Well guys, this game was thoroughly good news, bad news. I don't recant any of what I said in my last piece, but they didn't shore up lots of additional confidence either (though maybe a little bit, actually). Wake played pretty darn badly through 30 minutes of basketball, but then absolutely stormed back to cut a 23 point Richmond lead to 6 with a minute left, but it was too little too late. I'll take an eight point loss to a legitimately good Richmond squad sooner than many other losses (and probably any other loss last year). As I've said, losing never feels good, but there were things to be encouraged by. There were also things to be frustrated by of course, which I'll also discuss, but the more I let this game marinate, the more I continue to assert that this team will have a better campaign than last year.
For more analysis, read after the jump...Okay, so first off some general thoughts. Our offense was decent (again, evident by the fact that we dropped 62 points), shooting 41.5% from the field, and an even 50% from 3. There were things about the offense that absolutely drove me up the wall too, but I'll get to that. It's also worth noting that the offense banged pretty hard inside; the Deacs had several and-1's throughout the game from multiple guys, so it was encouraging to see them going strong to the hoop at times and banging around inside.
Rebounding was better in general this game. I'm perplexed because the stats in the Joel during the game credited us with more rebounds than we apparently got (they said we were even in rebounding, 29-29), but the Spiders outrebounded us by 4.according to ESPN I don't know which numbers are right and which are wrong, to be honest. Something that was encouraging, however, was the fact that Wake pulled 8 offensive rebounds (I'm pretty sure a season high) to Richmond's 7 according to ESPN, and according to wakeforestsports.com it was 12-9, so even better. Richmond is a big, deep, experienced squad, but our guys hung in tough and banged on the glass in this game, a refreshing change of pace.
Our free throw shooting was nearly flawless, 15-16 for 93.7%, and 5 different guys got to the line, so it was a team effort in that regard.
Our defense was...perplexing. It's not that they played terrible across the board; they forced 12 turnovers, many of which were instrumental in the comeback that Wake almost made, and I feel like most of the time, our guys are pretty damn good about sticking on assignments when we're talking about face-up defense, and there's not really a lack of energy. The problem is that we get absolutely obliterated on screens because our rotation is horrendous right now, leading to far too many open threes (which were easily the difference in this game).
My frustration with the offense today was that we were 3-6 from three, but holy cow did we have more open looks than that. Guys just didn't take shots, even late in the game when clock was an issue. I don't think it's just a coaching thing; I think the guys had tired, nervous legs and were afraid of taking shots sometimes so they decided to keep passing the buck instead. I also think another part of it is that the guys are trying really hard to run the system correctly. They're at the point where they're capable of running things correctly and really focus on doing things correctly which is good, but sometimes they overcompensate and don't just try to make a play even when one is available, which is bad. I'll go on record as saying I genuinely think this will be less of an issue as the season goes on. Now for individual stats and notes:
-Travis McKie, once again, straight up baller. 25 points on 10-17 shooting, 1-2 from three, 4-4 from the line, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and a block. Travis had 4 of the Deacs' 13 turnovers, basically the only substantial flaw to his performance in my opinion.
-C.J. Harris also did well yet again. 18 points, 2-3 from 3, 6-6 from the line, 6 rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a turnover. C.J. was only 5-16 shooting though, which isn't good; C.J.'s mid-range jumper just didn't want to go down today.
-Tony Chennault chipped in 8 points on an anemic 4-10 shooting, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 TO's. Tony honestly passed the ball TOO much. This sounds crazy but there were several times where Tony cut underneath the basket and, while he didn't pass up any gimme layups, he did have situations where I feel like he could've created and instead kicked it out to the corner with generally less-than-ideal results.
-Nikita Mescheriakov had 4 points on 6 shots, 4 rebounds, an assist, and 1 TO. I want to like Nikita, I really do. He had some key plays in the run defensively by drawing charges and things like that. He's really energetic and is CAPABLE of doing good things. But he doesn't play like a starter. I have to wonder if Daniel Green might get more time in Nikita's slot as the season goes on (or maybe even a two center line-up once Ty Walker comes back? Is that crazy?)
-Speaking of Daniel Green, he only played 3 minutes. He missed his one shot, but did record a rebound, so there's that.
-Carson Desrosiers had 3 points on 2 shot attempts, oddly only one rebound, but also one assist and an impressive 4 blocks. Carson is a good player; I feel like generally he does what he should and is efficient (not to mention is a nifty interior passer) but he needs to assert himself more on both ends like he did against Nebraska.
-Anthony Fields had 2 points (both from the line), 2 assists, and 2 TO's in 11 minutes. I really like Anthony as a pass-first PG option. He also continues to be really energetic. I'd like to see him at least attempt some shots sometimes though.
-Chase Fischer was tentative, but made some good contributions. He was 2-2 from the line, missed his one shot, but also chipped in a rebound, 2 assists, and 2 steals. I don't know what got into him, but if he had been more aggressive offensively, it might've been a different game. Good news is teams recognize him now and guard him much more closely, which bottles up Chase a bit but definitely opens up his teammates.
Bottom line is, the fact that we were down 23 at one point is terrible, but we talked about how this game would tell us a lot about this team, and the fact that they cut it to 6 late tells me something good. Last year's team wouldn't have battled like that, no question.
Does it suck to lose? Yes. Are there things this team needs to work on if they want success? Yes. But Coach Bzdelik says a loss is only a loss if you don't learn anything from it, and I'd say based on the run they made at it that they started learning before the game was even over. That, if nothing else, is a plus. As always, all input is not only welcome, but highly appreciated.
Please God let us beat High Point on Wednesday. Go Deacs.
P.S.- Good lord in heaven the officiating was terrible, not that I'm bitter or anything...
P.P.S.-Holy failure, I messed up the score by 10 both ways.