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November 24, 2011

Q-&-A with Bzdelik and players

Wake Forest (3-0) will spend Thanksgiving away from home at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.

The Demon Deacons highlight the tournament along with Arizona State, DePaul, Minnesota and Texas Tech.

Jeff Bzdelik, Travis McKie and C.J. Harris spoke to reporters about the upcoming challenge.

Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik

Would you describe the challenge facing in front?

"First of all Dayton they are a very scrappy, hard-playing, aggressive basketball team. They force their opponents almost into 18 turnovers a game. They get about nine steals per game. They get about 10-plus offensive boards per game. They average about 23 threes a game, make about nine of them thus far, so they are a up-tempo, highflying, up and into you team that thrives on forcing turnovers."

How has their style changed since Coach [Brian] Gregory left, and the new staff has come in?

"I'll be honest with you I don't think very much at all. I just know what they're doing now. I didn't really study them last year to be quite frank, but that's the way they've played thus far. Like I said they look to manufacture easy points off their defense. They're very aggressive, very athletic. We charted every possession in their first three games, 43-percent of their offense involves ball screens of which, and I'll give you all the stats of which only 12-percent of their shots have come from behind the ball screens, so they're looking to drive it. They've only made two shots from behind the ball screen, so they're looking to drive it."

Just talking about the tournament as a whole, and the field as a whole I know you're focused on Dayton right now, but I'm sure you've done your homework on some of the other teams already just in case you play them could you just go through the field?

"The best way to answer your question is for a young basketball team we're going to face different styles, which will make us have to adjust. For example the potential matchup against Arizona State would find you within 24 hours going from a Dayton team that I just described to a team that could play a lot of matchup zone, or a Fairfield team that throws some different kinds of presses at you. You've got a team like Minnesota that's very long, that's very powerful on the glass to a team like DePaul who presses all over the place. You go through every team, and see a different style that a young team like ours is going to have to adjust quickly to in terms of style of play and what different strengths and what different weaknesses we'll encounter."

Have you ever faced a Herb Sendek-coached team or a Tubby Smith-coached team, or Oliver Purnell?

"When I was at Air Force we played Clemson with Oliver Purnell in the semifinals of the NIT, and I think we lost by one. It was a very, very competitive game, so no Tubby, no Herb."

On Wake Forest playing as a team:

"There were so man comments from so many people that witnessed the game about the unselfishness of the team, and not only from an offensive standpoint, but defensively too. We did a really good job of doubling down on [Dominique] Sutton, and in order to do that and rotate effectively out of it takes team basketball. We drew some charges, and that's team basketball also. It's just not always on the offensive end when you talk about unselfishness, but it's as much on the defensive end as well."

Wake Forest forward Travis McKie
Coach LaRue and Coach Bzdelik both said it's going to be a great opportunity to figure out where you guys are at right now. Does that sound right?

"Yeah, because last year I know for me I didn't get the experience of a tournament trip, because we lost to ECU and obviously we could have gone to Madison Square Garden, so I'm looking forward to the experience and try to take every advantage of it."

Do you feel that you are ready? You guys have played three games, and didn't have too much trouble for the most part in them. Now is it what are you going to do against a different cast of opponents here?

"It's definitely the bright lights and the big stage. I think our three games have put us in a better stage for this tournament. I think we're very confident. We're very confident in ourselves, and we're very believing that we can win this tournament, so that's our goal."

Do you just think the team feels a little bit better about itself this year? Last year was such a stutter-stepping start there. Now you've gotten your feet on the ground I guess. Is that how you guys feel?

"Well it's a great fresh start from last year. We're 3-0. We have three good wins at home. We're undefeated at home, so that's something we wanted to do this year. It's been a very good year so far, and we're trying to keep it going in the tournament."

Wake Forest guard C.J. Harris
Coach Bzdelik and Coach LaRue were both just saying it's going to be a good thing to figure out where you guys are at with this tournament?

"It is, they're right. It's going to be extremely good competition down there. It'll be our first time playing away from the Joel and away from my fans, so it'll test us a little bit."

What's something you're trying to prepare the younger guys for?

"Just how intense it's going to be, playing out of conference teams they come at ACC teams, and how hard people are going to come at us and how intense the tournament's going to be, because everybody wants to win. It's on national television, so yeah just how intense it's going to be."

Do you feel like you guys have better footing this year? Last year it was just a crazy, bad start for you guys and now you're a little maybe settled in, you're ready for this next step.

"Absolutely, I think we're building as we go. Last year we had all of the hoopla and stuff like that, but this year we're more focused. Everybody's bought into the team concept of what coach wants to do, and we've been proving it in our first three games, and we're building on that."

Do you have any family making it down?

"Yeah actually my mom and my dad's going, and I think my uncle and aunt are too. It will be nice. It's going to be cool having some family members down there."







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