Being the eternal optimist that I am, I was determined to come up with a list of reasons I am looking forward to this year in Wake Forest basketball. What follows are my top reasons, starting from most excited and moving downward.
1) JT Terrell
I join the rest of the BSD writers in their infatuation with JT Terrell. I am excited to see him step into the lineup from day 1 and be one of our main offensive threats. I don't think it is unreasonable to expect him to average 12-14 points per game this season, which will go a long way in replacing the production the team lost from last season.
Plus, anyone that wears an elbow sleeve immediately moves up on my list:
Read the rest of the reasons after the jump...
2) Coach Bzdelik's offensive philosophies
I am excited to see what Bzdelik can bring to an offense that needed an injection of creativity the past few seasons. He is known to run the Princeton offense (don't be scared, call it the Georgetown offense) and if the scouting report on Carson Desrosiers is right and he is a good passer, Wake could be effective running these types of sets. Last year, Colorado was the 34th ranked offense in adjusted efficiency at 112.4 and while it might take some time for the team to get adjusted to the philosophy, Bzdelik is a solid offensive coach.
Quick mythbuster tangent: The Princeton offense does not mean a slow down offense. Colorado only averaged about 1 possession less than Wake Forest last year. Don't be worried that our athletes are going to be confined in a slow offense, it's a myth. The label is more about the movements and cuts within the offense than the pace of the offense. Like I said, call it the Georgetown offense and drop the slow down stigma.
3) Ari Stewart
Let's be honest, Ari is only going to shoot when he has the ball in his hands, but that is part of the reason I love him. 'The Microwave' averaged 3.7 3 point attempts in 17 minutes last season, which comes out to 8.8 3's in 40 minutes. Considering he made 37% of his attempts last season, I hope he keeps putting them up this year.
4) The rest of the freshmen
It's clear that the freshmen are going to play a big role in the team this year. They are a group of unknowns, so to speak, with as much potential as a Will Ferrell movie. Will this group be a hit like Anchorman or fall flat like Land of the Lost?
Carson Desrosiers is the one (besides Terrell) that I have my eye on. With the questions surrounding Tony Woods, it looks even more certain that Desrosiers will be playing minutes right away. The center is key in the Georgetown offense and it will be interesting to see how Bzdelik uses him, how he performs and if he can make the right decisions in the offense.
5) Preseason NIT
As I mentioned before, I am glad that Wake Forest is able to play in the Preseason NIT this season. It gives the team an attainable goal (to get to Madison Square Garden) early in the season and the ability to play in high leverage games early in the season. For a young team, this will be invaluable experience.
6) Pregame montage
7) Maturation of CJ Harris
Harris was a solid player last year but there is room for improvement. Of all the Wake players who used at least 16% of possessions, he had the highest offensive rating. I am excited to see how he can mature as a player as he leads the team through the schedule.
Harris has the highest percentage of minutes played last season of all returning players and will be looked upon to lead the offense. Here is to hoping he is ready to lead the team.
8) Gonzaga game
The game against Gonzaga is the non-Preseason NIT nonconference game I am looking forward to the most. Maybe it is because it gives me an excuse to watch Gonzaga but I think this game will be a nice test heading into ACC play. Our big men is my biggest question mark heading into the season and the matchup against Robert Sacre, Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk will provide a challenge for our big men and give them an opportunity to play against a quality frontcourt prior to ACC play.
So that is why I am looking forward to this season. I am excited about the prospect of the season and although the outlook may look bleak with our young team, the potential is there for this year and the future. Although these may be trying times for Wake Forest Basketball fans, they are exciting times.