Colorado’s Jeff Bzdelik to Wake Forest

Posted by rtmsf on April 11th, 2010

With reporters both in Winston-Salem and Denver reporting that the Jeff Bzdelik rumors to Wake Forest are now a “done deal,” we wanted to take some time to analyze this hire because on its face there seems to be something missing.  Last week Wake AD Ron Wellman fired Dino Gaudio after three seasons that included a 61-31 overall record, 27-21 ACC mark and two NCAA Tournament appearances in his three seasons at the helm — a solid resume, if not spectacular.  But according to Wellman, it was what was behind those numbers that led to Gaudio’s firing — the timing and nature of what can only be described as meltdowns the last two seasons.  His quote on the matter:

The decision was based on the overall performance the past three years. I looked at our February and March records and how the performances declined rather dramatically. We were 16-17 in February in those three years and in March 4-7, and 1-6 in postseason play, including the ACC Tournament. In six of those losses, we were the higher-seeded team or better seeded in five of those losses. Yet the games weren’t even close.

Wake's New Guy Looks a Lot Like the Old Guy

This is rational, reasoned and well justified analysis of Gaudio’s late-season troubles.  What we’re having trouble understanding is how the 57-year old Bzdelik is a significant upgrade.  Bzdelik has had two major head coaching jobs — at Air Force from 2005-07, and the current gig at Colorado.  He generally did very well at the Air Force Academy, going 50-16 overall (22-10 MWC), including an at-large trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2006.  The problem is that his March record at AFA wasn’t any better than Gaudio’s — he was 0-2 in the Mountain West Conference Tournament despite holding higher seeds in both games, and the Academy’s sole NCAA appearance also resulted in a loss.  In fact, the unquestionable highlight of Bzdelik’s postseason career is the run that Air Force made to get to the NIT semifinals  in 2007, which is great for a program with little to no basketball history but not something to which an ACC school should aspire.

Looking at his three years in Colorado certainly does not help his case.  We recognize that the CU job is a challenging one, and Bzdelik seems to have gotten the Buffs on an upward trajectory there.  But his three-year body of work  does not inspire confidence that he’s any better than what Wake already had: 36-58 overall (10-38 Big 12), and a 1-3 record in the Big 12 Tournament.  No NCAA appearances, no NIT appearances.  In fact, the highlight of Bzdelik’s career in Boulder was a loss — dropping a six-point defeat in overtime against #1 Kansas in early February of this year.  The fact that his team was competing with the class of the conference/nation represented to many people that Bzdelik had reached a turning point in the program.  Colorado lost five more games, however, and in the Big 12 Tourney first round, the Buffs endured a fifteen-point thrashing.  Maybe it’s coming next year?

Will Bzdelik Improve on Gaudio?

Ron Wellman went out of his way to bring up Gaudio’s pitiful postseason record in his three years at Wake, and we assume that he took the time to analyze Bzdelik’s (1-5 excluding the NIT), but you have to believe that there’s more going on here than just a paucity of postseason success.  We know that Wellman and Bzdelik worked together at Northwestern a number of years ago and Bzdelik’s daughter attends Wake, but that seems coincidental more than anything else.  The only reasonable explanation for this hire is that Wellman must hold a belief that Bzdelik’s focus on “x’s and o’s,” of which he is well respected, is what the school needs right now.  There was a lingering sense around the ACC that Gaudio’s teams, while talented and athletic, didn’t know how to run a play in the halfcourt offense.  Bzdelik may very well cure that, but will he be able to raise the program to the next level that Wellman thinks they can reach (presumably a regular in the Sweet Sixteen)?

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Comings & Goings: UK’s ‘Fab Five’ Gone; Gaudio Out at Wake

Posted by rtmsf on April 8th, 2010

HUGE DAY.

