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 Afternoon Five: 03.07.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 7th, 2012

Technical difficulties kept us from getting this up this morning. So here goes… an Afternoon Five.

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Deividas Dulkys got a pretty special family night surprise when his family from Lithuania surprised him the day before the game by showing up at his girlfriend’s apartment. Dulkys had quite the showing at the game including aunts from Chicago and his host family from Nevada, but no one told him that his parents and sisters were going to make the trip across the globe to see him play at Florida State for the first time. Stepping back a little, the Seminoles are also looking at their best chance to win the ACC Championship in program history.
  2. Wilmington Star News: Speaking of special senior nights, Ty Walker‘s was supposed to be one of redemption. After three years of falling short of expectations and an indefinite suspension that kept him out for the first semester, his senior night was supposed to represent the new leaf he turned over this year. On the basketball court he was more active than ever, blocking shots with reckless abandon and fitting in surprisingly well for his first few games back. “I know people aren’t always going to be satisfied […] but at least I gave them something,” Walker noted. His mom even surprised him by flying across the country for his senior night last week. This article from Brett Friedlander gets at Walker’s side of the story.
  3. Culpepper Star-Exponent: On the heels of the New York Times look at one of college basketball’s vaguest advantages, Whitelaw Reid finds a specific case. Now without seeing more data, I’m a little skeptical. The variable is what brand of basketball teams use. The home teams choose the ball. Virginia uses Nike basketballs; Sammy Zeglinski likes Wilson. The evidence (besides Zeglinski saying it has a “spongy feel”) is that two of the senior’s best games came against Maryland, a team that uses Wilson balls. As Reid points out, the NCAA Tournament also uses Wilson balls, so we should get at least one more data point to evaluate Zeglinski’s claim.
  4. Raleigh New & Observer: It’s a speculation time of year: March Madness, the NFL Draft and that sports purgatory before the NBA Playoffs and baseball season’s starts. It’s also about time to start talking about who is leaving college for the NBA. As Caulton Tudor points out, 13 of 15 All-ACC selections were underclassmen. I don’t really agree with Tudor’s rankings. Maybe I’m naive, but I think Terrell Stoglin will stick it out at least one more year in College Park. He’s far from a sure bet, and needs to show a wider range of skills to attract first round eyes. The same would apply for Glen Rice, Jr., but his indefinite suspension will definitely be a factor. I think the sure-fire departures are Harrison Barnes, John Henson and CJ Leslie. Who knows with Austin Rivers? If he gets a lottery promise, I expect him to leave (which seems likely considering the dearth of good guards this year). Still, this is something that will become very important in a few weeks.
  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Congratulations Brian Gregory, Mark Turgeon, Jim Larranaga and Mark Gottfried. You finished your rookie year in the ACC. For many coaches, the second year is the toughest, but Turgeon and Gregory were trying to build up programs left in disarray after Gary Williams and Paul Hewitt’s respective departures. Larranaga has plenty of talent, but he only should lose DeQuan Jones and Malcolm Grant from an already talented team; Gottfried’s team will return plenty of firepower and boasts the top recruiting class in the conference. Factor in an extra year of experience against the league titans, and we should expect more success from the conference as a whole next year.
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ACC Morning Five: 03.04.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 5th, 2012

