MINER RUSH: UTEP fans know Danny Manning well from his Tulsa days, what is the fan reaction to the job he's done so far at Wake?
Blogger So Dear: So far the fan base is being patient with him. After the absolute program-wrecking nightmare that was Jeff Bzdelik, most people recognize that the turnaround was going to take some time. We did have a promising to start last season, but the ACC slate was pretty disappointing for all involved. However, now he has a roster entirely made up of his recruits and the talent level is certainly on the rise. The fan base will need to see incremental improvement this season to finally believe we are on the way back, which should be the case.
Tim Floyd summed up Wake Forest as a sound team that doesn’t make too many costly mistakes, is that a fair assessment through two games?
The Radford game was sloppy from a turnover perspective, but the Bucknell game was very well played. Obviously that's not a sample size that you can draw any conclusions from though. Last season the Deacs were nearly 300th in turnover percentage, so it absolutely would be an incorrect assessment if that continues. Sophomore PG Bryant Crawford has superb court vision, but is also a very risky player - thus leading to the turnover problem. As his game matures, the staff is certainly hoping to see his turnover numbers decline.
Wake Forest will clearly be the bigger team, is UTEP's speed and quickness at guard a concern?
Wake has struggled mightily on the defensive end during Danny Manning's tenure so far. As you point out, a big thing to watch on Thursday is if the Deacon guards can keep the Miners out of the paint. Wake has added talented guards Keyshawn Woods and Brandon Childress to the mix this season, so there should be some improvement there. However, this early in the season I would expect to see some struggles staying in front of penetrating guards. If you can get into the paint and draw and dish to the big men or force fouls from Wake's foul prone big guys, it could lead to a lot of success.
Who are Wake's go-to-guys, or is it too early in the season to label them?
The obvious answer to this is combo guard Bryant Crawford and PF/C John Collins. The aforementioned Crawford is streaky from deep but is most effective driving to the bucket and creating open 3s for several different shooters. Collins is an extremely athletic big who does all his work near the lane. The X-factor is Keyshawn Woods, a versatile wing transfer who can fill it up from deep but also isn't scared to get into the paint.
If Wake does this….they win easily?
I don't know enough about UTEP other than their KenPom stats to say Wake wins easily. The key for the Deacs is their outside shooting. If a few of Woods, Arians, Mitoglou, Wilbekin, Crawford and Childress can hit their 3s, it opens up a lot of space for Collins to operate inside. If those aren't falling consistently on Thursday afternoon, it could be a really close one.
I'll take the Deacs 84-72