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Previewing Wake Forest: Well, every rebuild does need bricks

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Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest @ StatSheet
Wake roster
Wake schedule
Wake 2014 stats / 2015 stats

Wake Offense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2013-14 49.9 (157) 18.4 (181) 30.3 (216) 50.2 (20)
2014-15 46.7 (213) 22.0 (264) 36.8 (59) 49.3 (31)

Hey, Danny Manning, welcome to the party and by the way the alumni are sorry about the mess. Workspace maintenance was not Jeff Bzdelik's strength, plus any time he did try to set something straight, he'd end up spilling a cup of coffee. You know those guys.

There are still some familiar faces from the Bzdelik era in Winston-Salem: veterans like Codi Miller-McIntyre and Devin Thomas, but the measure of this season for Manning will be what he's able to get out of the program's new guys. Miller-McIntyre and Thomas aren't playing well offensively, and anyhow they won't be leading the rebuild since they're upperclassmen.

They will, it seems, be leading the offense this season, which is Manning's first problem. Miller-McIntyre is shouldering an enormous load, the sort of workload that only the best players handle while remaining efficient. Miller-McIntyre has already attempted 91 shots; he is hitting 42.9% inside the arc and is 0-of-7 from three. Ninety-one shots, easily a team-high, from a dude with a sub-40 effective field goal percentage.

CMM probably feels to some extent that he has to take the alpha role for the Deacs, and while I can understand that, this offense is going to be hurtin' as long as he's throwing away so many possessions. There has got to be a way to siphon off some of the shots he's taking and get them into similarly capable hands, or at least younger, still-got-a-whole-career-ahead-of-them hands.

What this is right now--this whole thing they are doing right here--is not working at all. Wake ranks 204th in adjusted offensive efficiency, which is a drop of 54 spots from last season even though the Deacs are rebounding the ball a lot better.

Some of it's on Thomas, who has in the past looked so incredibly good for stretches but never seemed to put it all together for extended periods. He can be a difference maker, except he's hitting only 49% of his twos and turning the ball over at a career-high rate.

So the veterans aren't setting much of a tone thus far. History says they probably can't get much better. This makes the Deacs' immediate outlook on the offensive side appear rough, but they have gotten some encouraging play from a few freshmen. As they solidify their roles and gain experience, maybe Wake's outlook changes. Most likely, this year remains the struggle everybody anticipated.

Starters

Codi Miller-McIntyre (6-3, 205) -- As I mentioned, the Milly Mac is taking a ton of shots and not making many of them. He was a high-usage guy last season as well, attempting about 13 shots for every 40 minutes played. This year that number is 17FGA/40min ... and his scoring average is down a point and a half. Thing is he's just never been any good at shooting the ball, really--not even from the free throw line. He's a career 61.2% shooter at the stripe and has hit less than a quarter of his three-point attempts in 2+ seasons. You let that dude take 30% of your shots and, well, this year happens.

Mitchell Wilbekin (6-2, 165) -- (If the name sounds familiar, it's because his brother is ex-Florida standout Scottie Wilbekin.) Wilbekin is establishing himself as Wake's best three-point threat, as he's already 15-of-34 (44%) from beyond the arc. He leads the team in three-point accuracy and three-point attempts. He is providing little other than three-point shooting, but that's fine--the Deacs need all the jump shootin' they can get.

Cornelius Hudson (6-6, 180) -- Hudson has been a useful piece at the defensive end with his above-average steal and defensive rebounding rates. His scoring is more of a question mark ... namely, just how good is this kid at shooting threes? He is off to a 9-of-28 start which is not totally abysmal, but that's a lot of attempts for a player getting about 20 minutes per game. I don't think shooting 32% warrants taking seven threes per 40 minutes, but he is a freshman so it's anybody's guess where his true shooting skill lies. Maybe it's much higher than 32%. He's obviously playing like it is.

Darius Leonard (6-9, 225) -- Darius Leonard scored 17 points (on 18 shots) and grabbed nine rebounds against NC State last season ... when he played for Campbell. He had a nice overall year for the Camels, hitting about 55% of his twos and 38% of his threes. The grad transfer's numbers at Wake are nearly identical. The Deacs have a good option here that they really haven't leaned on much.

Devin Thomas (6-9, 255) -- Could be my impression is skewed from the time or two that Thomas has been lights out against NC State, but his career feels like a disappointment to me. He is not shooting the ball any better now than when he was a freshman. His tendency to turn the ball over has always been a problem. He's never shot well enough at the FT line to fully leverage his ability to get there in the first place. Say this though--guy can rebound the hell out of the ball at the defensive end. This year he's doing it at an elite (top five) level.

Bench

Konstantinos (or "Dinos") Mitoglou (6-10, 225), Madison Jones (6-1, 165), Aaron Rountree (6-8, 200), Miles Overton (6-4, 215), Greg McClinton (6-7, 200). Mitoglou is hitting a little over half his twos and he's been the Deacs' best offensive rebounder. He is also off to a 4-of-19 start from beyond the arc. That aside, there is a lot to like.

Players like Jones are fascinating to me because they play against type--what I mean is, here's a 6-1 dude who has attempted a total of 13 three-pointers in 2+ seasons. You're short, you're supposed to take threes! Although, it's working out okay considering his career 2FG% is a shade over 50. Jones has always done a nice job of drawing fouls but hasn't shot better than 50% from the FT line in a season. See, breaking script again. BE A NORMAL SHORT BASKETBALL PERSON YOU'RE CONFUSING THE UNIVERSE

Wake Defense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2013-14 47.6 (89) 16.8 (271) 33.7 (281) 39.0 (150)
2014-15 48.5 (172) 20.8 (135) 21.2 (1) 36.2 (156)

Manning's Tulsa teams (all two of them) were good at snagging defensive rebounds, though not quite to this degree. Wake Forest is indeed the best defensive rebounding team in the nation, as opponents have been limited to one offensive board for every five missed shots. Don't know how that is going to hold up, but if you're that good for a quarter of the season it's probably no fluke.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by nine.