The Deacs fell once again in conference play on Wednesday night, losing to the Miami Hurricanes by a score of 81-87. As many have no doubt noticed, this game continued what has become a trend this season for the Deacs: a back and forth game eventually won by the opponent after an X-0 run late in the second half. The Deacs did a great job fighting back after the run, but ultimately the 7-0 run (which was part of a larger 20-8 run) would doom Wake Forest. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at some of the things that allowed this run to occur.
At the under 8 minute timeout, the Deacs trailed just 53-54. After 2 free throws from Miami, the Deacs’ following possession looked like this (apologies for the zoom, it was that or a Lunardi bracketology graphic taking up half the screen):
Turnovers have plagued the Deacs all year, and turnovers at half court that lead to dunks on the other end are absolutely the worst kind. The Canes led 53-58 after this dunk. The next Wake possession resulted in a contested 3-pointer from Crawford.
I have no problem with that shot with under 10 seconds on the shot clock. My issue with this possession is that the ball goes inside the 3-point line one time for about 2 seconds with Childress dribbling away from the basket. The rest of the possession is just passing around the arc with no penetration at all. This is likely one of the reasons the Deacs only took 15 free throws to Miami’s 37.
On the next possession, Miami goes 4 out and sets up the pick and roll. Sarr gets a little over zealous on his help defense, and is too far away to get back to Sam Waardenburg on the skip pass. The result is a wide open 3.
Similar issue here: Chaundee gets too deep inside and Lonnie Walker IV ends up with an open 3. Help defense has been an issue for the Deacs all season; it seems that the Deacs either don’t rotate at all and give up a layup, or over help when they don’t need to and give up an open 3.
Here we have what appears to be a failure to communicate. Donovan Mitchell moves to hedge on the screen and then gets picked (illegally in my opinion) by Dewan Huell while he’s trying to get back on Waardenburg. No one switches out onto Waardenburg and he hits yet another wide open 3. Waardenburg burned the Deacs from beyond the arc in this game, and when you’re burned, you’ve got nothing.
Miami capped their run with this ridiculous 3-pointer from Chris Lykes. I probably don’t need to point out this is not a particularly good shot, and yet, of course he makes it.
Put it all together and what we have is a compounding of all the issues Wake Forest has had this year, turnovers, help defense, pick and roll defense, communication, inability to get open shots, and just bad luck, resulting in a 1 point deficit becoming a 14 point deficit in under 5 minutes.
The Deacs did a great job not giving up and getting that deficit back down to just 3 points with 30 seconds to play, but as long as we keep giving up these runs in the second half, we are going to find it difficult to win games, especially on the road.