Possible Jeff Bzdelik ACC Swan Song Ends Against Pittsburgh

Posted by Matt Patton on March 13th, 2014

His postgame press conference said it all. Jeff Bzdelik‘s body language and tone, never his strongest attributes as a coach, showed the toll of another Thursday ACC Tournament loss to Pittsburgh.

“They hit us right between the eyes. We were on our heels the entire game.”

Jeff Bzdelik didn't have the answers against Pittsburgh. (credit: Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer)

Jeff Bzdelik didn’t have the answers against Pittsburgh. (credit: Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer)

While his postseason and conference road records paint a black and white picture of Bzdelik’s tenure at Wake Forest, there are certainly bright spots when you look closer. He recruited a young core of talented players that showed a lot of potential in sweeping Tobacco Road at home this season. He also sat down with the deck stacked against him. People love to cite Dino Gaudio’s record, but there’s no denying Wake Forest was in a tailspin after Skip Prosser died. It’s not Bzdelik’s fault the vaunted 2008 class didn’t pan out. But no one expected the turnaround to move so slowly.

“We just lost some confidence, and we’ve been fragile with that throughout the course of the entire year.”

This game cast a similarly dark shadow. Wake Forest was outclassed at opening tip, unable to slow down the Panthers’ offense. Early, the Demon Deacons couldn’t grab a rebound. Pittsburgh, to its credit, couldn’t miss. While Travis McKie had one of the worst games of his career, Talib Zanna and Lamar Patterson executed flawlessly. Every time the lead got to single digits, Pittsburgh responded with a run. Coron Williams had another good game, and Codi Miller-McIntyre showed flashes of his aggressive potential, but there’s no sugarcoating a 29-point loss.

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ACC M5: 02.10.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on February 10th, 2014


  1. Raleigh News & Observer: Great piece from Barry Jacobs on officials who are following in their fathers’ footsteps. After reading the article, I really think officiating might be as much of a cult as coaching and playing are. Jacobs talks to Bryan Kersey, Jeff Nichols and Tim Clougherty (whose father John Clougherty is the ACC Coordinator of Officials). I’ll let Jacobs take it away with the best anecdote from the piece: “Like other officiating chips off the old block, Kersey became a referee while a high school student. The 10th grader’s first game might have discouraged some people. When the middle school contest ended, the losing coach punched the younger Kersey in the head as he left the floor.”
  2. Blogger So Dear: Great longform profile of Travis McKie and his four-year career under Jeff Bzdelik. McKie has a had a great career individually while the program has suffered (getting marginally better each season) around him. He may become the first senior in Wake Forest’s time in the ACC (since its founding over 60 years ago) to not win a postseason game.
  3. Washington Post: Jake Layman should be Maryland’s number one option in the halfcourt (meaning road games and end-of-shot clock clear-outs should run through Dez Wells). He’s a mismatch for nearly any defender. But Layman is involved in less possessions than any other starter. That’s why Mark Turgeon is trying to come up with ways to get Layman more involved. And while Seth Allen stole the show Saturday in the win against Florida State, Layman was more aggressive. What’s weird looking at Layman’s statistics over the season is that he’s putting up a lot fewer field goal attempts in conference play.
  4. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Pittsburgh’s near catastrophic loss against Virginia Tech this weekend confirms that Lamar Patterson may not win ACC Player of the Year this season, but he’s likely going to be my pick. Patterson’s thumb was bothering him and his shot in Blacksburgh. Thankfully for the Panthers, a win is a win in the RPI. The bad news is Pittsburgh still doesn’t have any top-shelf wins, which means there’s still a lot of pressure on Patterson and Talib Zanna (both injured) to guide the team to the Big Dance.
  5. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Malcolm Brogdon has been unbelievable in conference play. He’s currently on Ken Pomeroy’s first team All-ACC team (though personally, I’d probably put him and Joe Harris on the second team). Brogdon was a Peach Jam breakout player who sat last season because of injury. He’s continued improving–literally improving every tempo-free statistic since last season. If you’re looking for a reason Harris’s numbers have dropped this season? Brogdon is a great place to start.
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ACC M5: 01.20.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on January 20th, 2014


