Any hopes that Wake Forest (8-12, 1-7) had of upsetting No. 4 ranked Duke (18-2, 6-2) last night in Winston-Salem were quickly dashed behind the same low basketball IQ plays that have plagued the team all season.
This time it was turnovers that got the Deacs into trouble, including 15 in the first half en route to 21 for the game, leading to an 84-70 victory for the Blue Devils.
Junior center Doral Moore was sensational for Wake Forest in the losing cause, playing 30 minutes before fouling out with 18 points (9-9 from the field), and 12 blocks. Going up against the talented front court of Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter, Moore dominated the offensive glass and showed off his length and athleticism in several dunks throughout the game.
While Bagley and Carter obviously have a more diverse skill set and game overall, Moore held his own against two of the best big men in the nation. This was done with former Wake Forest star John Collins watching from courtside seats courtesy of Mit Shah.
Carter led the Blue Devils with 23 points and 12 rebounds in 34 minutes, while Bagley had 16 points and 11 rebounds of his own.
Brandon Childress tied Moore for the team high in points for Wake, chipping in 18 (on 16 shots) behind a hot shooting second half. He also chipped in 5 rebounds and 3 assists, but also had 5 turnovers.
Junior point guard Bryant Crawford struggled from the start in this one, committing two turnovers in the first two and a half minutes, and finishing with 10 points (2-8 shooting), and a season high 8 turnovers.
For a team that comes and goes with Crawford for the most part, this was a lot to overcome, especially against one of the top teams in the nation.
Freshman Chaundee Brown played 32 solid minutes, most likely due to Keyshawn Woods missing the game with an injury, and scored 16 points (14 shots) and had 5 assists and 4 rebounds as well.
Wake Forest turned the ball over on 29% of its possessions last night (a season high), including several plays that left fans wondering exactly what was going on with the passes.
Coming into the game last night Duke ranked 293rd nationally in defensive turnover percentage, meaning they don’t force a lot of turnovers at all, so the fact that Wake struggled immensely with that in this game was dumbfounding.
Beyond turnovers, fouls plagued Wake Forest for most of the night, leading the foul count 28-17. Duke took 39 free throws compared to just 13 from Wake Forest. This is also a bit shocking because Duke doesn’t exactly excel at getting to the free throw line either.
In two games this season against Duke, the Blue Devils outshot Wake Forest 73-22 from the foul line. While Duke is certainly more aggressive than Wake, there is something off with this type of discrepancy.
Obviously this is pretty far down the list of things that are concerning at this juncture in the year for the Deacs. Wake Forest has now lost 6 straight games, 8 out of its last 9 games, and will play 5 straight top 50 KenPom teams (three on the road) over the next 3 weeks.
The following comments are not due to the loss to Duke, or the loss to Virginia, or any one loss in particular, but just a combination of everything that has transpired on the court this season.
I have seen a lot of comments on Twitter, Facebook, and on here about Blogger So Dear’s (and mostly, myself by default) lack of ability to stay positive, but once again I tend to think of myself, and this website as fairly realistic.
Interestingly enough, I have also received comments on here for being too positive.
This team is drastically underperforming so far this season based on what expectations were to start the year. Perhaps the expectations of an NCAA Tournament were high and overly optimistic (from the same fans who are now deemed too negative???), but given the next five games, Wake is staring right in the barrel of a possible 1-12 start in ACC play following a 7-5 non-conference slate.
Are there talent deficiencies at certain positions relative to the rest of the ACC?
I don’t think you can argue otherwise.
Did the loss of John Collins and Dinos Mitoglou hurt Wake Forest for this season?
Absolutely, but good to great coaches are able to mitigate these losses and coach the team to be a better sum than its parts. I don’t see that happening this season at all, and in fact would argue that it is quite the opposite.
There are a lot of discussions to be had once the season is over and done with (officially), but the mistakes that continue to be made by the back court and upperclassmen on the court are not acceptable.
From my vantage point (which, admittedly is from afar, not close to the program day in and day out) there is very little accountability from the coaching staff to remedy these errors, especially in year four of the current coaching era.
This lack of accountability stands in stark comparison to the standards that the staff seemingly holds younger players and front court members to.
While “coach speak” to the media is exactly that and needs to be taken with a grain of salt, Coach Manning said earlier this season that Chaundee Brown wasn’t playing because other players were playing better than he was (which was a debatable comment in my opinion at the time).
Given the play of the back court lately, I would like to see some of the same consistency applied there with regards to playing other players who aren't making mistake after mistake and costing the team valuable possessions.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not calling for Coach Manning and the staff to be fired, or anything at this point, nor am I questioning effort from the team as a whole, which I think has been reasonable most of the year.
But at the end of the day the product on the court has to be evaluated and assessed, and I think very few folks who truly look at what has been done this season would call the current record or play anywhere near a level that Wake Forest is capable of and expected to play at.