I hardly even know what to say here, but in a good way for a change. For the first 12 minutes, this game was an iffy, back and forth proposition that clearly showed both programs are far from standard operating procedures. But Wake Forest went from being up 27-24 with 7:56 left in the first half to ending the first half on a 32-6 run, with only one basket from the field for Delaware State in that span. As a matter of fact, the Demon Deacons went over 10 minutes not allowing any points from the field. And it only got crazier from there. In the second half, with Wake Forest up 74-44, the Deacs had a run of 29-0 (NOT A TYPO) that lasted exactly 7 minutes.
This game was the polar opposite of everything we’ve seen for the last decade+ in Wake Forest basketball. Ball movement was largely crisp and targeted, everybody was getting involved in ways that seemed calculated, and the defense...my goodness the defense. As a team, Wake Forest had 20 steals (again, not a typo) and held the Hornets to 26.4% shooting from the field. Guys seemed like they knew exactly what they needed to do on defense at least most of the time, and perhaps more importantly, they played hard all 40 minutes. Even after the game was an absolute laugher, they were still picking off passes for perfect fast breaks, contesting shots, and hustling for nearly every ball.
On the offensive end, Wake shot 54,5% from the field, 14-31 from deep for a solid 45.2%, and an okay 78.1% from the line on 32 foul shots. I need to shout out Tariq Ingraham, who made a delayed debut after a gut-wrenching preseason Achilles tear last year in absolute style, scoring a team high 19 points on, get this, perfect shooting. 7-7 from the field, 5-5 from the line. This game had absolutely everything. Tariq worked it down low, guys like Jalen Johnson and Jonah Antonio put on shows from deep, and the team worked pretty spectacularly on fast break opportunities as well. The defense worked hard both in transition and in the half court, and I felt a sense of identity from this squad from the very beginning.
If there’s any bad news, it’s that a lot of the guys I just mentioned are senior transfers, but honestly, if they keep playing like this, they’re going to win (certainly more than most people probably anticipated), and if that happens, they won’t have any problems restocking the cupboard with fresh talent. And oh, by the way, Ingraham is a red shirt freshman, so there’s that.
Competition or no, I have not seen a Wake team play like that in over a decade. It’s just one game, but you only get one chance to make your first impression, and Coach Forbes, his staff, and his squad just made probably the best first impression you possibly could.
On to the next. Go Deacs.