In the midst of a three game losing streak with a week to prepare for NC State in Raleigh, now feels like an appropriate time to analyze the first half of ACC play. The Demon Deacons have dropped to 10th in the ACC with a 4-6 conference record and a 14-9 overall record.
While the recent losing skid puts a damper on their postseason aspirations for a team with no marquee victories, the Demon Deacons have shown progress.
Wake Forest has had some tremendous individual performances, giving fans hope for the future. Now is a good time to analyze each players’ strengths and areas for improvement for this season, and dissect the best individual game performances.
(Note: Statistics are from KenPom.com and ESPN and are taken from before the Duke game on 2/4/13)
Strengths- Codi Miller-McIntyre has blossomed in his sophomore season, flourishing as Wake Forest’s leading playmaker. He has improved his scoring average from 8.1 points per game last season to 14.4 while shooting nearly 6 percent more of the Wake’s shots (20.7 to 26.2 % of shots) and converting more frequently (41.4 FG % to 45.1 FG%). As an elite athlete with impressive body control, Miller-McIntyre is at his best attacking the hoop. Codi’s increased aggressiveness has given ample opportunities for his teammates, too. He averages over an assist per game more than last season, while keeping his turnovers constant. Overall, his offensive rating has soared from 90.3 last season to 104.8 this year.
Areas for Improvement- Codi’s biggest issue is his shot. While CMM makes more than 50 percent of his two pointers, he struggles from behind the arc shooting at a 22.2 percent clip from 3, down from 32.3 percent last year. While he goes to the line a stellar 45.8 percent of his shot attempts—up from 19.8 percent last year—he only makes 66.4 percent of his freebies. As the team’s only "true creator of his own shot," the Deacs need these numbers improve, particularly in late game scenarios.
Best Performance- Codi has eclipsed the 20 point mark nine times this season, compared to just once as a freshman. He put up a 20-10 game at Virginia Tech in the road win heard ‘round the world, but one game stands above the rest. The game-winner versus NC State. 20 points, 7-11 FG and a sensational individual effort to hit a game-winner in the final seconds to will his team to victory over an in-state rival.
Strengths- Travis McKie is a big-bodied small forward at 6-7 who looks like a gorilla when driving to the hoop. A strong-willed big man might try to take a charge, but most prefer to get out of his way. Due to his combination of size and speed, McKie gets to the line on more than half of his shot attempts, where he shoots 86.7 percent—over 10 percent better than his average over the previous three seasons. While his possession percentage and shot percentage are at career lows—18.2 and 19.2 respectively—Travis posts a strong turnover rate of 10.8 percent. This adds up to a career high offensive rating of 118.1. Also, his leadership has been quintessential for the team’s improvement this season. He deserves credit for willingly taking a complimentary role this season.
Areas for Improvement- This season, McKie has been criticized for his lack of aggressiveness. And rightfully so. He shoots over 50 percent from 2 and 32 percent from 3, and has attempted only one more two pointer on the season (85 to 84). For this reason, his FG% is at a career low 41.4 percent, compared to 49.7 percent as a freshman. His freshman year he took almost five times as many two-pointers as threes. When he lowers his shoulder and attacks the basket, good things happen, especially in transition. He forces the defense to collapse and forces fouls. For these reasons, he’s averaging a career low 11 points per game.
Best Performance- Coming off a four game stretch where he scored 15 total points, McKie returned to his cold-blooded self in Blacksburg. In the triumphant road win, McKie led the Deacs with 24 pts, converting on five of six three pointers.
Strengths- Devin Thomas is a beast in the interior block. His defensive rebounding rate of 22.9 percent is good for 78th in the nation. DT has improved his FG % from 49.8 to 55.6 percent. He has expanded his arsenal of post moves, adding a sneaky jab step and even a baby hook. He is one of the best passing big men in the ACC. He averages 1.5 asts per game and accumulates several more hockey assists. Additionally, Thomas has a presence felt far behind the stat sheet. Thomas epitomizes a high-motor, effort player. He dives for loose balls, screams from the bench, helps his teammates up and motions for the crowd to turn up the noise. His fire and passion is felt throughout the arena.
Areas for Improvement- Thomas’s biggest issue is his lack of shooting range. While he gets to the line on an impressive 54.5% of his field goal attempts, he only makes 52.6 % of his FT. Particularly late in games, teams take advantage of his inconsistent jump shot. Because his right hand is a work in progress, defenses often cheat on his left side. To his credit, his touch and his shrewdness with his left hand sometimes off-set this, but a strong right hand would make him nearly unstoppable in the paint. Largely due to his passion, he tends to get into foul trouble—averaging three per game—which causes major problems when he sits because of his presence in the paint and his rebounding prowess.
