StLou's Previews: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

The Hoos go on the road for the second time in a four day span as they drive down to Winston Salem to face Wake Forest. The Deacs are having a letdown season by any measure, but will have an upset on the mind to help salvage their year. Will Virginia be ready to take their best punch?

Game Details:

Date/Time: Sunday, Jan 21st, 6:00 PM Eastern  
Location: Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem, NC

What 'They' Say

Vegas: Virginia -9.5, O/U 126.5
TAPE: Ranks WF #88, projects a 75-61 UVA win, 89% confidence
KenPom: Ranks WF #90, projects a 67-57 UVA win, 81% confidence


Depth Chart:


PG #10 Mitchell Wilbekin, 6-2 175, SR
25.9 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 1.5 apg, 43% 3P%
SG #13 Bryant Crawford, 6-3 200, JR 
30.8 mpg, 16.2 ppg, 4.7 apg, 35% 3P% 
SF #23 Chaundee Brown, 6-5 215, FR 
19.4 mpg, 6.7 ppg, 1 apg, 35% 3P% 
PF #20 Terrence Thompson, 6-7 215, SR 
19.8 mpg, 4.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 42% FG% 
C #4 Doral Moore, 7-1 280, JR 
22.8 mpg, 9.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.3 bpg 

Key Reserves


#0 Brandon Childress, 6-0 190, SO
24.8 mpg, 8.9 ppg, 3.7 apg, 36% 3P%
G #1 Keyshawn Woods, 6-3 205, JR 
25.9 mpg, 14.2 ppg, 1.7 apg, 43% 3P% 
F #2 Donovan Mitchell, 6-7 215, SO
10.6 mpg, 3 ppg, 2 rpg, 56% FG%
C  #30 Olivier Sarr, 7-0 215, FR 
15.7 mpg, 3.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.6 bpg 


The ABC's of WF:

A) They're crashing hard after being a surprise tournament team last year. Heck, even Hoos Place had Wake picked as a potential bubble team, bringing back a lot of pieces from last year's 10-seed squad. But they stumbled out of the gate, losing games to Georgia Southern, Liberty, and Drake. They seemed to be playing better, getting six straight wins in December before going to Chapel Hill and playing a surprisingly close game against Carolina (lost 73-69), then bouncing back to beat Cuse at home. But they've been unable to get another ACC win, losing toss-up games to BC, VT, and NC State. At this point the post-season is quickly fading from sight, so they're only playing for pride.

B) They've got an excellent guard rotation. Wake brought back a quartet of really good guards from last year's tournament team in Wilbekin (younger brother of UF's Scottie), Crawford, Childress (Randolph's son), and Woods, who are all averaging at least 8.8 points a game this year. Childress and Crawford are more natural point guards, whereas Woods and Wilbekin excel more off guard. They're dangerous because any one of them can be the guy who does you in on any given night, so it's a pick-your-poison in trying to focus your defense on any one of them. Each of them is a capable three point shooter, and they all can play facilitator as well. The depth at guard is WF's clear strength, and it's kept them in games against good teams already this year, such as when they had a late lead over UNC behind 46 combined points and 15 assists between the group.

C) They're a one and done defense. For all the ways their defense is struggling (and there are quite a few), they've committed to defensive rebounding and are the best in the ACC so far at closing out possessions after the first shot, over 80% of the time. I would be surprised to see us generate much second chance offense in this game, so it's imperative we get good looks the first time around.

Their season to date:

Wake Forest is 8-10 on the year, 1-5 in the ACC. Their lone good win is a 6 point home win over Syracuse. They're on a four game losing streak, which includes @BC, VT, @Duke, and most recently blowing a 6 point second half lead @ NCSU on Thursday to lose by 9.

Keys to getting the win:

1) Shut down their three point shooting. Frankly shooting the 3 is about the only thing Wake is doing consistently well this year. They're over 39% on the year (36th nationally), and almost 40% through their first 6 ACC games (2nd in ACC play). Center Doral Moore is about the only rotation player who isn't a threat. For their backcourt, Crawford is shooting 35%, Woods is 43%, Childress is 36%, Brown is 35%, and Wilbekin is 43%. They also have stretch-bigs to space the floor, with PF Thompson 6-12 on the year, backup C Sarr is 5-15, and backup forward Mitchell is 8-15. They're going to work hard to beat us with the three on their home rims, and we have to make sure our ACC-best 3-point defense (holding teams to 28.6% through 6 games) is locked in.

2) Go at them and get to the FT line. Wake is far too foul prone for their own good, and are putting opponents on the FT line at the worst rate in the ACC. NC State got 20 attempts at the line, Duke 34, BC 35. I don't expect us to approach 30, of course, but good aggressive play at the rim, especially off of crisp ball movement that gets their undisciplined defense out of position, should generate some bonus points for our offense.

