Wake Enters NCAA Tournament Discussion; State Mired in Point Guard Mess of Our Making

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).

Warren has been so spectacular that he has a whole list of articles in USA Today that are ‘tagged’ with his name. Last week Warren earned his third SEC Freshman of the Week honors

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.

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07-08 Basketball Sidney Lowe

171 Responses to Wake Enters NCAA Tournament Discussion; State Mired in Point Guard Mess of Our Making

  1. Rick 02/18/2008 at 9:01 AM #

    The coach they have now is much better than the one they lost. He teaches defense.

    And doesn’t Wake have a sensational recruiting class coming in next year? Sigh

  2. one00_proof 02/18/2008 at 9:14 AM #

    While it’s nice we got 3 guards since Degand got injured, you really have to question the guard recruitment if you take Degand’s injury out of the picture. Degand was recruited out of necessity but Gonzalez’s recruitment continues to befuddle me. While I believe he will be a “solid” 4 year contributor, the fact we passed on a Jai Lucas (who I think would have been tough to get here anyway) and ESPECIALLY Chris Warren (who was ours for the taking) really frustrates me. From my understanding, the coaches wanted a “tall” PG and because neither of them fit that bill, State cooled off. Apparently later they sorta had a epiphany that “O crap, we need another guard, let’s go get that Gonzalez guy!” and here we are. Despite a coaching staff with years of coaching experience, there’s an obvious learning process between all of them and I personally think Lowe is letting Towe get a little too scholarship happy. While Johnson sounds good on paper, the fact he’s a shooting guard who CANT shoot is even more frustrating. Mays so far sounds like a solid pickup and hopefully he can come in and contribute from the 3-point arc. In the end though, for Lowe to make sure his pants don’t light on fire in the coming year, he needs to get Wall or make the NCAA. Wall is a PG growing in our backyard and he’s the kind of recruit you can tout to other recruits such as a Favors or Brown. The kid is built for speed and his saavy passing skills make him perfect for a run and gun offense NC State fans have been admiring our neighbors for. Give me a class (realistically) of Wall/Brown/Kelly/Wood and I’ll partake in Lowe’s kool-aid for the moment.

  3. Rick 02/18/2008 at 9:21 AM #

    “Wall/Brown/Kelly/Wood ”

    This would be a blockbuster class for us.
    Not only is it highly rated it fills our needs…
    1) PG
    2) speed
    3) shooting
    4) basketball IQ

  4. Rich 02/18/2008 at 9:23 AM #

    Not everybody can jump in and play point as a Freshman. I think Gonzalez will progress. Give him time.

  5. wolfpackpassion 02/18/2008 at 9:27 AM #

    wakes class comming in next year is ranked between 1-4 nationally.
    So they will only get better plus the final game of the season between state and wake will see how low we are and how high wake will be.
    Wake has road game at unc but the rest are winnable other than the blowout at bc,wake has played solid this year and had clemson on the road and blew that game. They had us to at the half and i doubt that team turmoil will win another road game. Wake is in unless they fall apart. unc,duke clemson maryland wake and thats it. I thought lucas was not interested in state and neither was wright? But when i see dan werner playing and statrting for floida(two time ncaa defending champ) i get sick. Why did we release him? All of wakes recruits stay but i heard nothing of wake releasing them after skip past away.

    And our assistant coaches situation is extremely bad other than lary harris i can’t think of anyone of them who is worth their pay. The game has passed m towe way on by. Heck uno is doing without him.
    Anyone remeber sean miller, herbs old assistant here now running a good xavier team?
    We went to the wolfpack family well way to much!
    We should have gotten a good coach,
    next year at this time will they be looking?
    weds game score unc 89-state 69

  6. LRM 02/18/2008 at 9:29 AM #

    How depressing is it that Wake will likely be dancing and we won’t? Good for them, if they make it, they’ve earned it.

  7. choppack1 02/18/2008 at 9:35 AM #

    One thing to remember, Ish Smith is the regular PG for Wake. Teague is one of those guys who can play both positions – the 2 guard and the PG.

    What baffles me most about the 3 PGs we recruited – apparently none of them shoot well enough to play the 2 or even 3 spot. Out of the 3, Gonazlez displays the best set of PG skills in terms of passing, handling, and floor command. What is bizarre about the recruiting of Gonzalez in comparison of Warren and Lucas – is that he’s not much taller than those 2.

    However, I don’t want to come down too hard on Gonzalez – aside from Hickson, he’s the only above average rebounder we put on the court. He makes plays on defense and is making more on offense.

    I am very disappointed in the short-sightedness of the staff. The big problem here isn’t Farnold or Javi – but rather Marquez Johnson. Is there not another combo guard w/ more aggressiveness that we could have brought in?

