Sunday night right after I saw the draw, I immediately thought about how much of a laugh the committee had when they put these two teams together. "Hey guys, look at these two teams! Their fanbases are pissed! And they're in a free-fall! And they were both winning a ton earlier in the season before becoming Les Enfants Terrible! Let's have them play each other! (LOL)"
Naturally, I knew I was going to need to talk to Peter from Burnt Orange Nation. We were all set to get it going...and then life happened. But we finally got to it. Heck, instead of explaining it myself, I'll let him do it since he already wrote about it...
On Monday, Martin Rickman (editor at SBN's Wake Forest blog Blogger So Dear) and I agreed that we should get together to exchange a series of posts about our respective teams. On Tuesday, we agreed that we should exchange a comprehensive series of questions about our respective teams. On Wednesday morning, we agreed that we should at least send out a couple of questions around lunch time. At 9:00 tonight, Martin and I finally talked about this basketball game. I guess you could say as bloggers we've been mimicking our teams.
PB: Yo, Rickman.
Martin: Hey. Whaddup.
PB: Hey man. Since neither of us actually sent the questions we were going to send, how about a little GChat preview? Just shoot the sh** for 10 minutes, keep it light and fun, and post?
Martin: Yeah let's do that. I've got about exactly 10 minutes too.
PB: Well, then. It's a date.
PB: So we're the match up of disappointing teams. Thats what I keep reading. I know why we've sucked lately. Why has Wake?
Martin: We just can't shoot the basketball. But I guess everyone already knew that. So the reason I'll give is that the defense has been lackluster. Teams are hitting their shots against Wake. And when Wake can't get those long rebounds, they can't get in transition. With no halfcourt game to fall back on...uh-oh Spaghetti-Os.
PB: It's actually the same for Texas. Rick Barnes' offensive, uh, challenges... are easy to cite, but it's been the atrocious defense that's really killed us. If you want to feel optimistic about your chances, watch any of our last two games against Baylor. When we tried, we sucked. And most of the time, we couldn't be bothered.
Question for you then: do y'all fast break worth a damn? We hate hustling back.
Martin: That's about the only thing we do extremely well on a regular basis. When Wake gets the chance to run, it's trouble for the opponent. Ish Smith is one of the fastest players in the country and Al-Farouq Aminu is deceptively quick (when he isn't trying to run the break himself). Wake is not lacking in athletes, and the break really caters to those strengths.
PB: This makes me want to check the over-under. The few games I watched Wake this year, I just kept thinking, "Can Ish guard anyone? At all?"
Martin: The only person who can guard Ish is Ish. He can't shoot the basketball very well and he has the propensity to jack up ill-advised shots.
Even then, he can get in the lane at will, but he can't do much if the guys he kicks it out to can't hit it.
PB: Who's your goat this year? The guy who everyone in your game threads blames everything bad for?
Martin: Who hasn't been the goat this year is the better question. For the beginning of the season, it was Ish. Then it was Farouq turning it over. Then it was Chas McFarland being boneheaded.
Now it's our freshmen hitting the wall.
But the big one after the ACC Tourney is it's Dino's fault.
And that's gone from a dull murmur to a loud roar.
As for you guys, why hasn't Dexter Pittman been able to establish consistency?
PB: The way we mirror one another is pretty comical, actually. We opened with Jordan Hamilton as the bum. But he's come on strong, so we've dabbled here and there, as suits us. Everyone gets a lick from the whip.
Dexter has not been consistently Sexy because we've made it easy for guys to defend the paint with three or -- no joke -- four defenders in the paint. Pittman's partly to blame for not handling the challenge well (he's gotten frustrated and hurt himself, taken himself out of the game), but at root, the blame has been Barnes', more than anyone else.
Martin: Do you think that has a lot to do with the absence of the guards?
PB: When you start two guys (Mason and Balbay) who neither can nor will hit a jump shot outside 10 feet, you make it easy for the defense to ignore the perimeter.
By the time we bring in guards who can shoot, Dexter's gassed and has 6 fouls. It's been frustrating.
Martin: Hah, sounds a bit like Wake again. Teams basically beg us to shoot 3s. And it's just one clang after the other. And by that time, usually Tony Woods and Chas McFarland have three fouls.
Did you happen to read anything Pat Forde has been writing lately? It's a game of two "dead teams walking." Is this something you agree with, or is Forde just exaggerating?
PB: I'm generally suspicious of men with spectacular hair cuts, but in this case, I think he's just right. Hell, if we've learned anything in these 10 minutes chatting together, it's that we've both been bad, for all the same reasons, for the same amount of time. This Texas squad has loads of potential when they're at their best, but you have to be consistent this time of year. Which we're not. Unless you count poor defense. What's your take?
Martin: That sounds about right. Wake, when on, can shut teams down (see the last 10+ minutes of the game against GT at the Joel). They can fire on all cylinders offensively with Ish leading the way (see the game @ North Carolina). They can grit out tough victories--OT wins against Richmond and Xavier, the win over Gonzaga. But it's the lack of consistency, which you nailed right on the head, that's killing them. And when you haven't won a postseason game in years, it's hard to regain that consistency without something drastically changing. So, it's go time. Who are you taking?
PB: My heart and my bracket have Texas. Because.... well, because it's become so difficult to think too hard about this team and that's all I'm willing to do at this point: Cheer like hell and hope for the best. And you?
Martin: I wish I could take the Deacs. And I even penciled them into my brackets. But the Longhorns are even more talented than Wake, and quite frankly, the Demon Deacons are a complete mess. Unless Wake can get Sexy in foul trouble early and keep Damion James in check, it's going to be a long night for the Demon Deacons. But, it is March, right? Anything can happen.
Thanks for chatting Peter and good luck. At the very least I hope that the two teams look good so I don't have to hear about "not living up to potential" or "lame duck" or any of the other words that have been thrown around lately.
PB: Hey, at least one of us will get a brief respite out of this. That's worth something. Thanks, Committee! Good luck, Martin, and enjoy the tourney...