Best Performance- Easier than finding a good fast food joint in Winston. Notre Dame. Devin willed the Deacs to victory with 21 points (10-11) and six rebounds. His emotion and desire kept the crowd loud and proud all game.
Strengths- After Codi, Tyler Cavanaugh is the most improved player on this Wake team. Cavanaugh has filled his stretch-four role on the starting lineup with competence. While starting alongside a rebounding monster, Cav still manages to corral 16.6 percent of defensive boards, good for 475th in the nation. His rebounding averages have nearly doubled from last season. His point totals has jumped from 5 to 8.5 per game. He also improved his 3 point shooting from 23.7 % last season to 31.1% this year. In addition, he connects on 76.9% of free throws with a FT rate of 58.2. Overall, his effective FG is up 11 percent, leading to an offensive rating that has leaped from 83.4 last season to 101.8.
Areas for Improvement- Listed at 6-9, 230, Cav is often outmuscled and outsized on the defensive end. Particularly in ACC play, opponents have exposed his size, which has led to absurd rebound differentials. Cavanaugh also needs to work on his interior post moves. While most of his offensive game is near the three point line, a more versatile array of moves would expand Wake’s play calls and prove costly when Devin takes a seat and Cav plays the five. The Deacs would like to see continued development with his three-point shot, and see Cav make closer to 35 percent of his attempts.
Best Performance- Cavanaugh’s best game as a Deac came in the great comeback win over Richmond. He was an integral part of the momentum swing, scoring a career high 15 points (6-8). In a game where the Deacs outrebounded the Spiders by 29, Cav was second on the team with 9 boards.
Strengths- Madison Jones fills out the starting five as an athletic lead-ball handler and capable creator for his teammates. He has a keen sense of where his teammates will be on the court and finds them on 27.1 % of made baskets—149th in the nation. Meanwhile, Jones is like the energizer bunny on the defensive end. He often has the task of manning up the best opponent’s guard. He possesses good instincts, long arms and quick hands, forcing a steal on 3.2 percent of possessions (153rd in the country).
Areas for Improvement- Hands down, Jones needs to improve his shot. As a point guard, he is shooting 46.3% from the line, while getting to line frequently with an 87.1% free throw rate. This is often exposed in the end of games, forcing Jeff Bzdelik to play Coron Williams. Overall his offensive rating is 78.2 and he has posted an effective field goal of 46.8%. Sometimes Jones tries to do too much with the ball, leading to a turnover on 37.6% of possessions. He needs to harness his athletic ability and his motor to create plays, but not lose control.
Best Performance- Madison played two great games in the Bahamas against Kansas and USC, scoring 10 points in each. But his best game this season was the upset victory over UNC. He locked down and flustered Marcus Paige all game, who scored a season-low eight points on 3-12 from the field and 1-8 from three. Jones, who scored six points, dished out three assists and had three steals, was the unsung hero in the defeat of the Tar Heels.
Strengths- Coron Williams has yet to commit a turnover in ACC play. No joke. He has a total of FOUR turnovers all season (or the same as Marcus Paige in one game versus Wake). No surprise, his 2.8 turnovers for 100 possessions is by far the best in the NCAA. Williams has a beautiful looking three-point stroke and has converted on 36.8% on the season. While he has made over 40% in his prior three years, regression was expected going to a major conference. His shooting gives him a strong 54 eFG% and an offensive rating of 121.8.
Areas for Improvement- Williams doesn't have good enough handles to be a lead ballhandler, and is well-undersized defensively at the two. The effort is always there, but opponents exploit his size and strength. Also, while looking deeper into his three point statistics, Coron has fallen off in ACC play. In 13 non-conference games, Williams shot 31-72 for 43.1%. In nine conference games, Williams has been 15-53 for 28.3%. While he is a great free throw shooter at 81.2%, he has only attempted 16 freebies on the season—seven of which came in the opener against Colgate!
Best Performance- Coron had a torrid start with a stretch of seven straight games in double figures. In the midst of that streak, Williams was a difference maker in the dominant victory over USC. He had 15 points and made three 3pts. He also created for his teammates with three dimes.
