Deacons,Rams Meet In Rematch Of 04 NCAA Tournament

Nov. 18, 2004 / 7:05 p.m. / Winston-Salem, NC Lawrence Joel Coliseum (14,665) Television: None.

Radio: Wake Forest/ISP Radio Network. Stan Cotten (play-by-play) and Mark Freidinger (color analysis) call the action. Chris Ferris is the producer/engineer.

Records: Wake Forest is 1-0 after beating visiting George Washington, 97-76, Monday night in the opening round of the Preseason NIT. Virginia Commonwealth is 1-0 following a 82-76 overtime win against visiting American Monday night.

Rankings: Wake Forest is ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll and No. 2 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. VCU is not ranked.

Coaches: Wake Forest head coach Skip Prosser (U.S. Merchant Marine Academy) is 68-29 (.699) in his fourth season with the Demon Deacons, 233-107 (.685) in his 12th season overall. VCU coach Jeff Capel (Duke `97) is 42-18 in three seasons with the Rams, 42-18 in three seasons overall.

Series: Wake Forest leads, 1-0.

Officials: Announced on game day.

Deacons, Rams Meet Thursday In Re-Match Of 2004 NCAA Tournament

Virginia Commonwealth, which took Wake Forest to the wire before losing 79-78 in the opening round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament, is the Demon Deacons' opponent Thursday night in the second round of the Preseason NIT at Lawrence Joel Coliseum (7:05 pm/no TV).

Thursday's winner advances to the semifinals next Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in New York to face either Providence or Penn. The championship and consolation games are Nov. 26.

Wake Forest, 1-0, opened the season with a 97-76 victory over a talented George Washington team Monday night at Joel Coliseum. The Deacons led the Colonials by just five points (75-70) with 8:57 remaining before going on a 22-6 run to end the game.

All-American candidates Chris Paul (25 points, 6 assists) and Justin Gray (18 points, 7 steals) paced the Deacons, who shot 55.7 percent.

VCU, 1-0, went into overtime to beat visiting American Monday night, 82-76. The Rams, members of the Colonial Athletic Association, were led Monday by B.A. Walker (27 points) and Nick George (24 points).

Today's Tip-Off

- Wake Forest carries a No. 2 national ranking (AP and ESPN/USA Today polls), matching its highest ranking ever, into Thursday's game.

- The Demon Deacons are appearing in the Preseason NIT for the second time. In its only previous appearance in 2001, Wake Forest made it to the championship game before losing to Syracuse.

- Wake Forest has won 39 of its last 40 non-conference home games. The Deacons haven't lost a home game to an unranked team in the Skip Prosser era.

Trip To Big Apple On Line Thursday

The winner of Thursday's Wake Forest-VCU game heads to New York City for Thanksgiving, the Macy's Parade and dinner at Tavern on the Green, not to mention to play a pair of basketball games.

The Preseason NIT semifinals are Wednesday at Madison Square Garden at 7 and 9:30 pm. The WFU-VCU winners plays either Providence or Penn in one semifinal. The Colorado-Michigan winner will play the Arizona-Wright State winner in the other semifinal.

Wake Forest 4-1 In Preseason NIT

Wake Forest is 4-1 in two Preseason NIT appearances.

Wake Forest has played in the Preseason NIT just once before -- the 2001-02 season, which was Skip Prosser's first year in Winston-Salem.

The Demon Deacons barely made it out of the first round that year. A last-second Darius Songaila field goal gave Wake Forest a 79-78 win over visiting UNC-Wilmington, which was threatening to spoil Prosser's debut.

Following the win over UNCW, Wake Forest won on the road at Arkansas, 76-71. In the semifinals at Madison Square Garden, the Deacons held on for a 62-61 win over 23rd-ranked Fresno State, then lost in the championship game two nights later to Syracuse, 74-67.

Deacons Rally For 97-76 Win In Opener

Wake Forest outscored George Washington 22-6 down the stretch to win its opener, 97-76, Monday at Joel Coliseum.

