The State of Wake Basketball?

Hello, my name is GrumpyDeac, and I'm a Wake basketball fan. I wanted to create a safe zone where I and others like me can talk about our complicated feelings on Demon Deacon hoops. Warning: this ended up much longer than I intended.

Where we stand:

It's true that the schedule has been largely filled with delicious cupcakes. Still, at least we're 7-0 against said cupcakes (and we've pulled away at the end of almost all of those games, except the 90-83 win over Jacksonville). Against the rest of the schedule (all teams ranked above us in KenPom) we've gone 1-2, and that conceals a very close loss to current NBA D-League team Kansas. The Tennessee game was the only game where I've been really disappointed by our team's play (Richmond would have been in there too if it wasn't for the fight they showed getting back in and ultimately winning it).

The ACC competition is brutal this year. I don't expect to win a national or even ACC championship. I want to not be embarrassed for the team (and maybe Santa can toss in a few road wins). And I want to be optimistic about the state of the program.

Overall, I'm a little torn right now. I'm still #BzzOut. I want Wake to be competitive in the new ACC which is as good as will be better than any other conference with next year's addition of Louisville. I don't know how quickly this team can go back to what I and most Wake hoops fans expect, or what the right way to get there is.

I figured I'd jot down a list of my overarching likes/dislikes based on the season. There are other things I could nitpick (fine: free throws, turnovers, and a relatively quiet McKie) but those don't really play into my feelings about the state of the program holistically.

What I like:
1. The visible improvements in confidence and level of play from last year. Yes, the schedule has been largely light, but it seems like that's just what this team needed to shake off last year and get in a good mindset.
2. Individuals stepping up: an extension of the first, but I didn't want to only have one positive. CMM has been lighting it up, DT started out in total beast mode and returned to form against Richmond (11 points and NINETEEN --spell out worthy-- rebounds), and Coron has been deadly behind the arc.

What I don't like:
1. Having 8 sophomores on scholarship. I'm looking forward to 2015 (and even next year) for that reason, but I'm also pretty terrified of 2016.
2. Related, the recruiting situation. I'm happy we'll have Sheldon Mitchell (it doesn't bother me that his rankings stock has fallen somewhat this year), but it used to be we'd bring in a whole class of exciting prospects every year. With Haas' switch to Purdue, that leaves Rondale Watson to help Mitchell replace Travis McKie and Coron Williams. He seems to be close to a total unknown. I'm not going to disrespect a high schooler so let's just say I hope he surprises everyone.
3. The fact that projections have Wake going about 6-12 in ACC play and even my most optimistic hope (granted, I'm a huge sports pessimist) is under .500 in the conference.

What about y'all? Any important bright spots I overlooked or dark clouds I repressed? One more topic...

Buzz In or Out?

What do you think it would it take for Bz to deserve another year? This has been discussed on other posts. Wake hasn't been where it should be the past few years, and if reality is to be believed it won't be where it "should" be this year either. That being said, what would we expect a "good" coach to achieve with the current sophomore-laden roster? .500 overall? .500 in ACC? NIT berth? NCAA berth?

If we hold on and manage to win out the non-conference schedule (including a tough game @Xavier, which is ranked similarly to Richmond), we'd be 11-2 heading into ACC play. We'd need to go at least 5-13 to break .500 on the season. As I said before, we're currently projected to go 6-12, so even if we lose at Xavier we can end up 16-15 by doing what's expected of us.

2010-11: 8-24 (1-15)
2011-12: 13-18 (4-12)
2012-13: 13-18 (6-12)

Three years of losing records is plenty enough for me. Maybe that's what RW and Bz had in mind when they designed the non-conference schedule, but regardless: it would be totally unacceptable to not end the season with a winning record.

Beyond that, though, I'm not sure what to think. 100 teams can make it to either the NCAA tourney (68) or the NIT (32). KenPom had us at 89 before the Richmond win, but it's not clear how selection committees weigh things like strength of conference and overall record. Last year, St. John's (16-15) was the only team to make it to the NIT with only 16 wins. I think we'd have a decent shot of making it if we meet expectations this year, and a good shot if we exceed those expectations.

NCAA is a different story. Last year, no team received an at-large bid with fewer than 20 wins. Seven 20+ win teams from the six power conferences ended up in the NIT. Of course it's impossible to tell how this season will shake out, but I think we'd have to far exceed expectations to get to the big dance.

I understand those who think Wake should be in NCAA tournament consideration every year including this one. Certainly, the past few years have been objectively terrible compared to recent history. Still, even Skip Prosser went to the NIT (and lost in the first round) in 05-06 and missed the postseason altogether with a losing record in 06-07 (followed by Gaudio missing the postseason the following year).

I understand and share the frustration regarding the decision to replace Gaudio with Bzdelik. The hire came out of nowhere, carried an unpleasant odor of cronyism, and was followed by three years of terrible basketball and a lack of accountability. What I have tried to do (and what I would like others to try) is imagine a clean slate: we have a young and promising team and we are 8-2 against a light non-conference schedule. What does our nameless/faceless coach need to do to earn our respect?

I certainly demand a winning record. With the ease of schedule so far and the promise shown by the team, a losing record would be unacceptable. If we make it to the NIT, I'm not sure what I would think but it would be a real accomplishment.

What concerns do you have, and what positives have you found? What results do you demand from Bz our hypothetical nameless/faceless coach?

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