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The Conversation with Blogger So Dear (Wake Forest)

Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu dunks over North Carolina Central players Stevy Worah-Ozimo, left, and Joshua Worthy (0)in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Friday, Nov. 14, 2008. Al-Farouq Aminu lead scoring for Wake Forest with 21 points. Wake Forest won 94-48. From AP Photo by Lynn Hey.

AP Photo Lynn Hey

Last week, we asked for your questions for our Wake Forest Experts, who did a phenomenal job with this. Here is there response:

Thanks to Tomahawk Nation for letting us do this. You guys do an incredible job of breaking down both basketball and football and as a statnut, I love the work you all put in. I've really enjoyed watching Florida State this year and I look forward to covering the game on Saturday. The Seminoles deserve a little success this year and I think the game on V-Day should be a good one. The answers to our questions are on our site at; feel free to read the answers and look around the site. We'd love to have you joining our discussion.

 Look for the questions and responses after the jump.


 From Bud:

If we are to beat Wake Forest, we have to get to the line.

Wake has had its worst free throw allowance defense in its 2 losses (49.2 to GTech, 74.0 to VTech).

Does Wake, formerly a pressure defense, get too impatient in their new half court mindset?

They also had 2 of their worst free throw offense games in their 2 losses (18.2% fo VTech and 26.2% to GTech)

Better make this question about the four losses-but the data is even more misleading there. Wake gets into trouble when they foul. They are a team that is in a better position to win when they force missed shots so they can get out and run with the ball. Pressure defense is still a part of the team's mindset, but in the half-court when they pack it in, they do have success as long as they deny the baseline and extend the shooters.

Against NC State, I found that the Deacs wouldn't be impatient on the first shot, but after the Pack would collect an offensive rebound (which happened 17 times), that is when Wake would get frustrated and foul. There's really no excuse to send a team to the line 31 times, especially when they weren't fouling at the end of the game.

By the same token, one of the team's strengths through early January was getting to the line themselves. This has become less and less of a strength as the year has gone on. The team gets too complacent in shooting jump shots rather than attacking the rim. Since they are a below-average shooting team, they miss shots and with big men out of position, end up one-and-done during the possession.

From one of our other contributors: FSUStateofMind

Does Wake always have these let down games?

Also, how do you expect Wake to attack FSU? 

It is looking more and more like these aren't "let-down" games, but games in which the team either a.) does not put forth the effort to start with, b.) does not handle the way teams are attacking them with success, or c.) the team thinks that lowly opponents will just lay down for them. If this loss does not shake them out of that mindset, then Wake Forest could be in for a long rest of the season.

I think Wake Forest is going to attack FSU by getting back to basics. This must mean that Jeff Teague will be more involved and attack the hoop (he had only three shot attempts against NC State). In addition to that, they need to constantly go after the Florida State defenders in the paint. If Wake Forest can get to the foul line and rebound, they should be able to have some success. If they decide that they are comfortable shooting long jumpers against the ‘Noles, there is a very good chance that Florida State will be ranked a lot higher on Monday.

From another regular and basketball guru: Renegade11

After beating Duke in a great game it looked as though Wake had a legitimate argument at being THE team to beat in the ACC. But after back to back losses, it looks as though Wake's elite status has taken a hit is struggling to find motivation against middle of the pack teams. Any thoughts on what the issue seems to be?? Does Wake just not play well away from home?


I touched on this a bit in an earlier question, but the motivation is a huge problem. They haven't been a good road team in general for a number of years, but they seemed to forget that earlier in the season with neutral wins at the Anaheim Classic and road wins against BYU, Clemson and BC. Yesterday, Jeff Teague admitted that the team tends to get up for the big games and has a problem getting motivated for the middling teams.

As absurd as that sounds for a basketball team to admit to in the ACC, everyone in the nation can see it. This team is still incredibly talented, but they need to shake this mentality that they can just show up and win as long as they play hard for a few minutes. If they had played hard against State for even 15 minutes they would have won, but they waited until they were down 20 to even show up. A lot of the fan base is flat out tired of it.


I think Wake was shooting a ridic 50% from the floor before last night, but Miami's zone def seemed to give them fits. Was this just a bad shooting night does Wake have problem's breaking down a zone if there shots aren't falling?


The Miami game was a perfect storm. The Deacs had their worst shooting night as a team, but Miami's zone was also very good. This caused Wake to shoot even worse. Not to mention the excessive number of three-point attempts. The whole world knows that Wake Forest is not a good team from beyond the arc, but for some reason they resorted to old habits and thought that they could just shoot themselves out of their slump in that game. Bad turned to ugly, but since then, the shooting percentage has been back to normal. Against both BC and State, the shooting percentage was not the problem.


All year FSU has had a significant advantage against most of its opponents in terms of height, particularly blocked shots. it has become a game changing ability for us but Wake actually has a higher effective height according to Ken Pomeroy than we do. Do you think Wake will be able to neutralize this with their own height? Does the offense run through the big men to utilize this height or do they often rely on more on their guard play as they did against Miami??