3) Make Doral Moore defend in space. Wake's 2P% defense is actually pretty decent, holding ACC opponents to under 46% inside the arc, 6th in the conference, and a large part of that is thanks to Doral Moore, a 7-foot shot blocking specialist, 2.3 a game. His block percentage in ACC play is 13.7%, best in the ACC. We learned a very important lesson against GT, and that's that we're not a team that's going to score effectively at the rim over a true effective rim protector, watching Ben Lammers get 6 quick blocks on us (even if a couple were uncalled fouls). But we were able to adjust by getting him onto Hunter or Wilkins who could pull him away from the basket with the threat of an effective mid-range jumper, and that opened up the lane for the dribble penetration game. We need to find ways in this game to do the same with Moore; stretch him to make his rim protection less effective.


Hoo Ya Gonna Call?

Updated on January 20, 2018 by Seattle Hoo

Having gone to two past houses of horrors this year and walked out with an average margin of victory of 21 points, the seniors prepare to lead the Hoos into yet another one.  On the way back to Charlottesville from Atlanta and the McCamish Dimension, the Cavaliers will stop off at the Lawrence Joel Twilight Zone Coliseum to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.  Virginia does not have a strong history at Lawrence Joel, but how much does that matter?

The last time Virginia went to the LJTZC, it got so weird that Virginia played ZONE. This was when Virginia's seniors were marking days off the calendar until February when it would be time to come back from the working vacation and get down to business. This was the last game of the working vacation, and the near disaster probably had a lot to do with the decision to start working late. Fortunately for the Hoos, the weirdness extended to Virginia coming back from a hundred points down in the last 20 seconds and winning on a banked buzzer beater from the upper deck.  Remember Darius Thompson?  This was his signature contribution to Virginia Basketball.

But these seniors are not on a working vacation.  Isaiah Wilkins is making his case for National Defensive Player of the Year (ACC DPOY is a virtual certainty at this point thanks to the tireless advance efforts of yours truly #IW21UVA4DPOY), and Devon Hall is trying to BernieSanders the all-ACC first team (but we expect the ACC media to DNC that to whichever establishment candidate believes it is his time).  Nigel Johnson's as excited as a 6-month-old golden retriever just to be relevant.  No zone will be needed, because this crew is leaving skin on hardwood floors all over the east coast.

Sharon Cox-Ponder for HOOS Place

The ZAY has added locking up 7-footers to his playlist, but don't expect to see it in this game. Wake's 7-1 center Doral Moore is a close-to-the-basket guy.  He'll set ball screens, but he's rolling to the basket. Jack Salt or Mamadi Diakite will have him until we go small. Wake's other big men are more versatile. Expect the Hoos to go small whenever Moore is not in the game and possibly even when he is.

Wake does not have a frontcourt player who scores a lot, so we won't see a Luke Maye/Omer Yurtseven lockdown from Zay.  Other than Moore, their bigs shoot threes and drive and sort of help out by committee, so Zay will make his presence felt by disrupting the patterns and should be free to chase balls without worrying about turning his man loose too much.

While the Demon Deacons have size up front, they are a guard-driven team and their guards are small. All of them are 6-3 or smaller. Devon Hall will start on Bryant Crawford, Wake's preseason all-ACC prospect and probably focus on him or Keyshawn Woods.  Nigel Johnson is a great match size-wise for Mitchell Wilbekin or Brandon Childress, both of whom require a lot of attention. Childress, especially, is a very active and aggressive player.

Wake doesn't really play defense (kenpom #134), so I don't expect a large scoring output from Hall or Wilkins. Those guys still don't see themselves as the big scorers, with Devon typically scoring the most when his teammates can't find the range. Look for the 2016 perimeter players (they need a collective nickname) to have the bulk of the scoring output, as Wake-level defense usually leads to one of Guy's big shooting nights.  Hall and Johnson could be gunning for big assist nights.

When this senior class was sophomores, they went into Cassell and McCamish Twilight Zones to experience disappointing losses and LJTZC for a bizarre victory that never should have been a victory.  Now, as seniors, they've already gone into Cassell and McCamish and kicked the ectoplasmic goo out of the ghosts in both places.  Look for them to use the same focused effort for a similar outcome at Lawrence Joel.


Wake is losing a lot this year, but they are hanging around some games late, holding second half leads against NC State and UNC, plus defending their home court against Syracuse. This isn't a gimme, not as well as those guards can play. They're going to come out fired up and I could see the first half being uncomfortable for Hoo faithful. But I think our offense finds a rhythm sometime late in the 1st half, and continues to play well in the second half, as their offense begins to wear down late. They won't quit, it'll be 40 minutes of fight, unfortunately not giving us a chance to rest before the short 48 hour turnaround for Clemson, but I do believe we'll get the W after we play the intentional foul game over the final minute.

Hoos Win - 72-64