The Wake Forest Demon Deacons finish the non-conference portion of the schedule on Thursday night when the Deacs host the LSU Tigers. To help get us ready for the matchup, I chatted with Marques of And The Valley Shook, SB Nation’s LSU blog. Many thanks to him for taking the time to answer my questions. For all things LSU, be sure to check out And The Valley Shook.
BSD: LSU is a pretty good offensive rebounding team, but really struggles to grab defensive boards. Do you have an explanation for this?
ATVS: I'll give props to the team big time on offense, but especially the guards who really have a knack for getting into position and chasing their bad shots for rebounds instead of running to the other side of the court. We've had multiple games now where guards led the team in rebounds, and just this Monday Antonio Blakeney finished with 10. On the defensive side of rebounding, lack of composure and bad positioning is nothing new, but it certainly has been improving the last few games.
BSD: LSU shoots a lot from inside the arc, and makes a reasonable percentage, but doesn't get to the foul line very often. Do they take a lot of mid range jumpers?
ATVS: Yeah, very few players are guys who will drive in and draw contact. Brandon Sampson and Antonio Blakeney's bread and butter is the 3 ball. We also consistently only play two forwards in Craig Victor and Duop Reath. Reath is more of a mid range, hook shot guy with impressive post moves, but avoids contact. Craig Victor is really the only guy who will consistently put himself in harm's way and shoot from the stripe.
BSD: How has the team adjusted this year now that they are without Ben Simmons?
ATVS: Honestly it's just so hard to tell. I know we're ten games in now at 8-2, but this matchup against Wake Forest is literally our first true away game. I'll take an 8-2 start every year, but unfortunately you can't play all 29 games at home. Now, this is our fifth season under Johnny Jones, and fourth without a Ben Simmons. There are too many connected factors associated with what came from having Ben on the team that it's hard to imagine last year would've been much better or worse without him. The cons seemed to even out the pros. This year feels a lot like Johnny's first season (2012-13) in that there are plenty of talented players on the team, but lack of depth, especially with forwards, will wear them out by March.
BSD: What do you believe is LSU's biggest advantage in this contest?
ATVS: I really can't see too many advantages against an apparently all around better team, but I can argue this team, despite the 8-2 record, is being heavily overlooked. Sure, they'll probably miss the tournament, but between the "they wasted Simmons, now what?" narrative and the pitiful showing in the Battle 4 Atlantis, I can see Wake Forest underrating LSU a bit, especially with the way they've been playing lately.
BSD: Finally, let's get a prediction for this one.
ATVS: Gotta be fair on the predictions, I don't see this ending well for LSU. Wake Forest is a clearly better team, and with this being LSU's first real away game (1-2 outside the PMAC), my expectations are pretty low. Lately, the Tigers have been performing relatively well in just about every category except turnovers. LSU will undoubtedly turn the ball over no less than 15 times, and that'll lose you every game against a superior opponent on their court. Give me Wake by 12.