Here’s the preview capsule to Saturday’s game, followed by a lot of blog-only extra quotes from both coaches and Erick Green:
Wake Forest at Virginia Tech
2 p.m. at Cassell Coliseum
Records: Wake Forest 9-7, 2-2 ACC; Virginia Tech 10-6, 1-2.
Last meeting: Wake won 58-55 at home on Jan. 7, 2012
Va. Tech probable starters: F Jarell Eddie (14.3 ppg), F C.J. Barksdale (5.6 ppg), C Cadarian Raines (6.6 ppg), G Robert Brown (10.6 ppg), G Erick Green (24.8 ppg).
Wake probable starters: F Devin Thomas (6.1 ppg), F Arnaud Adala Moto (5 ppg), F Travis McKie (15 ppg, 7.8 rpg), G C.J. Harris (15.2 ppg), G Codi Miller-McIntyre (7.8 ppg).
Notes: Raines, Joey van Zegeren and Marquis Rankin have been battling the flu this week, while Brown is still recovering from his bout last week with the flu. … After winning back-to-back home games against UVa and BC, Wake lost 60-44 at Clemson on Tuesday. Wake shot just 24.6 percent from the field in that loss. … Wake, which starts three freshmen, has scored more than 66 points in just one of its five games this month. … Freshman reserve Andre Washington (Franklin County/Roanoke Catholic/Hargrave Military Academy) has played in eight games for Wake. He played five minutes Tuesday. … The Hokies used a lot of zone defense in last weekend’s win at Georgia Tech. Green said the Hokies are “really starting to practice that more and get better at that.” But coach James Johnson isn’t sure it will work as well against the Demon Deacons. “They’re probably going to be a little bit harder to zone. They’ve got some more capable shooters than the Georgia Tech roster had,” Johnson said
James Johnson on the flu bug hitting the team this week: “You watch film and you’ve got everybody in the rom coughing, so it’s a little discouraging.”
Johnson on whether Marshall Wood will play Saturday: “It doesn’t look like it. … I anticipate not having him. … He hasn’t done anything really live (in practice), … nothing up and down.”
Johnson on Wake: “Very much improved. They’re a much better defensive team. They’re a much better team as far as the cohesion, the togetherness. They are much improved from last year. They’ve got two veteran guys, and anytime you have a couple veteran guys in this league that can score the basketball and make plays like C.J. Harris and Travis McKie, that certainly does help you there. They’re deep. They’re young, but they do have a lot of guys. … (McKie) is a tough matchup for us.”
Johnson on Clemson holding Wake to 44 points on Tuesday: “Clemson is a very good defensive team. Travis McKie picked up two early fouls in the game, which took him out of the game. … That definitely does make them young. They’re a different team with either one of those guys (McKie or Harris) not on the floor.”
Johnson on the low scores in ACC games this week: “As the year (goes) on and teams are being scouted more and game plans are put together, I think the scores are going to be a little lower. … Being able to put up 70 points on the road (at GT last weekend), even though it was an overtime game, …. I was pretty pleased with. Hopefully we can come out and put ourselves in position to make some baskets and get a couple other baskets knocking down some shots along with Green.”
Johnson on maybe playing a lot of zone Saturday, like the Hokies did at GT: “That’s something we’ve got to take a look at. We’ve got the short bench. We’ve got to do whatever we’ve got to do to try to keep these guys in the game and keep them out of foul trouble and not chasing these guys off screens. … They’re probably going to be a little bit harder to zone. They’ve got some more capable shooters than the Georgia Tech roster had.”
Johnson on the zone vs. GT: “My defense overall I think was impressive to me on the road. We were able to get stops, ablet to limit them to a number of offensive rebounds in our man and our zone. But the zone definitely gives us the opportunity to mix it up a little bit, a change of pace, a change of tempo, give us a different look. … It’s certainly something we’re going to continue to work on and we’ve got to get better at it. We’ll definitely see that at some point throughout the season. … You get into ACC play, there’s such tremendous players, …. you’ve got guys that can shoot at every position and handle the ball, so I think it’s just going to depend on our opponent and the lineup that I have out on the floor. With the short bench, I can’t play the way we truly want to play as far as pressing but we’ve got to try to give some different looks out there on the floor.”
Johnson on Robert Brown’s play vs GT: “Instead of just settling for the 3, I think in the Ga. Tech game he was able to attack the rim a little more. I’d like to see him do that more, as opposed to just settle for the 3-point shot, because his game is too diverse to just be a 3-point shooter.”
Erick Green on VT’s zone: “The 2-3 zone’s going to help. We’re really starting to practice that more and get better at that. That’ll save us some bodies, save us energy, keep us out of foul trouble.”
Wake coach Jeff Bzdelik on C.J. Harris: “He’s having a terrific year, shooting the basketball, making timely shots. … So many times we’ve gotten off to slow starts. I think our young players are like deers in headlights, trying to adjust, whether it’s a style or environment or whatever, and CJ has just carried us and given our young players confidence early in the game.”
Bzdelik on his team: “We’re one of the youngest teams in the country. …. Our young players are gaining confidence and understanding and adjusting to the speed of the game, the physicality of the game. … Our older players, our two of them, CJ and Travis, … are adjusting to the freshmen. … We’re just so young. People might perceive that as an excuse, I get that, I understand that, but it’s a reality. It’s that simple. Both our point guards are freshmen. Both our big guys are freshmen. You’re talking about the head and the tail being extremely young. … Some of those games we lost early on in the nonconference schedule, where we lost by 6 and by 4 and by 2, I think if we rewound that and played it again, it probably would be different outcomes.”