Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE
Wake Forest led more or less wire to wire, but it was not a very comfortable feeling for much of Friday night. Still, the Demon Deacons buckled down when it mattered and never let the Highlanders truly seize control, ending up with a double digit win in the first "real" competition for the Baby Deacs.
I'm going to try something a little different in terms of format this time, see how it works out. Instead of going down player by player, this recap is going to be in three sections: The Good, The Bad, and Overall. Since it's a win and, let's face it, I'm a bit sunshine in the first place, we'll start with...
Offensive production. The team shot 67% for the game, and even more impressively, they shot BETTER in the first half. A stunning 77% from the field in the first half by the Deacs. I don't care who they're playing, that's some pretty basketball. Actually, the Deacs only shot 3-11 from beyond the arc all game (three threes in a row from Chase Fischer), making the shot percentages all the more absurd. To put it in different terms, no one shot worse than 50% on the night.
Spreading the love. Six Deacs in double figures. Not much more needs to be said there, that's just really good balance. 11 assists on 28 shots could also be better, but man, when everybody's shooting like they were tonight, that's something you can take.
Defense. Well, sort of. We held them to under 40% shooting for the game, hooray! That's a pretty good thing. Except, well...read below to see in the bad section the flip side of that coin.
Drawing contact. 28 fouls on Radford, 30 free throws for the Deacs. If we can keep up numbers like those, that'll help us in a lot of games this year, that's for sure.
Unable to finish (in more than one way). Every time it seemed we were preparing to blow the thing wide open, Radford came clawing back to get it close again. A big part of that is the next negative.
Giving up offensive rebounds. This was the cardinal sin for the Deacs this game in my opinion. 18 offensive rebounds given up, and 14 second chance points for Radford. Yikes. See, the thing about giving up points on an extra possession for the other team, be it via offensive rebounds or the next thing In this section, you're not just giving the other team points, you're losing an opportunity to score points for your side, so it's a double whammy. This was the not-good part about the defense.
Turnovers. Yeesh, 18 turnovers, 22 points for Radford off of them. The ironic thing is it was the two team leaders, C.J. Harris and Travis McKie, who were the primary offenders on this one. The freshmen were actually pretty darn good about it, all told. I don't wanna dog C.J. and Travis too much though, because I think a lot of the turnovers came from them trying to do too much. The freshmen did really admirably for themselves though, so if the old guard can just trust their teammates more, I definitely think things will get better there. Not to mention it's just a proven fact that as teams play together more, chemistry grows and turnovers decrease (with rare exceptions).
Stepping back a little, this win does not inspire a ton of confidence, but at least it's a W. For the Deacs to stay in the game against UConn, they are going to need the veterans Harris and McKie to take a little more control and get back to the way they were playing during most of last year. While Harris scored 19 points, he only took 5 shots. Wake fans know the skill is there, it's just a matter of these guys being more aggressive but at the same time not committing the silly turnovers that plagued them on opening night.
Thomas, Moto and Miller-McIntyre all looked to be gamers again on opening night, which is definitely promising for the future. Their next test is a big one though, as the distance between Radford and UConn is quite significant. Let's hope the coaching staff gets plenty of rebounding and post defense drills in this week before they head to the Virgin Islands.