  1. Winston-Salem Journal: Friday it was confirmed that senior Ty Walker was kicked off Wake Forest’s team for “an unspecified violation of athletics-department rules.” Looking at Walker’s career as a whole, the dismissal isn’t surprising in the least. But it did feel like he turned a page on the court after coming back from a suspension last semester. His mom even flew across the country for his senior night. That’s how I lost the forest through the trees. I’m not going to rip Walker for lack of effort; nor am I going to rip Jeff Bzdelik for the punishment. In the end, it seems like a sad but fitting end to the former five-star recruit’s career.
  2. Blogger So Dear: Speaking of Wake Forest, this is an honest take on the school’s basketball program, assessing blame where it’s due. I would be a little harsher on Bzdelik for the last couple of years, but I also think he deserves next year to show what he can do with no offcourt distractions and a couple of recruiting classes he brought in himself.
  3. Atlanta Journal Constitution: The ACC Tournament is back in Atlanta for the sixth time this year. But as Tim Tucker points out, it’s probably going to be more difficult for Atlanta to attract the conference tournament after Pittsburgh and Syracuse deepen the ACC’s footprint in the north. Personally, I’m very happy the conference decided on Philips Arena, which seats just under 20,000 people, instead of the Georgia Dome (where the tournament was supposed to be originally), which has a full capacity of over 70,000 (though that was significantly reduced the two times the ACC Tournament took place there). The bottom line is that this year is Atlanta’s chance to sell the conference on the Philips Arena experience in order to compete with Madison Square Garden or the Verizon Center down the road.
  4. Fox Sports Florida: The ACC desperately needs Miami and/or NC State to step up this weekend. The conference is looking squarely at four NCAA bids if the Hurricanes and Wolfpack meet early exits. If not for a season sweep of Miami, Mark Gottfried’s squad would be in some serious trouble (and Miami would probably be in a much stronger position for an at-large bid). But the fact is that both teams have very weak resumes and need a good win to push the ACC to five bids.
  5. Burlington Times-News: I’m officially tired of these articles bemoaning the lost days of a great ACC. The facts are simple: The ACC is down right now, and most of the dip is due to a coincidence that left eight of the 12 member schools looking for new coaches over the last couple of years. That’s it. Combine that with back-to-back titles from Tobacco Road and you have a recipe for the Duke – North Carolina rivalry overshadowing an under-performing league. It’s true that the hype for the rivalry always made other ACC fans cringe, but give the new coaches some time. As they build successful programs, ESPN will give more air time to other schools.

EXTRA: Here’s the ACC Tournament bracket. I think Miami and NC State have very good chances to win two games and Wake Forest has its best chance to win a game for the first time since 2007.

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Morning Five: 03.05.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 5th, 2012

  1. On Friday, Seth Davis published a series of scouting reports on teams from coaches within their own conference. While none of the analysis will be groundbreaking to those who follow the sport closely it is interesting to see how brutally honest some of these coaches are. For example, a Big East coach said of Connecticut, “The Huskies don’t run offense. I mean they literally don’t run a fricking offense.” We are assuming the coaches know many of these things about their own team, but we would be interested to know if any of the players and/or coaches read these comments and try to make a change based on them. We doubt it, but we imagine that at least a few of them will read these comments and be affected by them at least subconsciously.
  2. If you are the coach du jour this March, you might be wise to consider the tale of Chris Lowery, who in 2007 was one of the hottest coaches in the country and then was fired by Southern Illinois on Friday. Lowery, who has two years remaining on a contract that is scheduled to pay him more than $5 million with a buyout of approximately $1.5 million, took the school to the Sweet 16 in 2007, but finished just 145-116 in eight seasons there. We are not sure where Lowery goes from here, but the hot rumor right now is that Southern Illinois plans to go after its former coach Bruce Weber if (more likely when) he is fired from Illinois.
  3. After going through hundreds of resumes Air Force decided the best option for their next coach was their current coach and on Saturday they announced that they were removing the interim label from the title of Dave Pilipovich to make him their new head coach. Citing a desire to establish continuity for the team and his win over a San Diego State team that was ranked in the top 15 at the time (and leaving out his 1-5 record in his other games), the school opted to retain Pilipovich who will have his first head coaching job after working for 26 years as an assistant.
  4. It takes a special kind of dumb to get kicked off the team with one regular season game remaining in your college career, but apparently Ty Walker is. The 7-foot tall center was dismissed from the Wake Forest team with just one regular season game remaining in his college career for an undisclosed violation of departmental policy. Walker’s troubles in college have been well-documented and his decline from one of the top recruits in the country coming into college to a guy who gets kicked off the team just before his college career is over could be a case study in how not to become a professional basketball player.
  5. It seems like every year we link to a piece on Lenny Cooke, a high school legend who was famously destroyed at ABCD Camp in 2001 by some kid named LeBron. This year’s installment/update comes from The New York Times and takes a look at what has gone wrong in Cooke’s life. While you could probably write a similar story about many high school athletes, few carry the brand-name appeal to people of a certain generation (like the one of the two editors here) as Cooke. For those of you who are not familiar with Cooke’s story, it is essentially similar to the one that is told in Hoop Dreams except that Cooke was considered more of a sure-fire NBA prospect than William Gates ever was.
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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 Game On: 01.31.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on January 31st, 2012

