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Blogger So Dear Mailbag #1

Check out the first installment of the Blogger So Dear Mailbag, and remember to send your questions to bsd.mailbag@gmail.com

1.In your opinion, what are the greatest moments in the Joel? If possible, find videos and post them in your answers. -3rdgendeac


Adam & Matt
Adam: Greatest moment in the Joel for me was LD Williams’s absolutely insane alley oop off the lob from Harvey Hale. I thought there was absolutely no way LD was going to be able to get this ball and finish it off, but he completely ignored gravity, caught with 1 hand behind his head, and absolutely destroyed the rim throwing it down. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it to this day. The Joel absolutely exploded. Video quality isn’t the best, but it was 2007 after all.
Matt: That first dunk especially, which was basically the Duke Dunk before the Duke Dunk was the highlight that made me really start to love basketball.



Rob
Can't really speak to that many given my shorter term as a Wake fan, but I think James Johnson's last second layup against Duke in 2008-2009 would be up there.

Marc

I don't know if this qualifies as a moment, but my favorite game I saw in the Joel was the 07-08 game against Duke. Duke was 22-2 and ranked #2. Wake (unranked) won 86-73, Jeff Teague had 26, and James Johnson had 24 and 16. But the best part was watching all five Duke starters foul out, including some of my least favorite recent Dukies (Kyle Singler, Greg Paulus). Speaking of which, Jon Scheyer didn't start, but he did go 0-8 for 0 points in 27 minutes.



2.  My friend is a grad assistant on the Villanova staff and I got to see him storm the court after that game winner. I wanted to get your honest take if you thought we might actually see a National Title ever in Winston Salem. -Mike Cotty

Adam

Will we ever see a National Title in Winston? Eventually--yes. But I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon. Getting into the NCAA tournament is hard enough (hopefully we’ll make it back in the next 2-3 years), but winning it is another beast all together. Not only does your team need to have a pretty good amount of talent and size, but they’re also going to need a bit of luck. It doesn’t matter how good of a team you have, if you draw a team that you match up with poorly, or the other team has one of those games where they can shoot with their eyes closed and it goes in, it can all be over. March Madness is so unpredictable that really anything can happen. So while I think the Deacs will eventually hang a banner in the Joel, I’m not exactly optimistic that it will be in my lifetime. But like I said…anything can happen.

Rob

Wake can absolutely win a national title. The program has put plenty of players in the NBA and has won multiple ACC Championships. If you can win an ACC Tournament, or regular season title, then you can absolutely win a national title. It's not going to be easy, and I'm not sure if it will happen in my lifetime, but Wake will have multiple teams capable of winning a title.

Chris

As the poet Kevin Garnett said, "ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!" And if I didn't believe that were true, I don't know why I'd watch. Winning championships starts with coaching. Look at the coaches whose teams have won titles over the past 20 years, and with the sole exception of Kevin Ollie and maybe Gary Williams, you've got a list of Hall of Fame coaches. If you look at the runners up, though, there are a list of good coaches, great recruiters, mid-majors, and generally beatable teams who have made the tournament such a special thing to watch. Coach Manning's teams have shown flashes of something special, and players like Bryant Crawford have brought back a modicum of the swagger that once defined the successful Wake Forest teams that sat atop college basketball. I don't think, intellectually, we will see a national championship in basketball at Wake Forest in my lifetime. I also never thought I'd see a Wake Forest ACC championship.

Ned:
Given the way sports can be, it's truly inappropriate to ever say "Never" when discussing a future championship. If tiny, 5000-1 odd Leicester City FC winning the English Premier League in soccer this season doesn't prove that I'm not sure what will. Obviously we seem very far off from contending for a title now, but all it takes is finding the right guy to lead your program and getting some luck along the way for that to change.

Six years ago Virginia was far from one of the big players in the nation and had only had one .500 ACC season since 2001. Now they're seemingly in contention every year and as long as Tony Bennett is at the helm that should remain true for a while.

Finding the right head coach is hard enough, but the luck that needs to follow is the real elusive factor. Hundreds of things have to go exactly right for you to even make it to the Final Four as one of the top teams in the country each year, much less actually win it all. That means having no serious injuries, favorable matchups in the postseason, key opponents missing shots they usually don't, etc. Kansas has been one of the best basketball programs in the country for the last 15 years (14 Big XII titles in that span) and only has ONE NCAA title to its name in that span. How did they win it? Memphis completely lost its composure, went 1-5 on free throws in the closing seconds, and Mario Chalmers hit a ridiculous 3 that sealed the deal. They could very easily have zero NCAA tournament silverware to show for their decade and a half of college basketball dominance.

So while I don't want to say it will never happen, the chances we'll see it ever occur in our lifetime are unfortunately quite small. However, if UCONN a few years ago has taught us anything, it's that if you can just make it into the field there is always going to be hope and a chance.

Matt

Can? Absolutely. If VCU and Butler can make Final Fours and Nova can win it all, I see literally no reason Wake can't do the same someday.  Whether we will or not is admittedly another question but to act like it's impossible is foolishness.  We'll just have to see what happens.  I hate to say it but the more rational part of me wouldn't bet on it.  Still, I've been wrong before.  So many times.

Marc

There's no reason it's impossible. That said, I'm not holding my breath. Even the bluest of blue blood programs have some difficulty consistently competing for championships, because so much can change year to year and even game to game. And even once you make it to the tournament, you're one Cleveland State away from the off season. So my honest take is that we may see a National Title at some point, and I will certainly keep rooting for it. But, the first step is to consistently make it to the tournament, and that's what I'm hoping we see again soon.

