Wake Forest struggled, especially defensively, to beat Radford in their season opener, but in the end went on a 9-to-0 run to win 79-67. The Demon Decons usual performers, junior forward Travis McKie and senior guard C.J. Harris, executed well both scoring in double digits, and McKie rebounded the ball well. Harris was a little heavy on turnovers with 5, but he did enough at point guard to help his team get the victory.
The Wake Forest defense has no motor or aggressive side, outside from the play of freshmen Madison Jones and Arnaud Adala Moto. Also the Demon Decons made no good effort to box out consistently for defensive rebounds. Offensively this team seemed to force shots up with plenty of time left on the shot clock to move the ball around. Nobody on the team had more than 3 assists. There were flashes of improvement as far as spacing the floor and breaking the Radford defensive scheme, but Wake Forest has to do this consistently to avoid struggling all year. Especially on a team with so many young, inexperienced players, they have to run effective plays to find good looks for their shooters, otherwise the confidence of this team will diminish as well as their field goal percentages.
Wake Forest is a roster full of freshmen, and this is a year where head coach Jeff Bzdelik’s job is on the line. Luckily for Bzdelik the freshmen performed well, especially Codi Miller-McIntyre, Devin Thomas, and Adala Moto, who all scored in double digits. Thomas also had 8 rebounds giving him a game on par with the level of McKie. Moto proves early that he is a defensive specialist racking up 3 steals and 2 blocks. Miller-McIntyre is a young guard who can be trusted with the ball as he only committed one turnover in 28 minutes of play. Freshman Tyler Cavanaugh needs some work and won’t be in the starting rotation for long if he doesn’t improve on his footwork defensively.
With the clock ticking down in the second half we did see some defensive intensity, but nothing that was maintained throughout the game. Also they did smarten up and put the ball in McKie’s hands when he took it hard to the basket, made contact, controlled his body, and scored to give his team a 7 point lead with under 1 minute left on the clock.
Wake Forest could have easily lost this game to an inferior opponent, and this is an early sign that this team will struggle often in 2012-13. Maybe it’s too early to tell, but the evidence so far is clear that Wake Forest is too young, and too inconsistent defensively to win a considerable amount of games.