Sophomore Chris Paul scored 25 points and six assists to lead the Demon Deacons. Justin Gray had 18 points and seven steals and Vytas Danelius chipped in with 17 points.

George Washington tried several halfcourt and fullcourt trapping defenses, hoping to force Paul - the leading vote-getter on The AP preseason All-America team - to give the ball up. When they failed, Paul made them pay by spinning through double teams, penetrating into the lane and finding open teammates.

The Deacons led by 14 points early in the second half, but struggled to put away the Colonials. George Washington hit eight 3-pointers to hang around, closing to 75-70 on a 3 from Carl Elliott midway through the second half.

But Paul made sure the Deacons did not disappoint their rowdy crowd, leading a 10-2 charge that finally gave them a working margin in the final minutes.

Deacs Held On To Beat VCU In March

Wake Forest escaped a first-round NCAA Tournament upset when it beat Virginia Commonwealth 79-78 March 18 at the RBC Center in Raleigh.

Chris Paul had 22 points and made several key plays to lead the fourth-seeded Demon Deacons past the Rams.

Justin Gray scored 15 points to help the Demon Deacons advance to the second round for the third straight year. Jamaal Levy overcame a sprained left knee to add 10 points and 10 rebounds, including the go-ahead basket.

Paul assisted on Levy's go-ahead basket with a minute left and hit four free throws in the final seconds to help the Demon Deacons survive their second first-round scare in as many years. In 2003, second-seeded Wake Forest held off ETSU 76-73 in the East Regional.

Paul - the Atlantic Coast Conference's rookie of the year - went 12-for-15 from the line and had seven assists against two turnovers in 37 minutes.

Domonic Jones had 22 points and seven assists for the Rams, who were making their first NCAA appearance in eight years.

Wake Forest-VCU Series History

- Wake Forest leads the all-time series, 1-0.

- The only previous meeting between the two teams came just eight months ago -- March 18, 2004 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament at Raleigh's RBC Center. The Deacons escaped with a 79-78 victory over the upset-minded Rams.

- VCU is the first of two Richmond schools on the Wake Forest schedule. The Deacons host the University of Richmond Dec. 4. The Rams are one of five Virginia schools on the Wake schedule (VCU, Richmond, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Longwood).

- Deacon coach Skip Prosser is 1-1 all-time against VCU. While coaching at Xavier, Prosser's team lost to the Rams.

- Wake Forest is 48-12 all-time against teams currently in the CAA. That record includes a 33-11 record against William & Mary and a 10-0 mark versus UNC-Wilmington.

Deacons, Devils, On The Same Team?

Virginia Commonwealth is led by head coach and Duke graduate Jeff Capel. One of his assistant coaches is Wake Forest graduate Mark Cline -- a rare occurance of Deacons and Blue Devils working together.

As a player at Duke, Capel's Blue Devils went 1-8 against Wake Forest from 1994-97. Capel happened to play during the Tim Duncan era when the Deacons won eight of their nine consecutive wins against Duke.

Cline played at Wake from 1984-87, helping the Deacons to one NCAA Tournament and one NIT appearance. Cline played in 112 games for the Deacons. He scored 1,202 points, dished out 168 assists and shot 81.7 percent from the free throw line.

Deacs 24-1 In Last 25 November Games

Wake Forest is 24-1 in games played in November since 1999. The Demon Deacons have won six straight November games with their last loss coming in the finals of the 2001 Preseason NIT against Syracuse on Nov. 23, 2001.

Deacons Tough At The Joel

Wake Forest has always enjoyed success within the friendly confines of Lawrence Joel Coliseum, winning at an 81.8 percent clip. In recent years, that percentage is even higher. In Skip Prosser's four seasons with the Deacons, Wake is 42-6 (.878), including a perfect 16-0 mark in 2002-03.