It was a lazy Sunday in the ACC when North Carolina dominated a hapless Georgia Tech team and Miami handled Boston College. I’d like to say today’s slate looks more competitive, but that wouldn’t really be honest. Still, watching two teams that are on a roll and two teams that are trying to figure things out may be instructional. Let’s go with that: tonight’s slate will be instructional.

The Dynamic Duo vs. The Legion of Doom

  • #5 North Carolina at Wake Forest at 9:00 PM

It’s becoming more than abundantly clear that with the possible exception of Ty Walker, Wake Forest has no offense outside of Travis McKie and C.J. Harris. It’s a shame, because McKie and Harris are seriously good players, but the rest of the team’s inability to provide much of any support has doomed this year’s Wake Forest team. Yes, this year is definitely better than last year and I suspect Wake Forest has at least one big upset they will pull off before the end of the season, but barring a break-out from some other player on the team, Wake Forest is just not very good. Meanwhile, Reggie Bullock is working out all too well in a starting line-up that is just starting to get scary. Consider this: at the beginning of the season, Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson, and Kendall Marshall were all legitimate All-ACC players. Reggie Bullock, in terms of offensive efficiency as well as defensive efficiency, is beating all four. Meanwhile Stilman White seems to be adjusting well to his limited extra minutes, P.J. Hairston‘s shooting slump seems to be over and Desmond Hubert is picking up any slack in James Michael McAdoo’s game. I’m still thoroughly skeptical of the “Justin Watts as point guard” experiment, but I certainly prefer it to the minutes he was playing at power forward. In short, North Carolina looks really good right now and Wake Forest may have already hit its ceiling which didn’t seem very high in the first place.

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ACC Morning Five: 01.23.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 23rd, 2012

  1. Fansided (via Soaring to Glory): This is a good post for the beginning of conference play that checks in with four bloggers from around the ACC regarding a range of topics. It’s always interesting to get different perspectives from around the league. One thing I found especially interesting was that none of the bloggers took a negative tone. Boston College is having what looks like a historically bad season; the same (relatively speaking) goes for Maryland; and North Carolina was coming off a brutal loss to Florida State. But universally the authors were positive (again, relatively speaking). More than anything, I think that’s the hallmark of the ACC this year: Everyone has a chance to exceed expectations (even the Tar Heels, whose expectations are mainly focused on March).
  2. BC Interruption: I love the rapid-fire Q & A that is “The Big Finish” over at BC Interruption. I think there’s a good bit to be learned by someone just spouting off short sentences to successive questions (which, tangentially, is why I love Twitter Q & As). Even if there’s less thought behind the answers, something feels more natural or instinctual. As to the first question about the ceiling of Boston College under Steve Donahue, I think it’s impossible to know right now. Donahue needs to show the ability to recruit high-major players consistently before I’m willing to make that call. Right now each win is on house money because of low expectations, but in two or three years it should be easier to pinpoint a legitimate ceiling for the Eagles.
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: Wake Forest notched another win this weekend against Boston College. It never trailed and looked dominant from time to time. Probably the most impressive player was Ty Walker, who somehow only got credited with five blocks (seriously, I thought he had at least seven). Walker has been a non-factor most of his career, but looks like a totally new player this season. The most dominant and outstanding player on the floor was Travis McKie. McKie can play. Unfortunately, his terrific game underscored just how much more talented Wake Forest is than Boston College. And while the game never felt in doubt, several Wake Forest bloggers are not pleased with the direction of the program.
  4. Orlando Sentinel: Florida State reestablished itself as the third-best team in the conference (and very possibly the second) with its win at Duke this weekend. I’m back on the bandwagon (which, to be fair, I was driving in the preseason) after a short respite thanks to a 10-point half against Princeton and a 20-point beatdown to Clemson. I think Leonard Hamilton said it best, talking to a fan who thanked him for the opportunity to rush the court against North Carolina: “But we won’t have to rush the court anymore. It’s expected. Those days are over.” And if they continue to put up over 70 points a game, I guarantee the Seminoles will be nearly impossible to beat.
  5. Washington Post: Speaking of ACC chaos, Virginia Tech managed to halt its conference winless streak with a win at Virginia on Sunday. The bottom line is that Virginia couldn’t score enough to get it done. They shot horrendously, which kept the Hokies in it, and allowed Dorenzo Hudson to knock down a dagger three to close out the Cavaliers. The game said a lot, especially about Virginia Tech, which finally showed the toughness it will need going forward to win games in the conference. The game also raised some questions about Tony Bennett’s squad, which will have to bounce back this week to maintain their upper position in the conference.
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ACC Morning Five: 12.14.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 14th, 2011

