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ACC Roundup - Deacons Rising?

The baby Deacs are learning how to win.

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NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at North Carolina State
Jan 21, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried (left) and forward BeeJay Anya (21) react to a call during the second half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at PNC Arena. The Demon Deacons won 93-88. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

We used to know this guy named Evan. Evan was built like a Greek god, about 6-4 and cut.

So when he showed up at the gym, the rest of us figured we were in a world of trouble.

Didn’t quite work out like that.

Evan had one shot shoved down his throat and never figured out he was bigger and stronger than the rest of us. So we just abused him whenever he played.

Puppies are the same way, although when they grow up they generally do a better job of standing up for themselves. But it takes a while. They all go through an adolescence where they’re big enough to take care of themselves but not confident enough to do it.

Same for a basketball team.

When you have a young team and no recent history of success, it takes a while to put it all together.

Meet Wake Forest.

We’ve all seen signs from the Deacons. There is significant talent on that roster but it’s all young and they haven’t figured out how to win.

Until lately.

Wake almost upset UNC in Chapel Hill on January 8th before losing 93-87, then clobbered Miami 96-79 and on Saturday held on to beat ancient rival NC State 93-88.

It wasn’t easy and Wake needed some help from official Jamie Luckie (he called State’s Terry Henderson out after a steal when replays suggest he was not out) to nail it down but big deal.

Wake won and State lost. Wake is getting closer to post-season play; State’s season is in danger.

If this continues, it could be the second season in a row that State misses the post-season (last year the Wolfpack finished 16-17).

That won’t go over well with the fans, who expected a better season with some major new talent.

Good news: Dennis Smith was an outstanding distributor with 13 assists. He also had 15 points and came close to another triple double with seven boards.

More good news: Abdul-Malik Abu broke out of his slump with 20 points and seven rebounds.

Bad news: Omer Yertseven fouled out in 14 minutes with six points and four rebounds.

More bad news: State’s defense again allowed an opposing team to run up the score.

After the game, State’s Mark Gottfried was stewing over Luckie’s call and said this:

“[Luckie said] he didn’t need to review it. He had it for sure. Have you watched it? Go watch it. Life moves on.”

He’s learned to watch his tongue after the recent flap over his cursing. And he is wise to be cautious since A.D. Debbie Yow is not a patient woman. Two bad seasons in a row might tempt Yow to pull the trigger and start over. And he has improved the program so she might do better this time around.

Do you get the feeling that Havelock native Ky Bowman is irritated that he wasn’t pursued more intensely by Big Four teams? He hit 14 against Wake Forest, 19 against Duke and State and 33 against UNC - a school he originally committed to for football.

Check this:

  • Against Duke he shot 8-15.
  • Against State he shot 6-10.
  • Against UNC he shot...13-19.

That’s 27-44 against the Triangle teams, or 61%. That’s a guard.

UNC had trouble closing BC out, which is not surprising now given what we know about BC’s improvement. It’s still not good news for UNC.

Ol’ Roy Williams is not happy with his team’s D, but as we’re learning, Bowman and his NC/BC sidekick Jerome Robinson are not easy to control.

The other games went more or less as expected, although we thought Louisville was capable of beating FSU. Didn’t happen though. Florida State is legit.

If you see the highlights, you may see this play: FSU’s 7-4 Christ Koumadje ran down a Louisville player from behind on a break and blocked the shot, which was impressive - then bounced it (accidentally we’re sure) off the kid’s head. It was a cool play but less so if you were on the receiving end of it.

FSU led almost the entire way but Rick Pitino wasn’t too unhappy: "Everybody hates to lose, but when you give extraordinary effort, and you play as hard as you can play, you just give credit to the other team and you move on to the next game. That's the way I feel..."The effort (Saturday) was incredible. I thought our guys were brilliant from a hustle (and) effort standpoint. That being said, (FSU) is one of the most difficult teams to guard, because they shoot at so many positions, but no coach could ask for any greater effort than what I saw."

With Saturday’s loss to Notre Dame, Syracuse fell to 11-9. That’s something Syracuse hasn’t seen for awhile.

VJ Beacham racked up 30 points for the Irish. Bonzi Colson had 14 points and 14 boards.

Although defense continues to be a problem for Syracuse Notre Dame is having a brilliant season from the foul line: the Irish finished 15-16.

And Jim Boeheim? The dour Dutchman does not disappoint: "We can't win with three guys against anybody. We have to have more guys. I can't even describe how disappointed I am in a couple guys on our team. That's the way it goes."

That’s a nice bookend for Gottfried’s comment above actually.

He’s referring to Tyler Lydon, Tyus Battle and Andrew White, who scored all but nine of Syracuse’s points. And his wrath appears aimed at Taurean Thompson, John Gillon and perhaps Tyler Roberson, last year’s whipping boy.

Marial Shayok had 19 to lead Virginia past Georgia Tech, 62-49 but Tony Bennett left his heart with Jack Salt: "There were a few story lines but I don't think there were any bigger than how Jack impacted the game. Jack was just there. He was a presence."

Salt had five points, six rebounds, a steal and a block and held Tech’s star Ben Lammers to 3-15 and just seven points.

Josh Okogie had 14 to pace the Yellow Jackets.

Only one game Sunday as Virginia Tech visits Clemson. It would help Duke’s cause if the Tigers would win and give Duke a small bit of space as the Blue Devils try to move up the standings.

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