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 Tournament: Three Thoughts from Wake Forest – Maryland

Posted by mpatton on March 8th, 2012

In the end it was a dominant win by Maryland. Jeff Bzdelik pulled his starters at the under-four media timeout (to be fair, Nikita Mescheriakov and Tony Chennault had already fouled out by that point).

  • Starting with Wake Forest, this game didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. The Demon Deacons played Maryland tough the first 15 minutes and fell apart. After leading 26-21, Maryland went on a 35-9 run including the beginning of the second half. The biggest issue all afternoon for Jeff Bzdelik’s squad was production from players not named Mescheriakov, CJ Harris and Travis McKie. Those three scored 52 of Wake Forest’s 60 points (it would’ve been more had Bzdelik left them in to the bitter end). Chennault and Carson Desrosiers combined to go 1-13 from the field. That won’t cut it coming from starters. Period.
  • On Maryland’s end, it’s really tough to judge how impressive the Terrapins were against Wake Forest. There’s no argument that they didn’t dominate the game, but Wake Forest also lost all of its will to win after giving up its five-point lead in dramatic fashion down the stretch in the first half. The best news from Mark Turgeon’s standpoint is that he got to rest his thin line-up for much of the second half, which will keep the teams’ collective legs fresh for a game tomorrow against North Carolina.
  • In contrast to Wake Forest’s starters, Maryland’s combined to go 25-43 from the field (58%) thanks to one of Nick Faust‘s best games of the year (19 points on ten shots) and a very strong game from James Padgett (5-6 from the field). This Maryland team could make North Carolina work tomorrow if Faust and Padgett can combine for more points than Terrell Stoglin.
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ACC Game On: 02.28.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on February 28th, 2012

We are in the home stretch of the regular season. It would be sad if that didn’t mean that tournament play is in the air. After a high stakes weekend where Miami made its case for the big tournament while Virginia and North Carolina State faltered at a critical moment, this week kicks off with a fairly lopsided matchup.

The Infernal Showdown

  • #7 Duke at Wake Forest at 9:00 PM on ESPNU

The last true road game of the season for Duke, the Blue Devils need to win this game to contend for a #1 seed. Duke should be more than up for the task, but they come into Winston Salem playing a Wake Forest team that has nothing to lose. After last year’s miserable season, the Demon Deacon’s forward progress is admirable, but when push comes to shove, this is a team that has only won four conference games. After a red hot start, Travis McKie has cooled down. Actually, outside of the still-incandescent C. J. Harris, the whole team has cooled off. With their season heading nowhere fast, Wake Forest doesn’t have much to do outside of ruin Duke’s day and make Nikita Mescheriakov and Ty Walker‘s Senior Night memorable. With the worst defense in the league and one of the worst offenses, Wake Forest would need an exceptional game (marked by frequent trips to the line, effective perimeter defense, and a lot of luck) to surprise the Devils. Still, it’s the last week of the regular season and strange things happen when teams play for pride.

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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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Checking in on… the ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 23rd, 2010

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.

A Look Back

  • The ACC looks rough early.  I think I was a little optimistic coming into the season, especially with Virginia Tech.  I definitely underrated Florida State and Maryland marginally (at least so far), but as a whole, play has been underwhelming in the early going.
  • Unfortunately, the ACC wasn’t helped when N.C. State’s Tracy Smith went down with a knee injury.  I really think Smith would have been a major factor in the Georgetown game.  State was absolutely picked apart inside, and Smith’s talent and experience would have been invaluable — especially as things started getting out of hand in the second half.  I’m not sure Smith would have been the difference, but he certainly would have helped significantly.  Smith is expected to be back in around three weeks.  The injuries don’t stop there: Virginia Tech is having major injury issues with J.T. Thompson and Allan Chaney out for the season.  Virginia’s Sammy Zeglinski is out for the first couple of months recovering from knee surgery.  Wake Forest is fighting injuries to Melvin Tabb (mono), Tony Chenault (foot, 8-10 weeks) and Nikita Mescheriakov’s eligibility (not to mention anyone who has suffered through watching them play).
  • In recruiting news, the ACC had a huge signing day.  Duke looks ready to reload with three LOI’s from 5-star recruits Quinn Cook, Austin Rivers and Michael Gbinje (not to mention 4-star Marshall Plumlee).  North Carolina inked two 5-stars in James McAdoo and P.J. Hairston.  Virginia Tech also has a sneaky-good class coming in with four-star recruits Dorian Finney-Smith, Marquis Rankin and C.J. Barksdale.

