Continuing in our (neverending?) Q&A series, we had the chance to exchange some questions with Brad over at UNC-G Basketball fan. Thanks to Brad, check out the site and find his answers after the jump.
1.) You guys play 6 ACC teams this year. Do you think this kind of scheduling helps, or does it ultimately hinder the team? I grew up following Valparaiso, so I understand running the gauntlet. In my experience I feel like it is great for an experienced team, especially with the chance of a big upset. But I also saw times where those losses really hurt the guys. What is your overall thought on this?
As of right now, I love the schedule. UNCG has really seemed to bring a lot more energy to the floor when playing the ACC teams. Plus, it doesn't hurt that we've not played bad basketball against these teams (even though the score might not be indicative of that fact).I wish the guys could bring similar energy to the court when they played non-ACC schools such as Richmond and Akron.
The major benefit so far seems to be in the area of recruiting. The coaching staff seems to be getting more talented players to look at (and commit to) the Spartans due to playing 6-7 ACC teams a year. Getting 5 or 6 games on TV against nationally known opponents doesn't hurt either.
2.) What do you think of the Coliseum in general?
I really like the move. I was a little hesitant about it at first. However, the coliseum officials have went out of their way (with promotions and giveaways) to make this thing work. Plus, the seating configuration of 7,617 has made the place seem "cozier" for a much smaller UNCG fan base. I hope a lot of Wake fans make the trip over. I think they'll be surprised.
3.) After a 19 win season 2 years ago, why have you started 2-8 this year and what caused the 5 win season last year? Is there anything good on the horizon? What needs to change?
The talent gap between the 19 win team and last year's squad was huge. The 19 win season had a lot to do with the best player no one had ever heard of, Kyle Hines
. Hines was an absolute beast and every SoCon team not named Davidson had no idea how to deal with him. When he graduated, UNCG had no one that could replace him and really struggled looking for leadership.
Even though the current team is 2-8, they are light years ahead of where they were last season. There are some talented freshmen and the older players seem to know their roles better now. The record is a product of the super tough schedule. The Spartans have only played 2 really "stinker" games out of the 10 (@Akron & Princeton). Plus, they always seem to fight back, even in games where they are facing huge deficits.
If recruiting keeps going the way it has been since UNCG announced the move to the coliseum, I think it's just a matter of time before the Spartans are back to being a SoCon contender and maybe making a little national noise.
4.) Who is the team to beat in the SoCon this year?
If you asked me at the first of the year, I would have said Charleston.. However, Western Carolina looks like the conference stud this year. They're team is experienced and run Coach Larry Hunter's (see Herb Sendek) "Princeton" offense well. They trashed Louisville at Freedom Hall too.
5.) Star Watch: Who do we keep an eye on in this game? Who is the player under the radar to watch out for?
ECU transfer Brandon Evans has really came on for the Spartans in the last 5 games. He's not a really good outside shooter, but he is really good at attacking the basket and making things happen. He's also a very good rebounding guard.
My pick for the player under the radar to watch is Kendall Toney
. He is one of the streakiest shooters you will ever see. When he's on, watch out.. His problem this year has been taking bad shots. I always joke that he thinks anything inside of half court is in his range.
6.) Hit me with your predictions--what happens in the game? What's your final?
G has played well against ACC teams in spots so far. The game should be very competitive for 30 minutes (15 in the first half, 15 in the second). However, those two spurts should be enough for Wake to win comfortably. I'll go with 85-62 Wake.