John Calipari has a major rebuilding task ahead of him in the 2010-11 season, as his five best players are leaving the program for the bluer waters of the NBA Draft.  In a move that shocked absolutely no one, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton all declared today, leaving UK with just a handful of returning scholarship players heading into next season.  According to KSR, however, P-Pat has yet to file his papers although he would undoubtedly become a top fifteen pick when he does so.  If all five of these guys stay in this year’s draft, it’s likely that each of them would be selected in the top twenty, a first in the history of the event.  This begs the question, of course, whether we should be impressed by so many draft-worthy players on a single team; or by the curious fact that five top twenty picks couldn’t even make it to the Final Four despite an embarrassment of talent at its disposal.

Ohio State’s National POY Evan Turner also declared that he will enter the draft today, and as the presumed #2 overall pick he is making a good decision.  The multi-talented point forward has a chance to become an outstanding perimeter player at the next level, and we’re very happy that his year turned out the way it did after a horrific fall in December threatened to derail his season and (potentially) career.  Some other names that threw their hats into the ring today were: Kansas’ Xavier Henry, who is expected to fall into the #8-#20 range, Xavier’s Jordan Crawford (late 1st/early 2d round), Cincinnati’s Lance Stephenson (late 1st/early 2d round), Marshall’s Hassan Whiteside (late lottery pick), Oklahoma’s Willie Warren (early 2d round), Dayton’s Chris Wright (mid 2d round), Texas’ Avery Bradley (late 1st round), and Florida’s Alex Tyus (undrafted).  Stephenson is the most interesting case study in why we should never listen to players during the season with respect to this stuff, as he clearly stated earlier this season that his return to Cincinnati for a sophomore campaign was ‘definite.’   He’s already signed with an agent, so that sophomore season will have to occur elsewhere.  Can we just say this again for the record?  Please, please David Stern — negotiate a two-year rule for players after their HS class graduates or none at all.

Moving to coaching news, the surprise of the day was the abrupt dismissal of Wake Forest’s Dino Gaudio by the school on Wednesday.  Gaudio was 61-31 in three seasons at the school, but what sealed his fate were his 1-5 postseason record that included two epic collapses down the stretch of the last two years.  It’s unlikely Wake AD Ron Wellman would make this move without a serious candidate in mind, so we should expect to see this position filled in a matter of days.  In more pleasant news, Cornell’s Steve Donahue accepted the job at Boston College, which makes a lot of sense given his northeastern pedigree, and the Rutgers job may be opening up as soon as Thursday if Fred Hill is canned as a result of his bizarre insubordination in the form of attending a baseball game (JR Inman must be ecstatic!).

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Step Right Up For the Brad Stevens Sweepstakes

Posted by rtmsf on April 7th, 2010

Forget the Coach K to the New Jersey Nets rumors (seriously, how cool would it be to watch Krzyzewski turn down increasingly ridiculous offers…  $15M: nah.  $25M: no way.  $50M: sure I’ll think about it.  $100M: ok, but only if you throw in something for Collins and Wojo.), the hottest coaching commodity that we’ve seen in a great number of years is none other than Butler’s 33-year old wunderkind, Brad Stevens.  Everyone in college basketball circles would love to be in his position right now, with a limitless number of suitors and a potential preseason top-five team returning in 2010-11.  If you’re Stevens and you decide to leave, you can ask your new employer for the moon; if you’re him and you decide to stay, you can ask your current employer for Venus.  No matter what his final decision will be, he can make demands that few ADs, Barry Collier included, can afford to turn down. 

The Butler Money Man (Indy Star/R. Scheer)

Given that environment, there are currently three open positions with enough name recognition, cash and prestige to lure Stevens away from his home state of Indiana.  Let’s break down each of those situations plus a fourth alternative of staying at Butler for a while longer. 

Oregon.  Oregon has made no bones about its desire to get a big name to replace Ernie Kent this year.  Tom Izzo and Tubby Smith have already reportedly turned down the Ducks and Phil Knight’s mattress stuffed with cash, but both of those guys are old-timers (relatively speaking) who have climbed the mountaintop before.  Stevens is 33 years old and makes a good living at Butler (~$400k annually), but he has two young children and when you’re facing the prospect of generational wealth as he would at UO (~$2-3M), it clouds the somewhat feel-good picture of staying at Butler for the ‘fit.’