    Of course, he may not be the problem at all…I’ve never seen 3 PG’s so hesitant to shoot in my life. I’m beginning to think the players aren’t the problem here…

  8. BJD95 02/18/2008 at 9:37 AM #

    We need a defensive guru on the bench. FWIW, the Towe hire never made much sense to me.

    Javi is a serviceable backup PG. I don’t think he is or can be any more than that. Wall is essential for there to be any realistic hope on the horizon. Next season pretty much hinges on how well Degand recovers from his knee injury. Without him at 100%, I won’t have much hope for next year.

    I wish I knew why Tracy Smith is apparently in the staff’s doghouse.

  9. StateFans 02/18/2008 at 9:45 AM #

    * I think that both Degand and Gonzalez will be serviceable PG’s in the future and will provide us solid depth at the position if we can land an obvious stud/starter.

    * There is no doubt that it is tough to step into the role as a freshamn. But, it is particularly painful in this situation where we literally CHOSE Johnson and Gonzalez OVER Chris Warren and over further pursuit of Jai Lucas.

    * I don’t know how we could have missed so miserably on Marques Johnson.

    * Wake is going to be amazing in the next couple of years.

  10. packgrad93 02/18/2008 at 9:49 AM #

    “The coach they have now is much better than the one they lost. He teaches defense.”


    “he’s the only above average rebounder we put on the court.”

    he had 0 boards vs Clemson.

    Ben & Brandon have taken big steps back.

  11. Wulfpack 02/18/2008 at 9:54 AM #

    “Despite a coaching staff with years of coaching experience”

    I hate to keep having to point this out but it seems to go unnoticed. Our assistant coaches were NOT successful head coaches. In fact, they were poor.

    Player development, or lack thereof, is a major issues with this staff. This is very apparent. Nobody on this team is better than they were last year. And a few have taken a dramatic step backwards.

    I really don’t want to hear anymore about a freshman point guard needing time to be productive.

    Stitt (Clemson) productive

    Teague (Wake) productive

    Smith (Duke) productive

    Coaching has a whole lot to do with this.

  12. LRM 02/18/2008 at 10:06 AM #

    Johnson transferred here because of his lack of playing time at Tennessee. There was obviously a reason for that. Why was this not apparent to anyone on our staff?

    Good ballplayers don’t ride the pine.

  13. choppack1 02/18/2008 at 10:08 AM #

    “he had 0 boards vs Clemson.”

    That’s the exception – not the rule. Javi is averaging 2.5 rebounds per game – even w/ that goose egg. To put it in perspective, McCauley averages an eye-popping 2.8 boards per game, Fells averages another whopping 2.6

    He’s also one of only 2 players (Gavin Grant being the other) who has a positive assist to TO ratio. (It should be noted that T Ferg has an even ration 1 to 1 and 2 steals.)

    He also leads the team in steals.

    One reason I’ve defended Javi here is that there is evidence that he’s trying – AND – he’s fought injuries.

  14. wolfpackpassion 02/18/2008 at 10:23 AM #

    i don’t have anything against javi g, he just is not a acc type started, he will be a good reserve but two home losses i seen gt and clemson when in critical spots his teammates leave it to him to create and ring the ball up the court. G grant is a senior who should step up and be the leader on this team and demand the ball. but he runs away. Mj is a real disappointmet,when it was written in the n/o that he was comming he was highly praised as a player.
    isaid it one and i will say it again when degand got hurt the starting line up should have been:
    hickson,grant,fells ben m,costner and tracy smith javi g and horner off the bench and thats it,
    all of these starters can hanlde the ball okay and we should have not plugged javi into a situation where he was doomed to fail. It is rare in the acc to succeed at the point unless your a superstar in the making.
    heck in the late 80’s when king rice wasa bad pg at unc dean smith turned the ball handling over to jeff lebo a shooting guard and move on.
    heck coach k when to c collins when he did not have a true pt.
    all good coaches do that.

  15. westwolf 02/18/2008 at 10:25 AM #

    It’s simply amazing that our staff, people who are paid to do nothing but think about basketball for a career, observed Marques Johnson and still decided to offer him a scholarship. He brings absolutely NOTHING to the table:

    He is not only a poor shooter, but his weird “flinging from the hip” release ensures that he will remain a poor shooter.

    He is practically incapable of dribbling with his left hand. Watch in the next game…he will dribble towards the right side of the court, hesitate continue veering right, and the pick up his dribble when he finally hits the sideline. It’s the stuff of middle school basketball.

    Finally, he has incredibly slow feet. His slow reaction time is simply a product of physical limitations. He is too slow to defend Acc level guards.

    UT told him that he would have to redshirt, which his father (accurately) understood to mean that he was never going to see much playing time…ever. Yet our staff thought he could play in the Acc?

