DBR Bites #6 – Welcoming Wake Forest Back To Town

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Georgia Tech
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

We preview the rematch against the Demon Deacons.

Last time the Duke Blue Devils played Wake Forest, it was a rough outing in what was the first bad loss of the season. Duke is hoping to avenge that loss when they welcome Wake Forest back to Cameron tomorrow night, and this DBR Bites Episode 6 is here to preview the matchup.

Jason and Donald first give an update on the status of Dariq Whitehead’s injured leg. He’s not completely ruled out for tomorrow, so we discuss whether we think we’ll see the star freshman return to the court. We then get into what Wake has done since then, with a couple of tough losses and one pretty big win.

Wake had some players have some big time performances a month ago in Winston-Salem, and Duke has to shut them down. Duke’s also been shooting a lot better lately, and those trends make this an intriguing battle.

We will be back at some point after the game to provide a full recap. There’s another game later this week, but we focus for now on this big one right in front of us.

ACC Injuries Are Piling Up

NC State v North Carolina
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA – JANUARY 21: Terquavion Smith #0 of the North Carolina State Wolfpackdrives to the basket against R.J. Davis #4 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first half of their game at the Dean E. Smith Center on January 21, 2023 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Smith would suffer a frightening fall in this game while Davis later took a solid beating at Syracuse. | Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

And some of them really matter too.

Given the nature of basketball and the size and power of the athletes, injuries are inevitable. This year though, some of the injuries around the ACC have been consequential. Let’s start at the top, which for us means Duke.

Duke started the season with two injuries to its two most highly rated freshmen. Dariq Whitehead broke a bone in his foot which kept him out for a while and Dereck Lively was banged up too. Then Jeremy Roach hurt his toe, which has been an ongoing issue, and Whitehead suffered another injury at Virginia Tech, which naturally has Duke fans concerned. That’s a lot. And don’t forget that Jaylen Blakes is playing with a broken nose.

Clemson started the season with a knee problem for PJ Hall, their best player. He seems to have overcome it though and Clemson has suffered minimally. Senior Alex Hemenway has been out with plantar fasciitis for several weeks and Chase Hunter is currently day-to-day with a foot injury. Clemson is humming along at 9-1 in the ACC. If Brad Brownell isn’t ACC Coach of the Year, there should be an investigation.

NC State lost big man Dusan Mahorcic to a dislocated patella which we think is what Hall suffered from as well. Mahorcic’s injury required surgery so he’ll be out and if he gets back, he’ll be behind. Jack Clark, who certainly has had his moments, is also out with hip and groin issues.

And against UNC, Terquavion Smith suffered an injury that appeared to be quite serious. The medical team ultimately took him out on a stretcher. Fortunately he’s okay and is playing although he shot miserably against Notre Dame Tuesday night.

UNC had some early issues with Armando Bacot but he seems to have gotten past them. Puff Johnson has been in and out though and Pete Nance just returned from a back injury. RJ Davis got pretty beat up at Syracuse, with…well here’s what Hubert Davis said in hist post-game presser: “RJ’s fine, but he got hit a number of times. He had a dislocated finger on his shooting hand, he got hit in the nose and then the last one, the charge that he took, he got hit in the eye, so he’s pretty banged up. But in terms of being alert and aware, he’s fine.” Well there is that.

Will Shaver is also out but he hasn’t been a factor. We don’ want to call him a project, but he was never expected to have a major impact this season and had come with the expectation of redshirting anyway.

Florida State has had the worst two-year injury run we can recall. This year, Jaylan Gainey suffered an ACL injury, Chandler Jackson had a thumb issue, Jeremiah Bembry had a back injury and De’Ante Green was still recovering from a high school ACL injury. Cam’ron Fletcher is out for the year with a knee injury and Baba Miller, who the NCAA sat for the first semester, had tonsillitis and presumably surgery. That’s a lot to overcome and Leonard Hamilton only have five players back anyway.

Boston College just got center Quentin Post back from his injury but Donald Hand Jr. is out for the year with a knee injury.

Georgia Tech may be missing Lance Terry and Tristan Maxwell against Duke on Saturday. Terry has a hamstring injury and Maxwell had a hip pointer.

