Deacon tidbits

November 1, 2012 

Last season: 13-18, 4-12 ACC.

Points returning: 40.5 - The bulk of that comes from C.J. Harris (16.7 points per game) and Travis McKie (16.1 ppg), who were fourth and sixth, respectively, in the ACC in scoring last season. Most of the rest was by sophomore guard Chase Fischer (6.3 ppg), a 3-point shooting threat often the first man off the bench for the Deacons last season. That’s a role he will likely reprise this season.

The only other returning scorer was sophomore forward Daniel Green (1.4 ppg), who injured his knee during Wake Forest’s exhibition trip in Canada last week, and will redshirt this season.

Go-to guy: Harris -- he was not only the Deacons’ leading scorer last season, the team’s lone senior starter also led in minutes played (35.1 per game), 3-pointers (49 of 116, 42.2 percent), free throws (146 of 173, 84.4 percent) and steals (34).

However, because Harris was forced into playing so many minutes both last year and as a sophomore (32.4 minutes per game), there were times when he would "disappear" from games offensively.

If Harris is to be Wake Forest’s go-to guy this season, Fischer and the freshmen -- specifically Raleigh native Madison Jones -- have to step up and give the guy a good 10 minutes off the court.

Impact rookie: F Tyler Cavanaugh. The 6-foot-9, 230-pounder can play at multiple positions because of his versatility -- backing up Moto or Thomas inside with his height and bulk, or by giving McKie a rest at small forward with his outside shooting touch.

Cavanaugh has already shown how effective he could be during Wake Forest’s Canadian exhibition swing. He scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds against Brock, and had 14 points in a come-from-behind win over Ryerson.

"He might be our best shooter," coach Jeff Bzdelik said of Cavanaugh, who hit 4 of 8 3-pointers in the two games. "He can really shoot the basketball, so he’s like a stretch 4 (power forward). Has good skills, and is a high-energy guy. I really like his potential -- he’ll play a lot for us."

Where to attack: Once again, it’s the Deacons’ experience level -- only three players back who have any significant playing time at the college level, and a lot of freshmen trying to get up to speed at the next level.

While Wake Forest will have more depth at all positions and can create some interesting matchups with its lineup -- for example, the addition of Cavanaugh, Moto and freshman Aaron Roundtree will help the Deacons’ perimeter defense and inside game -- their effectiveness will be limited if the newcomers struggle to adapt.

Best case: If Bzdelik and the Deacons’ coaching staff can get the freshmen up to speed quickly on the pace and physicality of the college game, a .500 or better season isn’t out of the question.

Wake Forest could also play spoiler in the ACC tournament, and while an NCAA berth won’t be in the cards this season, getting an NIT invitation isn’t.

The freshmen give the Deacons not only added depth at all positions, but give Bzdelik some flexibility with his lineup depending on the opponent and the pace he wants to play -- go small and pick up the tempo, or go bigger and play a halfcourt game?

Worst case: Again, it all depends on how the freshmen develop -- if their transition to the college game doesn’t go well (or worse -- some adapt quickly, others don’t), that leaves the Deacons in the same boat they were in last season: a weak bench and the starters having to play a lot of minutes.

The same is true with injuries -- Wake Forest has already lost one of its experienced reserves (Green), Thomas is still getting up to speed after undergoing minor knee surgery in mid-September, and Cavanaugh missed part of the summer workouts because of a hairline fracture in his foot. If others go down or miss time because of injuries, that will limit the matchups Bzdelik can throw at opponents.

Either way, the result is another 13-win season, at best.

X-factor: C Andre Washington. At 7-foot with a 7-3 wingspan, the freshman is their lone true center, with both the offensive and defensive skills to be a factor for years to come.

However, Washington weighs just 220 pounds and might struggle handling stronger opponents in the paint. That will limit his minutes, although Bzdelik said that could work in Wake Forest’s favor.

"He probably won’t have lengthy periods of time on the court," he said. "But he can be effective with high-energy play for those short periods of time."

Still, Bzdelik is high on Washington’s potential, and so is a former Deacons coach. "I had lunch with Dave Odom recently, and the freshman he talked about the most was Andre," Bzdelik said.

Magic number: 228 - Wake’s national rank in scoring offense last season.

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