  1. Baltimore Sun: Jay Williams made a comment about how Maryland was playing “a little bit tight” and wondered if it had to do with Mark Turgeon‘s willingness to bench players who make mistakes. It’s an interesting thought. Certainly benching players means those players can’t produce, and if benching or coaching tirades are too frequent, I think they could affect a player’s confidence. But I doubt that’s a frequent problem. Now, micromanaging games from the sideline — that is a problem.
  2. Winston-Salem Journal: Travis McKie‘s production is down a lot this season. A smart man once told me something that makes lots of sense. McKie thrived at the four. Now, forced to play the three, he’s struggling (at least in comparison to his superb sophomore campaign). Maybe it’s because of his defenders’ quickness. Maybe it’s because he is now forced to play farther from the basket. I don’t think Codi Miller-McIntyre’s offensive surge is part of the problem because McKie has always played with a high usage guard in CJ Harris (a very different player, but still), but the Demon Deacons need him to really come into his own to get over the next proverbial hump.
  3. Hampton Roads Pilot: Malcolm Brogdon has quietly been Virginia’s most used player (ignoring Mike Tobey, who plays fewer than 20 minutes a game) — more than Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell. In addition to being the team’s top scorer in ACC play, Brogdon is the team’s second leading rebounder. His range still needs some work, but Virginia is a lot more dangerous as a team with multiple “go-to” guys beyond just Harris. They also need to finish near the top of the conference rankings in order to make the Big Dance. The Florida State sweep will look good, but a home win against Syracuse in the penultimate game would do wonders.
  4. Chapelboro.com: Roy Williams is playing around a bit with lineups to try to keep his team fresh during games. Williams has always been one to use a large rotation, so that’s not surprising. Perhaps more surprising is that Coach K appears to be making his rotation deeper, playing 10 guys for decent minutes in Duke’s last couple of games. Over the last five games, the two ACC teams most set in their rotations were Boston College (34% played by its main rotation) and Syracuse (39.9% played by its starters). Remarkably Syracuse’s second most popular rotation played 32.1% of minutes (more than any team but the Eagles). In contrast Duke (10.9%) and Maryland (9.9%) changed rotations frequently. All data here courtesy of Ken Pomeroy.
  5. Syracuse Post-Standard: Rakeem Christmas has improved dramatically on the offensive end during his time at Syracuse. He’s shooting a ridiculous 73.6 percent from the floor (thanks in large part to lots of dunks and put-backs), but he’s also become a serviceable player in the post. Not that you would make him the center of Syracuse’s offense or start up the Dream comparisons, but he’s no longer a player who can be completely ignored on offense. And that’s one reason Syracuse’s offense has made such a big step forward this season.
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Preseason ACC Microsite Awards: Joe Harris Preseason POY

Posted by Matt Patton on November 9th, 2013

The ACC microsite is happy to announce our preseason Player of the Year and all-ACC teams, as selected by the five writers contributing this season.

Preseason All-ACC

Some Notes:

  • Seven of 15 teams had at least one selection to the teams. Virginia and North Carolina led the way with two selections each.
  • Virginia’s Joe Harris received three of five votes for preseason ACC Player of the Year. Jabari Parker and CJ Fair received one vote each.
  • Harris and Fair were unanimous selections for the first team.
  • Duke’s Rodney Hood actually tied Virginia’s Akil Mitchell for votes, but Mitchell’s one first-team vote put him over the top in a tie-breaker.
  • Ryan Anderson, Quinn Cook, Travis McKie, Rasheed Sulaimon and Okaro White each received one second-team vote.
  • The first team has two seniors (Harris and Fair), two sophomores (Olivier Hanlan and TJ Warren) and one freshman (Parker).
  • The second team has more experience than the first team with three juniors and two seniors.
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ACC M5: 11.01.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on November 1st, 2013