  • Pluses: Obviously, money and top-rate facilities in the form of the brand-new Matthew Knight Arena (opening Winter 2010-11) and the adjoining practice facility.  A commitment to basketball through Phil Knight’s largesse.  A down Pac-10 will make for an easier ascendency to the top in the next two seasons.  Oregon loves its Ducks — strong statewide support.  Did we mention the money? — five mediocre years there and he’s still sitting on a huge bankroll. 
  • Minuses:  In its heart of hearts, Oregon is a football school.  Recruiting to Eugene isn’t easy outside of the Pacific Northwest, and an Indiana guy would probably be out of his element there.  He’s looking at a rebuilding situation next season — the Ducks will not be very good for a while.  Oregon basketball feels more like a stepping-stone appointment rather than a destination one.  It rains an awful lot there.

Can Knight Shovel Enough Dough Stevens' Way?

Wake Forest.  With today’s firing of Dino Gaudio after three seasons and two NCAA trips, it’s clear that Demon Deacon AD Ron Wellman has bigger things in mind.  The school has a small but passionate fanbase that would hire the Easter Bunny if they thought he could beat Duke and Carolina on a regular basis.  Wake has money to spend, but there’s no bottomless pot of (black and) gold of which Wellman can draw from like Oregon.  Still, the ACC is still the most prestigious basketball league in America, and Wake is a prime situation for the right coach.

  • Pluses:  Tobacco Road: few places in the country match the commitment and passion of the fans in this part of the country about college basketball.  Stevens would find a similar situation to what he left in Indiana.  There is enough talent in the Carolinas and Atlanta to support another top twenty program in this area on talent alone — Wake could provide the platform for Stevens to make that leap and pay him handsomely for the privilege.  Like Butler, Wake is a small, private university with a commitment to academics, so he wouldn’t be making a huge change in comfort level.
  • Minuses:  Tobacco Road: did we mention that three of the last six champions and two Hall of Fame coaches reside about 80 miles down the road in Durham and Chapel Hill?  Many a coach has come to NC State and Wake Forest with high hopes only to learn that harsh reality the hard way.  Getting wins in the ACC won’t be as easy a proposition as it was in the Horizon League.  Butler is a low pressure job, but Wake demands a lot from its coaches — perhaps more than can reasonably be expected.

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Boom Goes The Dynamite: Second Round 03.20.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on March 20th, 2010

Now it’s a party.  The first round is done.  The next 48 hours of games will define which big-time teams can handle the pressure cooker that is the Big Dance, and it will identify the Cinderellas we’ll be talking about for years.  If you’re a double-digit seed, winning one game is nice, but you don’t receive your wicked stepsisters, pumpkin coach, and glass slipper until you at least reach the Sweet 16.  Oh, you’re a big-conference bigwig?  Then the next round is still probably less than what was expected of you.  People don’t remember Second Rounders.  They remember teams that make the Sweet 16 and beyond.  The first round was fun.  But it’s over.  Here are the teams vying for the Sweet 16 on Saturday:

  • #2 Villanova vs #10 St. Mary’s
  • #5 Butler vs #13 Murray State
  • #6 Tennessee vs #14 Ohio
  • #1 Kansas vs #9 Northern Iowa
  • #3 Baylor vs #11 Old Dominion
  • #3 New Mexico vs #11 Washington
  • #2 Kansas State vs #7 Brigham Young
  • #1 Kentucky vs #9 Wake Forest

We’ll be here all day, watching the games with you.  We hope you’ll join us, and we definitely look forward to seeing you in the comments section as we all climb in to ride this rollercoaster for the third time.  See you right here about fifteen minutes before the first tip!

12:55: Here we go!  For the Sweet 16, gentlemen…let’s play!  Some interesting matchups throughout the day.  Looking especially forward to Baylor vs ODU and KSU vs BYU.  To me those look like the more intriguing games.