Player of the Week: Chris Singleton, Florida State: Singleton has been absolutely unbelievable for the Seminoles so far.  Through four games, he’s averaging 19.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 3.8 steals per contest.  The performance that sealed the deal was his unconventional triple-double against UNC Greensboro (22 points, 11 rebounds, 10 steals, 6 assists and 4 blocks).  If he can keep his scoring up this season, the Seminoles could be a dark horse in the ACC runner-up race.

Power Rankings

  1. Duke (4-0): Through four games, the Blue Devils have been incredible.  Kyrie Irving introduced himself to the college basketball world with nine assists and one turnover against Princeton.  Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith have looked good, not great, but Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry can shoot.  If the Blue Devils catch fire from downtown (and with five players who could shoot 40% from beyond the arc in Singler, Smith, Curry, Dawkins and Irving, that should happen plenty) they’ll be close to unbeatable.  It’s still early, but so far the Blue Devils lead both adjusted offense and adjusted defense in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings. Duke’s ability to get past Marquette in the second half Monday without much from Kyle Singler speaks to their depth across the starting lineup. How will Mason Plumlee build on his big game in Kansas City?
  2. Virginia Tech (2-1): I’m leaving the Hokies here mainly out of respect for Kansas State.  The Hokies have come out flat: they rely too much on Malcolm Delaney and are easily drawn into sloppy play.  There’s a reason Seth Greenberg’s squad didn’t make the tournament last year: they weren’t that good.  I expect Virginia Tech to get better (though losing J.T. Thompson really hurts), but I expected a team that returns all five starters to be ready to go right away.
  3. Florida State (4-0): The Seminoles have a very good defense: color me not surprised.  It’ll be interesting to see how Florida State’s defense evolves as the season progresses, but they’ll get a big test next Sunday against Florida.  If the Seminoles can muster up some solid offense, they’ll be a very tough team to beat this year.  Definitely a tournament-level team, and arguably a top-25 team so far.
  4. N.C. State (3-1): Getting blown out in the second half by Georgetown wasn’t good, but it wasn’t terrible.  N.C. State is a very young team with Tracy Smith, and it’s no surprise they struggled against a veteran Georgetown team with one of the country’s best backcourts (especially if you consider Georgetown’s biggest weakness in the post).  Hopefully, for Sidney Lowe’s sake, the Wolfpack get Smith back before their showdowns with top-25 teams Wisconsin and Syracuse.  In the meantime I expect them to manhandle Fairleigh Dickinson.
  5. Clemson (4-1): The Tigers’ lone loss comes against Old Dominion (one of the top mid-majors in the country), and Clemson made a game of it, only losing by one after an ugly first half.  There’s no doubt they miss Trevor Booker, but Demontez Stitt looks like he’s ready to take on a much bigger offensive role this season.  Consistency will be the biggest question for the Tigers going forward.
  6. Maryland (3-2): I thought Maryland would be totally lost without Greivis Vasquez, but the Terps played Pitt and Illinois down to the last minute.  Gary Williams has done a great job getting this team to such a competitive level very quickly.  Unfortunately, Maryland still turns the ball over a lot, and they haven’t shown an ability to close out big games.  That said, I’m still very impressed with the showing they put up at the 2k Classic against two of the country’s top teams. The Terps would be better served to feed Jordan Williams the ball more than they have.
  7. North Carolina (2-2): This team is having some major growing pains.  Two straight losses to Minnesota and Vanderbilt are not what Tar Heel Nation was expecting out of Harrison Barnes’ debut.  Before you’re too quick to judge Barnes, remember: he’s a freshman (with colossal expectations), and the Heels do not have a legitimate point guard.  If I were Roy Williams, I’d bench Larry Drew II immediately to get some quality time in for frosh Kendall Marshall.  Marshall is the future of the program, and can he really play that much worse than Drew?
  8. Miami (2-2): Miami can deal with losing at Memphis.  And they made a very close game of it.  But getting blown out at Rutgers?  That’s totally unacceptable.  Reggie Johnson (12 points and 14 boards) was the only Hurricane in double figures.  I’m not sure where Durand Scott was, but he needs to step up his game if the Hurricanes don’t want to join the lowest tier of the conference.  Right now, I’m pegging Miami as a horrendous road team that could prove a tough out at home.  They just as easily could be a terribly inconsistent team.  Frank Haith’s seat started warming up this week.
  9. Virginia (2-2): The Cavaliers are the best of the worst this week.  While they notched wins over William and Mary and U.S.C. Upstate, they got blown out by the Pac 10 – first by Stanford, then by #11 Washington.  If it’s possible to have a bad time during a November trip to Hawaii, Virginia has found the way. They’ll try to salvage things against Oklahoma on Tuesday.
  10. Georgia Tech (3-1): 3-1 isn’t that bad, right?  Georgia Tech has looked awful so far-most notably in their blowout loss at Kennesaw State.  The most important question is what was Paul Hewitt doing playing at Kennesaw State in the first place?  What good comes out of that game?  The Yellow Jackets get a chance to prove the doubters (which should be nearly everyone at this point) partially wrong this week with a game against UTEP.
  11. Boston College (2-1): Boston College has got to stop losing to Ivy League teams.  They lost to Yale last week.  Yale isn’t even supposed to be a real competitor in the Ivy League, much less the ACC.  Steve Donahue runs a very different style than Al Skinner, and I’m not sure he or his players have totally adjusted.  It’ll take a few years to get everything optimized to his style of play, but in the meantime he should be avoiding the easy losses. To keep the bad loss from dwelling, the Eagles beat Holy Cross rather soundly.
  12. Wake Forest (2-3): Wake Forest has major issues.  So far they’ve lost to Stetson, been blown out by Virginia Commonwealth, and couldn’t keep up at Winthrop. They check in at a smooth 159th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, lowest among any of the “Power Six” conference teams, save DePaul and Auburn.  So far the Demon Deacons miss Ish Smith more than anything: currently they sport a ghastly 25.5% turnover percentage…  That means they turn it over more than once every four possessions.  If Wake can’t improve their offensive execution by conference play, the ACC will have a new conference doormat.

