Happy ACC Tournament weekend, everyone! In lieu of a preview or gameday guide today, we bring you a quick conversation with our bloggers-in-arms, the Wake Forest extraordinaires at Blogger So Dear. The venerable BJohnston over at BSD was nice enough to sit down and talk to us about today's game, giving us an inside take on the Deacons' chances. Head over there to read our answers to his own questions, but first read on below to see what he has to say about Jeff Bzdelik's job security, the Deacons' post players, and Wake's stars getting disrespected.
Maryland beat Wake Forest by six last time the two met, right at the beginning of the ACC season. Maryland led nearly wire-to-wire and had a big halftime lead but struggled to put things away and gave the Deacs a chance late to get back into it. What's changed for Wake Forest since that game? Has anyone gotten better, worse, or seen drastic role changes?
Wake has seen their confidence slightly improve over the course of the season. The Deacs finally snagged a road win in the conference under Bzdelik and were in position to claim a couple more but fell just short. The last game of the year against Georgia Tech in Atlanta (actually in Phillips Arena) has left a sour taste in a lot of fan's mouths but all-in-all the team appeared to progress near the end of the year. Wake made a vicious comeback at home against Duke, shaving a 23 point second half lead down to 6 with only a few minutes left in the game. Both C.J. Harris and Travis McKie have continued their consistent play as the season has continued and have stepped up when they needed to. Carson Desrosiers has been playing better lately while stroking the jumper and Nikita Mescheriakov has consistently been a solid glue guy. All-in-all the Deacons are who we thought they were though.
Related to that, how have the big men progressed? We discussed last time that despite having really promising guys like Carson Desrosiers and Ty Walker, Wake had a bit of a post deficiency, as neither has yet really lived up to their billing. We saw that a bit in round one, as Maryland dominated the boards (21 offensive boards to WF's 10, which made up for the Terrapins' god-awful shooting percentages), which might've been the biggest factor in their win. Are things going more smoothly in the battle for the boards lately?
Well Ty Walker got kicked off the team so I would say his progression has been relatively poor. [Ed.'s note: How did I not hear about that? I don't know, but Walker was indeed kicked off the Deacons.] We only have Carson inside who has been a little weak snagging boards and our only other big man inside is freshman Daniel Green who normally just wouldn't see much playing time with traditional ACC depth. So we're weak inside and we're not going to compete much on the glass. On the flip side, McKie will certainly snag some rebounds and maybe we can post him up and get him some good looks inside.
Two full regular seasons in for Jeff Bzedelik now. The fan attitude regarding him is: _______. (Also: any chance he gets fired and Maryland poaches Codi Miller-McIntyre? Pleeeeeeaaase?)
Mutinous. I would say 95% of the fanbase wants him fired immediately and never to set foot in Winston-Salem again. There isn't a chance he will be fired now or after this year though as AD Ron Wellman issued a "vote of confidence", and not even in the traditional sense of "WE TRUST YOU (not)" but in a legitimate "oh heavens yes he'll be here next year" way. Also...I don't even want to talk about this anymore. I'm sick.
Do you feel a little cheated that C.J. Harris (third team) and Travis McKie (honorable mention) were as low on the all-conference teams as they were? Carolina bias at work again, right? (Winston-Salem isn't in Carolina, is it?)
Winston-Salem actually IS in North Carolina which is unfortunate for Wake insofar as media coverage of any kind at the state level goes (or fortunate when we're having years like 2011 and this year). Harris should have been better than third team and McKie should have made third team. Harris is better statistically than Austin Rivers in every single category other than defensive efficiency and turnover rate. Don't get me started again on how ridiculous it is that Rivers made the first-team, he should be lucky to make the third-team. Harris is a solid leader who is efficient on the floor and makes great decisions on both sides of the ball. McKie is a garbage guy who munches up rebounds inside and gets the ball back into the basket. Both guys deserved better than they got, and I don't even think I'm being too biased in saying that.
The ACC's two worst defenses are meeting here, which means a lot of points should be going up. Maryland, though, has really struggled offensively lately, with Terrell Stoglin slumping (relatively speaking). As a result, getting buckets from Sean Mosley and Nick Faust is vital for the Terrapins to win games, and when they don't the end result is really ugly. Wake relies really heavily on McKie and Harris - have they run into a similar problem? Who else, if anyone, tends to be an x-factor for Wake offensively?
If McKie and Harris both score over 20 Wake will win the game. The problem is that we need someone (anyone) like Tony Chennault or Nikita Mescheriakov to chip in 10-15 and keep the team in the game when McKie and Harris either inevitably can't get the ball in the basket for a few minutes or are simply on the bench. I think Stoglin will heat back up and probably drop about 20 since we don't have anyone who can guard him. Maybe Chase Fischer will be the x-factor if we have one, he's a legitimate three point threat and when he gets hot can put up points in a hurry.
Prediction time. Who wins? Score appreciated, not required.
Maryland wins 71-62 but it's not as close as the score lets on. Maryland leads 41-27 at the half and Wake stays between the 10-15 point deficit point for most of the second half before we score a couple baskets at the end of the game. Wake may lead something like 12-10 but will then hit a scoring drought and fall down by double digits and spend most of the game there. Maryland then gives UNC a battle in the first half before running out of gas on Friday. If we lose, I hope you guys run UNC out the gym though. Hate the Holes. Thanks for the time as always and here's to the ACC tournament being my favorite week of the year!