  1. SBNation: Read this article on Andre Dawkins. Seriously great stuff from SBNation‘s Brandon Sneed. Just terrific reporting and writing.
  2. Augusta Free Press: Chris Graham doesn’t trust Tony Bennett yet. And I’m with him to a point. I don’t trust that Bennett’s system is designed for postseason success. Despite their consistent goodness, Wisconsin only made the Final Four once under Dick Bennett and has never made the final weekend under Bo Ryan. That’s still nothing to sneeze at by any means, but it doesn’t lead me to trust the plodding pace-based offense. That said, Graham takes it too far. I do trust Virginia to contend in the ACC. Bennett’s team was unbeatable at home last season, and everyone of note is back.
  3. Wilmington Star News: Here’s a good article from Brett Friedlander on Travis McKie, who is looking forward to a more experienced Wake Forest team this season. Last year, it was McKie and senior CJ Harris accompanied by a talented group of freshmen. This year Harris is gone, but the sophomores should be more accustomed to embattled Jeff Bzdelik’s system as well as the social and academic rigors of college. That should lift a burden off of McKie’s shoulders and make the team better — how much better remains to be seen.
  4. Lynchberg News & Advance: Last weekend members from Virginia Tech‘s 1973 NIT championship team came back to Blacksburg to catch up. That game 40 years ago was hotly contested, as the Hokies won on Bobby Stevens’ buzzer-beater in overtime. Incredibly, the Hokies “won their four NIT games by a total of five points.” That’s unbelievable! That might be the most clutch (or luckiest) postseason run of all time. And remember, this is before the NCAA expanded, so the NIT was a much higher profile tournament than it is now. Unfortunately, that anniversary will likely be the high point in Virginia Tech’s basketball campaign unless James Johnson has some serious tricks up his sleeve.
  5. Winston-Salem Journal: NC State alum Bucky Waters is steeped in ACC history. He played in the earliest days of the ACC before going on to coach at Duke in the early 1970s. Interestingly, with the continued expansion it’s more fair than ever to name the conference champion based on the ACC Tournament. Imbalanced schedules make comparing records a futile exercise, but every team gets its shot to win this year in Greensboro. Like most fans Waters sounds excited for the new ACC. It’s clear he misses the old geographically-driven conference with its more natural rivalries, but “the money is going to determine — as it has already — everything.”
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ACC Team Preview: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Posted by Matt Patton on October 31st, 2013

Some members of the Wake Forest faithful put together money to fly a banner proclaiming “Fire Ron Wellman around BB&T Field at the beginning of October. Alas, at the last minute the air-advertisement company backed out, leaving the disgruntled fan sentiment grounded in a metaphor that seems perfect to describe Demon Deacon athletics as a whole. The hunt for Wellman’s job originally started because of his vocal support for head basketball coach Jeff Bzdelik. Bzdelik’s tenure in Winston-Salem has been abysmal (like, 1-24 on the road in conference play abysmal), but Wellman still supports him.

Wake Forest Preview 2013

Luckily, Bzdelik oozes charisma and makes great PR moves. Well maybe not. He did announce that Wake Forest won’t have a team captain this year despite having a four-year senior who has been one of the best players on the team since his freshman year. More than most jobs in the ACC, Wake Forest requires a coach that’s either willing to take a lot of risks or has that one in a million charm (put the two together, and you get the late Skip Prosser). Otherwise it’s too easy to get overshadowed by North Carolina, Duke and NC State just down the road. Bzdelik possesses none of these traits. Now it should be clear why a large portion of the fan base wants Bzdelik and Wellman gone.

