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November 16, 2012

Paradise Jam preview

First Round: Wake Forest vs. No. 23 Connecticut
Location: St. Thomas, USVI
Venue: UVI Sports and Fitness Center
Tip-off: Friday at 6:30 PM EST
TV: CBS Sports Network
Current records:
Wake Forest: 1-0 (Beat Radford 79-67)
Connecticut: 2-0 (Beat Vermont 67-49)

Series history: The Demon Deacons and Huskies all-time series is tied 1-1 with UConn winning the last meeting, an 84-75 decision in Hartford, CT on Dec. 2, 1991.

Quotes

"It's big. We get to get a lot of games under our belt this weekend against elite competition, so we're going to be able to see where we are as a team offensively, defensively and we're going in to try to win it and get big momentum for the season." - Wake Forest shooting guard C.J. Harris

"I'm excited for the opportunity. We're definitely not going out there to lay out on the beach, so it's definitely a good opportunity for us to play a ranked opponent Friday and try to come out of there with a victory."

"It's definitely a good test for us early to see where we're at. It's a good opportunity to see where we're at as a team and each player. I think the coaches are going to do that individually anyway, so it's a good challenge for the freshmen." - Wake Forest forward Travis McKie

"This is going to be a wonderful experience, and it's up to us to make it one. The objective is to get W's and to improve. It's going to be a chance to travel to one of the most beautiful places in the world and at the same time and most importantly play great competition and of course we're starting off with a top 25-ranked team right away out of the gate. It's going to be a great chance to test ourselves. It's business trip, no doubt."

"It's going to help them grow up. That's what they need, because we're in the ACC. They better grow up."

"I just want to see them get better at the things they need to get better at are going to be tested right out of the gate and that's the defensive transition, defensive rebounding and not turning the ball over." - Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik

Previewing the Connecticut Huskies …

Interim head coach Kevin Ollie ushers his alma mater into the post-Jim Calhoun era, giving him enormous to shoes to fill.

He has the Huskies off to a strong start with his backcourt leading the way. UConn's offense runs through guards Shabazz Napier (19 points, two rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game) and Ryan Boatright (11 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.5 steals per game).

"They do everything for them," Harris said. "They bring points [and] defense. It's going to be a big key for us to lock in on them, and make somebody else try to lead them to victory."

Ollie's rotates seven players, but can go 10 deep, giving Wake more to worry about than just Boatright and Napier.

This UConn team does not have the towers in the post it had in past years; however, DeAndre Daniels (6-foot-8 and 195 pounds) and Tyler Olander (6-foot-9 and 225 pounds) average a combined 16 points, 13 rebounds, two steals and 5.5 blocks per game to give the Huskies an inside presence.

Look for Connecticut to play with three guards regularly with Daniels and Olander up front to make for a fast and athletic lineup.

"They like to attack off ball screens, and they're very guard heavy," McKie said. "As the game goes we'll probably go a lot smaller."

Wake was most successful against Radford and in the pre-season when it played McKie, Harris, Madison Jones and Codi Miller-McIntyre along with rotation and Tyler Cavanaugh, Devin Thomas and Arnaud Adala Moto. Chase Fischer, who gives the Deacs depth in the backcourt, will need provide a spark much like he did versus the Highlanders.

What's next …

A Demon Deacon win over Conncecticut would advance Wake to the semi-final round for a meeting with the winner of the Iona-Quinnipiac game Sunday, Nov. 18 at 10:00 PM EST on the CBS Sports Network. However, if the Deacs lose it will face the loser of the Iona-Quinnipiac game Saturday, Nov. 17 at 6:00 PM EST.

Wake Forest will play George Mason, Illinois-Chicago, Mercer or New Mexico in its third and final game of the tournament.

The Lobos (1-0) appear to be the favorite in the top flight of the bracket after advancing to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament in 2012 and an 86-81 win over Davidson to begin the season.


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