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When You Have Two, You Have None: The Current PG Problem

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I examine the issue that I believe to be the most pressing in Wake Forest's struggles during this portion of the season: the issue of starting point guard.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Before the ACC season, we were riding pretty high.  A winning record against a brutal schedule including wins away from home, brilliant performances from a variety of contributors, and flashes of brilliance from newcomers.  Then things all went to hell in a handbasket, and right now we are where we are.  It's as simple as that, but is it really?  What is the possible explanation for such a bipolar season?  It's not strength of schedule; our OOC schedule, while not as brutal as our in conference, was probably one of the toughest slates in the nation.  It's not that any one player is routinely stinking up the court or anything.  It's not injuries.  So what is it?  I posit the following:

The team was doomed once they got a second starting point guard.

And they did.  Codi Miller-McIntyre is a starting point guard.  So is Bryant Crawford.  It's possible to run two point-guard systems, but generally speaking it really doesn't work.  In order to do that, you need both guys to be at least reasonably good off-the-ball, and while Bryant is better than that style than Codi is,, neither of them excels at it.  They're both at their best with the ball in their hands and knowing that they're driving the offense.  Before I get into the more mushy aspects of this discussion, though,, let's look at some concrete numbers.

Raw Stats (now):

Crawford: 12.3 PPG (39% FG, 40% 3PFG, 69% FT), 4.3 APG, 2.7 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 3.7 TOPG

Miller-McIntyre:  7.1 PPG (36.4% FG, 21.7% 3PFG, 56.4% FT), 3.8 APG, 3.9 RPG,0.8 SPG, 2.3 TOPG

Conference Play (Stats from here):

Crawford: 12.8 PPG (39.4% FG, 39.7% 3PFG, 58.7% FT),. 3.7 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 3.3 TOPG

Miller-McIntyre: 7.8 PPG (38% FG, 24% 3PFG, 55% FT), 3.8 APG, 3.6 RPG,, 0.6 SPG, 2.0 TOPG

Admittedly, whole season number comps are a bit odd because CMM only played a few OOC games, but even the conference only numbers for Crawford match up pretty nicely with his season numbers as a whole.  Detractors of the team and of Crawford in general may initially think that Bryant has been overwhelmed by ACC play, but this doesn't stack up to facts.  Free throw percentage is the only category that's taken a major hit.  Points?  Up slightly.  FG percentage?  Up slightly.  Three point shooting?  Steady.  Assists?  Down, but so are his turnovers.  Rebounds and steals both hold steady as well.  Now let's do something really interesting.

Freshman Seasons:

Crawford: 12.3 PPG (39% FG, 40% 3PFG, 69% FT), 4.3 APG, 2.7 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 3.7 TOPG

Miller-McIntyre as a freshman: 8.1 PPG (41% FG, 32% 3PFG, 57% FT), 2.6 APG, 2.7 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 1..9 TOPG

So freshman Codi scored less, shot a bit better overall but significantly worre from both outside and at the line, rebounded exactly the same on average had fewer steals,, and had fewer turnovers, but also significantly fewer assists, and the A/T ratios are very, very similar.  Interesting, no?  So the numbers tell us an incontrovertible fact:

Many of Miller-McIntyre's advantages over Crawford in the raw numbers are negligible or non-existent when removing experience from the equation.  Not only that, CMM as a freshman played against a softer schedule.

So what's the solution?  Well sadly, there isn't one in the immediate.  Codi has earned his stripes, and does contribute to the team even now.  Not only that, the team lacks a reliable true shooting guard, so the two point guard situation that's going on right now is really the best option we've got.  Not only that, I think the damage has already been done, and with a variety of variables to factor in, I think the team is just broken down for the season mentally and possibly physically as well.  I'm mostly doing this as a thought exercise.  I'm going to make something perfectly clear, though.  I love CMM, and I'm not saying this is his fault directly.  Nothing of the sort.  What I am saying is the following.

I believe, through little or no fault of his own, CMM, who seems to be a shadow of his former self, was one of MANY variables that may have thrown off the team chemistry we saw earlier in the year.  This includes the possibility that it is the fault of those around him, who may have gotten complacent, overly antsy, or confused about their roles once he was back.

So then there comes the question, why do I think it will be better next year?  Well, the fact is that Coach Manning's first sets of recruits were rather heavily focused on the front court, which I believe is fairly set for the immediate future.  You've got Dinos, Collins,, and Moore all as feasible options inside as bigs, and wings like Greg McClinton and Cornelius Hudson, for all their faults as wings, ,are pretty good at scrapping inside.  You've also got SJM coming in. and Keyshawn Woods will be available as a reasonably experienced transfer, not to mention the possible emergence of Richard Washington Jr. as another swingman.

The bottom line is this season seems to be a perfect storm of wrong place, wrong time, wrong role, and possibly wrong mentality for a lot of players.  Next season, while a question mark, could very well see much more stability and structure as far as lineups and roles, which has been the problem with this season's downfall in my estimation.  It's not any one player's fault; I honestly believe a lot of it is guys being put into difficult situations or positions that may not be best suited to their skill sets.

It pains me to no end that CMM and Devin Thomas, who unquestionably deserve success, will go unheralded by history due to the lack of success of their squads, just like Travis McKie.  I respect both of those guys, and I think they're great players and even better guys from my interactions with them.  I respect them almost beyond words, and will miss watching them play.  That said, I still believe the future of the program is bright, especially if next year's crop of newcomers pans out anywhere near as well as this year's did.

We'll see what happens, but I think we're on the right track.  As always, Go Deacs.

--SF