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Knowing your Enemy: Wake Forest

We took some time to exchange email with Blogger So Dear, the excellent SBN site for Wake Forest, before the tip of the Skip Prosser Classic.

The guys at Blogger So Dear help us find out whether those frowns will turn upside down.
The guys at Blogger So Dear help us find out whether those frowns will turn upside down.
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Xavier has been on a rough run of late. A predictable loss to UC has been followed by two terrible games, one against Wofford and the other a second half collapse against Tennessee. With conference play now racing forward from the horizon, the Musketeers have a chance to right the ship with the Skip Prosser Classic against Wake Forest. Before even the preview runs, here's some information on the Deacons from the good folks over at Blogger So Dear. (To read the thoughts we shared with them, follow these oddly highlighted words).

1. Wake is 6-5 but really only has the Nebraska loss that jumps out as really bad, is this team close to being a contender for an NCAA spot again?

No. I do agree that the Nebraska loss is the only one that's really bad (Iona's surprisingly having a good year statistically; #81 in Kenpom is better than more than a few ACC teams, which is sad for entirely different reasons). Wake had the game against Seton Hall in the bag, and then dropped a 14 point lead in the second half, and Wake almost topped a very solid Richmond squad on the road. The last two years, Wake has had only three double digit victories all year, and this year they already have four and I'm reasonably certain the ACC is down enough this year that there might be at least a few more this year before all is said and done. We have a lot of young playmakers, and C.J. Harris is starting to play like a man possessed for his final season after starting the season in a rough way.

Having said that, there are still questions about coaching if you ask the majority of the fanbase, and even if you concede confidence in Coach Bzdelik, it's still a young team and there are still some rough losses on the year. I think the absolute ceiling for this team is an NIT berth, but I suppose nothing is impossible, and whatever one's feelings on the coaching situation, it's difficult to deny improvement from this young team

2. CJ Harris and Travis McKie both seem capable of scoring in bunches, where does the rest of the offense come from?

That question is almost as much of a mystery to Wake fans as it is to you. Devin Thomas has started to emerge as a real beast inside, and sophomore sharpshooter Chase Fischer is liable to go off from beyond the arc periodically. Freshman point guard Codi-Miller McIntyre has also had a couple of big scoring games, though he needs to find his aggressiveness. Chances are the third scoring option on any given night will be one of those three.

3. For Xavier to finally get a win they need to make Wake Forest _________.

Find a new hero. This actually fits nicely with the last answer, but Xavier's best chance to win involves trying to contain Harris and McKie. If they can do that, chances are pretty good that they win the game.

4. Xavier and Wake played a great game in 2010. Since then, Xavier has been within a whisker of the Elite Eight, what happened to the Deacons after that?

A perfect storm, frankly. Coach Dino Gaudio was fired under mildly surprising circumstances, and then the coaching search ended in a way that was underwhelming for a lot of Wake fans. Coach Bzdelik lost his first game as Wake's head coach, and the rough times continued with tons of losses, injuries, transfers, legal troubles, academic issues, family illnesses. I wish I was kidding, but honestly every bad thing that could happen to a program other than an NCAA scandal pretty much did. It honestly feels to many Wake fans, myself included, like the program still hasn't recovered from the death of Skip, but we certainly hope that we're taking steps in the right direction, or will if things don't continue to improve. Wake will surely rise again, but questions remain about how and when.

Thanks again to the guys at Blogger So Dear, especially their regular contributor Samurai Foochs.