The Deacons have not lost a home non-conference game since Feb. 9, 2002 -- a 103-94 loss to sixth-ranked Cincinnati in Prosser's first seasons with the Deacons. Under Prosser, Wake is 23-1 at home against non-ACC competition.

Wake Forest has won 39 of its last 40 home games against non-conference opponents.

WFU's all-time record in Joel Coliseum is 187-42.

Deacons No. 2 In Both National Polls

Wake Forest, at No. 2, owns its highest Associated Press preseason ranking ever.

Kansas earned the AP's No. 1 ranking with 25 first-place votes and 1,697 points from the national media panel, edging Wake Forest, which had 22 first-place votes and 1,680 points. The Demon Deacons were the first of three straight Atlantic Coast Conference teams in the poll, and six teams from the league were in the Top 25.

"I think you could put several ACC teams in a bushel, shake them around and one team would be No. 2," Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said. "That's how strong the ACC is." Georgia Tech and North Carolina were third and fourth in the balloting. No. 11 Duke, No. 15 Maryland and No. 19 North Carolina State round out the ACC teams in the poll.

The Deacons are preseason top five in the AP poll for just the third time in school history. The Tim Duncan-led Deacons of 1996-97 carried a No. 4 preseason ranking and the 1961-62 Wake Forest team, which ultimately made it to the Final Four, was preseason No. 3.

The No. 2 ranking in the AP poll matches Wake Forest's highest ranking ever. The Demon Deacons were ranked No. 2 for 10 weeks (non-consecutive) in 1996-97. Only Maryland (23 times) and Louisville (16) have been ranked No. 2 more often without ever reaching No. 1.

Wake Forest is also No. 2 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.

Could This Be The Year?

Wake Forest has been ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll 11 times, but the Deacons have never claimed the No. 1 spot. Teams that have been ranked No. 2 the most often without ever being ranked No. 1:

School Weeks at No. 2 Maryland 23 Louisville 16 Wake Forest 11 Purdue 10 Dayton 8 St. Bonaventure 7 Pittsburgh 6 St. Joseph's 5 UTEP 4 Auburn 3 Florida State 3 California 3 Minnesota 3

Deacons Down To Nine Or Ten Bodies

Just nine scholarship players may be available for duty for action Thursday. Cameron Stanley, the only freshman on the Deacon roster, is considering a redshirt season. Junior Chris Ellis is on indefinite suspension for violating team rules. Sophomore Jeremy Ingram announced that he will transfer at semester's end.

Experimental Rules In Play

Wake Forest and its opponents will be using experimental rules in every game throughout the Preseason NIT.

There will be three experimental rules in place:

- Moving the three-point line nine inches behind the current three-point line to create a distance of 20 feet, six inches.

- Widening the free throw lane by 1 1/2 feet on each side.

- Placing a restricted area arc which is two feet from the center of the basket ring.

Closing In On A Grand

Seniors Taron Downey (795 career points), Vytas Danelius (771) and Jamaal Levy (630) are all within reach of 1,000 career points. But a junior -- Justin Gray (836 points) -- may beat them to the punch. With 41 1,000-point scorers in its history, Wake Forest ranks ninth among all Division I schools.

Chris Paul Preseason All-America

Wake Forest sophomore Chris Paul was the leading vote-getter for the Associated Press preseason All-American Team announced Nov. 9.

Paul was joined on the first team by Kansas' Wayne Simien, NC State's Julius Hodge, Syracuse's Hakim Warrick and Mississippi State's Lawrence Roberts.

Chris Paul ACC Preseason Player Of Year

Wake Forest sophomore Chris Paul edged out NC State's Julius Hodge for pre-season ACC Player of the Year honors by a 38-to-35 count. North Carolina's Marvin Williams was the media's clear cut choice as the preseason ACC Rookie of the Year, receiving 60 of 87 ballots cast. Paul and Hodge joined North Carolina's Rashad McCants and Sean May and Duke's J.J. Redick on the preseason All-ACC team.

