The St. Joseph’s Hawks (3-0) used a strong second half showing to break open what was a tied 46-46 game at the half to defeat the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (1-1) 89-69 in the first round of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
St Joseph’s will get the winner of the Central Florida vs. Cal State Fullerton at 1:30 PM tomorrow in the semifinals, while Wake heads to the losers bracket to face-off against the loser in another 11:30 AM tipoff.
Charlie Brown led the Hawks with 26 points and nearly outscored Wake Forest by himself in the second half. Taylor Funk also abused the Deacs with 20 points on 6-7 shooting from behind the arc.
Jaylen Hoard and Isaiah Mucius led the Deacs with 14 points each, but did it on 4-12 shooting, and 4-11 shooting respectively.
Overall the Hawks shot 16-30 from behind the three-point line, most of them wide open looks.
Both teams came out red hot shooting the basketball and stayed that way throughout the entirety of the first half en route to a combined 17-30 from three in the first 20 minutes.
The Hawks were unfortunately able to maintain a high offensive efficiency against a hapless Wake Forest defense, while the Deacs offense became stagnant and regressed to the mean.
When the Hawks weren’t scoring from wide open threes they were scoring from wide open layups and wide open transition buckets. As pointed out in the 90-78 win over N.C. A&T, the defense is just simply inexcusable, even for a young team.
It’s one thing to have schematic breakdowns on occasion, particularly on the pick-and-roll, but seemingly every single possession in this game saw a defensive failure in some capacity. Our guards let St Joes get to the rim at will, the help defense was late, the rotations on pick-and-roll were non-existent, and the contesting of shots was also invisible.
This is year five of this under Danny Manning, and while this team certainly has the most length and athleticism of any team he has had at Wake, the scheme and inability to do anything close to what an ACC defense should be doing is just mind-boggling at this juncture.
On the offensive side there was really no post-game, which caused the team to fall in love with the three-ball (especially after making a lot of them in the first half), and when they stopped falling there was just nothing going right there either.
I do expect communication and defense to get better as the year goes along, but I am simply unwilling to chalk these deficiencies up to youth, and am putting the majority of the blame on poor technique, coaching, and scheming. With this much length the Deacs could easily switch on the pick-and-roll from at least the 1-4 positions, and really most of the time at the 5 for Olivier Sarr.
The junk, floating rotation on the screens now is simply not working, doesn’t create turnovers, and leaves our big men in horrible positions to recover and get back where they need to be.
There is a lot of talent on this roster, however if it is going to be mismanaged, poorly coached, and taught bad schemes then it doesn’t really do much for the record overall.
St. Joseph’s is an experienced, talented team who will make a push for an at-large bid out of the Atlantic 10, but Wake made them look like all-stars throughout the entirety of the game.
Let’s hope this is just a stepping stone for the season, but using what we know about Manning’s teams in the past then we are simply headed for another season of futility.