a nice job balancing scoring with distributing, and has done a passable job running the offense so far.  Coming off the bench in the guard rotation, Wake employs sophomore Chase Fischer, who can pop a three but isn't terribly comfortable inside the arc, and freshman Madison Jones, who is the opposite of that.

Down low, Wake starts two freshman forwards, Devin Thomas and Tyler Cavanaugh.  Thomas is the superior rebounder and defender - he's a good shot-blocker but so far hasn't displayed any offensive chops whatsoever.  Cavanaugh isn't great offensively either, but he's better than Thomas, and earns (and converts) a lot of free throws, which keep his O-rating afloat.  Harris, McKie, and Cavanaugh are all three good at getting to the stripe, which has put Wake in the top ten in the country in free-throw rate.

Two more freshmen come off the bench in the frontcourt, but their roles are more limited than the bench guards.  Arnaud Adala Moto is a decent scorer and rebounder, but has the free-throw skills of a moose; a major liability in a bench player since opposing coaches will have no problem instructing their own bench players to hack away.  You've heard of bench three-point specialists; Aaron Rountree is a bench shot-blocking specialist.  He's ninth on the team in minutes and first on the team in blocked shots, with 15; an average of 4.8 blocks per 40 minutes.

Right now, this just isn't a good team overall.   Teams they've been blown out by include Nebraska and Iona, the latter being a total embarrassment of a game that saw the Deacons fall behind 32-5 to start the game and lose by 26.  But they've also given teams much better than them, including UConn, a real scare.  Are they going to any tournament of any kind, save the automatic ACC one?  No.  But I do think they'll improve somewhat as the year goes on, and be good for a couple surprises in the ACC season.

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