Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
I've been critical of Jeff Bzdelik in the past, but the numbers and our eyes indicate how much better our team has gotten in the past month and a half. The question we must ask ourselves is if that trend will continue as conference play continues.
On Tuesday, November 27th, Wake Forest lost to Nebraska at home by 16 points. Following the loss, I wrote a rather harsh column about Jeff Bzdelik and the state of Wake Forest basketball. Here at Blogger So Dear, we have no agenda, and simply call things as we see them. At that time I saw a team who, according to KenPom, had a 68% chance of winning that basketball game, but they instead lost by 16 points. Since then I've a seen that team go from 223rd in KenPom to as high as 136th. The Deacs have gone 6-3, including 2-1 in the conference. Two of those losses were by a combined 6 points, and the other was to #1 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. So, again, I will call it like I see it and say that I've seen much better play out of this basketball team since that game. If I'm going to be critical of Jeff Bzdelik and his team when they lose, then it's only fair to write positive columns when things are going well.
Through the first 6 games of the season the Deacs had an offensive rating of 100.5 (100.5 points per 100 possessions) and a defensive rating of 106.8 (106.8 points allowed per 100 possessions). Over the past 9 games, the Deacs have had an offensive rating of 99.8 and a defensive rating of 93.8. So while our offensive efficiency has decreased by an insignificant .7 points per possession, our defense is now allowing a whopping 13 fewer points per 100 possessions. When you consider that the Deacs play 69.3 possessions per game, that's more than 9 points per game. That is truly a remarkable turnaround. Each of our 9 games since the Nebraska loss have been one of our 10 best games in terms of defensive efficiency.
I'm not going to say our program is back to where it belongs, or that Jeff Bzdelik is definitely the long-term solution and deserves an extension, because I don't believe that. I will say, however, that it is only just that we acknowledge that Jeff Bzdelik and his staff have done a very good job in the past 6 weeks. My eyes as well as the numbers I presented earlier tell me this; only time will tell if this trend will continue for the duration of the season.
KenPom currently projects that we will finish the regular season with an overall record of 13-17 (6-12) in conference. Using those same projections, the only remaining game in which we will be favored is our home contest on March 10th against Virginia Tech. If the season plays out as projected, then it will certainly be appropriate to again be critical of Jeff Bzdelik, but until then let's be reasonable and give credit where credit is due.