Florida State travels to Winston-Salem tonight in what the old media keeps describing as a classic let-down situation. And they'll keep saying that until FSU loses, and then they'll pat themselves on the backs for their prescient insight. Let down or not, road wins are tough to come by. Even at Wake Forest. To get a look into the state of the Wake Forest program we turned to the excellent writers over at Blogger So Dear. Head on over and check them out. And if you're a twitterer, make sure you follow Martin Rickman before tonight's game.
Put me in the mind of a Wake fan. This is Jeff Bzdelik's 2nd year. Is there a sense that he's the guy who can return Wake Forest to the upper echelon of the ACC?
Depends on which kind of a Wake fan you are, I guess. At this point there are really two types of Demon Deacons – those who never thought Jeff Bzdelik should have been coach to begin with, and those who are in the he's here, so let's wait and see camp.
There’s been no evidence in Bzdelik’s past resumé to indicate that he’ll bring Wake Forest to the upper echelon of the ACC. He has no NCAA Tournament wins, he consistently loses in the first round of his conference tournament, he has a career 130-137 record as a college coach, he has never spent longer than three years as head coach of the same team.
But, he could bring "stability" to a team that needed it. The longer he is here, the longer I believe he’s got the mold of a fixer – kind of like one of those CEOs who flips a company to get it profitable again before it is sold. I don’t love it, or the idea that Wake is being treated like a floundering, rebuilding NFL team, but it’s a reality right now.
What were reasonable goals for the season? Are they being met?
Play harder. Play as a team. Win more games. They’re being met, for the most part, but not exactly exceeded.
Embarrassing losses to Arizona State, Wofford and the Colonel Kurtz-like horror that was the N.C. State game have shown the team doesn’t give consistent effort from game to game. A solid performance against Dayton, a road win against Nebraska and the victory over the Hokies were nice.
Let’s give it an incomplete. If Wake is able to win two-three more ACC games in a down year for the league, they’ll have been met for the most part, I guess. I wanted 15 wins; I’m probably going to get 12-14.
Wake Forest already has more ACC wins than last season. But they've been inconsistent. What's the difference between the team that beat Virginia Tech and Boston College and the team that lost by 36 at home to NC State?
Well, Boston College is horrible. So that’s that. They’re rated worse in KenPom right now than Wake was to end the year last year. They are currently the second-worst team the Demon Deacons have played all year according to those rankings (Georgia Southern is the worst, by a whopping one spot, 265-264). Consider that. It’s actually a little bit stunning. If Wake had lost to BC on Saturday, the fanbase would have been in full-blown meltdown mode. And Virginia Tech team lost to that BC team.
The differences stem from getting a consistent effort from Harris and McKie (if either of the two have a bad game, Wake usually loses), teams making their outside shots (VT and BC didn’t) and Wake getting anything else out of its supporting cast (when Tony Chennault and Nikita Mescheriakov take a bunch of shots, it isn’t a good sign).
CJ Harris has gone from promising freshman to disappointing sophomore to electric junior. What happened? And is he or Travis McKie more likely to put the team on their back for one game? Who outside of those two should Noles key in on for this game?
Harris wasn’t as disappointing as he seemed last year. He was 23rd in the country in FTRate, had a 54.5 percent true shooting percentage, and still managed to average double-digit scoring and 3.5 assists for a team that only averaged 11 assists a game. I think he just seemed worse because the team was so bad as a whole. The shots are falling for him this year, especially from outside, and he’s improved his strength on his drives. Honestly he is one of the most underrated players in college basketball.
C.J. takes big shots at the end of games (see: VT especially), and even in games he is struggling, still manages to make a difference this year.
While McKie is the most consistent, and will give the Deacs 15 points and six or seven rebounds game-in and game-out, Harris is the guy that FSU needs to hone in on. The Seminoles have plenty of size to bother McKie just by playing their game.
Finally, a prediction. What's the final score and how is it gonna happen?
FSU’s just too big, too strong and too good defensively. The Seminoles just need to be patient, take the open shots that Wake will give them from the outside (the Deacs are horrific at rotating on the perimeter), and clean up the glass. If Florida State’s offense doesn’t sputter, the ‘Noles should control this game.
I’ll be surprised if Wake breaks 60 points against FSU, so I’m going to go with FSU 72, Wake 56.