Previewing The Wake Forest Demon Deacons

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 10: Head coach Jeff Bzdelik of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons squeezes a basketball while playing against the Boston College Eagles during the first round of the 2011 ACC men's basketball tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 10, 2011 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Wake Forest @ StatSheet
2012 Stats (pdf)
2012 Roster
2012 Schedule

Wake Forest Offense 10-11
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 47.6 236
Turnover Rate 22.0 270
Off Reb Rate 26.4 321
FTA/FGA 38.4 147
Wake Forest Offense 11-12
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 50.4 122
Turnover Rate 18.9 67
Off Reb Rate 26.3 320
FTA/FGA 44.6 33

What a difference a year makes--that actually looks like a real offense. I guess if there's a good thing about being really, really bad, it's that it's a lot easier to make big strides in the right direction when that's the only way you can go. The Deacs are playing better basketball at both ends, they've already won more games overall than they did all of last year and equaled their conference win total (one).

They still are far from good at either end, but at least now it appears they've gotten back to place where they can be competitive in most games. Jeff Bzdelik still hates offensive rebounds, and that's never going to change, and he doesn't want to talk about it. (Something about an accident in his driveway when he was seven years old.) Due to the sensitive nature of this particular issue, and although I am the founder/treasurer of the Offensive Rebound Anti-Defamation League, I am not at this time seeking a legal inquiry.

Starters:

Tony Chennault (6-2, 195) -- I see players like Chennault with a track record of poor shooting to go with a heavy workload and I just want to shake them and say, "Calm down get a hold of yourself! Everything's going to be all right!" In most cases it's a reflection of the player in question's personality on the floor--some dudes are going to try to lead the way and there's nothing that can be done about it--but sometimes it's simply a matter of...well, who else takes the shots? It's probably a little of both here, and the pickins get mighty slim once you get past Harris and McKie. I'd suggest that State play him for the drive and give him the jumper if he wants it, but that doesn't seem to be working out real well for us. So on second thought, I would just take everything away and be really awesome at defense.

C.J. Harris (6-3, 190) -- Remember last year how Gary Clark came out of nowhere to make an insane (55%) percentage of his three-point attempts? It's happening again, this time with a far more diverse talent. Harris never shot better than 34% from three in his first two seasons at Wake, but now he's over 50% and has made eight more threes than he did all of last season. He isn't a specialist, though, which is part of the problem--he's really good at getting himself to the free throw line, where he shoots better than 80% in 2+ seasons.

Travis McKie (6-7, 210) -- Had a fantastic freshman season despite very little support and he's only getting better, especially now that his outside shot is more reliable. McKie has added 41.7% three-point shooting to his 54% two-point shooting, and he's no liability at the free throw line either. If Bzdelik is able to make it work in Winston-Salem after all, McKie will be a big reason why he was able to right the ship.

Nikita Mescheriakov (6-8, 220) -- If McKie is an indicator of a potentially bright future, Mescheriakov is the reminder that they aren't too far removed from last season and--out of necessity--there are still a few guys who, it's just not their calling, you know? Mescheriakov's relationship with basketball is just like the one I had with AP Chemistry that one year in high school. Sure, he can go on trying to force it, or he can walk away when his time is up and tip his cap knowing that this is a thing he simply cannot do. I'm starting to think McKie should take his workload to insane Stoglin-esque heights.

Ty Walker (7-0, 230) -- It's now or never for Ty Walker and his long lost potential; I'll be interested to see how he fits in the rest of this year and if he can become something of a reliable scorer in the paint for this team. He's played well since being reinstated, but that ain't much to go on. Probably safe to assume he'll continue to block a lot of shots and rebound well at the offensive end, though.

Bench

Chase Fischer (6-3, 180), Carson Desrosiers (7-0, 240), Daniel Green (6-10, 210), Anthony Fields (6-0, 170). Bzdelik whiffed with his 2011 class--Fischer, Green, Fields--and so far they're playing like the two- and three-star prospects the recruiting services thought they were. Fischer could eventually develop into a useful three-point specialist, and that's where the majority of his shots come from, but he isn't there yet. He is, however, the official NC State Shit Pick To Click for this game.

The other two hardly play and rarely shoot when the do.

Desrosiers shouldn't be anything more than the occasional contributor, though he has improved in several important areas as a sophomore. He remains a liability in the paint (46.7% two-point shooting) but his block and defensive rebound rates are up, and his turnovers are down a bit.

Wake Forest Defense 10-11
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 51.2 272
Turnover Rate 17.4 312
Off Reb Rate 35.1 283
FTA/FGA 32.4 64
Wake Forest Defense 11-12
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 48.4 171
Turnover Rate 20.0 215
Off Reb Rate 33.5 209
FTA/FGA 33.8 119

I forgot just how bad the Deacs were in virtually every respect last season. The improvements are gradual, but again, at least it's helped them into a position where they can be competitive on a more consistent basis.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by four.

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