1:05: St. Mary’s off to a quick start!  The inside battle between Omar Samhan and Mouphtaou Yarou and/or Maurice Sutton is gonna be fun to watch.  God, Samhan looks bigger every time I see him.

1:15: I guess Jay Wright’s “minor teaching point” is over.  Samhan could not have asked for a better start to this game.  Eight points on 4-6 shooting.  SMU does not look intimidated early.  I fact, Villanova still looks like they’re getting over whatever hangover they were nursing that caused them to almost get beaten by Bob Morris.

1:26: Samhan just rooked with that second foul.  I agree with Raftery.  That should have been a no-call.

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Second Round Game Analysis: Saturday

Posted by rtmsf on March 19th, 2010

Over the next two days in a series of separate posts, RTC will break down all 16 of the second round games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds.  Here are the Saturday games.

1:05 pm – #2 Villanova vs. #10 St. Mary’s  (Providence pod)

A great opening game of the day for the group of teams that produced the best opening day of the NCAA Tournament ever. A lot of experts are going to be calling for an upset here and based on the way these two teams are playing we can’t say that we blame them. The Wildcats came into the NCAA Tournament having lost five of seven games and nearly lost to Robert Morris (down by 7 with less than 4 minutes left before some controversial calls went ‘Nova’s way). On the other side, the Gaels stormed through the West Coast Conference Tournament and knocked off Richmond, a team that a lot of people had as a potential sleeper, in the first round. The key to this game will be how Reggie Redding handles Omar Samhan. After watching Samhan rip apart the Spiders, Jay Wright has to be concerned about his interior players going against one of the best low-post players in the country. On the other side, Saint Mary’s has to figure out how to deal with Scottie Reynolds and the rest of the Wildcat backcourt. They are certainly better equipped to match-up with Villanova’s perimeter players with Mickey McConnell and Matthew Dellavedova than the Wildcats are to handle Samhan. Saint Mary’s perimeter players pack enough offensive punch to make keep up with Villanova’s guards, but Mouphtaou Yarou and Redding shouldn’t challenge Samhan too much defensively. The one wildcard here is Reynolds. Will he “learn” from Wright’s “teaching moment” and become the Scottie Reynolds we knew for most of the past two seasons or will be the 2-15 from the field Reynolds?

The Skinny: Samhan overwhelms the Wildcats on the inside and advance into the Sweet 16 as this year’s Cinderella.

3:20 pm – #5 Butler vs. #13 Murray State  (San Jose pod)

The second game of the second round will feature the top mid-major program in the east versus an upstart who would love to get there themselves.  In their first round game, if you haven’t heard, the Racers’ Danero Thomas hit a shot at the buzzer to knock Vanderbilt out of the Tournament, but what you may not know about that game is that Murray State pretty much controlled it throughout.  It was very late when Vandy regained the lead and set the stage for Thomas’ game winner.  The point: Murray is better than your typical #13 seed Cinderella.  Butler, on the other hand, had a weak first half and a superb second half to put away UTEP.  It was two of the staples of Butler’s attack — relentless halfcourt defense and the three-ball — that allowed the Bulldogs to quickly take the lead and never look back against the Miners.  As for this game, Murray State does many of the same things that Butler does, it’s just that Brad Stevens’ team does those things better.  It will certainly be interesting to see how Butler responds to being the Big (Bull)Dog in an NCAA Tournament game, as they’re usually the upstart taking on some higher-seeded Kansas or Florida type of team.

The Skinny: We’d love to take Murray State here, but Butler isn’t going to let a johnny-come-lately out-Butler them en route to the Sweet Sixteen, so we expect Butler to hang on and win by 6-8 points.

