Ten more minutes.
The Winthrop Eagles get Robbie Dreher back for tonight's 7 p.m. game at Wake Forest. The sophomore guard sat out the Eagles' exhibition game and the first three of the 2010-11 regular season while serving a suspension. He said he won't hit the court until at least the 10-minute mark tonight.
He can't wait.
"I have been trying to keep the same pace as if I was going to play in each game, but it's been hard," Dreher said after Saturday's practice at the Winthrop Coliseum.
Sitting on the bench watching games has given Dreher a different perspective going into his first outing of the season.
"I think we can play harder. We made too many mental mistakes," Dreher said. "We have to work on getting open, get better shots. Sitting out has helped me as a player."
Dreher scored 5.9 points a game as a freshman and established himself as one of Winthrop coach Randy Peele's better on-ball defenders.
Just how Dreher fits into Peele's rotation remains to be seen. His final 20 games last year were starts but Peele has gone with guards Reggie Middleton, Justin Burton and Andre Jones in Dreher's absence.
Dreher took Jones' starting job a year ago. Jones is part of the Eagles' balanced scoring attack so far with 9 points a game. Middleton and forward George Valentine lead the team in scoring at 11.3. Gideon Gamble has chipped in 9.3 points off the bench.
Winthrop, 1-2, should feel quite comfortable playing at Lawrence Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem after playing two games in the NIT Season Tip-Off last week there. The Eagles lost 67-54 to Virginia Commonwealth last Monday before getting tripped up by Hampton 45-44 the following night. Both games began at 9:30 p.m., something Peele said he hadn't seen in his 27 years of coaching.
Tonight Winthrop gets ACC member Wake Forest in the consolation bracket of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Wake, 2-2, lost its season opener at home, to Stetson, 89-79. In the NIT, the Deacons had to hold off Hampton for a 63-56 win and then got pasted by VCU on Tuesday night, 90-69.
The Deacons played at Elon Saturday night. After a slow start in which they trailed 14-2 with 14:15 left in the first half, Wake went on runs of 22-8 and 13-1 to take an 89-70 win.
Travis McKie, a 6-foot-7 freshman forward, had career highs of 22 points and 15 rebounds. He leads the team and was seventh in the ACC in scoring (15.8 ppg) through Saturday's action. He was also in the conference's top 10 in rebounding with 8.2 per contest.
Winthrop plays Belmont on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. giving the Eagles back-to-back games for the second time this season. One thing's for sure, the scheduling gives Peele a good look at his team.
"The beauty of these games is you find out who you are. It is a valuable experience for the kids," Peele said. "We are finding out where our weaknesses are."
Winthrop's defense has been good for the most part. The only lapse came in the second half against VCU, when the Rams made 3-pointers as if they were dunks. The Eagles have held their opponents to 40 percent shooting from the floor.
The Eagles are hitting just 37.2 percent of their shots. Matt Morgan and Burton have combined to make six of their last 39 attempts. Peele said Burton is playing well and Morgan's shot will fall, "eventually.''
Wake Forest's weakness has been ball handling. The Deacs are committing 20 turnovers and their opponents have averaged 10.8 steals per game. Freshman J.T. Terrell, out of West Charlotte High School, and sophomore C.J. Harris have 35 turnovers.
Terrell has great range and has showed no problems coming back from a broken thumb in a September individual workout.
Harris is the only returning player that had started a game for Wake Forest. The team has a new coach. The school dismissed Dino Gaudin after three seasons. Jeff Bzdelik spent the last three years at Colorado and two before that at Air Force.
Bzdelik started three freshman and two sophomores Saturday at Elon.