    Is there ANY chance that Lowe would be willing to shake up his staff? Confer some consequences on those staff members who are either poor talent evaluators or are too lazy to track down the best talent?

  16. packgrad93 02/18/2008 at 10:29 AM #

    “What baffles me most about the 3 PGs we recruited – apparently none of them shoot well enough to play the 2 or even 3 spot.”

    Degand was shooting 50% from 3 when he got hurt. His injury hurt us a lot IMO. Can’t help but assume the staff felt good enough with Degand that they went after JJ instead of a top PG. Javi & Marques were planned back-ups.

  17. PackWolf82 02/18/2008 at 10:39 AM #

    All this talk sure makes you appreciate someone like Engin Atsur coming in with solid contributions as a Freshman.

  18. Par Shooter 02/18/2008 at 10:39 AM #

    I think we miss Degand more on the defensive end of the court than offense. He didn’t really get a chance to defend too many acc-level pg’s but in the games I saw he appeared to have potential to be a very good defender. He had good size and quickness and seemed to move his feet pretty well. Javi just cannot handle really good guards yet and may never be able to simply due to physical limitations. I also think that he has enough size and a good enough shot that he may be able to back up the 2 spot if needed (and if we have a good pg).

  19. gcpack 02/18/2008 at 10:41 AM #

    Did we actually pass up recruiting Lucas & Warren or did these two get recruited by State but chose other schools?

    If we passed up on them and they were interested in State then thats as bad as Sendek. Blake, the guard that ended up at Maryland, wanted to play at State but ole “Daytight Compartments” did not bother to call him.

  20. choppack1 02/18/2008 at 10:42 AM #

    You are correct pacgrad93. However, in the games that he did play for us, he never played the 2 Guard.

    One thing that has really disappointed me thus far (I should actually say, “One of the many things”) is that Sid and staff is that each player on the court appears to only have 1 position – or at most 2 positions.

    Think about it…Javi, Degand and Marquez – only play the 1 spot. Fells – pretty just plays the 2 spot – he’ll play some 1 in a pinch, but never the 3 – a position where I think he’d be very successful.
    Grant – he never plays the 4 spot. IMHO, he’s strong enough and rebounds well enough to play this spot…but he never does.
    Horner – He plays the 2 or 3 spot. He never plays the 4 spot. He should.
    Costner and McCauley- Each one of these guys has played the 4 or 5 spot. We haven’t ever tried the tall lineup of Costner, McCauley and JJ. I’m not a huge fan of this line-up, but I’d like to see it.

    Next year, we bring in Julius Mays. I pray that he gives us some versatility that will allow us to go “small” and fast.

    Sid need only look at Valvano and how he managed line-ups. In 83 – you often saw Lowe, Gannon, and Whittenburg on the court at the same time w/ Bailey and Charles or Bailey and McQueen.

  21. SMD 02/18/2008 at 10:43 AM #

    To what degree is this guard recruitment a case of hindsight being 20-20? I mean, at the time of recruitment were Warren and Lucas clearly that much better than Gonzalez and Johnson?

    I don’t follow recruiting near as close as I should, but I think the point to take away is that recruiting is still an inexact science. If a coach always comes up on the wrong end of the inexact science, then there’s a problem.

  22. Rick 02/18/2008 at 10:44 AM #

    ““The coach they have now is much better than the one they lost. He teaches defense.”

    necessary? ”

    You are a putz. If you disagree with the comment then by all means argue your point. Of course you are incapable of putting forth a decnet arguement. Every post of yours consists of “uh uh” and “no way”.

    The thread is about Wake. I am responding on their coaching. Grow up.

  23. Par Shooter 02/18/2008 at 10:46 AM #

    I don’t think there is any way we’ll see a staff shake-up unless someone leaves of their own accord. We convinced Towe to leave a head coaching gig – we certainly aren’t going to can him 2 years later. Not saying we should or shouldn’t, but we won’t. I don’t really know how the recruiting responsibilities are shared but I would hesitate to rock the boat if we have guys who are in good shape with 09 prospects. That’s likely make or break for Sid at the college level.

    One glaring weakness in our program for the last 12 years has been the lack of good fundamentals and development of our inside guys. Harris has been our “big man coach” for all of those 12 years and has had some talent to work with. I like Larry and I think he is an asset “in the room” as well on the recruiting trail. However, I would really like to see us hire a good big man coach and let Harris be more of a generalist. Just b/c he is big and was a good players obviously does not mean that he can coach inside players on things like keeping the ball up or boxing out.

  24. packgrad93 02/18/2008 at 10:47 AM #

    so you’re saying Wake’s current coach is better than Skip?

  25. packgrad93 02/18/2008 at 10:51 AM #

    “To what degree is this guard recruitment a case of hindsight being 20-20?”

    A lot. Just like the classic Blake vs Crawford line.

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