Four lessons learned from the Wake Forest Demon Deacon’s win over the Miami Hurricanes:
1) ACC Slump: Much like last year, the Deacs performed very well in the non-conference portion of the schedule, and as a result the expectations in Winston-Salem were raised. Following the strong start last year, the Deacs seemed to be fatigued by the grind that is conference play and were only able to win two ACC games, against bottom dwellers NC State and Boston College. It is vital that the Deacs take advantage of the many winnable games that they are about to play. In order for this to happen, the Deacs are going to have to overcome their horrible road woes. The Deacs have not won a road ACC game since 2014 and need to show that they are capable of winning a conference game away from the Joel. Once they get one, do not be surprised if the road wins begin to pile up.
2) Super Sophomores: Sophomores John Collins, Bryant Crawford and Keyshawn Woods have really carried the load so far for the Demon Deacons. The teams sophomore stars have had flashes of greatness so far this year. Collins has proven that he can be one of the best offensive big men in the country when he is able to stay out of foul trouble. Collins has become an absolute double-double machine. Similarly, Crawford has become one of the most explosive point guards in the conference, and when he limits his turnovers — which he has done extremely well most games this year — he is hard to stop. Woods, for his part, has acted like a steady and quiet leader throughout the season. The transfer from UNC Charlotte has hit big shots when the Deacs have needed them and he has a habit for knowing when to slow the team down. If these three players continue to develop as they have the future is definitely bright for the Deacs.
3) Defense: The defense has definitely been the weak point for the Demon Deacons thus far in the season. While the Deacons can score with any team in the country, they also have the ability to let any team in the country score with them.
In order to close out some of the tight games that they will inevitably have down the stretch the Deacs must be able to get key stops late in games.
4) Role Players: The Deacs certainly have a few solid role players: Brandon Childress, Dinos Mitoglou, Mitchell Wilbekin, Austin Arians and Doral Moore.
Each of these players offers the team valuable minutes and can explode on any given night; however, it has been rare this season for more than one of them to have a good game in the same game.
If the Deacs’ could just get two or three of these players to really contribute per game, then the burden will really be lessened on players like Collins, Woods and Crawford. The Deacs’ have certainly showed flashes of excellence this season and it will be extremely interesting to see where the team is by the end of the season.