Bryant Crawford. The freshman point guard had undoubtedly his best game as a Demon Deacon, racking up 19 points (6-10 shooting, 5-9 from three, 2-4 from the line), 9 assists to 4 turnovers, 2 rebounds, and 3 steals. Bryant looked like what I was hoping to see based on scouting reports, drilling jumper after jumper and making passes that I initially was baffled by only to have a teammate jump out of the gym to slam it home. I'm going to make a bold statement here. In terms of leading his target with passes, Bryant might just be the best passer we've seen at Wake since CP3. I'm not saying he's the best pure passer, or the tightest passer, or the cleanest passer, but there were multiple Lob City-esque passes in this game, and I don't remember Ish or Jeff Teague doing that, at least not this early on.
Offense Overall. 83 points, 55% shooting (and better than that in the second half). 23 assists on 31 made baskets and only 11 turnovers. Keep in mind, this was all with Devin Thomas only scoring 6 points. Codi Miller-McIntyre, Bryant Crawford, Greg McClinton, John Collins, and Konstantinos Mitoglou all scored in double figures. That's the kind of offensive balance that is just fantastic. I'll get more into this below, but if the defense had matched the offense in any way at all, this game would have been a complete blowout.
Codi Miller-McIntyre: Back To Form. CMM had 10 points (4-7 shooting, 1-2 from deep, 1-2 from the line), 5 assists to 2 turnovers, 2 steals, and one block. He still wasn't completely himself with things like finishing at the rim and drawing contact, but it was undoubtedly a huge improvement, and it's good to see CMM getting his legs back under him. I think offensively, CMM and Bryant Crawford having the potential to be a really lethal backcourt duo.
Second Half Defense. The second half defense by Wake Forest was brutal. The Chanticleers shot 65% from the field, and 55% from deep. That absolutely cannot happen under any circumstances. I realize Coastal Carolina is one of the best three point shooting teams in the country, but come on now. Can't happen, especially against bigger, badder competition.
Devin Struggling Again. The big man started out going 0-5 from the free throw line, and honestly, he wasn't the same after that. Devin fouled out of the game in only 23 minutes, which is exceedingly rare for him, and he finished the game with only 6 points and 6 rebounds. Admittedly, he did go 3-4 from the field, which is good, but everything else was less than ideal. Come on Devin, you can do better than this. Just keep your cool and I'm sure you'll get back on form in no time.
Not Protecting The Paint. I spoke about the defense in general, but the paint defense in particular was less than ideal. Wake gave up 32 paint points to an honestly tiny team missing two important players, and one of the hallmarks of Wake this year has been really tough interior defense. For context, the team averages 6 blocks per game, but that's slightly skewed by games like a single block effort against Indiana, a three block effort against Richmond, and others. The season opener against UMBC on the other hand, the Deacs as a team blocked 11 shots. Against a team as small as Coastal, I'd have hoped for some tougher paint defense.
The Bottom Line
We need to be able to go for the throat, we really do. That said, we continue to win, young players are showing flashes of brilliance, and we're winning in a variety of ways. If you told me coming into this season that we'd be 8-2, with nearly half of those games away from home and against the schedule we've faced, I'd take it every single time. The game on Tuesday will be absolutely massive, and will tell us a lot about this team. But heck, the fact that it even feels like a looming heavyweight fight at all is pretty awesome.
On to the next. Go Deacs.