I sat down with Martin Rickman over at Blogger So Dear to chat Demon Deacon basketball with him. It's a "winnable" game for the Deacs and a must-not-lose game for the Hoos. More is at stake for Virginia, of course, than Wake, but I expect both teams to be fighting for this win.
Head over to Blogger So Dear to see what I had to see about our beloved Hoos as well.
Streaking the Lawn: I will refrain from pointing out the Deacs' abysmal performance so far this year, as I'm sure you're going through enough pain on your own. But let's start with the question of, what has Wake done right this season?
Blogger So Dear: They put their socks on right? I don't know. When you lose by an average of 26 points in your first five conference games, it's hard to see what is going right. Earlier this season, I would have said shooting, but that's not exactly going well. They turn the ball over, but less lately, so maybe that. Their effort level is higher than it was before. So I guess you can put that in the maybe column. Defensively, it's a mess. It's just hard to find a ton of good things to say about this season.
STL: It's Coach Bzdelik's first year. Aside from having an impossible time pronouncing his name, how are students and fans reacting to what they've seen so far?
BSD: Not well. A small minority sees some kind of progress and likes the "fundamentals." The vast majority had higher (albeit unwarranted) expectations because of this freshman class. But those fans don't like how the hire was handled, don't like what Coach Bzdelik says in quotes, don't like how Ron Wellman has made this a PR spin cycle, and don't like that we're getting absolutely shellacked out there.
He's not the most approachable guy, he isn't dynamic, but hey, apparently he runs good practices and is a "father figure." So there's that. And it's clear he knows basketball, but whether or not he can get through to players and recruit well is a big question mark, and has been since the unexpected hire in April.
STL: Leading the Deacs with 13.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, Travis McKie might be the frontrunner for ACC Rookie of the Year. Confirm or Deny. Short of doubling up on him, how does Virginia contain the guy?
BSD: Try to keep him on the perimeter. Travis is quick on the blocks, and does a good job of using an up and under move to get to the hoop. He has a decent jumper, but it is still a work in progress, so if you can body up on him and force him to take those kinds of shots, he won't be as effective. If he is able to take his man off the dribble, make sure there's help D to be there to meet him in the paint.
STL: This freshman class is supposed to be one of the best in the country according to ESPN. After the first game, you lost point guard Tony Chennault due to a foot injury -- he's only recently come back, but was not very productive (granted, one of those two games was against Duke). How badly did Wake need him during his 15+ games off, and how close to healthy is he?
BSD: They needed him a lot. The team turned the ball over a zillion times in that time period and Gary Clark and CJ Harris were forced to play point, and neither is a point guard. Tony is also reportedly a good leader and is definitely a tough player, so to have him on the floor is a big boost, at least morale-wise.
You can tell he's absolutely not 100% and not in game shape though. That's going to take time. But you have to start somewhere, and getting him minutes/working him into the rotation is the only way to do that.
STL: If there's a winnable ACC game this year for Wake Forest, my guess is that it'll be against Virginia. What parts of Wake Forest's game really needs to step it up in order to get this W? (I realize this is a little unfair if you haven't scouted Virginia yet, but (a) I'm asking this just based on Wake's game alone and (b) these are my questions, I'll ask what I want.)
BSD: They need to hit their shots, they need to rotate on D, they need to rebound well. It sounds easy, but those things have been a real nightmare. Obviously Wake needs to get a hand in UVA's guards' faces. Guards have been absolutely tearing it up against us. And, this is a situation in which I think you'll get a good game out of someone unexpected (i.e. Zeglinski). You might even get a good game from Sene! Who knows?!
The Deacs offensively need to take their time, control the ball, and make good decisions. Again, easier said than done. But if they can get a good game from JT Terrell and CJ Harris, Travis McKie gets his, and they get any production from some combination of Carson Desrosiers, Ty Walker, Nikita Mescheriakov, that would be ideal.
STL: Alright, prediction time. Lay it on me.
BSD: UVA by 12 is the first thing that popped into my head, so I'll go:
Thanks as always to the fine folks over at Blogger So Dear. Head over there to check out my answers to a few questions they had, and good luck today fellas (but not really).