Pitt has three players out – John Hugley is redshirting after a frustrating injury stretch. VAson Stevenson is out for unreported reasons and William Jeffress had surgery for a toe problem.

Syracuse is missing John Bol Ajak, who is not great but who knows the system and what to do when he’s in. Peter Carey will redshirt due to a knee injury.

Virginia Tech is still missing Rodney Rice, who had an earlier injury and now is out with a finger problem.

Finally, Wake Forest lost Jao Ituka for the season with a knee injury.

Some of these are irrelevant, but some are quite serious. Whitehead is a big deal for Duke. Davis is critical for UNC. State has covered up for Mahorcic but their other big men are somewhat limited. Clemson has done well without Hunter but losing your point guard is never good. And Pitt has no one who can really fill in for Hugley, who gave them a solid post presence. That’s going to be tough to overcome as we saw at Duke as the Blue Devils feasted inside against the smaller Panthers.

Iowa State

1) Iowa State has the same team as last year

In this era of college basketball, it’s pretty incredible to see the type of continuity Iowa State has this season. Fred Hoiberg is gone and Steve Prohm is in his place but just about the entire band – Georges Niang, Monte Morris, Jameel McKay, Abdel Nader, Matt Thomas – is back. The only significant player (other than Naz Long who had season-ending surgery) they lost from last season’s team that won the Big 12 Tournament before being shocked in a 3/14 upset in the first round of the NCAA Tourney is Bryce Dejean Jones, whose gotten a few cups of coffee in the NBA with the New Orleans Pelicans.

The problem is that BDJ was a pretty significant loss. He was a 6’5+ super athlete with 3-and-D potential at the next level and he injected a badly needed dose of length and athleticism on this roster, particularly on the perimeter. Hoiberg was able to get a lot of really skilled players but when you are recruiting to Ames you have to give up something and the team he assembled isn’t exactly a 4×100 relay. You really saw that in their loss to UAB in the Tourney – they got absolutely smashed on the offensive boards by a bigger and more athletic team and it’s hard to see it playing out any differently this season. Iowa State has plenty of talent and they are a very fun team to watch, but this is a team that’s going to be at the mercy of the selection committee. They had better be praying for a draw with a bunch of teams that have guys going pro in something other than sports.

What makes the situation worse is that McKay, their only real athlete upfront, has wound up in Prohm’s doghouse. McKay is coming off a suspension and he isn’t starting and that’s a serious problem. They desperately need his ability to protect the paint, compete on the boards and roll to the rim and when he’s not in the game they play a line-up of five guys smaller than 6’7, none of whom is a plus athlete. Even with McKay, it’s still not enough. He’s only 215 pounds and he seriously needs to hit the weight room if he’s going to able to bang with guys like Johnathan Motley (6’9 235), who finished with 27 points and 10 boards on 14 shots in Baylor’s win on Tuesday.

The one new guy who gets major minutes is Deonte Burton, a 6’4 250 bowling ball who transferred from Marquette. Burton plays hard and has an interesting football type body that can present match-up problems for a lot of teams, but he made several silly plays in the final few minutes of the loss to Baylor and he can have just as much trouble with match-ups on the other end – he’s an undersized big man and there’s just not much he can do when a 6’9+ guy like Motley has him pinned at the front of the rim. This play kind of summed Iowa State’s problems in the paint on defense.

2) Monte Morris has maxed out his game

Morris is one of the most impressive NCAA PG’s that I’ve seen in a long time. He has everything you want in a floor general – he can shoot 3’s, score off the dribble and run the offense. He always plays at his own pace, he never gets sped up and he rarely ever makes the wrong decision with the ball in his hands. I’ve long thought assist-to-turnover ratio is the most important stat for a PG so this kind of says it all about what type of player he is.

The question when it comes to projecting him to the next level is just how good he can be with average size (6’2 170 with a 6’5 wingspan) and average (at best) athleticism. Forget about guarding Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry because those guys are just aliens anyway. PG is the deepest position in the league and you have to be able to at least match up physically if you are going to have any chance of slowing them down. Could Morris stay in front of guys like Reggie Jackson and Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight? If not, he’s probably going to have to come off the bench.

