Since there is a lull this week between games while the semester ends/finals are taken, it is the perfect time to reflect on the first 8 games of the season. We have a great participation base and that brings a lot of different views.
Enjoy, and as always, please share your own thoughts in the comments section!
Through 8 games Wake Forest currently sits at 6-2 with a Third Place finish in Maui. Are the Deacs meeting, exceeding, or failing to meet expectations so far?
Bart: I think anyone who has watched this team and sees that the Deacs currently sit at 6-2 would have to say that we've exceeded expectations so far this year. I'm sure this will be reiterated by others fielding this question, but we played for all intents and purposes a walk-on for 25 minutes a game and arguably our best (and starting point guard) player injured and still managed to only drop two games. With Codi back I expect to see this team really start to gel and move forward as a cohesive unit. If we can get through the next couple of games at home against relatively poor competition then sitting at 8-2 entering the brutal stretch of our schedule should feel pretty good.
GrumpyDeac: The team is exceeding expectations. Beating Indiana and UCLA as part of a 5-1 away/neutral record to kick off the year is pretty amazing considering what we've seen happen away from the Joel the past few years. The one real blemish was the loss to Richmond at home, but I think the good surprises are a bigger deal. Will it translate into the ACC (and even pre-ACC starting with Xavier) gauntlet? I don't know. The 6 wins came by margins of 5, 8, 4, 3, 1, and 3 points, including against some pretty sub-par competition. Hopefully what matters is the W and this team is confident going forward and will not panic in tight finishes.
Chris: The Deacs are exceeding expectations in terms of win/loss record, and meeting or failing to meet them in other areas. The freshmen are as good as advertised, and that has led to success with a short bench. Coming into the season, nobody predicted wins against Indiana or UCLA. Those two wins certainly exceeded expectations. The way the team has won some of the easier games on the schedule, however, is a bit of a concern, especially with regards to turnovers and defense.
Adam: I think the Deacs are absolutely exceeding expectations this year. Not only do they have big wins in Maui over Indiana and UCLA (who beat #1 Kentucky), but they have also been able to close out games down the stretch without CMM. As a young team without their senior point guard, the Deacs’ poise under pressure has blown me away thus far this season.
Ned: Danny Manning's team is definitely exceeding my expectations a month into the season. Without CMM at the helm, I thought 5-3 would be the best possible scenario for this team and a 1-2 trip to Maui was inevitable. Fortunately the Deacs have taken care of business in games they needed to and provided a couple nice upsets in the process as well.
Rob: Wake has definitely exceeded my expectations. If you asked me three months ago what our record would have been, I might have said 6-2, but that would have factored in wins over St. John's and UNLV, and not Indiana and UCLA. Additionally, three months ago I would have assumed the team being full strength. 6-2 with no CMM? We beat UCLA without a point guard. We have already won four games away from LJVM. I don't think any Wake fan can be upset with what has happened so far this year.
Riley: I would say that Wake Forest is exceeding expectations so far. If you told me that Wake would be at 6 wins at this point I would be ecstatic. When you throw in the fact that the Deacs beat: Indiana, UCLA, and Arkansas, it is really just a cherry on top. That doesn't even mention that Codi Miller-McIntyre hasn't played yet, Crab, and Hudson sat out for 5 games, and we didn't have a point guard at all in the third place game against UCLA (in which Crab filled in admirably).
Have your expectations for the rest of the regular season changed based on what you have seen through 8 games?
Bart: If someone had told me we'd be 6-2 right now without Codi I would take it in a heartbeat and move on. I think the ACC is brutal this year and I think the Xavier/LSU back-to-back stretch right before conference play begins is a very tough challenge as well. I think this team has the potential to be positioned near a postseason bubble as February winds around but it is going to require a lot of bounces in our favor. Wake could play very well the rest of the year and could still go 7-11 in conference play - ultimately winding up with something that looks like a 15-15 or 16-14 record. This would still be the best team we've had in five or six years even with that record. The reality is this schedule will be ranked in the top 20-25 difficulty-wise when the season ends and it is going to be very tough sledding to get some traction and wins once ACC play begins.
GrumpyDeac: It's hard to say. This team is definitely more exciting and confident than I had expected. Like Rob, I came into the season thinking NIT. It's hard not to get swept up in this start and say we could reach for NCAA bubble, but every time I do that I remember how absolutely brutal the schedule gets starting December 22. I'm just hoping we can win the games we should win and steal a few exciting upsets.
Adam: My expectations have absolutely changed. I came into the season think we were an NIT team. After the Richmond loss I was just hoping for an NIT bid. But after the games in Maui and the way we’ve been able to hold onto leads in the second half, I am definitely thinking we are a bubble team.
Chris: My expectations remain low for the remainder of this season. This team has shown a lot of moxie and desire early in the year, but the schedule only gets tougher from here. I would love to see us make the NCAA tournament, but I just don't see a .500 season in the ACC happening.
Ned: Absolutely. With the ACC in somewhat of a down year and the Deacs playing so well without CMM already, the chance for an above .500 record in the ACC is certainly doable. If that's the case, the Deacs might head into ACCT time on the bubble and that's all we can really ask for considering where we were two years ago. I'll be content with an NIT bid as well, however.
Rob: My expectations have improved. My preseason expectations were that we could maybe get into the N.I.T. Now, while things would have to go very right for us, I think we have an outside shot at the NCAA Tournament.
Riley: I didn't have extremely high expectations this season because there were so many variables going into what we would see for the year. Right now the Deacs are an NIT team, but still a big reach to get to the NCAA Tournament. There are four non-conference games remaining, and a 3-1 record (especially a win against Xavier) would go a long way in propelling Wake to where they need to be from a resume and skill standpoint. The ACC is loaded this season, and if Wake can go 9-9 (which is doable given the schedule breakdown), that would put the team at 18-19 wins on the year. That is firmly in the NIT, and with two wins in the ACC Tournament could be enough to sneak into the Big Dance. I still think NIT is the most reasonable expectation on the year, but I am starting to get my hopes up a bit (perhaps foolishly) that Wake can make the NCAA Tournament.