FTRS: How has Gaudio changed the culture and philosophy at Wake Forest since Skip Prosser's passing? Are the fans critical or generally positive about the changes?
MR84: Dino's changes have been two-fold with the team. First off, he has made defense a priority. Skip's philosophy was to run-and-gun and merely outscore teams, but Dino has made the guys put a lot more effort on the defensive end of the floor, which works well considering the team's length and size. It isn't that Wake doesn't run anymore (because they do), but a lot of the quick tempoed scoring is coming in transition.
Secondly, Dino has shifted his focus in recruiting. While Skip went for the uber-athletic guys, Dino has started to recruit tougher guys with a higher basketball IQ who are also shooters. It is almost as if Dino has looked towards the Big East model. They're still athletic--just looking at next year's class alone shows you that between J.T. Terrell and Travis McKie, but guys like C.J. Harris, Melvin Tabb and Tony Chennault really exemplify that model.
FTRS: Tech fans are familiar with names like Tim Duncan, Justin Gray, Chris Paul, and more recently Al-Farouq Aminu. Can you tell us about Wake's most important, little publicized player?
MR84: The problem is that by now you've probably heard these three names. The offense goes through Ish Smith right now and that's been highly publicized. The strides he's made in his game this year have been amazing. He still isn't the best shooter, but he can get to the tin at will and has shown the propensity to hit shots when the team needs them most.
Wake is also getting a ton out of their freshmen, Harris and Ari Stewart. While they are still frosh and will have those boneheaded first-year moments, they more than make up for it with their shooting ability--something Wake hasn't seen since J-Gray. The addition of these two has made Smith's job much easier and now that team's have to respect the outside, they can't zone as much, which leaves the middle a lot more open than it was last year. Plus, one-on-one gives Ish a significant advantage.
FTRS: What are the goals for Wake Forest this post season (ACCT and NCAAT)?
MR84: It might sound like low expectations, but win a game in each. Wake has all kinds of trouble in the ACCT and that would be a big barrier to just finally get over. And in the NCAAs, making the tourney will be a feat in itself, but I'd be kidding if I didn't say that I didn't hope for us to win a game or two. Losing Teague and Johnson and having a team with a real lack of go-to guys made making the Dance a real uncertainty, so to see this kind of success so far is very encouraging.
FTRS: The ACC has had zero predictability this season. Why is this perceived as a compliment with regards to ACC basketball ("parity") yet weakness when talking about ACC football ("inconsistency")?
MR84: I've been talking about this a lot. My usual example with parity always goes back to the Big East in basketball. The ACC gets slammed in football for doing the exact same thing the Big East does in basketball, except that the ACC's non-con opponents in football are usually better than the Big East playing the Sisters of the Poor in bball.
I think the reason the ACC gets no respect lately on the gridiron is just because of how terrible they've played in bowls. If the ACC went out and won 7 of 8 bowl games, no one would be talking about weakness. And that's what the league needs to do in basketball this year. If they go out and place 4 Sweet Sixteen teams, there won't be any talk of this being a down year for the ACC.
FTRS: Hewitt is 9-11 all time against Wake Forest but is 7-4 at home or on a neutral court against the Deacs. How do you see the game playing out? Who wins? Do the ACC refs dictate the final ten seconds of the game and cost Wake/GT a hard fought victory?
MR84: This is going to be an ugly, physical game. There will be a lot of free throws. It won't exactly look like an Indiana high school game the way the two teams will shoot the ball. I think the Shumpert-Ish Smith matchup is one to watch and obviously the play of Lawal and Favors vs. Aminu and McFarland is going to be a big key to this game. I don't have the best feeling in the world though. Tech's inconsistencies have been nuts this year, but they have Wake's number in Atlanta, so I see this going down to the wire with a coin flip deciding the outcome...I'll put it at like 70-67 GT right now, but I'll probably change my mind a few times before gametime.
On the refs, are Valentine or Hess reffing? I doubt officiating has a big part of this one. Duke and UNC aren't playing. It's ACC refs so there'll be a bunch of bad calls, but bad calls on both sides.
Thanks to Blogger So Dear for humoring From the Rumble Seat and thanks to Martin for his response. Like I said earlier, look for our responses on Blogger So Dear before tipoff tomorrow. Edit: here's our response to BSD's questions. Please ignore all of the typos and grammatical errors.