Here’s where it gets tricky for Morris. How many NBA teams even need a traditional backup PG and how many are better off running offense through a wing player and putting more athletes or more shooters around him? I’ve always liked what the Spurs do with their 2nd unit – running everything through Manu and putting a more explosive scorer (Patty Mills) at the point. It’s not just teams with future Hall of Famers coming off the bench either, as the Celtics do something similar with Evan Turner. I think the key for Morris at the next level is going to be looking for his shot more. If you are a guard whose going to give up points on defense, you have to be aggressive in looking to get them back the other way or you aren’t going to be all that helpful.

Long story short, I love Morris game and he’s a great player to watch but I’m not sure how high I’d take a traditional PG with only average athleticism whose going to come off the bench. I talked to an NBA scout tonight who compared him to Trey Burke and Tyus Jones so make of that what you will.

3) It’s the same thing with Georges Niang

Niang is like a 6’8 230 version of Morris. He’s a wondrously gifted offensive basketball player who has seemingly been around Ames forever (he was an AAU teammate of Nerlens Noel) and who can take over a game anytime he wants at the NCAA level, but he’s also a remarkably limited athlete whose going to struggle to stay in front of anyone at the next level. The first thing you have to ask with any NBA prospect is who can he guard and I’m not sure there’s an answer to that question for Niang beyond the guys in the video room. He’s kind of like if Draymond Green had no athletic ability.

While he’s a pretty great small-ball 4 at the NCAA level, he got absolutely pummeled by the Baylor big men upfront and it’s not like he’s going to have much more success getting down in a stance and guarding 6’7+ combo forwards 25+ feet from the basket. This feels like a guy whose going to have a long career overseas before getting into coaching. One thing that is cool about the NCAA game is that the level of talent is so spread out that it allows guys like Niang to thrive. There’s just a lot more room for variety and diversity in style of play than there is at the NBA level, where the tyranny of uber-athleticism and hyper-specific game-planning leads to the monotony of waves upon waves of similar players with similar builds and similar skill-sets.

There’s not going to be any team in the NBA that plays or looks anything like Iowa State because a team as gloriously non-conformist just wouldn’t be able to work. Iowa State kind of reminds me of the best players from the pick-up game at the local gym – a bunch of guys without great athleticism but with a great feel for the game who can move the ball and play interchangeably. For as much trash as I have been talking about them in this article, they are a great NCAA team and they are one of the main reasons that the Big 12 has been so much fun to watch over the last few seasons.

4) The training wheels come off for Steve Prohm next season

Year 1 in Ames for Prohm, who came over from Murray State, has been easy enough, as Hoiberg left behind a smoothly-running machine that can pretty much coach itself. When you have two coaches on the floor in Morris and Niang and a whole host of role playing 3-shooters with a ton of experience around them, you don’t exactly have to be an X’s and O’s genius to get the most out of them. It’s a group that was ready to win from Day 1 of the Prohm era and it gave him a nice set of training wheels to get himself comfortable coaching in one of the toughest conferences in the country. With only 10 schools and a home-and-home with each one, there aren’t many nights off in the Big 12.

Year 2 is when the degree of difficulty gets ratcheted up a notch. Niang, McKay and Nader will all have used up their eligibility and Morris will probably be gone too – it’s a weak draft so this is probably as high as he will go given that he’s not going to get any bigger or faster if he returns for his senior season and his stock would likely be impacted negatively if the team takes a step back following the loss of so many important players. There’s only going to be a few holdovers from the Hoiberg era – Thomas and Long, both of whom will be seniors – and it will be all on Prohm to continue bringing high-level players into Ames, which won’t be easy.

He has a good recruiting class coming, including two four-star recruits, but it’s going to be tough for him to maintain the level of consistency the program has achieved under Hoiberg. It’s entirely possible that the Niang and Morris era represents a high water mark in the recent history of the Iowa State program. The key will probably be for Prohm to maintain the transfer pipeline into Ames (and much more importantly) be able to continue Hoiberg’s success at integrating so many different pieces into the team on annual basis and getting guys with checkered histories and track records to play for something bigger than themselves. Hoiberg is the only coach to ever get anything out of Royce White, which shows you the type of challenge that Prohm has taken on for himself in replacing him.

