Bryant Crawford. Again. I hesitate to sound like a broken record, but Bryant had a heck of a stat line. 21 points (7-13 shooting, 4-5 from deep, 3-5 from the line), 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. Admittedly, he had 7 turnovers, but the shooting, particularly from deep, was bonkers. He even sank a three while getting fouled. He sadly missed the free throw, but any time your point guard can get you a four point play attempt and shoot 80% from deep, that's good stuff. If Bryant can minimize the turnovers and get stronger so as to more effectively drive and finish off the dribble, I could see him becoming nigh unstoppable.
Balance On Offense. 5 Deacs had 12+ points, and Mitchell Wilbekin was close to double digits with 8 points. Any time you can get that level of sharing is good stuff.
Drawing Contact And Getting To The Line. The Deacs drew a whopping 27 team fouls on Richmond and had 33 attempts at the line. That shows that Wake Forest is doing a good job driving, drawing contact, and rebounding in such a way that they may also get fouled on the glass.
Defense. Richmond shot 52% from the field, and 48% from deep on 23 attempts. I will say this much: a couple of the threes were just silly. Like, Curry-level silly. There comes a point at which it's not really worth guarding a shot because of how deep it is, and there were at least a few of those, not to mention some long twos in the same vein that were well-guarded. That said, there were definite problems with wing defense that we really shouldn't have had. Which brings me to...
Some Substitution Patterns. Greg McClinton was actually on fire for him, and he's shown an ability to defend well on the wing and rebound well. Greg had 22 minutes, while Trent VanHorn had 28. I don't mean to slight Trent in the least; he's often mismatched athletically but he hustles every second of every play, and being a walk-on, on the scout team, whatever term you want to choose, is a thankless job, and those guys work harder than we could possibly imagine even before they do step on the court at all. That said, it confuses me a little bit that Trent had more minutes than two of the starters (McClinton and Wilbekin). To be honest, I don't really get it.
Free Throw Shooting. We've been seeing the team do a good job in general from the line, but against Richmond they were an unfortunate 19-33 from the line against the Spiders for a positively ugly 57%. Can't shoot like that and expect to win games, especially tight ones.
The Bottom Line
An offensive battle that showed flashes of really good play from both teams, there were also ugly stretches. Turnovers and free throws doomed the Deacs, which sounds like a refrain we would've used under the previous regime, but there are a myriad of reasons why the two couldn't be more different. Richmond is, I'd wager, in the general territory of a mid-tier ACC squad, and we played a very good game against them. With Wake Forest at full strength, I think we probably would've pulled it out in the end. I'm liking a lot of what I'm seeing. Codi Miller-McIntyre, Cornelius Hudson, and Rondale Watson can't come soon enough. The good news is it appears that Hudson's return is imminent.
On to Maui. Go Deacs.