There has been a lot of discussion recently, most of which has intensified after Saturday's loss to N.C. State, that freshman big man Doral Moore needs to see more playing time on the court.
Nobody could stop Doral Moore on Saturday, nobody except for head coach Danny Manning.
In just 9 minutes against the Wolfpack, Moore had 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks, almost all of them in spectacular fashion, including this tip-dunk that gave the Deacs a 6 point lead with 12 minutes left:
Wake's Doral Moore with the dunk off the miss. https://t.co/lh33LsEZWR— Will Ojanen (@WillsWorldMN) February 13, 2016
While there are a couple of good reasons that Doral Moore has not gotten a lot of minutes this year, Saturday's usage of him down the stretch (well really, the lack of it at all) absolutely blew my mind, and I was not the only one. A quick Twitter search of "Doral Moore" yields the following:
You know who could have given Cat Barber problems driving to the basket? Doral Moore. Seems obvious to me but what do I know?— DeacsWin (@GrantHendrix) February 13, 2016
The fact that Doral Moore never game back in is absolutely inexcusable.— Riley Johnston (@BSD_RaJohnston) February 13, 2016
THIS IS ABSOLUTELY ABSURD. HOW CAN YOU NOT PLAY DORAL MOORE RIGHT NOW https://t.co/hSIZkTheFG— Ben Weekley (@BigBen_96) February 13, 2016
Funny how Doral Moore got hot and got pulls immediately.— DeacsWin (@GrantHendrix) February 13, 2016
Doral Moore should have seen more playing time all season. Athletic, coordinated 7 footers don't grow on trees— Eric Hendrix (@EHen6) February 13, 2016
Doral Moore HAS to get more PT.— Robert Reinhard (@Robert_Reinhard) February 13, 2016
After the phenomenal second half stretch that Moore played around the 10 minute mark, he was pulled and never came back into the game. This was in spite of John Collins and Dinos Mitoglou fouling out of the game in the final 3 minutes.
When asked about Moore after the game, head coach Danny Manning offered the following (courtesy of Deacons Illustrated):
Here's Wake coach Danny Manning's full quote on Doral Moore's play in the 2nd half. pic.twitter.com/xp2IhM5slu— Deacons Illustrated (@WakeRivals) February 13, 2016
Now in the past I have defended Coach Manning when it comes to Doral Moore, and really the bigs rotations overall, because, well who else would be better to coach up big men than Danny Manning? I attributed most of his lack of early season play to fatigue, and rawness. That would make sense due to his lack of playing time last year at Montverde Academy, and I figured it would take him a while to get his feet under him. I assume that fatigue is still an issue, but certainly was not a legitimate excuse for him to not get back in the game on Saturday.
Looking at what Manning had to say following the loss on Saturday, I will say makes little to no sense, and if it makes any, it contradicts what he has said in the past about Devin Thomas being better at the 4 than the 5. I completely understand that he is not going to take Devin out, nor should he have with the type of game that DT was playing.
What I do not understand is why not put Doral in at the five, slide Devin to the four, go to a zone, and force N.C. State to come adjust to Wake instead of always adjusting to the opponent?
Cat Barber was torching everybody in man to man defense, and in true Wake fashion, there were: no adjustments, no help-side defense, no double-teams, no changes at all. Barber did what he wanted, was aided by the refs a fair amount (not complaining, just pointing out that he certainly got the "star treatment"), and absolutely torched the Deacs in the second half.
Putting in Doral Moore after a breather, or at least after Collins and Mitoglou fouled out, could have been a possible solution for all of the aforementioned problems. Barber wasn't settling for jump shots, he was driving to the rim whenever he wanted and getting to the line. Going zone and having Moore anchor that zone defense seems like an easy logical strategic move to make.
I have no doubt that Moore was winded after his stint in the second half. He is a 7-footer playing with tremendous energy and effort on both sides of the court against an ACC opponent. I also have no doubt that Moore has a lot to work on to become a refined product in the ACC. What is troubling to me, and is more indicative of the overall problems I have with Manning this year, is the failure to make adjustments, and just being plain stubborn when it comes to making substitutions.
This plays even more into my idea that Wake Forest HAS to get an experienced coach on the bench moving forward to help assist Danny Manning with in-game coaching strategy.
Look no further than across the court at the N.C. State coaching staff. Mark Gottfried has done a great job of bringing talent to Raleigh during his four years as head coach, but he has always struggled with in-game coaching decisions. That's why he hired Bobby Lutz, former Charlotte basketball coach, to assist and be by his side during tough management situations.
Did not playing Doral Moore lose the game for Wake Forest on Saturday? Probably not on its own. I do think that the coaching staff's decision not to switch to a zone (in which Moore would be a vital part) against an N.C. State team that is average from behind the three-point line, as well as towards the bottom of the NCAA in 3PA/FGA, was an extremely questionable coaching decision. That is even leaving out the fact that Barber was getting into the lane at will, and a zone defense usually helps stifle that to an extent.
Once again, I think the lack of playing time throughout parts of the season for Doral Moore is explainable given all factors considered, but it is part of a bigger problem of this coaching staff, and that is the ability to manage a game successfully through substitutions and proper strategy.
This is certainly something to watch moving forward, and something that has to improve if Coach Manning is going to be successful at Wake Forest.