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RTC Region by Region Tidbits: 03.16.10

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2010

Each day this week during the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

South Region Notes (Patrick Sellars)

  • The first “upset” of the tournament occurred in the South Region when SWAC champion Arkansas Pine-Bluff took down the Big South tournament champion Winthrop, 61-44. The Golden Lions earned the right to play top seeded Duke on Friday night.
  • When #9 Louisville takes on #8 California on Friday night, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino says he’ll be ready for the Bears’ “organized chaos.”  There is also an interesting quote in the article from Cardinals’ guard Edgar Sosa that says he has heard Cal referred to as “poor man’s Marquette”.
  • Utah State’s leading scorer, junior guard Tai Wesley, broke his nose in the WAC tournament final on Saturday when the Aggies got pounded by New Mexico State.  He will play in the Aggies’ upcoming game versus Texas A&M, but you have to wonder what kind of effect it will have on USU’s star. On TAMU’s side, they will have Dash Harris back in the lineup after he missed the Big 12 Tournament with a bone bruise in his right wrist. Head coach Mark Turgeon said that if his team wants any chance to win this weekend, they will need Harris healthy.
  • Fran McCaffery is not letting his Siena team think they can beat Purdue by just showing up in Spokane on Friday. He says Purdue is by far the best team Siena will face all season even without Robbie Hummel. You’d have to think a Butler Bulldogs fan would think otherwise.
  • Here is an interesting article from The Times-Picayune which highlights the #3 Baylor vs. #14 Sam Houston State game. Not only are the two teams from Texas, but they have two New Orleans natives returning to their home town for the first round. Star senior guards Tweety Carter (Baylor) and Ashton Mitchell (Sam Houston State) both played their high school ball in The Big Easy.
  • Villanova head coach Jay Wright told the Philadelphia Inquirer about his team’s lackluster play in first round games the past two seasons. Wright said “we’ve survived first-round games, but we really haven’t played well in first-round games.”

East Region Notes (Ryan Restivo of SienaSaintsBlog)

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ACC Tourney Daily Diary: 1st Round

Posted by nvr1983 on March 12th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC is covering several of the conference tournaments from the sites. One of our RTC correspondents is at the ACC Tournament.  In addition to live-blogging select games throughout the tournament, he will post a nightly diary with his thoughts on each day’s action. Here is his submission for the 1st round games.

Virginia 68, Boston College 62

  • Virginia was playing without second team all-ACC Sylven Landesberg, who was suspended by head coach Tony Bennett for the remainder of the season due to academic issues.
  • Virginia opened a 34-27 halftime lead mostly in part to 6-11 (55%) 3-point shooting, compared to only 3-8 (38%) for BC.
  • This was a clean, well-played game with both teams combining for only 12 turnovers (UVa – 5, BC-7), but not a thrilling game by anybody’s definition.
  • Virginia held BC’s leading scorer, Joe Trapani, to 2 points on 0-7 shooting. Maybe he should consider transferring back to Vermont.
  • BC’s Corey Raji injured his shoulder during the game. “We’ll let the doctors look at it, and hopefully rest will do it.”

Miami 83, Wake Forest 62

  • Miami starting PF Dwayne Collins was not available for today’s game due to a “stress condition” of his left leg. Redshirt freshman big man Reggie Johnson, from Wake’s backyard in Winston-Salem, got the start in his place, scoring a career-high 22 points. Even without Collins, Miami still outrebounded the taller Deacons 39-34 for the game.
  • Wake’s 2nd team all-ACC forward Al-Farouq Aminu again pulled a disappearing act, as he has been oft to do. He managed only 11 points on 3-10 shooting and 7 rebounds, a less than stellar performance for a supposed lottery pick. This kid pulls more disappearing acts than Lance Burton. If he’s ready for the NBA, then so am I. Maybe he should spend less time tweeting and more time finding out why he’s slumping. He needs another year of college ball, because he doesn’t have the body or the handle to be effective in the NBA next year.
  • #12 Miami led 41-27 over #5 Wake Forest at the half. Miami opened the second half on an 8-0 run, extending their lead to 22. Their lead never dropped below 16 points in the second half. Miami was unconscious from the floor, shooting 52% for the game versus Wake’s 35%.
  • Wake Forest never displayed the ability to keep Miami’s guards, particularly freshman Malcolm Grant, out of the lane. Wake’s usually stingy 3-point defense, which held teams to 32% during the regular season, was torched by Miami for 47% (8-17).
  • Wake Forest is in their annual end of the year slump, which coach Dino Gaudio can’t explain. “I thought we were tired down the stretch last year, so we changed things this year, going with more time off.” Guess what coach, that hasn’t worked either. Maybe he’ll be able to explain why he doesn’t have a job this time next year.

