Previewing Wake Forest

2010 Scouting Report / 2010 Game Plan / 2011 Scouting Report / 2011 Game Plan
2011 Stats (pdf)
2011 Roster
2011 Schedule

Wake Forest Offense 09-10
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 47.0 255
Turnover Rate 21.2 210
Off Reb Rate 38.6 19
FTA/FGA 40.8 94
Wake Forest Offense 10-11
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 51.4 87
Turnover Rate 22.5 243
Off Reb Rate 27.1 303
FTA/FGA 44.3 57

 

 

 

 

 

I'm sure Jeff Bzdelik had at least some idea of what he was getting himself into when he took the Wake Forest job.  The Deacs lost three important contributors to graduation and Al-Farouq Aminu to the NBA draft.  Those four not only paced the offense but, perhaps more importantly, were the core behind Wake's stingy defense.  That defense was the biggest reason for the success they had a year ago.

That this is a rebuilding year for the Deacs is not a surprise under the circumstances; that it's gone as poorly as it has might be.  Wake Forest began the season with a bad home loss to Stetson, and they've since added Winthrop and Presbyterian to the list.  Only one of those games was close.  They were blown out by Virginia Commonwealth and Richmond (though I guess there isn't too much shame in the latter), and they were fortunate to beat a truly horribly bad UNC-Greensboro team.  By Pomeroy Rating, this is the worst ACC team since at least 2003. (That is they have the worst rating of any ACC team dating back to 2003.)  The offense is a bit worse, but the defense is a lot worse.  This is the result.

Bzdelik has gotten the Deacs to shoot better, which is a start.  More specifically, he has them shooting threes better.  They're making twos at the same 47% clip they did a year ago.  The offense is worse despite this because of those middle two factors shown above--turnovers and offensive boards.  Their guards are either young or Gary Clark, so ball security has been an issue.   

The low offensive rebounding percentage is less about what the Deacs can't do (it's still a big team) and more about what they've decided they won't do.  Jeff Bzdelik's strict no touching! policy dates back to his years at Colorado, where the Buffaloes pulled down a quarter of their misses only by accident.  Bzdelik's been spreading this nonsense far too long now, but worry not, I've already filed a complaint with the Offensive Rebound Anti-Defamation League's local chapter.  As always, the ORADL would like to remind you to catch a falling ball and put it in your basket.

Ignoring offensive boards is fine if you shoot well and take care of the basketball--plenty of schools make a good living that way--but Wake is only doing one of those things.  They're losing so many possessions to turnovers that they really need more second chance opportunities to help them get more out the effective possessions they get.

Starters

CJ Harris (6-3, 185) -- Harris wasn't asked to do too much as a freshman last season.  There were other guys to carry the scoring, he had the luxury of playing off the ball, and he had a solid year as a result.  His biggest asset may have been his ability to get the line, where he shot 83%.  His transition to primary distributor in 2011 has been rough, as his turnover rate has skyrocketed north of 30%.  Whereas his field goal attempts were split 50-50 between twos and threes in 2010, three-quarters of his attempts this season are twos.  That looks to me like a player who is trying to make more things happen with dribble penetration, which you might expect from a point guard.  He is a decent outside shooter, better than Ish Smith ever was, anyway, but he's still a secondary option for the Deacs.

JT Terrell (6-3, 175) -- Wake's cautionary tale in bulk heavage.  He's very good from outside (42%), but his struggles inside the arc point to someone who is forcing the issue.  With some rare exceptions, it's not a good idea for a freshman to be taking 30% of his team's shots.

Ari Stewart (6-7, 205) -- Stewart hasn't met a shot he doesn't like, either.  Good outside, bad inside last year; this year the reverse is true.  You just can't figure out the kids these days.

Travis McKie (6-7, 205) -- McKie is buried under the truckload of hype that a few of the league's more high-profile freshmen have generated, which is too bad because he's having an excellent debut season.  He's shooting 56.5% inside the arc, scores efficiently at the free throw line, and leads the team in rebounding at both ends of the floor.  The one bit of unpleasantness is his three-point shooting: 7-26.  He may want to cut that out of the repertoire.

Ty Walker (7-0, 230) -- Walker was a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school who never managed to live up to those expectations at Wake Forest.  He played sparingly his first two seasons, but he's getting over 20 minutes per game this year, so give the kid credit for sticking around despite those early frustrations.  His value to the Deacs lies primarily at the defensive end, where he is establishing himself as one of the best shot blockers in the country.  A 7-6 wingspan sure helps.  At the offensive end, he's just an occasional shooter.

Bench

Gary Clark (6-4, 200), Carson Desrosiers (7-0, 235), Nikita Mescheriakov (6-8, 215).  Clark, who is a career 32% three-point shooter, is on an insane hot streak this season: he's 28-43 (65%) from beyond the arc.  On the strength of that, his effective field goal percentage ranks as the tenth best in the country.  He could easily start and will get lots of playing time regardless.  Desrosiers is struggling offensively and probably  won't be much of a factor in the scoring.  Ditto Mescheriakov.

Wake Forest Defense 09-10
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 43.8 8
Turnover Rate 19.2 247
Off Reb Rate 33.2 201
FTA/FGA 38.5 197
Wake Forest Defense 10-11
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 48.9 160
Turnover Rate 17.4 312
Off Reb Rate 31.7 139
FTA/FGA 27.7 25

 

 

 

 

 

Wake's FG% defense has taken a dive as opponents find more success inside and out.  It's not a very active-looking group, what with the low turnover and foul rates.  In that way they're a lot like Sid's early teams.  Thank goodness they've managed to improve their defensive rebounding, because they'd be facing an epic disaster otherwise.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes State by 14.

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