December 5, 2007

Wake Forest preview

Vanderbilt fans are well aware of the potential nightmare Wake Forest can pose. Last year, Vanderbilt took a visit to Winston Salem and got blown out of the gym in an 88-78 contest that wasn't nearly as close as the final margin. Then a freshman, Smith had nine assists and just three turnovers, helping Wake to a shooting performance that was boosted by a seemingly never-ending run of layups. As a result, Vandy committed 28 fouls, with both Ted Skuchas and Ross Neltner fouling out of the contest. Foster and Gordon finished with four fouls each.

The Wake game became the first of many early Vandy contests in which opposing teams used dribble penetration by the guards to break down Vandy's defense for easy scores. Eventually, VU solved the problem, with a nice run to the Sweet 16, while Wake ended the season with a 16-16 record, 6-12 in the ACC. But still, the specter of Smith looms large for the Commodores.

That's because, despite VU's impressive early run, there have been signs that they may not have solved the dribble penetration problem this season. South Alabama's guards essentially moved to a one-on-one game midway through the first half of their double overtime defeat to VU in Nashville, continually breaking down VU's tall defenders for easy buckets in the paint and on the kick-out.

Georgia Tech tried to do the same thing on Saturday, though it appeared it was by default and not by design. Tech, however, lost their will in the second half and rarely found the open man if and when he was available. Look for Wake to try the same strategy again tonight, with Smith trying to break down Gordon and/or Beal.

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