For the first ten minutes of the Wake Forest-William and Mary game it looked like another lackadaisical effort for the Deacs as the Tribe raced out to an easy 21-11 lead over their ACC foe.
That's when freshman Aaron Rountree entered the game for the first time. Pulling down rebounds, steals, assists and blocks galore, Rountree did everything that Coach Jeff Bzdelik could have wanted him to do while he was out there to help the Deacs come away with a 63-57 victory.
Tree finished with a modest line of 4 points, 7 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a shocking 5 blocks in 23 minutes of sensational play.
I cannot say enough about the play of Aaron and it made me so happy to see him succeeding on the court. I know that most of the writers here have a special bond with him because of the way he has treated us as media members and human beings. He is just a great overall basketball player and an infinitely better human being. The phrase "couldn't have happened to a nicer guy" was created for Aaron Rountree.
Needless to say, if we had 12 of him out there then we would win every game. They would be low scoring games, but we'd win a lot of them (just kidding Aaron!!! (kinda!!!)).
The game was extremely sloppy all-around for both teams, as the basket appeared to be much smaller than regulation-size on both ends of the court.
The Tribe wound up shooting 41% on 22 of 52 shooting, while the Deacs managed a meager 40% on 20 of 50 shooting. Wake was 3 of 19 from behind the arc for 15.8%, but somehow found a way to win the game behind 18 points for C.J. Harris and 15 points for Travis McKie.
William and Mary was led by point guard Marcus Thornton with 17 points, who continually beat whatever Wake Forest defender was on him. Big man Tim Rusthoven finished a rebound shy of a double-double with 11 points and 9 boards.
The good news for Wake Forest was that they played pretty terrible basketball for the first 10 minutes and still found a way to come back and win the ballgame. The bad thing is that it was against William and Mary, a team that got beaten by a bad Miami of Ohio team on Wednesday night and ranks 200th on KenPom (to be fair, Wake Forest is 211th in KenPom).
It was great to see what Aaron Rountree brought off the bench, but honestly it was also frustrating because I wondered all night how he wasn't already seeing the court for more playing time. I realize that he was a little lost in the Canada games that I saw, but that's what being a freshman is all about. I guess it's better that our coaching staff realized it four games into the year instead of 15 games into the year, but still frustrating nonetheless.
C.J. Harris and Travis McKie both struggled with their shooting as they combined for a pourous 8 of 23 shooting from the field. They made up for it with a 16 of 22 effort combination from the free throw line. They both continue to get to the line early and often and hit them at a steady pace.
It is a little concerning to me that it takes them a while to get into the flow of the game. They both seem able to take the game over at nearly any moment, but they are playing well within the "offense" and do not take over until the latter part of the second half.
I commend them both for trying to help the offense develop and mature because this will work against teams less talented than ACC teams, but come conference play I doubt waiting so late to turn it on will help at all. Hopefully by that time the Deacs offense will look much better.
There's a lot to say about this game, including the foul trouble of Thomas, the play of CMM and Jones, and the steady play of Moto, but I figure I'll let y'all talk it out in the comment section because I've had a long day and want to read what y'all have to say.
Also, despite the win, there are a lot of things that the Deacs have to fix to become even an average team. I just want to enjoy the victory tonight and look forward to the next game. I loved the hustle and I enjoyed the fact that the majority of the errors were hustle and youth errors instead of lazy and dumb errors. Both are frustrating, but I like the foundation that we are laying with the players that we have.
A win is a win is a win. Let's go out there and beat Vandy tomorrow to become bowl eligible two years in a row! Go Deacs!!!