Deacs look to rebound vs. Terps
A quick check of the stats from the first two meetings between Wake Forest and Maryland shows one obvious area where the Demon Deacons will likely have to improve if they want to win today in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
The No. 10 seed Deacons (13-7) will be seeking to keep the No. 7 seed Terps (20-11) off the boards and will be seeking to slow down their scoring in the paint. Maryland held a 42-21 rebounding advantage and outscored the Deacs 44-25 in the paint in a 86-60 romp on Feb. 2 in College Park. A month later in the Joel Coliseum, it was much the same story, with the Terps holding a 41-30 rebounding advantage and a decisive 46-18 cushion in a 67-57 win.
“We’ve got to man up,” Wake forward Travis McKie said. “When they get the ball in the post, we’ve got to wall them. The guards have to help the big men out. We’ve got to wall them and make them take tough shots.”
That promises to be a tall task against frontcourt players who include 7-1 starting center Alex Lin; 6-8 forward James Padgett; 6-9, 265-pound reserve center Shaquille Clear; and 6-8, 260 freshman Charles Mitchell.
Wake will likely start a frontline of 6-9, 240 center Devin Thomas, 6-7, 220 forward Travis McKIe and 6-6, 225 forward Arnad William Adala-Moto.
“Lin is the first or second best big in the ACC,” Wake freshman center Devin Thomas. “I’ve just got to keep a body on him. He’s just so good around the rim. He can hit that hook, But, I think Shaquille and Mitchell
are the X-factors. They’re so big. They average 10 offensive rebounds. That’s something we’ve got to stop.”
They also have to stop 6-5 forward Dez Wells from driving into the lane. Hitting 11 of 12 shots, all from close range, Wells scored 23 points against the Deacons in Winston-Salem.
“What we’ve been working on practice is transition,” Wake guard C.J. Harris said. “A couple of their guards are one-man fast breaks.”
For all the shortcomings, Wake put up a better fight in Winston-Salem, trailing by four points with just two minutes to play. Of the top six seeds in the tournament, Wake managed to beat four of them — regular-season champ Miami, No. 4 Virginia, No. 5 N.C. State and No. 6 Florida State.
“There’s a lot of parity,” Wake coach Jeff Bzedlik said. “Everybody is good. So much of this game is played from the neck up.
“It’s about winning the game your playing, Maryland tagged us pretty good at their place but we’ve gotten better and we had a 4-point game with 2½ minutes to go. So we just keep trying to get better and we’ve got to keep attacking.”