Summer school is complete, media day is complete, the exhibition game on Friday night is complete, and now there is nothing left but practice this week and to get the season started. That is exactly what Danny Manning and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons will do on Friday night against the UMBC (Maryland Baltimore County) Retrievers.
There was some early consternation against the Division II UNC-Pembroke Braves, as Wake trailed by a point at halftime. Whatever went on in the locker room certainly remedied that, as the Devin Thomas led Deacs cruised to a 22 point victory in the second half.
The staff can now turn eyes towards UMBC, a team that had a rather forgettable 2014-15 season filled with losses, sexual assault allegations, and injuries. The Retrievers finished 4-26, including a paltry 2-14 record in America East, en route to a final finish of 344 out of 351 Division I teams.
There is some hope for the Retrievers this season, as it defeated Frostburg State 92-76 in an exhibition game on November 6th. The 92 point output is extremely welcome to Coach Aki Thomas and fans. as 76 points was the season high last year during the regular season.
Sophomore Rodney Elliott (AE freshman of the year last season) led the team with 24 point, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. UMBC also got a double-double out of sophomore guard Jourdan Grant with 17 points, 12 rebounds, and a team high 7 assists.
Truthfully, Wake Forest probably got a bigger test last Friday than they will get this Friday, as UNC-Pembroke would probably rank somewhere in the 200's in the KenPom ranking system. The Retrievers currently sit at 332, and it will not be a stretch to say that the Wake Forest length and defensive pressure man-to-man will be extremely problematic.
UMBC does bring in six freshmen, including the No. 95 PG in the 2015 recruiting class in Daquon Ervin, and SF Joe Sherburne, who collected a double-double in the exhibition.
In theory this should not be a difficult game for Wake Forest, but a chance to continue getting fine tuned for the game at Bucknell on Sunday (which could prove quite difficult). Of course we also said this about Delaware State last year and we all know how that turned out.