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ACC Preview #4 - Wake Forest

42 Craig Dawson F/G 6-5 195 JR
11 A.W. Hamilton G 6-3 175 FR
3 Broderick Hicks G 6-1 177 JR
5 Josh Howard F 6-6 207 SO
31 Ervin Murray G 6-5 197 JR
4 Robert O' Kelley G 6-1 184 SR
53 Dshamel Schoetz C 7-0 255 FR
34 Antwan Scott F 6-8 208 JR
44 Josh Shoemaker C 6-9 237 SR
25 Darius Songaila F 6-9 243 JR
41 Rafael Vidauretta C 6-9 266 SR

| Maryland

When we posted this earlier, we got Josh Howard and Irvin Murray mixed up,
so we took it down to fix it.

The Post-Tim Duncan world, for Wake, has not been very kind.
First, Loren Woods didn't work out and transferred to Arizona, where he has
worked out pretty well, assuming he recovers from his Valley Fever induced
injury (and he seems to be). A guy who tends to be very hard on himself,
Woods seems to have come to terms with it and had a super year for Arizona. Not
following Duncan probably helped.

Last year, when some picked the Deacs to finish first, they
had two crushing, last second losses early, and it seemed to knock them off
stride. For whatever reason a team which thoroughly beat Final Four
Wisconsin and always tough Temple early struggled until Dave Odom switched Irvin
Murray to the point, and things turned around.

Unfortunately, it was too late to make the NCAAs, but they did
win the NIT, and laid the groundwork for what should be an excellent year.

In the backcourt, Robert O' Kelley continues to be up and
down. For a guy with a reputation as a shooter, he hasn't done so well.
Last year he hit 35% from the floor, 29.9 from the bonusphere, and only
63.5 from the line. Part of that time he was playing point, and that's not
really his natural position, but still, he didn't shoot well. 35% is 35%.

And after the season, Nike Arinze and Tate Decker both left
Wake. Other recent departees include of course Loren Woods, William
Stringfellow, if we recall his name correctly, and James Griffin.

Tate Decker is no great loss. A guy who seemed unwilling
to conform to Odom's system, his playing time declined as the season went on. He
probably won't be missed. Arinze might be.

If you look at Wake's roster, there are four big men, three
pure guards, and three guys who are 6-5 or 6-6 - Craig Dawson, Josh
Howard, and Ervin Murray. Dawson is instant offense, Murray played the
point last season and may again, depending, and Howard was one of last season's
big surprises.

Dawson got 21.3 minutes per game, Howard 24.9, and Ervin 15.9
What we're wondering is out of these guys, who is going to be able to step up
and shut down Damien Wilkins, Mike Dunleavy, Jason Capel, Adam Hall, Roger
Mason - well you get the idea. Wake plays a fair amount of zone, so maybe
it won't affect them as much, but that was a role Arinze could have filled.
We're guessing Howard is first option there.

The backcourt is intriguing for a couple of reasons. One, to
see if Murray continues to play point. He did a pretty solid job in a
tough situation last year. Not only that, he was willing to stand up as a
freshman and engage in some blunt talk when things weren't going well.
Wake has a potentially solid leader in this kid.

We're still curious about Broderick Hicks, a smart kid who we
think can be a solid point, and are most curious about A.W. Hamilton, who we've
heard is better than expected. He's apparently a fiery kid, a tough
competitor, and while chemistry is impossible to predict, he may work well with
Howard in that regard.

The best news in the backourt is that with three reasonable
candidates at point, and one who did well at the end of the year, Robert O'
Kelley won't have to carry that burden, which is good because it's proven
difficult for him. When he comes out, Craig Dawson can shoot with anyone.
Wake is very solid at this position, and potentially solid at the point.

Non Conference Games
Mount St. Mary's/BCA
SC State

Wake's import frontcourt duo of Darius Songaila and Rafael
Vidauretta were pretty effective. Songaila, currently in Australia for the
Olympics, proved to be very tough, and Vidauretta, whose offensive skills are
not refined, was very very tough on defense. He was an impressive force at
times. We really grew to like Josh Shoemaker during the year. He was
a solid reserve, a good rebounder and defender. He's a kid almost any team
could use. Antwan Scott is one of the more interesting players in the
conference. A guy who is capable of tremendous offense, he hasn't satisfied Dave
Odom defensively, and so he doesn't play as much as he should. He has a
great deal of talent, though, and could probably start if he rounds his game
out. He's certainly athletic enough to defend a lot of people.

No matter what he decides, though, he should be able to put
five starters out on the court who are competitive with most anyone. One
of the positive side effects of so many players coming out early is that
programs slightly less high profile, who usually don't have a lot of players
leaving early, get the advantage of more time together. This is the case
for Wake, with three seniors and five juniors (by contrast, Duke has two
seniors, and one is a redshirt, and no juniors). They could face a problem
restocking though, since eight players are upper classmen and only three are
sophomores or freshmen. It would have been more probably, but UNC got interested
late in Neil Fingleton and Brian Morrison and took them away from Wake.
But that's a couple of years down the road.

This year, things look really optimistic for the Deacs. They
have a couple of questions to answer - what will Antwan Scott do, who can come
through as a wing defender, and how will point guard sort itself out.

Wake should make the tournament, and should have the toughness
to do some damage. If chemistry and luck are on their side, they could make a
deep run.

They also get some credit for putting together a nice non-con
schedule. Apparently heeding the NCAA's comments about schedule toughness,
Dave Odom has put Kansas, Georgia, Temple, and Cincinnati on the schedule, and
Michigan is in the ACC/Big 10/1 Challenge.