5) The Problems with The Narrative

“At some point it’s not about scoring. It’s about can we get stops.” – Steve Prohm

It was interesting sitting in on the Iowa State press conference and listening to the questions that the beat writers were asking Prohm and the players. Everyone was focused on the late game execution and whether the Cyclones were getting the best possible shots and what they could do differently in the final few minutes of the game. It’s not to say that that stuff wasn’t important to the outcome but it’s easy to see how people who have to write about this team on a daily basis can start to miss the forest through the trees. Tactics are great but they take a backseat to strategy and focusing on tactics at the expense of strategy ends up obscuring what’s really going on and the dynamics that are ultimately driving the success and failure of a team.

The bottom line is that it doesn’t really matter how well Iowa State plays in the final few minutes of a game – there are underlying reasons why they continually lose close games to good teams and it’s not going to change no matter how well they execute their offense at the end of games. They aren’t very big, they aren’t very athletic and they don’t play much defense. They have an offensive rating of 30th and a defensive rating of 150th and a team with that profile has very little margin for error and they are almost set up to cause heartbreak to their fans.

You can look at it this way. Iowa State is playing on an uneven playing field with the table slanted against them. They can run perfect offense, they can do everything right and they can make every difficult shot and the odds are still going to slowly move against them because they can’t keep guys in front of them and they can’t keep them off the offensive boards. They are going to get into the NCAA Tournament and they are eventually going to run into a team that can score with them and if they can do even a slightly better job of stopping them they are going to knock them out. The sad part about is that there’s not much they can do about it. They are constrained by the limitations of the personnel on their roster.

That’s why I have so much respect for beat writers – there’s only so many ways you write the same story in an interesting way without boring you and your readers half to death. But it’s also why I hardly ever read game articles because what’s the point. Focusing myopically on one game at the expense of the broader picture of the season is more likely to mislead than to inform your audience while sticking mainly to the big picture elements quickly becomes repetitious over the course of the season. There’s just not all that much you can say about any one basketball team and I don’t expect I’ll be saying all that much about Iowa State going forward.

Rui Hachimura, Evan Mobley Drop Career-Highs to Headline Saturday Night

Big bounce-back game for Rui Hachimura who went from scoring 0 against the New York Knicks a few days ago to matching his career-high with 30 points in the win.
All five starters finished in double figures, but Kyle Kuzma led the way with 25 points, ten rebounds, and six assists; Notably, the Wizards’ injury issues continue to plague them. While this was only Bradley Beal’s second game back from his hamstring injury, Kristaps Porzingis was the next to fall as he went down in the third quarter with a left ankle sprain. This team cannot catch a break.

Better Than The Bakery Chocolate Chip Espresso Yogurt Cake.

Better Than The Bakery Chocolate Chip Espresso Yogurt Cake | halfbakedharvest.com

Better Than The Bakery Chocolate Chip Espresso Yogurt Cake.

Better than the bakery Chocolate Chip Espresso Yogurt Cake. Whole wheat vanilla cake made with Greek yogurt and espresso powder, then swirled with plenty of sweet, rich dark chocolate chunks. This loaf-style cake is no fuss, whole grain, low sugar, and SO DELICIOUS! Finish the cake with a simple vanilla icing, then lots of chocolate…

READ: Better Than The Bakery Chocolate Chip Espresso Yogurt Cake.

Mavericks, Bucks, Lakers Interested In Cam Reddish As Knicks Increase Effort To Find Trade

The New York Knicks have ramped up their efforts to trade Cam Reddish, sources tell Marc Stein.

The Dallas Mavericks have joined the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers in pursuit of Reddish. The Knicks are only a seeking second round pick plus matching salary.

Reddish has been unable to secure regular minutes in the rotation of Tom Thibodeau since they acquired him last season from the Atlanta Hawks.

Reddish most recently played on December 3rd.

The Knicks would like to take back Reggie Bullock from the Mavericks, who is a favorite of Thibodeau. Bullock remains in high regard by the Mavericks though he has struggled with his shot.

Chocolate Glazed Yeast Donuts

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

We love donuts are our house. In fact there is a great donut “factory”, Dunford Donuts, within walking distance. Okay, it’s really a couple of miles from my house, but I figure if I walk there I’m burning off all the calories I’ll get eating the donuts.  🙂

The post Chocolate Glazed Yeast Donuts appeared first on Barbara Bakes™.