The Washington Post
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| ||Chris Paul's athletic ability allows him to overcome taller defenders, and he has an uncanny passing ability and runs half-court sets with precision. (AP) |
Thursday, March 10, 2005; Page G5
How They Could Win It All
The Demon Deacons have already beaten Duke and North Carolina and are playing for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Sophomore Chris Paul is arguably the nation's top point guard, leading the ACC in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio in conference games.
Guard Justin Gray is a potent scorer and ranks among the league's best three-point shooters. Center Eric Williams lost a lot of weight during the offseason and no longer tires late in games. At more than 290 pounds, Williams is hard to contain in the paint. Gray, Williams and Paul average in double figures in scoring.
Senior guard Taron Downey is arguably the league's best sixth man and has made more than 40 percent of his three-point attempts. At 6 feet 9, senior forward Jamaal Levy is an excellent rebounder and defender and creates matchup problems. Forward Vytas Danelius, who came back strong from a knee injury that hampered him last season, gives the Demon Deacons a nasty streak.
Wake Forest is looking for a breakout performance this week -- and in the NCAA tournament -- to prove it has pulled even, or even surpassed, Duke and North Carolina on Tobacco Road.
How They Could Lose It All
Wake Forest has the offensive weapons to win this week and get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but the Demon Deacons can't get into a track meet with an equally up-tempo team such as North Carolina. The Demon Deacons are better on defense than they were last season, when they ranked last in the ACC in points allowed. But they still don't get back in transition as much as Coach Skip Prosser would like and seem to lose their focus too often on defense.
Wake Forest allowed 91 points in losses at No. 1 Illinois and Florida State, and 102 in an overtime loss at Georgia Tech. Part of the problem is that Wake Forest's guards are all relatively short, and they will struggle to defend taller guards during the postseason. Center Eric Williams is still susceptible to foul trouble because of his aggressive play, but he has fouled out of only two games this season.
The Demon Deacons, whose four losses were all on the road, enter the ACC tournament with a target on their chests. North Carolina, in particular, is yearning for a rematch after losing at Wake Forest, 95-82, on Jan. 15. The teams played only once during the regular season because the ACC dropped its traditional double round robin schedule to accommodate expansion.
Chris Paul will undoubtedly be a consensus all-American and could be among the top players chosen if he leaves Wake Forest after his sophomore season and enters June's NBA draft.
At 6 feet and 175 pounds, Paul is a bit undersized, but his strength allows him to fend off defenders. Paul's athletic ability also allows him to overcome taller defenders. He has uncanny passing ability and runs half-court sets with precision. Paul can penetrate and has the vision to dump off passes to Eric Williams, Jamaal Levy or Vytas Danelius. Paul averaged 14.8 points last season, but Coach Skip Prosser wanted him to become more assertive on offense this year.
Paul is a capable shooter (making more than 50 percent of his three-point attempts) and is solid from the foul line. He is one of the ACC's top defenders when he wants to be, and his quick feet allow him to keep up with most guards.
Paul plays the game with a lot of maturity and has established himself as the Demon Deacons' emotional leader. However, he was suspended for tomorrow's quarterfinal for hitting N.C. State's Julius Hodge in the regular season finale.
One Shining ACC Moment
Rarely has the ACC tournament seen such a dominating individual performance as Wake Forest guard Randolph Childress's three-game act during the 1995 tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
Childress and Tim Duncan helped the Demon Deacons win their first ACC championship in more than 30 years by beating No. 3 seed North Carolina, 82-80 in overtime, in the championship game.
Childress scored 107 points in three games, a tournament record. He scored 40 points in the first round against Duke, 30 in the semifinals vs. Virginia and 37 against the Tar Heels in the championship game. Childress's last basket was the most important, as he drove past North Carolina's Jeff McInnis for the game-winning six-footer with four seconds left in overtime.
"I've been watching ACC basketball for a long time and there has never been a player who [more] deserved to end his ACC career on this kind of note," Wake Forest Coach Dave Odom said after the championship game.
Duncan, a three-time all-American and the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NBA draft, scored 16 points and grabbed 20 rebounds against North Carolina. Wake Forest, the No. 1 seed in the East Region, won two games in the NCAA tournament before losing to Oklahoma State.
ACC Tournament Section
• After 15 years, the Nation's Capital plays host to country's premier conference tournament.
• John Feinstein: In a glut of tournaments, this one still matters.
• Tournament info and records
• Bracket and schedule
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