Tuesday, January 7, 2014
game preview: Wake Forest
Date/Time: Wednesday, January 8; 7:00
Record against the Deacs: 60-70
Last meeting: Wake 55, UVA 52; 1/9/13, Winston-Salem
Last game: UVA 62, FSU 50 (1/4); Wake 73, UNC 67 (1/5)
UVA: 63.2 (#341)
Wake: 69.8 (#89)
UVA: 105.2 (#145)
Wake: 103.8 (#178)
UVA: 89.9 (#5)
Wake: 95.1 (#29)
UVA: .8584 (#32)
Wake: .7319 (#75)
PG: London Perrantes (4.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.1 apg)
SG: Malcolm Brogdon (9.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.8 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (10.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.0 apg)
PF: Akil Mitchell (6.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.4 apg)
C: Mike Tobey (6.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.1 apg)
PG: Codi Miller-McIntyre (16.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.0 apg)
SG: Madison Jones (4.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 3.6 apg)
SF: Travis McKie (10.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.7 apg)
PF: Devin Thomas (11.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.5 apg)
PF: Tyler Cavanaugh (9.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.8 apg)
The Hoos got the ACC season off on the right foot, as they've done every year under Tony Bennett. Now they need to avoid the pitfall. Wake Forest wasn't a well-regarded team in the preseason, and their coach is among the most besieged in the ACC. The fire-that-guy movement is called Buzz Off, and the media has been seen at times openly wondering how Jeff Bzdelik is being allowed a much, much larger cushion for error than Dino Gaudio ever was. The Deacons did, though, just knock off the talented but mercurial Tar Heels this weekend, so UVA should have in that all the wake-up call it needs.
-- UVA on offense
Let me just admit right now that instead of getting a better handle on Tony's philosophy for his starting lineup as time goes on, it's just the opposite. I have no idea. I haven't had any idea since the start of the season. Best guess is that it's based on matchup; personally I've taken to simply assuming the starting lineup will be the same as last game, which is probably the exact wrong tack to take.
It might work here, though; Akil Mitchell, having been banished from the starting lineup temporarily, responded well to that and played a solid game against FSU. Except from the stripe, obviously. Plus, we don't really know whether Joe Harris will be available. Mike Tobey, probably; he returned to the game and didn't seem limited. Harris might be replaced by Justin Anderson - you never know with concussions and Tony's not going to broadcast his status.
Perhaps a bit surprisingly for a coach that's been piling up losses in his tenure, Bzdelik has the Deacons playing pretty good defense. UNC was limited to .91 points per possession. Wake's guards play conservatively; the Deacons don't look to force steals and their backcourt is rarely in foul trouble. Though Wake's tempo is among the higher ones in the country, their defensive style should suit UVA's ballhandlers fine, since the Hoos don't force things either.
Wake's frontcourt, however, plays aggressively, which probably won't suit us just fine, because they're happy to make you earn your points at the line. They foul a lot and block a lot of shots. Backup center Andre Washington has 27 blocks this year, which is amazing given his fewer than 10 minutes per game. This translates to a block percentage of 19.5% - in other words, when he's on the floor, he'll block one of every five of your shots. Long-armed wing Travis McKie is also an effective shot-blocker; bench forward Arnaud William Adala Moto, on the other hand, has one block all season and a zillion fouls. Which is still likely to keep points off the board when you shoot free throws as badly as UVA does.
At least one or two Wake forwards will probably be in foul trouble, but they're pretty deep there. UVA might be best advised to use its size at guard to see if they can't get a Wake Forest guard into foul trouble. Regardless of how Wake sets up their defense, UVA will find itself with a size mismatch somewhere in the backcourt; Codi Miller-McIntyre is 6'3" but Madison Jones and third guard Coron Williams are only 6'1". Wake doesn't give up a lot of threes, but Brogdon, Harris, and/or Justin Anderson may find room to shoot over them or perhaps post up on a defender.
All this said, Wake is coming off one of the best defensive efforts UNC has seen all season. It certainly didn't help the Heels that they shot 2-for-15 from three and turned it over 17 times, but still. The big key: free throws. Wake will send you to the line; if you hit those shots, you can keep them at arm's length on the scoreboard. If not, they're happy to lull you into the idea of throwing the ball inside and then hacking away; they've got the depth for it.
-- UVA on defense
A big reason for Wake's improvement this season (their 11 wins are just two fewer than they had all last year) is a more well-rounded offensive attack. They aren't great, and they still have a habit of running the show through the wrong players. Travis McKie has taken the fourth-most shots on the team when he should be top two at least. But they're improving.
They start the offense with basically two point guards in Codi Miller-McIntyre and Madison Jones. I started to call them interchangeable but that's not right; Miller-McIntyre takes way more shots and turns the ball over way less. He's the lead scorer and likes to shoot from anywhere: the rim, midrange, three. Jones also gets involved in the distribution; Bzdelik likes back-door cuts and will run them regardless of which guard has the ball in his hands. But Jones shoots much less and is an absolutely pathetic free-throw shooter.
Wake goes to Devin Thomas primarily for frontcourt scoring. He's a strong player and quite a bit more efficient than last year, but he's another one you can and should hack and allow no easy shots to. Tyler Cavanaugh is the other starting forward down low, but his game is quite a bit more perimeter-based than Thomas, who functions essentially as a center.
For three-point shooting, Coron Williams is the guy the Deacs lean on the most; he's a transfer from Robert Morris who's shooting .424 from long range in his career and has never had a season below 41%. He's a major threat and shouldn't be left alone, but the only other one worth paying attention to when they're behind the arc is McKie.
The way to deal with Wake is basically identical to the way they deal with you. Hack and smash their forwards (and Jones); none of 'em can shoot free throws. Wake is even worse as a team than UVA is. Lay off their guards and dare them to pass inside. Miller-McIntyre will score because he looks for his shot; he consistently takes 12-14 a game. McKie will score some because he's very athletic. They can't carry the team without contributions from down low, though. When Williams is out of the game, the defense can sag away deep without having to respect the three too much. Overall it's a fairly good matchup for UVA.
The Hoos definitely need to be wary of a team that just knocked off North Carolina. But I'm glad they did; it means UVA won't overlook them with a trip to Duke fast approaching. Getting a team coming off a big home upset that now has to get on a bus and go on the road themselves - it's the Deacs that will have to guard against the psychological pitfalls. UVA should be expected to take care of business here, and if they hit free throws, they could do so fairly comfortably.
Final score: UVA 63, Wake 56