A Look Ahead

The non-con tournaments continue!  Duke will look to make a major statement this week at the CBE Classic in Kansas City with a big game against #4 Kansas State Tuesday. It may as well be a true road game with the Wildcats’ campus just two hours away.  Wake Forest, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech also participate in early-season tournaments throughout the week.  Most importantly, the Big 10-ACC Challenge is right around the corner (starting November 29).  While the Big 10 looks like a far superior conference on paper, the basketball gods were very kind in placing games (Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Duke all play at home) and somehow Wake Forest drew Iowa and Boston College drew Indiana.  Even if the ACC doesn’t win, there are a ton of great games, so make sure to get it on your calendar early.

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Morning Five: 01.12.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 12th, 2010

  1. Fordham transfer player Jio Fontan has resurfaced all the way across the country at USC, and he will be eligible to play next season at the semester break.  This is a good pickup for Kevin O’Neill, as Fontan averaged 15/5 assts in a season-plus at Fordham and will be able to move into the PG slot vacated by Mike Gerrity.  Speaking of USC, the self-imposed sanctions on the basketball program may not become official until February, when the school will appear in front of the NCAA Infractions Committee.  Does this mean that, if the Committee imposes much harsher penalties than proposed that this year’s Trojans could actually still play in the postseason?
  2. Jerry Tarkanian never wasted an opportunity to take a shot at the NCAA, and his guns were blazing at a speech he gave in Arkansas Monday where he called the NCAA the “crookedest organization in this country.”
  3. Charlotte’s Shamarr Bowden, a freshman shooting guard averaging 5.7 PPG in ten minutes per game, will transfer from the school to a destination unknown.  Former Ohio State guard Walter Offutt has transferred to Wright State, and Georgetown forward Nikita Mescheriakov is enrolled at Wake Forest.
  4. Mike DeCourcy suggests that the problems at DePaul go well beyond Jerry Wainwright and indicts the administration itself.  His point about firing Wainwright in the middle of the season after an 0-18 Big East slate is a great insight.
  5. More aftermath from the Tennessee upset over #1 Kansas on Sunday, including Parrish’s take on Skylar McBee and how he’s living his dream at Tennessee.   As for Kansas, maybe they should have taken more half-court shots during the game.  They seem to be pretty good at making them.

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Ten Tuesday Scribbles…

Posted by zhayes9 on December 29th, 2009

RTC contributor and bracketologist Zach Hayes will deliver ten permeating thoughts every Tuesday as the season progresses.