Deacons First In ACC Preseason Poll

Wake Forest was the top pick in the media's preseason poll conducted Oct. 31 at the 43rd annual Atlantic Coast Conference Operation Basketball. The Deacons received 65 of a possible 91 votes for 965 points. North Carolina was second with 13 first place votes and 866 points, followed by Georgia Tech with 836 points and Duke with 746.

Ingram Says He Will Transfer

Jeremy Ingram, a sophomore guard on the Wake Forest basketball team, will transfer to another school at the end of the fall semester, head coach Skip Prosser announced Nov. 2.

Ingram, a 6-3 Kinston (NC) native, played in eight games last season. He averaged 1.6 points and 0.8 rebounds per game.

"Jeremy Ingram is a very good basketball player and more importantly, an outstanding young man," Prosser said. "He will be an asset to whatever school he chooses and we wish him the very best."

Ingram will remain in school until the end of the fall semester. He has not indicated where he will transfer.

"I appreciate the opportunity given to me by Coach Prosser and his staff," Ingram said. "I have nothing but great things to say about Wake Forest and the basketball program. I also appreciate my teammates and will miss them very much."

Ingram's departure leaves the Demon Deacons with 11 scholarship players and three walk-ons.

Chris Ellis Suspended

Wake Forest junior forward Chris Ellis has been suspended by Demon Deacon head basketball coach Skip Prosser for violating team rules.

Ellis did not play in either exhibition game or in Wake's season opener Nov. 15 against George Washington.

The 6-9 Ellis has played in 47 career games, averaging 2.3 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. He played in only 16 games last season after breaking a bone in his foot on the first day of practice.

Senior Class Is A Diverse Group

Wake Forest's three seniors hail from three different countries. Vytas Danelius (Lithuania), Jamaal Levy (Panama) and Taron Downey (Oxford, NC) form a diverse trio that probably doesn't receive the recognition it deserves.

All three were recruited by then-coach Dave Odom, and re-recruited by current head coach Skip Prosser. Danelius, Downey and Levy have combined to play in 281 games. Wake Forest has won 68 games during their careers.

Only Danelius, a second team All-ACC selection in 2003, has earned all-league honors. That could change this year. After an injury-plagued junior season, Danelius appears ready for his best year yet. Levy is one of the top defensive players in college basketball and one of the ACC's leading returning rebounders. Downey ranks among Wake's all-time leaders in assists and three-point field goals.

Stanley May Redshirt In 2004-05

Cameron Stanley, the only freshman on the Demon Deacon roster, is recovering from a torn ACL just fine. Stanley suffered the injury last December in the seventh game of his senior year at Raleigh Millbrook High School. He was cleared to participate in practice just before drills began Oct. 16. Stanley has participated in drills with no problems so far.

Stanley, however, may elect to redshirt this season. He has not played in a competitive game since early December of 2003.

Three Sign National Letters Of Intent

Three talented high school seniors - two from North Carolina and one from New Mexico - signed letters of intent to play basketball at Wake Forest beginning next season, head coach Skip Prosser announced.

Harvey Hale (Albuquerque, NM/Rio Grande HS), Kevin Swinton (Greensboro, NC/Dudley HS) and David Weaver (Black Mountain, NC/Owen HS) will make up the Deacon freshman class. The three signees, all highly-rated nationally, will give Wake Forest help in at least three positions.

"We really think this is a solid class that will help us compete at the highest level," Prosser said. "Every school in the ACC has outstanding recruiting classes almost every season and again, this class will help us compete within the league. All three young men are potentially terrific basketball players, they are outstanding students, good people and come from quality high school programs."

Hale, 6-3 and 190 pounds, is considered the top prep prospect in New Mexico and is rated in the top 150 nationally by Rivals.com. He averaged 19.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game as a junior. Hale, who also plays for the Arizona/New Mexico Pump n' Run AAU team, chose the Deacons over Arkansas, Arizona State, DePaul, SMU and Stanford. He is coached at Rio Grande High School by Ron Garcia.

