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Three Up, Three Down: Northwestern

A rather baffling outing that saw the entire Wake Forest team except for John Collins and Konstantinos Mitoglou look completely out of sorts, Wake Forest’s loss to Northwestern was both close and a painful reminder of “so close, yet so far”.

NCAA Basketball: ACC/Big Ten Challenge-Wake Forest vs Northwestern Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The Ups

John FREAKIN’ Collins. The sophomore superstar was the one dominant player on the floor for Wake Forest, racking up 12 points on 6-13 shooting (deceptively low, as on one possession alone he missed two or three offensive putbacks) and 16(!) rebounds, 8 offensive and 8 defensive. He really did look like the best player on the court for long stretches.

Dinos Doing Work. Konstantinos Mitoglou admittedly was an anemic 4-10 shooting, but his 11 points included a three pointer and a perfect 2-2 from the line. More importantly, Dinos was the other guy really battling on the glass, racking up 11 rebounds himself. It was good to see Dinos doing other things to help the team when his shot wasn’t falling.

Free Throws! Happily, the Deacs went 15-17 from the line, a sterling 88.7%. Ironically, the only two misses came from the otherwise dominant John Collins. Wake as a team has done well both getting to the line and shooting from there, and that’s going to serve us well and win us games as the season goes on.

The Downs

Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers. 19 Wake Forest turnovers. 19. That is absolutely brutal. Bryant Crawford was distressingly responsible for 9 of them (ouch) but nobody on the team was immune from the turnover bug. This was far and away the deciding factor in the game. I am baffled by this showing on a variety of levels. Just...bad

Bad Shooting. 31.1% from the field, 23.8% from three. It’s odd; many of the looks the Deacs got were ones they would make, but it seemed like they just had tired legs. I don’t know what it was, but other than Collins, nobody seemed to have their usual stroke, and if even one person had been up to their usual form from deep, we probably would have come out victorious.

Flat Footed Defense. One Northwestern players absolutely torched us, Bryant McIntosh, who went 10-16, 2-3 from deep, and several other players took advantage of shaky defense for easy layups. We have GOT to get better as a team on defensive rotations, full stop.

The Bottom Line

I think some people were a little over emotional in the wake of this loss. I’m not casting aspersions here; I’m one of the most emotional people you’ll meet. I’m just saying there were some ugly sentiments being expressed in the aftermath. It was a close loss on the road and we looked awful. Yeah, Northwestern also played badly, but seriously, we’re not in the Bzdelik Era here, nor are we stagnant in my opinion.. There were regressions, but our team has shown themselves to be better than that this season. I hope they bounce back, and firmly believe they will.

On to the next. Go Deacs.