It's always nice to get another viewpoint on the site once in awhile. We get comfortable in our own habits and discussions and often neglect playing devil's advocate. And let's face it, WakeJake and I tend to agree more often than not. So, we've enlisted the help of long-time Wake fan Rick Karlsruher to get his take. After the jump you'll find his thoughts on where the Demon Deacons are through 13 games of the season.
PLAYERS: Here is how I would grade the guys thus far:
Ishmael Smith: A-
Ish has had an amazing year. He has been our unquestioned leader and has stepped up his game. The only reason he doesn't get an A or A+ is FT shooting.
Al-Farouq Aminu: A-
Farouq is a rebounding machine. His offense has improved greatly. He can dominate games and has. The reason he doesn't get an A or A+ are because although he has improved decisionmaking in ballhandling, it still needs help. Plus, Farouq needs to be more demanding. Farouq needs to grab the team and say: "get on my back". Sometimes being a good teammate is being a little selfish.
L.D. Williams: B
If Ish is the leader of team, LD is the heart and soul. His defense has been solid and he's had some good offensive games. His one downside is commiting fouls in groups. He may go 10-15 minutes without committing a foul, but then he commits two or three in two minutes of playing time.
C.J. Harris: B/B-
"Is RJ nuts? CJ has been great!" Yes, CJ has exceeded our expectations. He can get back up to a B+ or even higher by finishing the season well. I'm sure even he would admit he's in a slump now. No one expected CJ to come out of the gate as strongly as he did. Opponents adjusted. Now CJ needs to adjust to those changes. He's a very smart player and should be able to do it. When he does, his grade will go up.
Chas McFarland: C+
Chas has had some really good games and some not-so-good games. Part of it is his reputation. Part is his inconsistency. When he's playing well, we are a very tough team to beat. Most don't realize how difficult it is to walk the thin line he walks between intensity and getting calls against him. It isn't black and white.
Ari Stewart: C+
Like CJ, Ari started off incredibly well. He can score in bunches. The early success led him to forcing the issue too much. This is natural. John Wooden said,"be quick but not in a hurry." Ari should have this posted over his locker and in his dorm room. Like CJ, the sky is the limit for Ari. He can make me change this grade dramatically this year, but it's up to him. Ari can be the X Factor in the post season.
Gary Clark: B/B-
Why does he get a better grade than Ari or Chas and the same as CJ? When you think about role players, you grade them on how well they executed their role. Gary has played very well in a limited role. What's as important is how good of a teammate he has been this season. Coming into the season, he probably thought he'd play more. When this didn't come to pass, many kids would have sulked. Gary didn't.
David Weaver: C+
He has played solidly in his role as well. As the season goes towards the postseason, I'd like to see more of David. He gives us a decent mid-range jumper to go with his size and toughness.
Tony Woods: C
Tony needs to use his body better. He plays hard but doesn't play big. Tony has a lot of upside but needs to concentrate on fundamentals like boxing out first.
Head Coach Dino Gaudio: B/B-
If we finish the season with a flourish, his grade will go up. His work on defense has been excellent. Our offense against zones is mediocre at best and I believe that is all coaching. The fact that we lost two games due to not boxing out on oppsition's FTs is inexcusable, and Wake has an ongoing problem with FTs and on the boards in general.
TEAM - Rather than saying how we are today, here's how I'd grade the team in two weeks:
This is two games better than I thought we'd finish, but it would be due to Carowhina quitting. This would be a very solid season, but we have blemishes.
Before the season, I thought we'd be 9-7. Thus 10-6 is better than that. However, given the strength of the ACC, 10-6 would be only marginally better than average.
Falling from 8-3 to 9-7 is borderline failure in the ACC this year. There's no excuse not to win at least two out of the last five given who we played.