That was a pretty bad way to end what has been a great season for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The Aggies jumped all over the Deacs right from the start, and the game was basically decided after the first 4 minutes when A&M took an 11-2 lead. That Aggie lead got to as much as 21 points in the second half, and Wake was finally defeated 52-67 to end their season. Still, Wake Forest finished the year 25-10, winning 25 games for the first time since 2005. This was obviously not the ending any of us wanted, but the Deacs are still way ahead of schedule in getting back to being an elite program.
The first half of this game was one of the worst halves of basketball I have ever seen from Wake Forest. Texas A&M brought the pressure early, and the Deacs looked completely flabbergasted. The Aggie press forced Wake into 12 first half turnovers, which were promptly converted into 13 points for A&M. It seemed to me that the only Wake Forest player who looked comfortable dribbling the ball against the A&M pressure was freshman Cameron Hildreth. He appeared to be completely unphased and has somehow turned into Wake’s best point guard in the post season.
Even when the Deacs were able to get the ball up the court, they were abysmal shooting the ball, hitting 4 out of their 27 first half attempts, for an astounding 15% shooting from the floor. The Deacs made four shots in the first half. FOUR. It doesn’t take a hall of fame coach to figure out that 12 turnovers and only 4 made shots is probably not a recipe for winning any games. The Deacs were extremely lucky given just how poorly they played to only be down 15-32 in the first half.
The second half was only a little better. The Deacs started actually putting the ball in the basket and used an 8-0 run to cut the lead down to 9 with a little over 11 minutes remaining. That was as close as it would get, as Wake just never could put together enough stops in a row to get any closer. The Deacs kind of ran out of gas towards the end and A&M was able to blow the lead back out to 21 with under 5 minutes to go. Wake just put themselves too far in a hole from the tip, and there’s pretty much no way to overcome turning the ball over 21 times while simultaneously shooting 34% for the game.
Wake Forest had, by Steve Forbes’s terms, a great season with 25 wins. It didn’t end the way we wanted it too, but almost every team in the nation ends the season with a loss. The big question now becomes whether or not this was a flash in the pan, or if Forbes is starting to build a consistent winner at Wake Forest. The Deacs are losing—at the very least—the ACC Player of the Year Alondes Williams, which, obviously won’t be an easy hole to fill. We have to wait and see what the roster turnover looks like down the road, but Cameron Hildreth and Damari Monsanto definitely showed towards the ends of the season that they can be major contributors going forward, so the team should be in good hands regardless.
Let’s not let the way things ended be what we remember from this season. For the first time in what seems like forever, the future of the Wake Forest Basketball program is bright, and the Deacs are on the verge of excellence. Go Deacs!