3. Have heard that our coach signed a terrific class of incoming freshman. If true, that is great news. Can you discuss this issue?

-Ernie Reynolds, Class of 1965

Ned

Hey Ernie,

Coach Jen definitely used the recent improvement of the program to bring in a solid 2016 class that should be able to contribute next year. The four new members are Raegyn Branch, Alex Sharp, Ona Udoh, and Tyra Whitehead and all are 3* prospects according to ESPN. While scouting notes and rankings are extremely hard to find/unreliable, here are a few of the facts I've been able to gather about the class.

-Guard Alex Sharp was a starter on the U19 Australian National Team in 2015 that won the Bronze Medal at the World Championships and is ranked as the best AUS recruit in the 2016 class. She is noted as being a lengthy combo guard who likes to attack in transition and create for teammates.
-Tyra Whitehead is a 6'3 post player that was 1st Team All-Conference, All-State in VA, and All-Region. She won three state titles in high school and was nominated for the McDonald's All American Game. Last year she averaged 15 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 blocks per game for Cosby High. While ESPN has her as a 3* recruit, Jumpoffplus.com has her ranked as a top 60 player in the nation and a 4.5* prospect.
-Raegyn Branch is a versatile post player who also is able to score from the block and shoot from behind the arc when open. She was ranked #189 in the country by All Star Girls Report and was first team All-District multiple times in her HS career for Arlington in Tennessee.
-Ona Udoh is a North Carolina native and was NCBCA 3rd Team All-State last season for Terry Sanford. While excelling on the basketball court and being a double-double machine as an upperclassmen, she was also first team All-Conference in Volleyball which demonstrates her athleticism. Coach Hoover raved about her defensive ability and how it can be a "game-changer" for Wake Forest in the future.

On National Signing Day back in November the 2016 WF Women's Basketball class ranked #24 in the nation. It was the fourth year in a row the staff has brought in a top 25 class and a sure sign that the great strides the program has made will continue in the future. Here's to hoping the Deacs can get into the NCAA's next year with a strong core of the team returning!


4. I'm curious to know your sports bucket lists (including but not limited to WF events). Games you want to watch (TV or in person, real or hypothetical). For example, I would love to attend the Ohio State at Michigan game at some point in time and really want a Duke/Carolina national championship game in basketball.

Adam

I’m going to start by saying that watching Wake Forest win any major championship is a part of my bucket list. Besides that, I hope to eventually go to a Duke-UNC game in Cameron. I’m going to assume from what I've seen on TV that it’s one of the greatest atmospheres of any sport in the world. For football, I would love to go to a big time SEC rivalry game, either at Neyland or Byrant-Denny Stadium. I crossed going to the Super Bowl off the list this year, so I’ll add going to the Super Bowl and watching the Panthers actually win. I’d also love to experience a game 7 of an NBA finals, and (hypothetically) watch the Hornets hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy. On top of all that I would love to be at a game where something so crazy happens it gets its own name (e.g. the Music City Miracle, Bluegrass Miracle, "The Shot" etc.)

Rob

#1 item for me would be Wake Forest in a Final Four or ACC Tournament championship game. I do need to get to a Duke-UNC game in Cameron, and I'd like to get to a night game at LSU. I went to the Master's last year and it was incredible. I highly recommend that anyone who likes golf to check out Augusta National, because the course is just unbelievable in person.

Chris

When I think about sports bucket lists, I can't help but picture my favorite teams in them. Wake basketball in a Final Four. Everton raising a trophy at Wembley. Any trophy. The Detroit Tigers bullpen not letting them down in a meaningful playoff game. I take a family baseball trip with my dad and sister every year, visiting a new baseball stadium in a different city. I think without ever actually acknowledging it, seeing all 30 stadiums is part of my sports bucket list. There's something very specific about baseball stadiums that makes them much more of a destination than any other American sports arena. They're different in dimension, vastly different in look and feel--some feel old and timeless while others feel new and corporate. People are actually friendly everywhere (and I go to Phillies games all the time). Games can be slow, and you can enjoy the time with your friends and family, or they can be thrilling and joyous and wild. The days are gone when a family could go to a ballpark and sit in the bleachers and get dogs and beers and sodas and park and everything for $10. But it's still mostly a game you can get in the stadium almost anywhere in the country without breaking the bank. I've seen a no-hitter and several walkoffs and a playoff game and the Tigers clinching the Central and I still feel like there are plenty of things I want to see. A triple play. All the West Coast stadiums. An inside-the-parker. Yasiel Puig. That's my sports bucket list. Hopefully in ten years it will look a lot different.

matt

To see Wake win the ACC and hopefully a national title, to hopefully see Wake football in a major bowl game in person, to see CP3 win an NBA Championship, to see an NBA game live, and hopefully go to another WrestleMania (yeah, I'm a pro wrestling fan, come at me).  I was lucky enough to see WrestleMania 30 in person which will probably go down as an all-timer, but I'd love to go again.

Ned:
Games/Venues I want to attend someday:
-Iron Bowl
-Game at Lambeau Field
-El Clasico (Barcelona vs. Real Madrid)
-Rose Bowl
-Game 7 of NBA Finals (Regardless of Teams)

Hypothetical:
Baltimore Orioles playing in the World Series (O's fan here if you hadn't guessed)
USA vs. Mexico or Brazil vs. Argentina World Cup Final
Wake Forest vs. Duke/UNC ACC Basketball Title Game

I would match you on the Duke vs. UNC National Championship game, John, but fear I would probably be violently ill trying to watch it. Too much anger there for my body not to reject everything in protest. Great question though!

Thank you all so much for sending in your questions. For more questions, be sure to email bsd.mailbag@gmail.com.