In order to preview this afternoon's epic #therivalry showdown between Boston College and Wake Forest, we sat down Blogger So Dear to learn more about this year's Demon Deacons. Our questions and their answers below.
BC Interruption: Save the best for last. It's #therivalry week. Throw out the record books when these two get together. No, I'm not talking about Duke-Carolina part II. I'm talking about Boston College-Wake Forest. A lot has gone down since these two last met up. Catch us up to speed on this year's Wake team. (Looking for a season review, mostly.)
Blogger So Dear: This is a young team that's been close to pulling off huge upsets at home, and has knocked off a trio of bubble teams (Miami, N.C. State & Pitt) at home. Wake has also been dangerously close to beating any of Syracuse, Clemson, Florida State and Virginia on the road. Still we enter our 18th conference game with just 5 ACC wins and 13 wins overall. We are an improving three-point shooting team, but we struggle defensively due to a lack of shot blockers on the interior. We enter this regular season finale looking for our first ACC road win. Wake fans are looking for a strong finish to the regular season and probably expect wins against BC and on Tuesday of the ACC Tournament.
BCI: Steve Donahue came in and took a senior-laden team recruiting by Al Skinner to the NIT, narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament. As an outsider looking in, it feels somewhat similar to this year's Wake Forest team, with Danny Manning getting a lot of mileage from two upperclassmen (Codi Miller-McIntyre and Devin Thomas). Is that a fair assessment? Outside of the guys brought in by Bzdelik, what have you seen this year from Manning that makes you hopeful the program can turn the corner?
BSD: Manning is getting a lot of mileage from CMM and Devin Thomas, but our role players are primarly players Manning brought in late. Manning added freshman shooter Mitchell Wilbekin, who was originally committed to Tulsa, in addition to Dinos Mitoglou, Cornelius Hudson, and graduate transfer Darius Leonard. Manning inherited a team which lost two senior starters and two rising junior transfers, added three freshmen and a graduate transfer and made us better. It's frightening to think of where this team would be without Manning. The freshman class that Manning salvaged makes Wake fans optimistic about the future.
BCI: It was looking like Wake was playing some decent ball of late. Then the Demon Deacons scored all of 15 (?!) points in the first half against Duke. Whaaa happened there?
BSD: We looked scared and tentative. Instead of trying to pass the ball into the paint, we made some haphazard lateral passes and had far too many turnovers. We fell down 12-0 and it was all downhill from there. It was one of the worst games I've ever seen us play, but that's a burn the tape type game where you just have to move on. The line was 18 or 19 points. Obviously 43 is a far worse defeated, but it's not like 20 is anything to take pride in. Wake needs to forget it, and move on to this critical game.
BCI: While there have been some close calls, including OT losses to Syracuse and FSU, and a 1-point loss at Virginia, Wake Forest goes into the regular season finale as the only ACC team yet to notch a road victory on the season. Anything to Wake's road woes this year, or simply a product of a difficult road schedule?
BSD: Well I should point out that Jeff Bzdelik was 2-32 in ACC road games during his four year tenure at Wake, so I think there is some carryover in mindset from the upperclassmen. The close losses you mentioned, in addition to a difficult Clemson loss, have been difficult to swallow, but have been exponential increases over previous years. That said, we need to start winning some of those games, because it's impossible to finish above .500 in conference if you cannot win road conference games.
BCI: Last one. Prediction time. Who ya got? What's the final score?
BSD: Against my better judgment I'll take Wake Forest to win 67-65.