"Harvey (Hale) is a combo guard who we feel will help fill the void created by the impending loss of Taron Downey," Prosser said. "Harvey is not the pure shooter that Taron is, but he is longer and is potentially an even better defender. He has a knack for scoring and he leads one of the best high school teams in New Mexico.

Swinton, 6-7 and 230 pounds, is one of the top forwards in the nation. He averaged 22.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per game as a junior at Dudley. Swinton is ranked as the 20th-best power forward nationally by Rivals and the 47th-best prospect overall by Hoopmasters. A member of the 2004 USA South Team at the Olympic sports festival, Swinton also plays for the North Carolina Gaters AAU team. Swinton plays for coach David Price at Dudley.

"Kevin is a product of one of the most prestigious high school programs in North Carolina," Prosser said. "He is strong, very athletic and he is a winner."

Weaver, 6-10 and 210 pounds, is ranked No. 27 among power forwards nationally by Rivals and in the top 85 overall by Hoopmasters. Hoop Scoop ranked Weaver as the fifth-best post player at the Nike camp. Weaver averaged 12.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. He also produced a lofty grade-point-average of 3.93. Weaver, who also runs track at Owen, is teammates with Swinton on the North Carolina Gaters AAU team. Weaver played for coach Roger Schnepp at Owen.

"David Weaver has great length and good ball skills for a young man of his size," Prosser said. "We feel that he has a bright, bright future at Wake Forest."

Deacs Post Big Numbers In Exhibitions

Wake Forest put up big numbers in two exhibition victories, averaging 96.0 points per game and winning by an average of 37 points.

The Deacons also shot well overall with a field goal percentage of .553. Wake Forest out-rebounded its two Division II opponents by an average of 29 boards per game.

However, Wake Forest averaged 24 turnovers per game and the Deacons shot poorly from three-point range (.226) and from the free throw line (.619).

Deacons Sloppy But Win Exhibition By 28

Wake Forest sophomore guard Chris Paul led six players in double figures with 15 points as the Demon Deacons closed the exhibition season with a 89-61 victory over inter-city rival Winston-Salem State Nov. 11.

Paul went 6-for-10 from the floor and added four rebounds, five assists and seven steals. Junior Eric Williams added a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Williams went 5-for-7 from the field and 4-of-7 from the free-throw line.

Jamaal Levy added 14 points, while Trent Strickland and Kyle Visser each chipped in 13 points off the Demon Deacon bench. Levy was an efficient 6-for-8 from the field with five rebounds and two steals. Visser and Strickland went 5-for-7 and 5-for-8 from the floor, respectively. Visser also collected eight rebounds.

Wake Trounces USC-Upstate, 103-57

Wake Forest sophomore Chris Paul earned bragging rights from older brother C.J., a senior guard at USC-Upstate, as the Demon Deacons whipped the Division II Spartans 103-57 lNov. 4 in Wake's first exhibition game.

The elder Paul got into early foul trouble, limiting the amount of time the two brothers actually guarded one another. Chris Paul finished with 11 points, 9 assists and 6 steals. C.J. scored seven points and grabbed 6 rebounds.

Six Deacons scored in double figures, paced by junior Justin Gray's 20 points. Gray was 4-of-7 from three-point range. Sophomore Kyle Visser added 17 points and nine boards and junior Trent Strickland recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Wake Forest shot a sizzling 55.9 percent from the field and out-rebounded the outmanned Spartans, 63-26.

Veterans Shine In Black/Gold Game

Senior forward Vytas Danelius scored a game-high 12 points to lead the Gold past the Black, 45-26, in the 20-minute Oct. 23 Black/Gold Game at Joel Coliseum. A crowd of 5,500 was on hand to watch Wake's first public scrimmage of the season. Sophomore All-American candidate Chris Paul did not play because of a strained groin.