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ACC M5: 04.05.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on April 5th, 2013


  1. State of the U: Miami filed a 45-page motion for the NCAA to dismiss all charges against the university due to the NCAA’s questionable actions during the investigation (which have already resulted in multiple firings at several levels of the NCAA enforcement staff). Miami is officially not going away, no matter how much the NCAA wants it to. Between USA Today‘s recent blitzkrieg of Mark Emmert, the Miami fiasco and what I expect to be substantial fallout from any NCAA reaction to Miami, look for the NCAA to have a new person at its head in the near future.
  2. San Jose Mercury News: Filed away under “fun historical ACC coaching factoids” is this gem from Jeff Faraudo. Apparently NC State legend Everett Case popularized cutting down the nets in college basketball, bringing the tradition from Indiana high schools. That leads me to believe that one of the colleges in Indiana probably did it first (and helps explain the Hoosiers’ zealous behavior for cutting down the nets this season), but Case made it big — especially once he led the way for the ACC Tournament, which would’ve given Case the platform to spread his tradition.
  3. Winston-Salem Journal: Dan Collins does a great job previewing Wake Forest’s basketball team for next season player by player before coming to the conclusion that Codi Miller-McIntyre holds the key to the Demon Deacons’ success. I have a couple of thoughts on his take: I agree wholeheartedly that next year’s Wake Forest team will only be as good as Miller-McIntyre, but I think the most valuable players will be Devin Thomas and Travis McKie. Despite the fan base’s dismay over keeping Jeff Bzdelik on board, there’s a lot more talent on this roster than people give it credit for (and a lot more talent than Clemson or Virginia Tech will have next season). That said, Bzdelik needs his rising sophomore point guard to break out.
  4. Run the Floor: Miami has had a rough go at the NBA Draft recently. The school boasts three current NBA players amongst its alumni ranks, but John Salmons was the last player to be drafted in the first round in 2002 (James Jones was drafted in the second round and DeQuan Jones wasn’t drafted at all). This year that could change if Shane Larkin decides to go pro. He probably played himself into the first round this season, despite his size (although he looks taller than his listing). Kenny Kadji has the second-best chance, but his age will hurt him significantly (though whatever NBA team gets him in the second round should be thrilled).
  5. Blogger So Dear: Another player who will look to help Wake Forest next year is Daniel Green, the freshman starting center who tore his ACL before last season. It’s unclear exactly what Green will mean, other than added size and strength, but he could be another big piece of Wake Forest’s turnaround. The biggest issue for Jeff Bzdelik is playing Green and Thomas at the same time forces Travis McKie to play more on the perimeter against quicker defenders. Regardless, Green should help shore up the boards in Winston-Salem.

EXTRA: Shane Ryan did an awesomely esoteric piece on the history of basic basketball statistics — mostly focused on the “dead ball rebound” (the statistic that balances the rebound/missed shots books without rewarding teams or individuals). It’s worth a read.

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Lessons Learned: ACC Weekend Wrap-Up

Posted by KCarpenter on January 21st, 2013

There were no big upsets in the ACC this weekend, but there were some big-time performances that are worth mentioning. The rest of college basketball offered some thrilling upsets and close finishes, but the Atlantic Coast Conference offered some sublime moments of its own in individual achievement and failure.

TJ Warren Blew Up Against Clemson Sunday

TJ Warren Blew Up Against Clemson Sunday

  1. T.J. Warren Is A Scoring Machine. Sure, Warren went 0-for-6 against Maryland, contributing exactly zero points in the close loss, but make no mistake, that game wasn’t typical. In the game against Clemson, the North Carolina State forward scored 21 points. Yes, he wasn’t technically the game’s high scorer thanks to Devin Booker’s 27-point gem, but Warren’s performance was more impressive. Warren’s 21 points came in a mere 25 minutes that featured the freshman shooting 9-of-11 from the field, hitting a three, and grabbing six rebounds to help his team. Warren’s offensive production borders on the freakish. Coming off the bench, Warren is averaging an offensive efficiency rating of 129.2, which is the 20th best mark in all of Division I basketball. Of course, because of Scott Wood’s sweet shooting, Warren isn’t even the deadliest offensive weapon on his own team, but he is certainly a force to be reckoned with.
  2. Assertive Reggie Bullock Is Terrifying. The only player in the conference with an offensive efficiency greater than Wood and Warren is North Carolina’s Reggie Bullock. Bullock has posted an offensive efficiency of 131.5, driven by incredible three-point shooting (47.7% on 88 attempts this season), low turnovers and strong offensive rebounding for his position. Bullock, also arguably the team’s best defensive player, unleashed his offensive fury on Saturday against Maryland, amassing 21 points in the first half alone and leading North Carolina to an early lead against the Terrapins. Bullock has struggled to assert this season, often vanishing from the team’s offense and deferring to others to the point of fault. On Saturday, Bullock demonstrated how his newfound aggresiveness could help the team: His shooting opened up space for James Michael McAdoo to operate and he drew extra defensive attention that made it easier for Dexter Strickland and Marcus Paige to handle the ball and make plays. This North Carolina team is still deeply flawed, but when Reggie Bullock takes the lead, the team is significantly better. Read the rest of this entry »
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How Did Wake Forest Beat Virginia? Simple — at the Free Throw Line