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ATB: The Night Basketball in the Triangle Died…

Posted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2010

Black Wednesday in RTP.  A bit of hyperbole here, as we make reference to Black Sunday (March 11, 1979), the infamous day when both UNC and Duke lost NCAA second round games on the same afternoon.  Still, tonight’s surprising losses by both Carolina and Duke to the two ‘other’ schools in the traditional Big Four represent the first time in nearly seven years that they both lost conference games on the same night.  How on earth could this have happened?  Are big scary red/black aliens shaped in Deacon and Wolf form landing tonight to take us all away?  Will tears of blood flow from the sky as God weeps for us?   Will high-profile recruits clown Uncle Roy?  These are all good questions for the people of central North Carolina to be asking tonight, so we’re here to help them make sense of it all.  (ed. note: what?  NC State wasn’t shipped out to somewhere like Pembroke in the late 80s?)

NC State Exorcised Their Devils Tonight (N&O/Ethan Hyman)

  • NC State 88, #6 Duke 74.  There were a lot of shocking parts to this game, but by far the biggest shocker was the knife-through-butter ease by which NC State repeatedly shredded the Duke defense.  The Devils have held their opponents to 41% from inside the arc and 28% from beyond it all season long, but the Pack paid that no mind, shooting a red-hot 58% for the entire game and hitting five timely threes on a reasonable twelve attempts.  Even the expected collapse that everyone thought was coming immediately after halftime (and Nolan Smith’s ridiculous catch-and-shoot trey just before the buzzer) never materialized.  Instead it was NC State that appeared to have the confidence, pushing their lead back out into double-digits and answering the Devils each and every time they cut the lead to eight.  The night belonged to NCSU’s Tracy Smith, the 22d birthday boy who could seemingly do no wrong, dropping 23/5 on 10-12 FGs on a variety of post moves and drives to the hole.  The Duke defense, one of the very best in the nation coming into tonight, seemed bewildered and confused by Smith all night long, almost as if he’d been left off the scouting report.  Coach K’s group allowed over a point per possession for just the fourth time all season, and at 1.23 PPP tonight, it was easily their worst performance of the year.  Something tells us that their level of effort on that end will not go unnoticed by Krzyzewski.  With the win, NC State moves to 2-3 in the ACC race, and would you believe that the leaders of this conference are Virginia (3-0) and Maryland (2-1)?  Is it too early to start calling the ACC the Pac-10 East with its nuttiness so far this year?  Final thought: nice RTC, State students.  And, deserved (start at 2:50).

