I won't bore you (excite you???) with the road stats of the last Wake Forest head coach because it has been admittedly hammered into the ground, but Danny Manning led the Deacs to an emphatic 71-49 road win in his first game on the road as head coach.
KenPom projected a close game in New Orleans tonight, but it was anything but that as Wake got out to a big 26-8 lead with tremendous perimeter defense early on. Tulane increased the intensity in the latter part of the first half and managed to crawl back into it and cut the lead to 32-27 at the half.
Devin Thomas led the Deacs with 14 points and 12 boards for his second straight double-double to start the season, while Codi Miller-McIntyre finished with 12 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
It was quite the even performance, as Coach Manning had a handful of guys chip in points and rebounds. Darius Leonard was a guy that really stuck out to me tonight after his debut on Friday night. He ultimately finished with nine points and two rebounds to round off a good overall performance from the transfer senior.
Unlike years past, the Deacs looked refocused and beared down in the second half after Tulane's run shortly before the half to limit the Green Wave with superior athleticism and defense. They also cranked up the intensity on both sides and used the fast break against the Green Wave to ultimately take control.
It was truly a contrast of styles as Tulane was content to launch threes and pass on the perimeter while Wake preferred to get the ball inside to Devin Thomas and Konstantinos Mitoglou.
While there were certainly some deficiencies in shooting and transition defense, overall it cannot be stressed enough how different the Deacs look this year already from last year on both sides of the basketball. At times, the defense was truly stifling as Tulane was held for long stretches without a bucket in both the first and second half.
Mitoglou has a tremendous understanding of the pick and roll game for a freshman, and the ball movement looked better tonight than it did at any time over the past four years. For him to be an 18 year old and already maintain this level of confidence with the ball, as well as general composure and leadership while among his teammates makes him a special player in the making and he has only been a Demon Deacon for two games.
The length of Wake Forest will be an asset as the year progresses, and the high intensity man-to-man is a refreshing reprieve as well from years' past.
A big concern moving into Wednesday night at Arkansas will be turnovers and ball security, as Madison Jones and Codi Miller-McIntyre struggled at times to advance the ball past midcourt. One would have to think that Mike Anderson will feast on the game tape from tonight in preparation for the game in Fayetteville particularly given their brand of defensive basketball.
Wake fans have to be excited about the team moving forward, as the best things are surely to come under Coach Manning who is now 2-0 as the head coach at Wake Forest.