Posted by KCarpenter on January 10th, 2013

What do you make of the ACC when Virginia can beat North Carolina on Sunday and then lose to Wake Forest by three on the following Wednesday? The Demon Deacons won this game by jumping ahead early and staying ahead. This didn’t come down to a fluke run or some gimmick strategy. Looking at only the box score from this game, you might even wonder how WFU was able to win at all. The Demon Deacons shot a paltry 40.9% from the field and 26.7% from three. Virginia took 11 more field goal attempts than the Deacs (which works out to a staggering 25% more attempts), mostly thanks to destroying Wake on the glass by collecting a whopping 16 offensive rebounds. Remarkably, the Demon Deacons did not score a field goal for the final 10 minutes of the game — yet, miraculously, they walked away with the win. What happened?

Travis McKie and His Teammates Have a Very High FT Rate

Travis McKie and His Teammates Have a Very High FT Rate

Stealthily, Wake Forest has become one of the best teams in the country at getting to the foul line. In this game, Wake went 15-of-21 from the free throw line (a pedestrian 71.4%). Twenty-one free throws isn’t an outrageously high number until you remember that Jeff Bzdelik’s team only attempted 44 field goals (again, thanks to Virginia’s rebounding as well as its glacial pace). Over the course of the season, Wake Forest has attempted about 50% as many free throws as they have field goals, a mark that, before  last night’s game, was the third best in the country. While the team hasn’t been great at making those free throws, you don’t have to make as many if you get to the line so often. While stars Travis McKie and C.J. Harris have shown a knack for getting to the line in the past, Wake Forest’s transition to living at the line as a team is a change from past seasons under Bzdelik and a lot of credit is due to the team’s newcomers. Of the six freshmen who play rotation minutes, five have free throw rates (FTA/FGA) over 55%. This team has six players who draw at least 4.5 fouls per forty minutes, so with the exception of freshman point guard Codi Miller-McIntyre and spot-up shooter Chase Fischer, every rotation player on the team is very good at drawing fouls and getting to the foul line.

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ACC Week 1 Power Rankings

Posted by mpatton on November 16th, 2012

We’ve got a full week of game action as evidence to start evaluting these teams a bit better, so here goes…

Disclaimer: Power Rankings don’t imply which teams are best. They’re all about who has momentum right now. 