  • Wake Forest 82, #23 UNC 69.  Freshmen?  No, I don’t think so.  Wake’s C.J. Harris and Ari Stewart were impolite guests in their first visit to the Dean Dome as collegians, to say the least.  In the first half, Wake cajoled UNC into questionable shot selection while taking good ones themselves and went into halftime with a three point lead.  When UNC came out quickly early in the second and almost immediately made it just a one-point deficit, you got the feeling that Roy Williams had indeed gone into his magic bag and come up with a speech that would now put things right.  You could feel that UNC had finally shown up and that they — the ranked team, at home — would redeem themselves, take advantage of the young Deacon guards, pull out a win, and SURELY avoid a three-game losing streak, something that’s never happened here under Roy Williams.  It cannot happen here under Roy Williams.  Right?  RIGHT?  Well… it just did.  Harris and Stewart looked like anything but frosh in the second half right about the time UNC started getting their legs under them.  First, almost halfway through the second half, it was Stewart.  A three.  Then another.  Then ANOTHER.  That last one is in caps because it was from about 22 feet, finishing the triple of triples that came in a span of a minute and 26 seconds.  About a minute later, it was Harris, drilling two straight from the same spot on the left.  Those five threes were courtesy of assists from four different players.  At that point the Deacons’ lead was 15, and the Tar Heels were done.  A couple of minutes later Ish Smith — a terror tonight, with 20/7/6 on 9-17 shooting — drilled another three for the official dagger.  A team on which each player knows and cherishes his role is a dangerous thing, and that is this Wake Forest team — at least, it was tonight.  Aside from the aforementioned guards providing the outside threat, Smith distributes well and is a heady senior point guard.  Al-Farouq Aminu, whose 13/11 we haven’t even mentioned, is a fine interior defender and rebounds like a maniac.  Chas McFarland might not take many shots (1-3 tonight), but he gets to the line and hits the boards (ten against UNC) and anchors the defense inside with Aminu.  And they seem to be buying in to what Dino Gaudio is teaching.  Sure, the Heels didn’t have Ed Davis, and this might have been Wake’s best outside shooting night of the season.  But this is North Carolina.  At home.  What can you say about this team at this point?  Is Roy about to lose them?  It’s been an incredible three-year run.  But sometimes after such a period of sustained success, when hard times arrive it can be easy for a young team to fold.  They’re 12-7 and 1-3 in the ACC, have twelve games left, with seven of them away.  A split does not get them in.  The Heels have six days off, and it’s a good time for it.  They have a lot to think about.  It’s soul-searching time.

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RTC Live: NC State @ Wake Forest

Posted by rtmsf on December 19th, 2009

Both Wake Forest and NC State enter ACC conference play as relative unknowns: sure, the Demon Deacons beat Gonzaga in Spokane, but what are we to make of their double-digit homecourt loss to William & Mary that same week? Similarly, NC State’s victory over Marquette on the road was noteworthy, but their less than impressive victory in their last game over Elon, one of the weakest teams in the nation, has Wolfpackers scratching their heads. Wake enters Sunday’s game at 7-2, riding on the back of Al-Farouq Aminu (15.9 ppg, 10.4 rpg). Ishmael Smith has increased his production for the Deacs, but the true compliment to Aminu this season has been freshman guard C.J. Harris’ shooting, bringing 12.4 ppg while shooting 53% from the floor. State will rely on Tracy Smith and his 18.3 ppg and 9.4 rpg to go toe-to-toe with Wake Forest’s Aminu. In the end though, offensive rebounds could be the factor in this matchup: neither team has shot the ball well this season, Wake is the tallest team in the nation and rebounds accordingly, while NC State has been below average on the defensive glass. Both Dino Gaudio and Sidney Lowe are under pressure from the fanbase to produce after underperforming last year. For both teams, a win in Winston-Salem would be a good place to start for proving they belong in the top half of the ACC.

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10.16.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 16th, 2009

The countdown clock is under 12 hours, and we’re all absolutely dripping with giddiness for real games in the next month…

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Davidson and UNC Lose 3 Star Juniors: Coach K Pumps Fist

Posted by nvr1983 on April 23rd, 2009

After arguably being the third best team in the state of North Carolina the past 3 years (behind UNC and Davidson in 2008 and behind UNC and Wake Forest in 2009), Duke may have just ended up with the best team on Tobacco Road and the ACC by simply holding onto its stars this off-season with the possible exception of Gerald Henderson. Let’s run through the challengers for Duke in the state of North Carolina (NC State left out for Sidney Lowe obvious reasons).

TP_261586_CASS_fenlons_

Wake Forest? Having lost James Johnson and Jeff Teague to the NBA Draft, Dino Gaudio will be hard-pressed to replicate this year’s success (outside of their embarrassing first round loss to Cleveland State) with just Al-Farouq Aminu returning to lead the Demon Deacons. I’d say they’re going to be worrying more about playing for a NCAA bid than about challenging Duke for the ACC title (although Teague may ultimately return).

