Starting off the season 1-3 in the conference isn't reason to panic for many teams, but in the case of the Deacons it is. Granted the team has an overall record of 10-8, but many of those wins were against teams an ACC team is "expected" to beat (i.e. High Point, Gardner-Webb, Georgia Southern). However, during their pre-conference schedule, Wake inexplicably lost to Wofford and got blown out by a weak Arizona State team in the Old Spice Classic. Most recently the Demon Deacons got dismantled by Duke on ESPN, losing 91-73.
Any true college fan knows a pre-conference schedule gives fans a gauge of the direction and potential of a team, but conference play is most important. Getting off to a solid start in a conference as historically talented and tough as the ACC is key. Starting 1-3 is definitely not what any Demon Deacon fan hoped for, but what is more troubling is the way the team has looked in those four ACC games.
The team started out on a positive note, by gutting out a win against a hard-nosed Virginia Tech team. In the last three ACC games however, the team has looked shaky and been very inconsistent with its play on the court. Here are some disturbing stats about the Deacs in their four conference games:
- Currently have a scoring margin of -14.2
- Shooting 38.9% from the field
- Shooting 25.4% from the 3pt line
- Averaging close to 15 (14.8) turnovers a game
- Outscored 142-105 in the first half of games
Now statistics sometimes do not tell the entire story, but in the case of the Deacs, these glaring stats explain a lot about the team’s 1-3 conference start. The team’s lack of continuity and consistency on the offensive end of the floor is a glaring problem. The offense looks spastic and some of the players show an inability to make basic fundamental plays (feed the post properly, using the dribble effectively, shot selection, etc). Those basic fundamental skills are direct reflection of coaching. Any coach knows fundamentals are essential at any level and should be focused on consistently throughout the course of a season, especially when playing at a high level like the ACC. Look at Duke compared to other teams in the ACC as well as the nation. The thing that sets them apart from a lot of teams is not how athletic or talented they are, but how fundamentally sound their players are on both ends of the floor, something that Coach K stresses regularly in practices. It is very frustrating as an alum, to see Wake Forest with its rich tradition of basketball, look more like a recreational league team rather than an ACC contender. Many of the team’s offensive woes could be turned around with improvement in fundamentals by each player which in turn will create better execution offensively.
Now this post isn’t about bashing the coach (however, like many other Wake fans, I’m not sold Bzdelik) or the team but changes need to be made or this will be a very long season for Wake Forest basketball fans. I hope that this slow start can somehow light a fire under the coaching staff and players to focus on improving and that they can right the ship. If things do not turn around soon and the team’s performance does not improve, there will be numerous disappointed alumni and Wake Forest fans will be calling for Bzdelik’s job by the end of this month.
Shana White is a blog contributor for Gold Star Games, a cornhole bags supplier