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke (2-0) stays on top of the rankings after taking care of business against Georgia State at home before knocking off the defending champion Kentucky Wildcats in the Georgia Dome. This team still has a long way to go, but they showed poise holding off a talented, albeit young, Kentucky team. While Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee owned the box score, Quinn Cook rose to the challenge and put in his bid for the starting spot. Minnesota is the next NCAA tournament-quality team on Thursday.
NC State Wolfpack 2. NC State (2-0) absolutely blitzkrieged its first two opponents, Miami (OH) and Penn State. Putting too much stock in beating the Redhawks by 38 is unwise. But that 17-point win over the Nittany Lions–despite Lorenzo Brown finishing an icy 1-12 from the field–is worth noting. Specifically, Tyler Warren was phenomenal going for 22 points (on 12 shots) and eight rebounds. The game tonight against Massachusetts should be a fun one.
North Carolina Tar Heels 3. North Carolina (2-0) looked lost on offense at times against Gardner-Webb, which is just a young team trying to learn to play together. James Michael McAdoo has been phenomenal through the first two games (he’s averaging over 20 points and 12 rebounds), and Reggie Bullock asserted himself against Florida Atlantic. This team should keep improving, but in time for the trip to Bloomington in a week and a half? That’s ambitious.
Maryland Terrapins 4. Maryland (1-1) looks a lot better than expected. Alex Len is going to be a top-10 pick. He absolutely ravaged Kentucky, which Maryland kept close to the bitter end before making mincemeat of Morehead State. Nick Faust still can’t shoot, but Seth Allen will be really fun to watch the next few years. The Terrapins need to work on consistent offense, but as Dez Wells gets more and more used to Mark Turgeon’s system, good things will happen.
Boston College 5. Boston College (1-1) played with a stacked Baylor team for 35 minutes after beating a bad Florida International team by double figures (still, that’s huge improvement over last year). This team will still struggle to win a ton of games, but Ryan Anderson‘s development into an All-ACC caliber player is accelerating the rebuilding process (he’s averaging 27 points and 12 boards a game). Dennis Clifford also got off to a solid start. The Eagles’ games against Dayton and Auburn should both be winnable this week.
Clemson Tigers 6. Clemson (1-0) beat down Presbyterian this week, which isn’t worth much on its own. But Devin Booker and Milton Jennings both played very well (combined to go 11-14 from the field for 26 points) and look like they’re ready to step into bigger roles for Brad Brownell this season. A near impossible test awaits this week in the form of Gonzaga.
Virginia Tech Hokies 7. Virginia Tech (3-0) scarfed three cupcakes this week, winning all three games by double figures. The “meat” of the nonconference schedule is still a ways off (and “meat” is used loosely to describe BCS-conference teams), but so far James Johnson‘s tenure is a success. He’ll need Robert Brown to continue producing offensively to relieve some of Erick Green‘s perimeter burden.
Florida State Seminoles 8. Florida State (1-1) is much better than its home loss to the South Alabama, but those are the kind of losses that will motivate this team to keep getting better. Michael Snaer is also in an early season slump, having only hit a third of the shots he’s taken. But the Seminoles’ 27-point beatdown of Buffalo (where they scored 95 points!) may right the ship. The next six games showcase three against possible NCAA tournament teams: BYU (today), Minnesota and Florida.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 9. Wake Forest (1-0) played decently against Radford. The game was never free from doubt, but the Demon Deacons didn’t let the Big South Highlanders get the best of them this year. CJ Harris got to the charity stripe like a pro, but Travis McKie‘s 11 points left a little to be desired–especially against a team of this caliber. Turnovers are going to kill Wake Forest in at least two conference games this year.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 10. Georgia Tech (2-0) has balance, but can’t shoot. The Yellow Jackets need someone to step up from the perimeter to keep other teams honest (right now they make a smooth 17.6% of their shots from downtown. Two of Mfon Udofia, Daniel Miller and Kam Holsey need to become go-to guys on offense. Miller doesn’t appear to want that role.
Miami Hurricanes 11. Miami (1-1) needs to be careful not to become a dumpster fire. The team lost its exhibition against St. Leo and now lost to Florida Gulf Coast to ice the cake. This team looks phenomenal on paper, but sometimes things just don’t translate the way we expect. The same Reggie Johnson who made Mason Plumlee look like a child at Cameron Indoor Stadium last year has only hit one third of his shots against middling competition. There’s still time for Larranaga to turn this car around, but time is running out.
Virginia Cavaliers 12. Virginia (1-2), if Miami has to be careful, Virginia fans may already smell that trash burning. So far the Cavaliers lost to George Mason and Delaware. These wins (or struggles) could be statistical aberrations (if your style keeps opponents within striking distance, you’re bound to lose some unfortunate games), and Jontel Evans is out.Things aren’t off to a great start in Charlottesville.
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