Well guys, if I wasn't sick already, I probably would be after watching that "would be funny if it wasn't so sad" narrowly escaped choke job by the Deacs last night. We won. I need to keep reminding myself of that, first off. Also, it really should've been a 4 point win, as Yale drained a 3 with two tenths of a second left on the game clock, in which case we would've beaten the spread. I guess that's worth noting too.
Wake absolutely dominated the opening of both halves, on a 9-0 run and 12-2 run in each respective half, and those were obviously the difference. The Deacs were up by as many as 19 and then proceeded to slowly but steadily burn away the lead, leaving them in a nailbiter down the stretch, There are a number of heroes in this game, but there are a number of scapegoats as well, and some players were a bit of both. It's a win, and you can never complain TOO much after those, but I'm about as unhappy as I could be with this one.
Read more after the jump...
-Offensively, Wake was actually quite good in terms of shooting the ball. 47.2%, an even 50% from 3, and 70.8% from the line on 24 attempts. The Deacs also had 12 assists, so the ball movement was good. We also had 4 guys in double figures, and another (Carson) had 8, so that was good too. It was a nice, diverse offensive attack. I like that a lot, and it's a marked difference from last year. The shooting REALLY wasn't our problem this game. But I'll get to that.
-Defensively, we weren't bad either. 40,9% from the field, 22.7% from 3 for Yale (5-12, and 3 of the makes were on the last 5 attempts. Holding an Ivy League team to 2-7 from 3 for much of the game isn't anything to scoff at.) Wake also forced 15 turnovers. Not too shabby there either.
-So here we get to the problem. Wake had 14 turnovers in the game. That's hardly an exorbitant number. The problem is that basically every turnover (or so it seemed anyway) led to easy Yale points. Also many of the turnovers occurred at key junctures in the game, even when the Deacs' only mission was really to just take care of the ball. Our defensive percentages probably would've been incredible if it weren't for easy buckets off of turnovers.
-Rebounding was the other issue. Yale doubled us up on offensive rebounds, 10-5. Between the TO's and offensive rebounds, Yale took 13 more shots than the Deacs. Not good boys, not good. Still, considering Yale big man Greg Mangano apparently flirted with the NBA Draft last year, this Yale team isn't as woefully lacking in talent as one might think, and I honestly believe Mangano, who had 20 and 12, plus 3 blocks, is probably close to a "lower level" ACC big man at his position.
Now for some individual notes:
-Travis McKie, once again, had a man's game. 14 points (5-7, 2-2, 2-3), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, a block, and only one turnover. The part that baffles me is 10 of Travis's 14 came in the first half, and in that time he was perfect from the field. Why on earth didn't we get the ball to him more in the second half?
-C.J. Harris was once again the model of efficiency. 23 points (8-12, 3-4, 4-8), 3 rebounds, an assist, 3 steals, and 2 turnovers. My only real qualm with C.J. was the free throws. 4-8? Come on C.J., you can do better than that. Of course, he had 2 key makes late which was good, but man, that;s not on his usual form.
-Nikita Mescheriakov had a deceptive 13 points (3-10, 0-1, 7-7), 2 rebounds, an assist, a steal, 2 blocks and 2 turnovers. As much as Nikita had a woeful shooting night, I really can't fault a guy who goes 7-7 from the line too much, especially in a 1 point victory. Not bad, Nikita, but far from great.
-Carson Desrosiers had 8 points (4-11, 0-2, 0-0) but 10 rebounds, including 4 offensive, 3 blocks, and only one turnover. The problem with Carson's shooting efficiency is that he took a lot of mid and long range shots. I know that's in Carson's skillset, but I'd prefer to see him get 8 going 3-5, 2-2 from the line for example. Still, Carson is undeniably getting stronger, especially on the glass, so I need to tip my hat to the big man in that regard.
-Tony Chennault had 10 points (4-10 including a key bucket at the buzzer of the first half, 0-0, 2-4), 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 2 turnovers. TC REALLY needs to work on his finishing around the basket, but any time your PG can chip in 10 points and a 3:1 A:T ratio, you can't be too mad.
-Now I'm going to talk about our bench as a whole, because none of them had particularly good or active performances. I kid you not, between them, our bench, in a combined 36 minutes, had 4 points (1 successful basket on 1 attempt by Ty Walker and 2 free throws by Daniel Green), 3 total shot attempts, 1 assist, 1 rebound, 1 steal, and a shocking 6 turnovers. The primary offender with these turnovers was Chase Fischer, but he was also the one who got the assist, rebound, and steal. The main reason this collective performance rankles me so much is, not only do we know we need the bench to contribute more effectively going forward, we know they're CAPABLE of doing that, All of them.
Honestly, if it weren't for the stupid turnovers and if our bench had been more effective, it would've remained a blowout in favor of the Deacs. And the good news is we know those aren't necessarily going to be continuing issues. I'm not as mad as I was at first. Last year, we would've been the team down 19 and trying to rally.
We're 9-4 against a slate of opponents that on the whole has been much better than last year's. We've already eclipsed last year's win total and we're not even in ACC play yet. We're getting a variety of contributions from a variety of guys. We're playing harder and gutting out close wins. We're actually the only ACC team to top an Ivy this week (BC lost to an admittedly ranked Harvard big and FSU lost to Princeton tonight in triple OT). Yale is projected to be the second best team in the league behind Harvard, so Yale isn't terrible. I'm trying to continue to look at it like this:
You've gotta learn to win ugly before you can win pretty, and absolutely whatever the case, we are far and away playing better than last year, which is fairly remarkable considering we lost our second leading scorer and a big man with a lot of raw talent in the offseason to off the court issues.
Can we PLEASE blow out Wofford, boys? Let's ride a wave of momentum going into ACC play. It'll help take the sting out of that bowl loss and Givens leaving us. Win's a win. As always, please leave comments. Rollin' Ronin out. Go Deacs.