1. The most competitive conference in the land this season should spark the most competitive Player of the Year race come March. Top-seeded Kansas boasts three potential candidates once center Cole Aldrich starts to play with a more aggressive mentality on the offensive end. Senior point guard Sherron Collins has the skill set to explode come conference play and should provide the Jayhawks with more than one clutch play the season wears on. Freshman Xavier Henry has surpassed everyone’s expectations early in Lawrence as the Jayhawks early scoring leader. Nipping at the heels of #1 Kansas is #2 Texas and their all-time rebounder Damion James. James has exploded onto the scene the last week-plus with two masterful performances against North Carolina (25/15/4 stl on 8-22 FG) and Michigan State (23/13 on 10-18 FG). You’d be hard-pressed to find someone that argues James isn’t the current frontrunner for Big 12 POY and deserves definite consideration for first team All-America honors. Kansas State has been one of the bigger surprises in college basketball through the first month and a half behind sharp-shooting guard Jacob Pullen. The junior went on a tear recently scoring 28 in a big road win at UNLV then topping himself with 30 points at Alabama. In his last three games, Pullen has nailed an incredible 16 of his last 25 threes. Lurking in the shadows is Oklahoma State’s James Anderson (21.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG) and Iowa State forward Craig Brackins (17.5 PPG, 8.1 RPG) with Baylor’s Ekpe Ugoh and Oklahoma’s Willie Warren also making large impacts on their respective squads.

2. It’s fairly clear the top two teams in a weaker Pac-10 conference will be Washington behind Isaiah Thomas and Quincy Pondexter and California behind their big three of Jerome Randle, Theo Robertson and Patrick Christopher. While both teams have encountered their early season struggles, Washington knocking off an emotionally scarred Texas A&M squad at home Tuesday and California hanging in with Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse should convince most critics that those two will compete for the Pac-10 title. Prior to the season, many believed UCLA would be that third team in the Pac-10 to cause some damage and sneak into the NCAA field. But with a week that included wins over Tennessee, St. Mary’s and UNLV, it’s becoming quite evident that USC might very well be that team. Even with early season home defeats at the hands of Loyola Marymount and Nebraska and blowout losses at Texas and Georgia Tech, the Trojans are coming together behind newly-entrenched point guard Mike Gerrity and coach Kevin O’Neill. The two-time transfer Gerrity is already the Trojans leading scorer and far and away their best assist man. He won’t blow anyone away with flash and speed, but he knows how to run an offense and play the position with efficiency. A starting five of Gerrity, Nikola Vucevic, Alex Stepheson, Dwight Lewis and Marcus Johnson all of a sudden doesn’t look too shabby, does it?

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Morning Five: 12.23.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 23rd, 2009

It’s a travel day around here, which we’re sure is also true for many of you out there in Hoopsland.  Apologies if things get a little quiet after tonight, as there is only one game over the next three days (Saturday’s West Virginia at Seton Hall tilt).  Have a safe, happy and tremendous Christmas celebrating however your family chooses to do so (or not at all), and remember to give that little extra, whether time, attention, or cashmoney, to those in need this weekend.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

  1. Georgetown’s Nikita Mescheriakov will transfer at the end of the semester, according to school officials, marking the fifth such transfer from the Hoya program in the last three seasons.  Mescheriakov wasn’t getting much playing time as JT3 continues to utilize a very short bench this year, but we wonder if his style of coaching isn’t grating on some of these players who are leaving?
  2. Rick Pitino has suspended forward Terrence Jennings for Wednesday night’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette for an undisclosed violation of team rules.  Recall that in October Jennings and teammate Jerry Smith were involved in an altercation with police outside of a party in nearby Jeffersonville, Indiana.  Speaking of Coach P, Karen Sypher pleaded not guilty yesterday to (new) charges of retaliation against a witness.
  3. Tubby Smith is acting the role of the eye-rolling parent by stating yesterday that the status of Royce White, who retired from college basketball and the University of Minnesota in a strange YouTube clip we wrote about last week, has not changed.  Probably for the best.
  4. Hear about that UK2K thing from Monday night?  Check out this cool graphical interpretation of the winningest programs in college basketball history by decade.  Trust us, you’ll enjoy it.  Promise.
  5. This is fairly interesting. rated the top 25 “franchises” in both professional and college sports for the 2000s.  Their top CBB “franchises?”  #10 – North Carolina, #13 Kansas, #17 Michigan State, #20 Florida, #22 Duke.  Interesting how that matches up with our very own Team of the 2000s we set forth last summer — same top five, slightly different order.
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