Arnaud William Adala Moto
Strengths- While only 6-6, Arnaud William Adala Moto has played a key clog in the interior on offense and defense. While still raw—and oozing with athletic ability—he has expanded his offensive arsenal this season. He is reading defenses effectively, making precise cuts to the hoop and bullying his way to the rim. #BillMotoGang is fearless near the rim, accounting for two #SCTop10 plays this year. Moto is a menace on the boards, ranking 121 in the nation by grabs 21.7% of defensive rebounds. Meanwhile, Moto’s offensive rebounding rate is 11.5%-- 170 in the country.
Areas for Improvement- Like many of his classmates, Moto does not strike fear in his opponents outside the paint. While up from last season, Moto is still shooting 41.7% from the field and 62.3% from the charity stripe. #HelloMoto is a strong weakside helper on defense, but sometimes gets out of position in man-to-man, particularly off pick-and-rolls and back screens.
Best Performance- No questions asked, Moto’s coming out party was against NC State. Fans saw the sheer force of this guy and the potential he possesses. But on this night, he harnessed all his potential for a 15 point, 11 rebound effort, including 11-14 from the stripe.
Strengths- Aaron Rountree’s game exemplifies versatility. While 6-8, his wingspan is closer to 7-2. This enables him to comfortably guard 1s, 2s and 3s, and often the opponent’s best of the three. Tree’s length makes him extremely effective at guarding inbounds passes, working in the halfcourt trap and altering passing lanes. While his blocks and steals numbers are down, he is an effort player that irks opponents by getting in their head and under their skin. His impact is far greater than the stats would indicate. For his size, Rountree is a good dribbler and sees the court well, especially when running the fast break.
Areas for Improvement- For the menace he is on defense, Aaron has some work to do on offense. His jump shot rolls off his fingers flat. After shooting 51.1% from the field last year, he has regressed to 40%. Meanwhile his free throw percentage is down to 37.5% in 16 attempts. Overall, his effective FG% has dipped to 41.7%. Also, if Rountree added a few pounds, he would be able to guard—and rattle— power forwards off-the-bench in smaller, more versatile lineups.
Best Performance- While not noticed in the stat sheet, Rountree had a phenomenal game in the upset against North Carolina. He contained a plethora of Tar Heels, included James Michael McAdoo and Leslie McDonald. He irritated passing lanes with three steals and had four blocks—while altering many other shot attempts.
Strengths- After playing sparingly last season, Andre Washington has developed into a solid back-up center. At 7-0 with long arms, Washington’s presence clogs the paint. Most opposing guards settle for jump shots instead of challenging him. And for good reason. He leads the Demon Deacons with 1.7 blocks/game while averaging less than nine minutes a contest. Andre has also made tremendous strides on offense. He is shooting 51.2% from the field by improving his touch around the rim and using his size to his advantage.
Areas for Improvement- Being that he’s a seven-footer, he gets a slight pass on the shooting front. But that doesn’t mean that he can't improve his shot. Also, while Washington is a good on-ball defender, he needs to improve from the weakside. He has the size to alter any shot inside the paint and needs to take advantage of that. Additionally, he ranks fourth on the team in defensive rebounding percentage. As the team’s resident seven-footer, he needs to be more aggressive on the boards.
Best Performance- In the road victory over the Hokies, Dre provided solid energy, an interior presence on offense and a monstrous body on defense. He added eight points (3-4) and supplied three devastating blocks.
Strengths- We have started to see more and more of Miles Overton in recent weeks. While displaying freshman-like moments, he has shown progression throughout the season. Overton has a beautiful shooting stroke, but has only now begun to find his range. At moments, he looks like a potential lockdown shooter for the next three years. While he has not converted from the field, or from the line, up to his capabilities at 28.6%, he has a knack for getting to the charity stripe. He goes to the line on 46.9% of field goal attempts. While not an elite athlete, Overton has good basketball acumen and is a competent defender for a freshman.
Areas for Improvement- Especially for next year without Coron, Overton needs to step up as Wake Forest’s sharpshooter. This will spread the floor and give Miller-McIntyre room to penetrate and limit double-teams in the post on Thomas. Overton needs to improve as a secondary ballhandler and decision-maker, but this will come with experience and competition.
Best Performance- Dare I say the Duke game? Seeing 22 minutes of action, Overton put up 12 points (4-6), including two three’s. He gave fans reason to believe he's a lights-out shooter, while providing the Deacs a glimmer of hope in the first eight minutes.