Height is not the problem for Wake. I think they should be able to neutralize the height advantage, but where Florida State can exploit the Deacs is on the boards. Wake Forest is giving up a ridiculous amount of offensive rebounds right now against smaller teams. I can only imagine what that number will be if this trend continues on Saturday.

If you zone Wake Forest, they tend to get impatient and refuse to run their sets-they stand around and the PG dribbles too much. Rather than dribbling out of the zone and attacking the middle and sides, they are content shooting over the top, which is what you saw against Miami. When the Deacs use post play and the offense runs through the post, they have a lot more success. This is where Chas McFarland is so important. When he stays out of foul trouble and wakes up, the team as a whole seems to play better.

Some other random questions from me, answer which ever ones you find most interesting:

With your relative inexperience, did you expect Wake to be so good this year? Most of your contribution is coming from Freshman and Sophomores. What does this mean looking ahead to next years recruiting class and your expectations for the 2009 season?


Most of us did not expect Wake to be this good. I think they played a bit over their heads earlier in the season and now these problems that were being masked by the big wins are taking a lot more prominence. This team rebounded well earlier in the year, but once the rebounding went out from under them and teams started zoning and using a box-and-one to neutralize Teague, the Deacs have panicked.  

As to next year, that's a loaded question. The recruiting class coming in is a good one. I really am looking forward to what C.J. Harris and Ari Stewart are going to bring to the table. Both are great commits and should provide an instant impact. The problem with prognosticating is that no one (probably not even the players themselves) know yet what the trio of Teague, Johnson or Aminu are going to do in regards to the Draft.

If one or two of the three stay, Wake could be a top-5 team next year, if all three go, then this team is going to be back to its "youth" movement again, a place where they really do not want to be. That, and they'll lose a big chunk of their scoring, while LD Williams and Ish Smith will be seniors, their contributions are more of reserve roles as they are not offensive threats.


With your team's size, it seems that getting the ball inside is an obvious advantage and the most effective way to score. Does that account for the limited shooting from 3 point land and the poor shooting percentage or is it poor shooting that has your team shying away from the three? Is the zone the way to beat Wake Forest? (This is similar to Renegade's question so feel to lump them together as you like)


Zone is the way to beat Wake Forest. Pure and simple. Wake has not shown yet this year that they understand how to properly exploit and beat a zone. There's two ways to beat a zone: by shooting and by attacking the weak parts of the zone. Wake has no shooters (Teague shoots a high percentage, but with the ball in his hands, he would have to create that three), and they seem unwilling to attack the middle. This is where James Johnson needs to make himself bigger. He needs to flash the middle and then drive inside. The team also needs to do a better job of passing. They are not a jump-shooting team. They are a drive and attack team.


Florida State typically plays tight man to man defense. Our size matches up well with yours. Does that change Wake's approach? GTech and Miami are completely different styles of basketball team, who did you think was a better match up for you?


Wake would much rather FSU play tight man. This gives them the best chance to win. Although you match up very well against us in terms of size and athleticism, this puts the Deacs more back in their comfort zone. They know that FSU is big, so this will force them to actually try and rebound the ball, rather than just thinking that they'll get it because they're bigger than smaller guys.

They also will try to attack against the ‘Noles, early and often. In a tight man, this is usually when the Deacs get to the line more, something they need to go back to doing.


What are your thoughts on the ACC this year? Is it the best conference in the Nation? 


I'm biased obviously, but I think the ACC is the best conference in the nation. The Big East is a joke outside of UConn, Pitt, ‘Nova and Marquette. Marquette and ‘Nova have obvious weaknesses and UConn and Pitt have weaknesses too. People seem to think that because UNC lost those two games earlier in the season that it made them a worse team. I disagree; that just shows the parity of the ACC. BC is not a bad basketball team-and they were picked to finish last in the ACC this year. UNC since those losses have been on a role and look like the best team in the nation despite UConn being ranked up there.

Duke has Elite Eight potential too and Wake and Clemson if they decide not to be so schizophrenic are strong teams too. Florida State is quickly making the case that they have Sweet Sixteen potential. This is a deep conference and doesn't have the luxury that the Big East does of playing complete softies like St. Johns, DePaul, South Florida and Rutgers. For instance, South Florida, despite their Marquette win, has eight wins on the year and two of them are against DePaul, who is 206 in the Pomeroy rankings.

The Big East is more and more a reputation league. The media thinks they're great, so they're hesitant to drop teams out of the rankings and out of their consciousness, despite the fact that teams like Notre Dame, Georgetown and Syracuse continue to struggle. The pundits are very slow to let go of their predictions. I am not saying that the top teams in the Big East don't rival the ACCs; they do, but top to bottom all teams included, the ACC is a better conference.


BYU is slowly creeping into the national spot light....any thoughts on them and how they matched up against you and or the ACC?


I love how BYU plays. They shoot and keep shooting and they have some real athletes on that team. That game was still probably the best game I've watched of the Deacs this year, UNC, Duke and Clemson included. Wake found themselves down eight points in the second half and they matched each BYU blow for blow. It really had the feel of a tournament game.

BYU had their struggles just like a lot of other teams, but they seem to have righted the ship and the computer rankings show just how dangerous they are. They will be a real nightmare in March.