ACC Summer Recess: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Posted by KCarpenter on July 18th, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: Wake Forest.

Where They Stand Now

Bzdelik Enters Year Three of a Rebuild at Wake

It’s a rare thing when you can be tied for last place in the conference and still be hailed for taking a big step forward. Wake Forest went 4-12 in in league play, part of the four-way tie at the bottom, yet last season can’t be rated all that poorly. When you go from 1-15 to 4-12, it’s certainly a nice step forward, but it’s also a clear sign that you are being graded on a curve. Wake Forest hoops got a lot better last season, but make no mistake: This team is still far from good.

What’s the best way to describe the state of this program? The highlight of the Demon Deacons’ last season is debatable: It’s either a three-point home win over Virginia Tech (a team that finished below WFU in the conference standings) or a one-point home win over Yale (who had a great year… for Yale). There wasn’t a lot to cheer about this season, but the step away from the soul-crushing precipice of the 2011-12 season is enough to chalk up last year as an incredibly mild success.

Outside of team highlights, the past season was also a remarkable showcase for C.J. Harris, who had a terrific year shooting the ball from distance. Harris combined with Travis McKie formed one of the deadliest scoring tandems in the conference.  Of course, it ended up not mattering too much, but it was one sign of genuine hope for a program that has fallen on lean times.

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ACC Morning Five: 03.23.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 23rd, 2012

  1. Tampa Bay Times: It looks like Leonard Hamilton‘s reported “lobbying” has stirred up the Florida State athletic department’s checkbook. Currently Hamilton makes $1.5 million a year plus incentives (for instance this year he earned an extra $175,000 for winning the ACC Tournament and being named ACC Coach of the Year). He definitely deserves the raise. Since he arrived in Tallahassee, Hamilton has made a Seminole program with very few historical highs relevant. While Florida State’s early NCAA tournament departure was unfortunate, the team’s continued success will only enhance his ability to recruit.
  2. Blogger So Dear: It sounds like major unrest is brewing over at Wake Forest. Days after Tony Chennault announced his transfer, rumors are swirling that Carson Desrosiers (which sources confirmed to Blogger So Dear) and Anthony Fields (unconfirmed, along with an even more distressing rumor that Travis McKie may be asking to transfer too) want out of Winston-Salem too. We will definitely keep everything updated, but suffice to say the Demon Deacons’ roster would be decimated if those three leave. If you’re keeping score at home, these three potential transfers would make nine players to transfer or depart (for reasons other than graduation) under Jeff Bzdelik’s tenure.
  3. ESPN Chicago: This probably isn’t super surprising, but longtime Duke assistant Chris Collins is interested in a head coaching gig, and Illinois would be on “the right fit” list. Because of Collins’ ties with Chicago–his dad coached the Bulls, he grew up there, and he currently recruits there for Duke–rumors about the vacancy have swirled since Bruce Weber left. Obviously, if Collins is offered the job (he reportedly hasn’t been contacted yet, but I would be surprised if the Illini hadn’t at least put out feelers to his agent), I think he will take it. That’s a tough first head coaching job though, with some serious expectations.
  4. Durham Herald-Sun: Speaking of Duke and not surprises, Mason Plumlee is looking into possibly entering this year’s NBA Draft. Currently he’s gathering information to get an idea on where he would go, and how much an extra year could help or hurt him. Jonathan Givony of Draft Express seems optimistic about Plumlee’s NBA future, though noted that coming back for his senior season wouldn’t hurt either.
  5. Hampton Roads Daily-Press: One big knock on Virginia this year was the team’s dearth of quality wins. Obviously, the Cavaliers couldn’t control their conference draw, but a team’s nonconference schedule is one that comes up on Selection Sunday (just ask Seth Greenberg). Tony Bennett pointed out that the nonconference strength of schedule wasn’t helped by losing to TCU (which kept Virginia from playing Marquette). But Bennett is looking at adding some meat to next year’s schedule, starting with a home-and-home series with Tennessee.

EXTRA: If you’re not watching Bomani & Jones it’s easily worth the ten minutes a week. Where else are you going to get interviews with Julius Hodge and Joe in Raleigh (an avid Duke fan and notorious sports talk show caller)?

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ACC Team Previews: Wake Forest

Posted by KCarpenter on October 18th, 2011

Wake Forest had a rough season this past year. No, wait, that’s not right. Bad? Terrible? Catastrophic?  I’m having a hard time capturing the scale and scope of how bad last season was. The ideal word would capture a sort of hopeless, inevitable despondency mixed with mind-blowing, frustrating futility. Imagine a turtle trying to climb up a hill. Then the camera zooms out, and the turtle is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon trying to scale the side of a cliff. Now imagine that the turtle accidentally falls onto it’s back. Now imagine a mob gathering at the top of the cliff to push boulders down onto the turtle. That’s how last season felt in Winston-Salem.

Jeff Bzdelik Has A Lot Of Work To Do After Last Season's Disaster

Wake Forest had a single win in the Atlantic Coast Conference against lowly Virginia. Wake Forest won a single game away from its home court: a neutral court win against Elon at Greensboro Coliseum. Wake Forest stunned the world by losing the season opener against Stetson and then proceeded to lose to Winthrop, UNC Wilmington, and Presbyterian. They also lost to a number of very good basketball teams, but that kind of goes without saying when Stetson and Presbyterian are giving you the business on your floor. Ken Pomeroy’s basketball efficiency statistics demonstrate that this wasn’t just a few unlucky games. This was a systemic and utter, season-long failure. Every 16-seed in last year’s NCAA tournament was significantly better than Wake Forest. For the record, that group included UNC-Asheville, Boston University, Arkansas-Little Rock, and Texas-San Antonio. Last season, in short, was an unmitigated disaster. I hope we’re clear on that. That said, this summer may have been worse.

While Jeff Bzdelik had certainly counted on losing senior starter Gary Clark, it’s unlikely he had prepared for the other losses. Another starter, Ari Stewart, announced that he was transferring to USC. Melvin Tabb was hardly a major contributor to the Demon Deacons, but on a shrinking roster, it didn’t help that he was suspended and then released from the team after facing charges of breaking/entering and fraud. Another starter, freshman sensation J.T. Terrell, left school after he was charged with driving under the influence. Finally, 7’0″ senior Ty Walker was ruled ineligible to compete with the team throughout the duration of the fall semester due to a violation of Wake Forest’s honor code. All of this happened from the months of April to September. Ouch.

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Conference Report Card: ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 28th, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.

Conference Recap

The ACC had a down year though North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall-led resurgence and Florida State’s Sweet Sixteen appearance helped a little bit. Before and during the season, Duke was the runaway favorite in the conference: Kyrie Irving’s toe injury obviously was the pivotal point that brought Duke back down to earth. Equally pivotal (in the reverse direction) was Marshall’s move to starting point guard for North Carolina. With Larry Drew II at the helm, there is no way the Tar Heels could have come close to surpassing Duke for the regular season title. The down year did not really surprise most people, and despite lofty preseason expectations (read: people forgot how highly rated North Carolina was to start the season) I think the perception is that the league at least lived up to preseason expectations with a couple of notable exceptions: NC State, Wake Forest, and Virginia Tech. NC State had NCAA Tournament talent, but did not come anywhere close to sniffing the Big Dance; Wake was arguably the worst major conference team in the country; and Virginia Tech once again found itself very highly seeded in the NIT. On the flip side, Clemson and Florida State both exceeded expectations.

Roy Williams and Kendall Marshall led a mid-season resurgence that resulted in a trip the Elite Eight. (News Observer/Robert Willitt)

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