Friends, if you'll excuse this athletic interlude:
Wake Forest men's hoops had a great win Sunday night over North Carolina, pushing them to #2 in one poll and #3 in another. It was a magnificent performance, above all because they played so well down the stretch. With Carolina shooters starting to heat up in the last 4:00, knocking down three-pointers regularly for the first time all night, Wake kept its cool, got the ball to its best guard Jeff Teague -- who has blossomed into a star this year -- and let him hit free throws after driving hard and getting fouled. Smart, disciplined play to close out a tough opponent; there are few things more impressive in basketball than that.
Wake has been an excellent home team for many years. This year the team knows they can beat anyone at home. No small prize in confidence, that. Big wins away from the friendly hardwood at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Collesium is another question. They won at BYU two weeks ago, which was no small feat considering that BYU had not lost at home in 50-some games, but now we're in the midst of the ACC schedule, and those other teams are going to be waiting to pounce on a #2 for a huge upset.
We need to continue the trend of smart, disciplined play. The big, agile swingmen -- L. D. Williams, James Johnson and al-Farouq Aminu -- need to settle down, play a bit more patiently, and work on their outside jumpers. Ishmail Smith accepting his role as second ball-handler, not a scorer, may persist as something of a challenge for coach Dino Guadio. But by golly that win over Carolina was no fluke. This team is for real.
I think Carolina was surprised that we were able to match them athletically. For instance Carolina frequently had a hell of a time in-bounding the ball through our defenders. Few teams can say this, but we combined strength and size with dexterity and speed as well as even the mighty North Carolina Tar Heels, and it disconcerted them.
Shooting is still a bit of a question. Teague just aint gonna score 34 for you every night. He'll shoot poorly, or be neutralized by an aggressive defender. The ACC teems with smart, tough, aggressive defenders at the two position. So there will be games where scoring will have to come from some other guard, and we are light on guards.
Still, that and a couple other worries aside, Wake Forest appears to have a backetball team comparable in potential to the Chris Paul teams of earlier in the decade.