  1. C-Ville: Storming The Floor‘s Eric Angevine hits a home run with his profile of Virginia center Assane Sene. Sene is from Senegal and has a very unique story. I don’t want to steal the story’s thunder, but let’s just say burritos, Taylor Swift and football all are discussed.
  2. Wilmington Star News: Ty Walker is ready to “walk the walk” after serving a ten-game suspension resulting from an offcourt incident earlier in the year. He’s certainly saying everything right. And I think Jeff Bzdelik achieved his goal, which was “to help the New Hanover (NC) High product, who is on pace for a degree in communications in May, become a better man.” I don’t think that Walker is destined to have a Zoubek-esque turnaround this season, but I think he’ll be very important for Wake Forest’s relative success this season. Even if he doesn’t score a lot of points, if Walker can crash the glass and play solid defense in the middle, he’ll be a hugely important asset for the Demon Deacons.
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: John Maddrey is a lawyer but — more importantly — he’s one of the statisticians behind the television broadcasts at ACC games. He’s had his position since 1982, meaning he’s covered 29 straight ACC Tournaments and 56 total Duke-North Carolina games. In a slower stretch of basketball, it’s always interesting to get a peek behind the curtain at how broadcasts work (I just wish Luke DeCock had asked him how the internet has changed doing game stats).
  4. Washington Times: Patrick Stevens posts a collage of little nuggets from Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon. In a quick summary, Terrell Stoglin missed practice Thursday and Friday after tweaking his ankle; Pe’Shon Howard is out of his boot and doing some drills; he also praised Berend Weijs. But the most interesting part of the presser, to me at least, was Turgeon’s frustration with his non-stop schedule. It’s easy to forget just how much work goes into being a top-tier coach. In addition to the events and fundraisers he has to attend, Turgeon made it clear he didn’t like the team’s schedule during his last chance to retool before going into ACC play. It won’t lengthen his Christmas break, but I think Turgeon can spend plenty of time working on his own team (based on the quality of opponents the Terrapins face between now and then).
  5. Miami Herald: Former Georgia Tech star Kenny Anderson was arrested Sunday for leaving the scene of an accident. But if you read a little closer, it sounds like he might have been charged with a more serious offense (I mean, he admitted to drinking, slurred his speech and crashed his Escalade into a tree… seriously, if you’re slurring your speech, you’re over the limit). Anderson is currently coaching at a private Jewish day school. He played for nine NBA teams during his 15-year career and made the All-Star game in 1994.
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ACC Morning Five: 12.12.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 12th, 2011

