Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Deacons not ready for funeral just yet

Let's not bury Wake Forest yet -- at least not to the very bottom of the ACC.

As difficult a time as the Deacons have had so far this season, they've begun a stretch -- starting with a victory over road-challenged Georgia Tech on Tuesday -- that might give them a breath of life in the second half of the ACC schedule.

Aside from a trip to No. 3 North Carolina on Feb. 10, Wake Forest (10-11, 2-7 ACC) plays three home games, against Maryland (Saturday), Clemson (Feb. 14) and Miami (Feb. 17), that are winnable (in addition to a nonconference contest Nov. 6 against Winston-Salem State).

This, of course, is all predicated on the assumption that the Deacons -- who have 14 freshmen and sophomores on their roster -- continue to improve. They made free throws against Georgia Tech (31 of 41 after being under 50 percent in three of their previous four games) and kept their composure when the Yellow Jackets made a second-half run. Center Kyle Visser was there when he was needed, scoring a career-high 26.

But it will take more than the three spectacular dunks freshman L.D. Williams threw down (two of which made SportsCenter's top 10 plays of the day) for Wake Forest to remain out of the ACC cellar. The Deacons will have to build gradually and fundamentally on the success coming from the Georgia Tech game.

That's how a young team -- or at least a young team that's not loaded down with McDonald's All-Americans -- gets better.

-- David Scott