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Know Thy Enemy: LSU

Wake Forest takes off against the LSU Ben Simmons's tonight at 7 pm. We got the chance to talk to Dylan Akers from LSU's brother blog "And The Valley Shook" about tonight's game and where Simmons stands in LSU folklore.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

With an ACC schedule and a ruthless non-conference schedule, few teams endure a more challenging schedule that your Demon Deacons. But tonight, Wake Forest gets the allure of playing (indubitably) the nation's most gifted player. Unlike most years, this is not against Duke or UNC or Syracuse. Ben Simmons plays in Baton Rouge.

The 6-10 point-forward crossed the Pacific from Down Under with higher expectations than Outback Steakhouse (sorry guys). In his one year in high school, he led Montverde (FL) to a national championship (teammates with Doral Moore) and has amazed fans with his vision, physicality and grace. This will be a great test for the Demon Deacon defense. I imagine Danny Manning will constantly throw different looks at him with defenders like Cornelius Hudson and John Collins guarding the future No. 1 overall pick.

We spoke to Dylan Akers (follow him here) from And the Valley Shook to discuss Simmons's rare aptitude and tonight's intriguing match-up.

LSU has had their share on superstar basketball players with Pistol Pete and Shaquille O'Neal. In terms of talent and excitement, is Ben Simmons near their superstar pedestal for what he means to this Tigers team and LSU basketball overall?



He’s definitely up there in terms of raw talent, but I’m not sure that he’s going to be as well appreciated as as Pete and Shaq. It’s a different era with the one and done’s and in terms of parity, and Ben’s game is less flashy than both. Shaq is one of the most physically dominant athletes of all-time, and Pistol averaged 44.2 points per game over his three years (and threw some of the flashiest and most difficult passes in NCAA history.) In terms of talent, and potential to be a great player in the NBA, he’s there. In terms of looking at him from a purely college point of view, he’ll never get the level of polish that they achieved. And it’s a damn shame, because who knows the kids ceiling in the NCAA if he were to stay for 3 years.


We all know what Ben Simmons is capable of doing on the basketball court. Who are some the secondary options on LSU and how can they attack the Demon Deacons?

Two guys come to mind: Craig Victor and Antonio Blakeney. CV is a transfer from Arizona who was highly recruited out of high-school, but transferred home because of an illness in his family. Since he has become eligible earlier in the month (along with senior guard Keith Hornsby) the team has really started to come on strong, especially on the defensive end of the floor. He and Simmons are extremely effective as a rebounding front court, and Victor is a force on the block with his back to the basket ( he has a vicious drop-step that’s been effective, but I expect Manning will have it scouted and countered.).

Blakeney has struggled so far this season, but he’s a dangerous scorer when he gets it going (projects as having excellent range and can score in loads of different spots, despite his crappy start), and a tenacious defender when locked in. If everyone else is doing their thing, and Blakeney get’s hot, the offense can go on runs that put the game out of reach quickly, regardless of the defensive performance (which is the Tigers big issue.)


With the LSU football game tonight at 9 pm, what do you expect the excitement and draw to be for the Wake-LSU game at 6 pm?



Not too much. Baton Rouge is a football town through and through, and after the teams middling start, the hype-train that has surround Simmons has lost some momentum. Because of his play style (makes his teammates better, rebounds tastefully, isn’t a go-to scorer except for in transition) casual fans aren’t necessarily wowed by his performances night in and night out. If you love and understand the game, though, it’s hard to deny how special he is. Because of the timing, and because Wake Forest is a bigger name school, there will be a decent crowd, but towards the end of the game (and god forbid should things go to overtime), I imagine plans for the Texas Bowl will become the priority.


Ultimately, how do you see this game going? How many times will Ben Simmons make the entire Wake roster look like walk-ons? LSU is favored by 3.5, what are your predictions?


Simmons is special, and the highlight plays will come (often in bunches), but it could also be that at the end of the game you’re surprised by what you see on the stat sheet based on what you’ve watched. He’s incredible in every phase, but his best quality its that he is the ultimate on-floor teammate; he knows how to get his guys in his spots, he makes the hockey assist, he’s a really great rebounder, but he can be a really quiet scorer (and even has shown times where he is afraid to shoot.) He needs to develop his touch around the basket, and then his offensive game will really become scary.

As  for the 3.5, that seems pretty accurate to me, even maybe a little high. Coaching is a huge advantage for the Deacs, but LSU is going to be looking for this to be their signature win so far. I imagine it’ll be close the whole way, but the high-end talent will lead to a close LSU win. Maybe even OT.

Thanks again Dylan for taking the time to talk to us.