I think I'm going to try something a little bit different here. There were actually a LOT of possible Ups this game, so rather than focus on any amazing individual performances, I'm going to discuss things the team did well.
Offensive Rebounds. Wake Forest pulled a Pittsburgh on Notre Dame, pulling down 18 offensive rebounds. Seriously, that's bonkers. Admittedly, there were plenty of bricks to rebound, but I'll get to that more later. The bottom line is that the team was undeniably tenacious on the glass,, and while they didn't get nearly enough points off of those second and third chances, the tenacity and the defense that the team showed in general is the kind of foundation that's far more important in the long term than a red hot shooting night. As they say, defense wins championships.
Taking Care Of The Ball. I think it's pretty darn remarkable that Wake finished the game with only 7 turnovers as a team. Considering that's a problem that's plagued the team all year long,, a single digit outing against a top 25 team is good stuff. Well done to the Deacs on that one.
First Half Defense. Notre Dame had an easier job in the second half, but in the first, Wake Forest held one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country to 38% from the field, and 17% from deep. I say this only half-jokingly: if Wake could've hit a layup or a wide open three, the game probably would've been a double digit lead for them at the half. It was truly baffling, but I'll get more to that momentarily.
Outside Shooting. 4-24 for the game. 0-6 for Bryant Crawford. 1-5 for Konstantinos Mitoglou. 2-9 for Mitchell Wilbekin. I mean, our percentages aren't great normally, but they're darn sure better than that. If there's good news, it's that a lot of the looks were honestly good shots. The team was executing offense in everything but the actual shooting. That certainly isn't good in the sense that we need more reliable shooters (Bryant Crawford is the only one of those three I listed for whom this game was a huge anomaly, not just a slight one), but I still take heart in knowing the team was doing some things well in sets that I hope will pay off more down the line.
Not Converting Extra Chances. Only 10 second chance points for the Deacs on 18 offensive boards is kind of atrocious. It's a function of the shooting night in general, but still, woof. You can look at the outside shooting, but honestly, shots weren't really consistently being converted from anywhere except for literal dunks. John Collins and Doral Moore did better than most on that front, but they still had some easy misses in their own rights.
Zach Auguste Annihilated Us Again. I realize Auguste is a beast and anyone is going to have trouble containing him, I just hate seeing a player clown us twice in a season. 18 points (5-9 shooting, 8-8 from the line) and 12 rebounds against Collins, Moore, and Mitoglou. To be fair to our bigs, he's a senior, so he's got a decided advantage there as well. I can see Collins and especially Moore being just as dominant with as much experience. Our time will come.
The Bottom Line
Our time will come. That's honestly going to be my refrain for the next little while. These games without Devin, we've seen more of what Collins and Moore have to offer. I don't want to cast aspersions and I hope he gets help with whatever issues he may have, academic, personal, or otherwise and turns things around, but team chemistry seems to have been improved by Cornelius Hudson's departure (acknowledging small sample size). The team also seems to be mixing up defenses more frequently to positive results, another good sign. This stretch,has the potential to be very important. We had better beat Virginia Tech on Senior Night. A competitive outing in Cameron followed by a win in the ACC Tournament may seem like somewhat of a stretch or a big ask, but I'd consider it somewhat feasible, and if it happens, my spirits will be rather nicely bolstered going into the offseason.
Let's send out Devin and Codi in the right way next game. On to the next. Go Deacs.