We set the stage in this entry last week that unless someone started claiming some scalps that the ACC would only have four participants in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Wake Forest’s big win yesterday over the Duke Blue Devils is exactly the kind of statement and scalp that the Demon Deacons needed to propel themselves into the conversation. If the tournament started today the Demon Deacons would probably still be on the outside looking in…but the Deacs are a lot closer than they were before Sunday’s game.
As if NC State fans needed any further salt in our wounds, the play of Wake’s freshman point guard, Jeff Teague, continues to dazzle the league and underscore the importance of having a stud at the key position.
The play of Teague also underscores the price that NC State is paying for very poor talent evaluation at the position. The Wolfpack’s coaching staff obviously ‘out thought’ themselves over the last couple of years as they amassed three commitments for the position – Farnold Degand, Marques Johnson, Javier Gonzalez – while choosing to pass on names like Jai Lucas (Florida) and Chris Warren (Ole Miss).
The Orlando, Fla., native poured in a career-high 26 points at Arkansas on Saturday, his fourth 20-point performance in league play. He single-handedly kept Ole Miss in the game, scoring 18 points in the second half, including 11 straight for the Rebels in the stretch run to cut a 12-point Razorback lead with just under three minutes remaining to a three-point edge with 51 seconds left in the game. The lightning-quick rookie drained six three-pointers (6-of-8), dished out five assists and made three steals in the game.
Warren ranks sixth in the SEC with 18.4 points per game in league play and ninth with a 16.4 average in all games. He also ranks third in assists and three-pointers in all games.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound guard already seventh in school history with 64 three-pointers made this season, while his 345 points scored are sixth-most by a freshman in the Rebel program’s history.
Additionally, Lucas’ consistency at Florida led the Jacksonville newspaper to feature him last week.
The 5-foot-11 Lucas is averaging 2.4 assists per game, but in SEC play, that number jumps to 2.8 per game, and his 16 turnovers in 10 league games are the fewest among UF’s starters.
That’s proof of Lucas’ good decision-making, according to Donovan.
“He really tries not to turn it over, and generally the biggest problem when you have young guards that are freshmen like that [is] there’s going to be a lot of turnovers,” Donovan said. “So far, they’ve done a pretty good job of taking care of the basketball and understanding that, ‘You know what? If I don’t make the right play or I miss the right play, I’m better off holding onto the ball than I am throwing to somebody and getting it turned over.”
As BJD stated in this significantly important piece last week – Coach Lowe’s job may very well rest on the recruiting class that signs with NC State this coming November with no recruit more important that Raleigh’s very own John Wall at the point guard position.
But, allow me to add a little more to that while noting the obvious – if State lands wall and Trevor Ferguson does not graduate out (forget his ‘playing status’), then the Wolfpack will literally have SIX of THIRTEEN scholarships tied up in players who can play point guard if needed – Wall, Degand, Johnson, Ferguson, Gonzalez and Julius Mays. That is absurd. So, in addition to what State needs to sign in November, the program also desperately needs to do some ‘restructuring’ of scholarships allocation and spacing.