Virginia has two games in two weeks against a young and struggling Wake Forest squad. In order to whet your appetite and prepare for these matchups, behold the following Q&A with Wake Forest's SB Nation blog, Blogger So Dear. Be sure to swing over there for our answers to their questions as well.
STL: Although there have been some real bleak spots this year (losing to Delaware State at home, a thirty-point loss to Arkansas), there have also been bright ones (winning three of the last four, with upsets over NC State and Miami). What does Wake do well when it's winning? What does it especially need to avoid to keep the losses at bay?
BSD: When is at its best, the Deacs are knocking down three-pointers. I know that sounds overly simplistic, but it's true. Against North Carolina State, Wake Forest hit 10 of 20 three-pointers. Against Miami, the Deacs converted 12 of 23. Wake must also continue to limit turnovers and attack the glass.
STL: One thing that stands out to me is that Wake is middle of the national pack when it comes to their offensive turnover percentage (183rd out of 351) but is one of the worst teams in the country in terms of giving up steals to opposing defenses (330th). Any sense of what's causing that? Do you attribute more to bad feeds from guards or bad hands from bigs?
BSD: You Virginia grads ask some intelligent questions. I should point out that our offensive turnover percentage has gotten dramatically better. I think one problem is that power forward/center Devin Thomas turns the ball over too often. Over his last four games he has turned the ball over 16 times. Some of those were travels, but sometimes he gets stripped when he's in the post. I also think that at times Codi Miller-McIntyre tries to do a bit too much and that results in a turnover.
STL: The offense looks like it flows mostly through Miller-McIntyre and Thomas. Who are the other guys you would like to see establish themselves a bit more? Who is the biggest danger to randomly go off and take over a game?
BSD: The x-factors are mostly our freshmen. Dinos Mitoglou had himself a day on Wednesday when he made 6-7 threes for 21 points against Miami; he also had 26 points in an overtime loss at Syracuse. He is now shooting 39% from deep on the year, so he has developed into a very reliable outside threat for us. Mitchell Wilbekin has cooled off lately, but has made 38% of his threes on the season.
STL: This 2015 Wake squad is one of the country's 50 youngest. Most games the Deacs are starting multiple freshmen, and there is only senior who plays any meaningful minutes. There are three consensus-top-300 recruits coming to Winston-Salem next season. What's the level of optimism in the fan base?
BSD: The level of optimism is very high. This is a proud program who has been very humbled over the past four seasons under Jeff Bzdelik. Danny Manning has demonstrated an early eye for talent by being able to bring in freshmen Wilbekin, Mitoglou, and Cornelius Hudson, to go along with post-graduate transfer Darius Leonard. You add in the fact that Wake Forest has signed three four-star prospects (according to some services), and I can easily see Wake Forest making the NCAA Tournament next season.
STL: There is a tough road ahead for Wake Forest with four of the final six ACC games on the road, including trips to Charlottesville, Durham, and South Bend, plus a home date with Virginia on February 25th. Are there any of those last six games that you expect to win? What are you looking for as positive signs in this last month of the season?
BSD: The schedule-makers certainly did us no favors with this stretch. I expect us to beat Pittsburgh at home, and I know that we have a very good chance of winning at Boston College. The other four are obviously extremely difficult and are against top-10 teams, with three of the four games being on the road. For the other games, I'm mostly looking to see us compete hard, and see if we can execute well considering the opponents.
STL: What's your call for Saturday night? Bottom line: Who ya got?
BSD: I'll take UVA to win something like 63-45. This one just sounds like death by 1,000 paper cuts for the Deacs.