Junior Richard Joyce scored 11 points and senior Taron Downey 10 points for the Gold. Junior Trent Strickland led the Black with 11 points.

New Floor, New Uniforms

Lawrence Joel Coliseum, the home of Demon Deacon basketball, has a new playing floor this season. The new floor replaces the original surface, which had been in place since the facility opened in 1989.

Also new this year are the Wake Forest uniforms. The Deacons will sport new Nike Elite uniforms with versions in white, gold and black.

The First And The Last

Wake Forest played the first game this season involving an ACC school -- Nov. 15 vs. George Washington -- and will play in the last game of the ACC regular season -- March 6 at 8 p.m. at NC State.

The Preseason Hoopla

Wake Forest had its share of preseason hype:

- ESPN.com -- chose Wake Forest No. 1 in its preseason poll.

- Blue Ribbon Yearbook -- picked Wake No. 1 in the preseason.

- Lindy's -- ranked WFU No. 2 in its preseason poll.

- Athlon -- selected Wake Forest as a Final Four team.

- Slam -- ranked the Deacons No. 3 in the preseason.

- ACC Handbook -- ranked Wake No. 4 nationally.

- Chris Paul is on the cover of early November editions of ESPN The Magazine and The Sporting News.

Brutal Schedule

Notes on the 2004-05 Demon Deacon schedule:

- Eight Wake Forest opponents are ranked in the Associated Press top 25 -- (3) Georgia Tech, (4) North Carolina, (5) Illinois, (11) Duke, (15) Maryland, (16) Texas and (19) NC State. Cincinnati and George Washington, also Wake opponents, are receiving votes. That means that 12 of WFU's regular season games come against teams that are at least receiving votes in the AP poll.

- Eleven of Wake's regular season games come against teams that were ranked in the final 2004 Associated Press top 25: (13) Illinois, (12) Texas, (19) Maryland, (18) North Carolina, (11) Cincinnati and two games against (6) Duke, (14) Georgia Tech and (15) NC State.

- Wake Forest will play at least nine different teams that participated in the 2004 NCAA Tournament for a total of 12 games: Illinois, Richmond, Texas, Maryland, North Carolina, Cincinnati, and two games against Duke, Georgia Tech and NC State. That number could go up if the Deacons advance in the Preseason NIT to face VCU and others.

- Four other Deacon opponents -- George Washington, Temple, Florida State and Virginia -- played in the 2004 Postseason NIT for a total of 13 different opponents to participate in postseason action last season.

- Four of Wake Forest's final 12 regular season games come against two 2004 Final Four teams -- Duke and Georgia Tech.

A New Era In The ACC

Miami and Virginia Tech join the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004-05, giving the league 11 teams. The regular season ACC schedule will still consist of 16 games. The Deacons are 2-0 all-time against Miami with the last meeting coming in 1990-91. Wake Forest is 24-20 all-time against Virginia Tech with the last meeting coming in 1998-99.

Demon Deacon Streaks

- 14 consecutive postseason appearances -- the longest current streak in the ACC.

- Four straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

- 34 consecutive weeks ranked in the Associated Press poll.

- Three consecutive 20-win seasons.

- Three straight NCAA Tournament first-round wins.

Bringing Home The Gold

Junior Justin Gray and sophomore Chris Paul were two of 12 college all-stars who led the United States to a gold medal this summer at the World U-20 Championship Qualifying Tournament in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The two Deacons started every game and helped the USA to a perfect 5-0 record. If not for a case of extreme dehydration, which sent Wake's Eric Williams to the hospital during the trials, the USA team would have likely included three Demon Deacons.

Miscellaneous Notes

- Wake Forest has won 11 straight season openers and the Deacons are 71-28 all-time in season openers.

- The Deacons have won 16 consecutive home openers. The last time the Deacons lost their first home game of the season came on Nov. 28, 1988 -- the last season WFU played in old Memorial Coliseum. That loss came against Richmond, 74-61.


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