If you haven't already heard, Wake Forest and coach Jeff Bzdelik officially put the Tony Woods issue away for good today when they granted him a release from his scholarship to pursue other opportunities. Now that he is officially off the team, the next step is figuring out how to replace what should have been a breakout year for Woods.
Click through for my take on replacing the void left by the Deacs only experienced big man...
While Tony Woods did not exactly light up the scoreboard in his time as a Demon Deacon, there was definitely reason to believe that he was going to have a huge impact on this season's team. With the departures of Al-Farouq Aminu, Chas McFarland and David Weaver, Woods definitely was going to get all the minutes he could handle. As he showed in the NCAA tournament against Texas, Woods could do the dirty work in the paint. In that game he had numerous tip dunks and clogged the lane to make it tough for Texas' big men. Even if he did not reach his potential as I expect he would have, at the very least he is a large, muscular body that would've made things a little tougher for opposing offenses.
The two main guys that are going to have to step up quickly to fill the void are junior Ty Walker and freshman Carson Desrosiers. The oft-discussed Walker will get a fresh start as practices open next week after not cracking the rotation under Dino Gaudio. While Walker is not the physical presence that Woods was, his reputation as an elite shot-blocker could be a big factor in the paint this season for Wake. If Ty can draw some attention in the lane and not let his mistakes get to him, it would be a huge positive for the Deacs. Additionally, he is a solid passer out of the post, which could lead to some easy baskets for C.J. Harris and Ari Stewart, among others.
Immediately pushing Walker will be freshman Carson Desrosiers. Desrosiers is another near seven footer that is extremely skilled in the high post. He can knock down the midrange jumper with consistency and is also an excellent passer. The use of more off-the-ball movement in Bzdelik's offense should enable Desrosiers to display his full skillset on offense. Defensively, Desrosiers' slim upper body may make it tough for him to defend the wider bodies in the ACC such as Maryland's Jordan Williams or VT's Jeff Allen. While he is a shot-blocker, Carson will have to be careful about getting into foul trouble early and often.
Overall, Walker is more advanced defensively and Desrosiers has the edge offensively. It will be interesting to see how the rotation develops early in the season, but my guess is that the better rebounder will get the most minutes. I'm sure this will lead to some very competitive early season practices. It is also a possibility to put Walker at center and let Desrosiers man the power forward position. With a zone defense, I'm sure we will see this as the season progresses as well.
A couple other players that Wake will need a little more from than previously expected are Melvin Tabb and Nikita Mescheriakov. Tabb, a freshman from Raleigh, is a muscular 6'8" and could definitely help the Deacs on the boards he plays with consistent energy level. Nikita will not be eligible until after the fall semester, but the scrappy transfer from Georgetown can do a little bit of everything. Finally, if Bzdelik decides to go really small to get more of the playmakers at the guard position into the game, freshman Travis McKie could see some time at the 4. While he would be very undersized for the position, he would bring great versatility to the floor. McKie is also known to be a very aggressive rebounder.
Be on the lookout for my second annual way too long 2010-2011 ACC Basketball Preview in the next couple weeks as the season quickly approaches!