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ACC Women's Preview #1 - Wake Forest

by Rob Clough

2000 Summary: 7-21, 3-13 ACC (9th in the ACC)

Head Coach: Charlene Curtis

Who's Leaving:

Alisha Mosley/G, 5-6 (11.5 ppg, led team in steals and three point shooting)

Who's Coming Back: (* indicates a likely starter)

*LaChina Robinson/ C, 6-4, Jr. (7.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 19 blocks)
*Mock-Kirkpatrick, Brenda/ F, 6-0, Sr. (8.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg)
*Shaffer, Kristen/ G-F, 5-10, Sr. (7.2 ppg)
*Whiteside, Janae/ G, 5-6, Sr. (5.8 ppg, led team in assists with 62)
*Klopfer, Val/ G, 5-4, Jr. (3.7 ppg)
Dardy, Olivia/ F-C, 6-1, Sr. (3.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
Miller, Heather/ G, 5-10, So. (3.6 ppg)
Bjorkland, Johanna/ C, 6-5, So. (2.6 ppg, 16 blocks)
Harris, Adell/ G, 5-6, Jr. (2.4 ppg, 50 assists)
Listenbee, Tiffani/ F-C, So. (1.8 ppg, 11 blocks)
Pearson, LaTisha/ C, 6-4, So. (4.3 mpg)
Rogers, Liz/ G-F, 5-9, Jr. (2.5 mpg)
Biedrycki, Elizabeth/ C, 6-4, Jr. (2.8 mpg)

Who's New:

Tracy Alston/ F, 5-10
Bianca Brown/ G, 5-8
Tonia Brown/ G, 5-10
Afton Hill/ F, 6-1

Strengths: Size, depth

Weaknesses: Shooting, leadership, quickness, penetration

Scouting Report: Wake has traditionally been an ACC cellar-dweller, and
last year was no exception. With a young team that was missing an important
player in Dardy for much of the season, Wake had trouble gaining confidence
and finishing off opponents down the stretch. A quick look at the returning
players shows the Deacons' main problem--a lack of scoring punch. They
ranked last in the ACC in virtually every offensive category, with an amazing
-8.9 scoring margin. Averaging just 57 ppg, this meant that they had to play
a perfect defensive game just to have a chance to win. Perhaps the most
damning stat for Wake was that they ranked last in rebound margin at -3.6.
While their many misses were certainly a factor, a team that had so many huge
players simply couldn't let this be a weakness.

The season did have a few bright spots. The play of Alisha Mosley kept Wake
in many games. The team's only double-digit scorer, she was also the only
player who shot over 30% from the three point line (33%). The undersized
Mock-Kirkpatrick was surprisingly solid on the boards, especially offensively.
Wake could play some tenacious defense at times, managing to hold UNC, FSU
and Maryland under 60 points in their three ACC wins. At the time, UNC was
still ranked in the top 25, giving Charlene Curtis her first win over a
ranked team. Toward the end of the year, the team started to gel a bit. While
this didn't result in many wins, they played NCAA teams UNC, Clemson and
Virginia right down to the wire.

The formula for beating Wake was rather simple: go zone and pack it in on
the post players. Their lack of slashers and players who could get to the foul
line made it difficult for them to score the easy points. While they had
a lot of size, their post players were neither overly strong nor quick. Their
biggest problem may have been a lack of focus, however. The team had trouble
dealing with adversity and learning how to take advantage of matchups. The
overall youth of the Deacs was a factor, but a scarcity of players who knew how
to win and expected to win meant that they would often fold when more
experienced, confident teams turned up the intensity.

In 2001, Wake will most likely start three seniors and two juniors, with
another senior as the top sub. While Wake was getting pounded last year,
Curtis made sure to get a lot of players some playing time, meaning that there
are eight returning players who averaged at least 10 minutes a game.

The post remains Wake's biggest potential strength. With the promising
Robinson poised to have a breakout season, the Deacs could have the most
dominant frontcourt in the league. Robinson led the team in blocks and was
the only regular Deac to shoot over 50% for the season. But in order to
be effective, she has to stay in the game, meaning that she'll have to cut
down on her team-leading 87 fouls. Just as intriguing are young Pearson
and Bjorkman, two excellent shotblockers who need to develop more strength
and discipline. A player's biggest developmental leap is usually between
the first and second years, so we'll see if they can continue to develop.
Dardy is an inside-outside threat who will need to play big off the bench
as the top sub, while Listenbee has shown flashes of potential in limited
minutes. The frontcourt's mantra will be: stay out of foul trouble and
hit the boards. One hopes that the young players have gotten stronger through
weight training, or else we'll see a repeat of Wake being pushed around.

The backcourt is still a major weakness, especially with Mosley's departure.
Essentially, the Deacs have no proven guards. Whiteside struggled as a point
guard and will probably move over to off guard this year while Klopfer takes
over at point. This is where Curtis hopes that some of Wake's recruits can
lend a hand, and they seem to have a decent pedigree. T. Brown and Allston
were both honorable mention All-Americas, while B. Brown is supposed to be
pretty quick. Hill should help fill the void at small forward. Questions
abound, however. Is there a true point on this team? Can anyone hit the
three on a regular basis? Can someone draw fouls driving to the basket?
Harris and Miller will fight it out with the frosh for playing time, but no
one's job is secure at this point.

Ultimately, I think Wake will be a better ballclub than they were last year.
The problem is that their nearest competitors will also be better. This may
be the strongest the league has ever been, in fact, something that will make
this year a struggle. Their size will give a number of teams fits since most
of the league doesn't have a number of great post players, but an overall
lack of quickness and scoring punch will doom them in most of their games.
Still, even for a last place team, Wake won't be an easy out, and if they can
use their depth and size well, might even pull off some big surprises.

Schedule Analysis: A number of Wake's opponents include the usual creampuffs
like High Point and Appalachian State. But there's one name in particular
that stands out: UConn. Yup, the Deacs are travelling to Storrs to face
what will likely be the #1 team in the country, two days after another tilt
with a Connecticut team, Quinnipiac. That should be a learning experience to
say the least. The Deacs will be hoping for a little payback against four
teams that beat them in 2000: Arizona State, Liberty, Richmond and Coastal
Carolina. The latter loss was especially humiliating and may have been the
low point of the season, since the Chanticleers won by 12 points. Rounding
out the non-conference schedule will be Western Michigan, Coppin State and
New Orleans, a team that Wake narrowly beat on the road last year.

Predicted finish: