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March 21, 2009Apparently, Dino Gaudio and company were ready to be done with this season. Regardless of regular season success, the postseason was not kind to the Deacons, or perhaps the Deacons were not kind to the postseason. With the 84-69 drubbing they took at the hands of Cleveland State on Friday, Wake Forest's season has ended much earlier than expected, with losses in their first game of both postseason tournaments.
Wake really never even came close to Cleveland State. The Vikings opened with three straight three-pointers and never looked back. They led by as many as 18 and, after the first minute and a half of the game never by less than six. The mighty Demon Deacons were no match for Horizon League champion Cleveland State.
It was an abysmal performance from opening tip to final buzzer. Wake's defense was, for the most part, atrocious. Cleveland State's tallest player was only 6-9, yet the Vikings managed 36 points in the paint, only three fewer than Wake. They shot 47.6 percent from the field, higher than Wake usually allows, and got 22 points from Norris Cole, 21 from J'Nathan Bullock, and 19 from Cedric Jackson.
Even worse, Wake only forced 10 turnovers, gave up 14 offensive rebounds, and allowed 19 second chance points.
If the defense was bad, the offense was worse. Wake may have shot 52 percent from the field, but it doesn't negate the 18 turnovers they gave up. The Demon Deacons tried to play at such a fast pace that they turned the ball over 18 times, often losing the ball while out of control bringing the ball up the court. The Vikings capitalized, scoring a ridiculous 25 points off of those opportunities.
James Johnson attempted to keep the Deacs within striking distance, providing 22 points and 4-5 shooting from three point land, but he didn't get much help. Al-Farouq Aminu had 17 points, and Jeff Teague was the only other player to make double digits with 10.
Teague's already limited offensive production was more than offset by his seven turnovers. Gaudio, for reasons unknown, started Tony Woods over Chas McFarland, but got zero points from Woods and only four from McFarland.
It was an embarrassingly poor performance for a team once ranked number one in the nation, and it was a second straight ineffective performance in a post season game. For all the promise of a 16-0 start, it's impossible to consider this season anything but a disappointment given the finish.
There are many issues to address in the next few days. What is Dino Gaudio's responsibility in all of this? Where did Jeff Teague go? Will Teague, Johnson, and Aminu return next season? Wake won't be playing any more games, so there will be plenty of time in the coming days and weeks for these discussions.