Davidson? Although Davidson’s drop-off this year (from a missed Jason Richards‘ 3-pointer at the buzzer away from the Final 4 to a NIT also-ran) made the Wildcats seem like an unlikely threat this coming season, having Stephen Curry in the mix meant that the Wildcats had the potential to threaten any team in the country (even if some people think he isn’t quite all that he’s hyped up to be). However, today in a move that wasn’t surprising to all but the most deluded fans, Curry announced that he will turn pro and hire an agent ending any chance of stealing Pete Maravich‘s career scoring record (done in 3 years without a 3-point line). Good luck playing for a Southern Conference title and a 15-seed for the next few seasons Wildcats.

UNC? Going into the off-season, the Tar Heels posed the greatest threat to Duke next season even with the loss of all-time ACC leading scorer Tyler Hansbrough (I know it sounds weird to me too), Danny Green, and Bobby Frasor (the Deadspin commenters will miss him more than Tar Heel fans will). As all Tar Heels knew the fate of their 2009-10 season hung on the decision of juniors Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington. If either of them returned (both returning was just a pipe dream), Roy Williams would have another national title contender with Marcus Ginyard, Tyler Zeller, and Ed Davis returning and John Henson, David Wear, and Travis Wear (and potentially John Wall) coming to Chapel Hill next year. Instead, both Lawson and Ellington declared for the draft today. Assuming that Ty can hire a designated driver from now until the NBA Draft, I don’t expect to see either of them suiting up in Carolina blue again as they are both at their peak value. The Tar Heels are a shoe-in for the NCAA tournament next year and will probably will be in contention for a top 4 seed particularly if Wall decides to not listen to his handler Brian Clifton and play for Roy.

What does all this mean for Duke, which has struggled to live up to its reputation and ESPN’s infatuation since Chris Duhon left?  Although Coach K will have to wait a year to add Seth Curry, and there has been no official communication from Durham, I’d have to guess that it would look something like this. . .

So for all of you Duke haters, get ready for an unbearable next 11 months (especially if the Devils, and not UNC, garner the services of John Wall). For all the Duke fans, the pressure is now back on. Just making it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament won’t cut it this time.

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NCAA Preview: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Posted by rtmsf on March 19th, 2009

Wake Forest (#4, Midwest, Miami pod)

vs. Cleveland St. (#13)
Friday, 3/20 at 9:40pm.

Vegas Line: Wake Forest -6

wake-ncaa-graph

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile

Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Conference: ACC, at-large
Coach: Dino Gaudio, hired 2007.  Record at WFU = 41-19.
08-09 Record: 24-6 (11-6)
Last 12 Games: 7-5
Best Win: vs. UNC, 92-89, on 1/11
Worst Loss: @ Miami,  52-79, on 2/4.
Off. Efficiency Rating: 111.8 (14)
Def. Efficiency Rating: 89.4 (40)

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): Jeff Teague, 19/3/4 assts/2 stls on 49/45/82% shooting; James Johnson, 15/9 on 53% shooting.
Unsung Hero: Chas McFarland – 9/6 on 53% shooting.
Potential NBA Draft Pick: Teague, #12 (2009), Johnson, #29 (2009), Al-Farouq Aminu, #9 (2009).
Key Injuries: None.
Depth: 29.6% mins (204th nationally).
Achilles Heel: Three-point shooting.  Wake shoots 31.7% from behind the arc, 275th best in the nation.
Will Make a Deep Run if…: They play with focus and aggression.  This team has a tendency to only get up for the “big” games.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: They play unfocused and get caught up in a three-point shooting contest.

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 2005; lost to West Virginia in the Second Round.
Streak: 1.
Best NCAA Finish: Final Four in 1963.
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): -0.40

Other
Distance to First Round Site: 810 miles
School’s Claim to Fame: Producing NBA All-Stars without making the Final Four (T. Duncan, J. Howard, C. Paul).
School Wishes It Could Forget: Mike Gansey, Jamal Mashburn, the Stanford frontline, Butler.
Prediction: If Wake gets by Cleveland St., a big “if,” they have enough NBA-quality talent to beat anybody in the field.  The problem is focus and chemistry, and we’re not convinced that they have each other’s best interests in mind.  Another WFU flameout like their forebears is in the cards.

Preview written by Rush The Court.

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