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Wake Forest Basketball Roundtable Part 2: Most Impressive Player & Substitution Patterns

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Part 2 of our roundtable

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Who has impressed you the most so far this season?

Bart: So far I have to say that John Collins has left the biggest impression thus far. While Devin Thomas has assuredly been the overall team MVP I like to think we knew what we had in him: a tenacious inside threat who is a dominant rebounder. Collins on the other hand entered with tempered expectations surrounding him but has fantastic footwork not only for a freshman but for a big man in general. He will only continue to improve under Manning's tutelage and has the potential to be one of the better big men Wake has seen in some time.

GrumpyDeac: The freshmen have each shown flashes, with Collins playing the most consistently. But I'm going to say Devin Thomas, because without him we would not be competitive so far. He's averaging a monster 19 and 11 as the team's leading scorer, rebounder, and blocker (and it's not even particularly close).

Chris: John Collins has been the best surprise so far. We heard rumblings over the summer that he looked impressive, but he looks downright polished on the offensive end. He still needs work on defense to stay out of foul trouble, but these are critiques we've had of our upperclassmen big men in recent years, and it's a welcome surprise to have such an offensive talent in the program again. If he can stay on the floor, he will be a matchup disaster for most ACC teams this season.

Adam: A lot choices for this one. I think overall I am most impressed with John Collins so far. Even as a freshman, I think he has to best low post skill of any player on the team. He’s got great footwork in the post, a soft touch, and he makes his free throws. I really think if he can improve his ability to defend without fouling that he’ll be starting by the end of the year.

Ned: Cornelius Hudson. Many people might say John Collins here, but I always was expecting him to contribute Year 1. I did not expect Crab to be such a leader and for Manning to trust him late in games as much as he has. In 3 straight games (UCLA, RU, and Arkansas) DM has gone to Crab to close out the win. The Deacs ended up on top in each one.

Rob: Fortunately there are a number of good choices here. Devin Thomas has been absolutely sensational, and was recently named national player of the week. He has a strong chance at first team all-ACC, and has gotten so much better this offseason. That said, I'm going to go with freshman John Collins. I really liked his high school tape, and thought he was vastly underrated coming out of high school. Still, I didn't expect this. He is a force down low, has touch, can grab boards, and will dunk on anyone. Great job by Manning and his staff to scout and secure Collins.

Riley: I am guessing that a lot of people will say Bryant Crawford because he has done a remarkable job of running the point as a true freshman, but I am going with John Collins. How he was ranked as low in the 2015 recruiting class as he was I will never know. He is certainly college basketball ready, and has had some excellent coaching so in his life to get him to where he is now. His hands and footwork are as skilled as I have seen in quite some time from a freshman Wake big man. Clearly needs to cut down on fouls, but he will be an impact player for Wake moving forward, and honestly think with the correct tutelage and hard work can be a First Team All-ACC player by the time he leaves.

How would you assess Coach Manning's handling of minutes/the bench in general early on in the year?

Bart: I was slightly bearish on the way Manning was handling the lineup through the first six or seven games. Even though we were getting the job done I felt that he was running more of an NBA substitution pattern than your traditional college pattern, but in the last game against Arkansas the substitution patterns really paid off as the "second-string" lineup, if you will, contributed solid spot minutes leading into media timeouts which allowed our starters to get a sold 5-10 real time minutes on the bench. Manning knows what he's doing and so I'm gonna just let Danny do Danny.

GrumpyDeac: It's been strange, but at this point I'm happy to give him the benefit of the doubt that there is a method to the madness, perhaps to drive home some points to carry over later into the season. We'll have to see what the line-ups are like with CMM back (hopefully soon). At this point, we've had close calls but the team is still 6-2.

Chris: I would assess it as confusing and scrambled. Some of the extended minutes for back-end of the rotation guys have been out of necessity, certainly. However, there seems to be little to no thought given to how lineups cohere. College teams are rarely greater than the sum of their parts, but it would be good to find rotations beyond the starting 5 that even equal the sum of their parts. Defense will continue to be an issue with most of our lineups because we don't have truly elite defenders, and we tend to give up either size, quickness, or skill depending on who we plug in to try and fill a given defensive hole.

Adam: I was upset with Manning’s minutes after the Richmond loss, but I’ve actually been more understanding since then. I was mad that Van Horn was playing so much early, but then he surprised me in Maui with some really good minutes defensively. I’m still not sure why Manning continues to start McClinton if he’s only going to play for 10 minutes a game. Personally I’d like to see Collins and Moore get more playing time, but I know that can be difficult since they do tend to rack up fouls pretty quickly.

Ned: It's hard to be critical when you're 6-2 and DM only had 7 recruited scholarship players at his disposal to start the year, but there were a couple games where I thought McClinton should be getting more runs considering he usually is on one of the most effective lineups each game. I think he's done a great job of switching Collins for Mitoglou late in games for offense/defense and making sure that JC does not foul out after picking up early fouls.

Rob: He has certainly had some questionable substitution patterns at times this year. That said, he was dealt a pretty tough hand to start the year. No CMM, Hudson, or Watson. He was without Crawford for a game. It was difficult to see Trent VanHorn getting so many minutes, but we had to get to 200 minutes somehow. I would like to see him play Crawford/Mitch/Hudson/Collins/Thomas together more often, and then CMM in that lineup when he returns. So, I will punt on this question fully until I see what he does with our full lineup.

Riley: There have certainly been some interesting lineup combinations so far from Danny Manning and staff so far this season. A lot of that is just the nature of the beast when you have 3-4 guys out of the lineup on any given night. Now that Hudson, and Watson are back the Deacs are settling down a bit as far as who is getting what minutes. Once Codi gets back (hopefully next week), this will continue to be cemented in stone. I think most guys on the team have a good idea as to what is expected of them moving forward. There are still some things that I think Coach Manning can get better at, but I think that will come with time. I trust his NBA-style bench management right now and think it will pay off as the year goes on.