Doral: From Bust to Bonanza

Sifting through the sluice pan of another washout Wake basketball season, there’s a remarkable find to be found.

At 7-1, 280-pounds, the nugget is hard to miss.

Doral Moore has turned into a real bonanza.

Through his first two seasons at Wake – and my final two on the beat – I can’t tell you the number of times I was asked why Moore, whose recruiting ranking outranked that of classmate John Collins, wasn’t playing more than 8.4 minutes a game.

My answer was always the same.

Best I can tell, he can’t.

Watching him closely during his brief runs during games, or during the two or three preseason practices opened to the likes of us, I began calling the big guy Tucker. He couldn’t run up and down the court more than two or three times without being totally tuckered out.

Chest a-heaving, hands leaning hard on his knees, Moore would appear on the verge of collapse. The biggest problem I could see was stamina, or lack thereof.

So while willing to assign some of the credit to Ryan Moore, the Deacons’ bearded wonder of a director of athletic performance, Moore’s emergence in his junior season is further confirmation that Danny Manning’s reputation as a stellar coach of big men is deserved.

We figured as much when John Collins, ranked No. 120 by 247sports.com., was the 19th player in the NBA draft after his sophomore season.

To see Moore have his way in last night’s 79-62 victory over Georgia Tech – when he piled up 17 points and 12 rebounds while making eight of 11 shots from the floor – convinced me of Manning’s knowledge and coaching expertise. Even more important, it should also convince any high school center or power forward considering Wake as a way station on their way to the NBA.

The performance was no outlier. It was Moore’s 10th double-double of the season, and his third in a row.

And as for stamina, Moore logged 28 minutes and was still going strong enough to contribute five rebounds and two dunks in the final 10 minutes. Looking back, he’s played more than 28 minutes nine times. For the season, he’s averaging 25 minutes, which is pretty much as many as anyone other than Bryant Crawford.

What has become clear is that with the departure of Collins and Dinos Mitoglou, Manning knew he was going to have to get big minutes from his big man. So – again with the help of Horn – he got him ready for the challenge.

Through 26 games, Moore is averaging 10.8 points and 9.5 rebounds, and it’s worth noting that his numbers are even better (11 points, 11.1 rebounds) against ACC competition. And given that he’s 71 percent from the floor, I’d really love to see him play with a backcourt more capable of getting him the ball in scoring position.

He got five paint-touches in the second half last night, which is not bad, but certainly could be better.

NBA scouts, by now, have to be at least taking a look at Moore. I’ve got to think he’ll have a chance to make a good living in the game at least somewhere on the planet.

Meanwhile, the Deacons, by beating Georgia Tech, improved to 10-16 and 3-11 in ACC play. They finish the regular season against N.C. State (home), Pitt (away), Notre Dame (home) and Georgia Tech (away), a stretch that should spare them the ignominy of finishing dead last in the league.

So what is it with this team?

In Moore, the Deacons have an inside force who would be welcome on pretty much an college roster in the land.

Bryant Crawford, if he keeps on his current pace, will finish among the school’s top-ten all-time for points scored. He already has 1,361, and if he returns for a senior season (and I’ve heard no word that he won’t), he’ll have at least another 36 or so games to play.

Keyshawn Woods is a tough, experienced player with what I consider an old-man’s game. He has been slowed by a nagging knee injury, but has remained a valuable asset off the bench.

Mitchell Wilbekin, who is back in the lineup after also batting injuries, is a grizzled four-year veteran who is shooting 44 percent from 3-point range.

Chaundee Brown, after perplexing us all in the early going, is rapidly getting his feet on the ground and living up to his ranking as the program’s most ballyhooed recruit since Al-Farouq Aminu in 2009. He’s physical and gifted, enough so that I could see him really coming into his own next season.

And the closer I look at Olivier Sarr, I see flashes that suggest he might develop into something worth having.

Granted, none of this adds up to an ACC contender. No one is saying that. But my guess is that in years to come, fans who who still care about Wake basketball will look back and wonder how a team with this much talent spent so much of the season mired in the lower echelons of the league.

I’ve always loved the word synergy because I believe it exists. But if the definition of synergy is the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, what is the antonym?

This season, the antonym is Wake basketball.

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