Part of that comes from the way Wake Forest played at times in 2013-14. Despite finishing 6-12 in the conference, the Demon Deacons managed to sneak above .500 overall for the season at 17-16. Notably, Wake Forest also notched two massive home victories by beating both the Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels.
While all of that wasn’t enough to save the job of head coach Jeff Bzdelik, the flashes of quality Wake Forest showed combined with the addition of new head coach Danny Manning should give Demon Deacons’ fans plenty of reason for optimism.
Wake Forest’s season ended with a loss in the second round of the ACC Tournament to Pittsburgh. Here’s an evaluation of the Demon Deacons’ season on both sides of the ball, as well as overall.
OFFENSE: Wake Forest was nothing special offensively, as shown by the fact that the Demon Deacons failed to crack the top 200 in scoring offense (69.7 PPG) and the leading scorer was Codi Miller-McIntyre, who averaged a mere 12.6 PPG. A seven-game losing streak late in the season featured a stretch of four consecutive contests where Wake failed to score more than 67 points. But Wake did score 82 points in its late-season win over then-No. 4 Duke, as well as 78 in a nine-point loss to second-ranked Kansas early in the campaign. One big flaw for the Demon Deacons was that they only shot 65 percent as a team from the free-throw line. GRADE: C.
DEFENSE: Like the offense, the Wake defense didn’t crack the national top 200 either, giving up nearly 71 PPG. The Demon Deacons gave up 80 points or more in nine games, including twice to a Pittsburgh team not at all renowned for its offensive prowess. Andre Washington led Wake Forest in blocks with 39, but as a team, the Demon Deacons averaged less than four rejections per game. Wake loses only two seniors heading into next season, so the first task for Manning as the new head coach is to try and shore up Wake Forest’s defense and give them a chance to be more competitive on a regular basis rather than a couple nights here and there against decent competition. GRADE: C-.
OVERALL: The 6-12 conference record wasn’t too far off from what most probably expected from Wake Forest in 2013-14. Finishing above .500 overall was a nice accomplishment. But luring Manning away from Tulsa is the biggest win of the season for the Demon Deacons. With a core of young players, most of them have two years (at least) of eligibility left, Wake has plenty to look forward to. GRADE: C.
Twitter-Style, the Demon Deacons in 140 (or less): “Danny Manning hire counts as Wake Forest’s biggest upset moving ahead. #ItHelpsToHireAWinner”