  1. Fayetteville Observer: It’s December, which means it’s time for the dreaded “guarantee” games. But the games serve a purpose. They make money for both teams; they give players more time to study for finals, which are currently going on at several ACC schools; and they teach young players how to win (or at least give them some valuable confidence). But don’t despair! Tickets to these games are much easier to buy and the conference season is just around the corner.
  2. Charleston Post and Courier: Clemson needs someone to be “the man” this season. Andre Young has been great, but he generally sticks to jump shots and facilitating the offense. Brad Brownell is looking for a guy who can create his own shot when things aren’t going the right way. Personally, I’m not sure there’s a player with that kind of attitude on the Tiger team this season. The closest player to a go-to guy–based on skill set–is Milton Jennings, but Brownell thinks Jennings lacks the “confidence” to take over right now.
  3. Winston-Salem Journal and Wilmington Star News: Wake Forest just got a little bit deeper. The Demon Deacons got Ty Walker back after a 10-game suspension for violating the team’s conduct policy this summer landed the seven-footer on the bench to start this season. Just be careful not to overestimate Walker’s impact. Mostly, he provides another tall body who can help pick up some of the minutes when Carson Derosiers is on the bench.
  4. BC Interruption: A quick look at the ACC and just how “down” the conference is this year. Basically, the conference only has four teams in the top 50 of Ken Pomeroy’s rankings (luckily all four are in the top 30) compared to six the last four years (and nine in 2006-07!). The other issue is that three teams are outside of the top-100 with Boston College bringing up the rear. That means that barring a major shake-up in conference play, the ACC looks like a four-bid league (thank goodness for the Pac-12).
  5. Republican-American: Maryland fans rejoice (or pine about how much better the team would be with him)! Jordan Williams has signed a two-year deal with the New Jersey Nets for a little under $500,000. The NBA lockout ended just in time for Williams, who was headed to Poland to play professionally.

EXTRA: I’m late on this, but you have to watch this video starring former North Carolina coach Matt Doherty.

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Checking In On.. The ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 22nd, 2011

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer for RTC.


Reader’s Take I

Top Storylines

  • Coach K Gets 903: Mike Krzyzewski made basketball history by passing his mentor Bob Knight on the all-time wins list. The record is a testament to Krzyzewski’s consistent excellence over the last three decades. It was an incredible accomplishment and dictated the better part of a week’s coverage.
  • Eligibility and Injuries Plague ACC: The ACC has five players out with eligibility issues, seven are out with significant injuries, and one is out after violating team rules. Alex Len (Maryland) may have his eligibility after he sits out ten games (he’ll be back in late December), but DeQuan Jones (Miami) is out indefinitely because of the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into allegations of the Nevin Shapiro scandal; Shane Larkin (Miami) is awaiting word on his eligibility after transferring from DePaul; Thomas de Thaey (NC State) is waiting for his amateur status to be reviewed; and Ian Miller (Florida State) will miss at least first semester due to eligibility issues. On the injury front, JT Thompson and Marquis Rankin (Virginia Tech) are out for the season while Pe’Shon Howard (Maryland), Antwan Space (Florida State), Julian Gamble and Reggie Johnson (Miami), and Leslie McDonald (North Carolina) are out indefinitely with various injuries. Wake Forest’s Ty Walker is suspended for violating the team’s honor code but is expected back against Seton Hall. Yikes.
  • Virginia Hype Came Too Soon?: Kellen Carpenter hit the nail on the head in his preview of the Cavaliers. He pointed out lack of offensive balance and inability to make twos as the two biggest questions facing Tony Bennett’s squad. The team has had success from inside the arc in its wins, bu looking at the boxscore from their loss to TCU reveals the Cavaliers shot less than 40% on two-point attempts. Mike Scott was still solid, but the rest of the team struggled a lot. The other problem is Virginia’s crawling tempo makes it very difficult to come back from deficits.
  • Mark Gottfied Can Recruit (and possibly coach, too): Mark Gottfried came into Raleigh with high expectations from the Wolfpack fanbase. So far, he has lived up to all of them. Gottfried has a top-five recruiting class sealed up thanks to signing TJ Warren, Rodney Purvis, and Tyler Lewis in the early period; he has another potential star possibly joining the ranks in Amile Jefferson. He also managed to get NC State its best non-conference win in quite a while with a huge comeback against Texas. One of the biggest problems with last year’s team was it could not come from behind. I generally chalked it up to effort or general pessimism that comes with frequent losses. Gottfried seems to have turned things around at least a little. Read the rest of this entry »
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