"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Wake Forest’s rookies shine in 83-59 beatdown of NJIT

Freshmen Parker Friedrichsen and Zach Keller led the team in scoring and rebounds, respectively
Parker Friedrichsen shoots a three-pointer during the first half (Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics).

When asked if this Wake Forest men’s basketball team (6-3) is the most “complete” he’s had, Head Coach Steve Forbes said, “It could be.” 

The Demon Deacons certainly looked like a complete unit on Saturday as they defeated the NJIT Highlanders (2-7) at home, 83-59, improving to 6-3 with the help of top-notch performances by emerging freshmen. 

Perhaps the most impressive performance of the night came from freshman guard Parker Friedrichsen, who had a career-high 19-point game off the bench to lead the Demon Deacons in scoring. The four-star recruit’s first half included 10 points on perfect shooting. 

“I thought Parker played really well,” Forbes said. “Not just shooting it, but he defends, he moves [the ball], he rebounds.…He’s not a one dimensional player at all.” 

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Much of the offense ran through sophomore guard Kevin “Boopie” Miller, whose six assists — to go along with 15 points and five rebounds — led all players. Miller created plenty of opportunities for Wake Forest to score both around the arc and down low, including a spectacular lob to forward Andrew Carr (12 PTS, 5 REB, 1 AST) for an electrifying dunk late in the second half. 

“I’m a point guard.…That’s building a chemistry with the team, letting them know that everyone’s gonna eat,” Miller said after Saturday’s victory. 

Forbes also said that Miller’s critical contribution in beating NJIT’s presses that gave Wake Forest trouble at times. 

“The best way to break [press] is putting [the ball] in your best ball-handler’s hand and go,” Forbes said. “[Miller] is probably our most improved player since the beginning of the season.” 

Zach Keller really sparked us in the second half where he just dominated the offensive glass.

— Steve Forbes, Head Coach of Men's Basketball

Notably quiet in the team’s performance was center Efton Reid III, the man on fans’ minds following a 12-point, 14-point double-double in his debut for Wake Forest against Rutgers. Reid was held to a quiet night off the bench following foul trouble. With Reid’s three fouls in the first half, it looked like the Demon Deacons may go on to have trouble scoring down low. 

“We did a poor job of finding [Reid] tonight, throwing him the ball when he was open, and then putting him in position when he wasn’t,” Forbes said. 

While Reid only recorded three rebounds in 14 minutes, Wake Forest still won the battle in the paint handily, scoring over half of their points down low while holding NJIT’s total percentage of points in the paint to just about one-third. Much of this production came from forward Andrew Carr, who had 12 points and five rebounds.

“Zach Keller really sparked us in the second half where he just dominated the offensive glass,” Forbes said.

Most important was how this Wake Forest team finished a game in which they had led comfortably throughout against a non-conference opponent. The Demon Deacons continued piling on points in the final few minutes despite being well out of reach for NJIT, dropping 12 unanswered in two-and-a-half to wrap up the game. Both Miller and Friedrichsen spoke about the mindset of making sure the job is done after the victory. 

“I feel like the game isn’t over until the last minute of the game,” Miller said. 

“It’s basketball, it’s not over ‘till the buzzer stops,” Friedrichsen added. 

While Forbes remains optimistic and says he’s pleased with the progress he’s seen so far — Wake Forest finished fifth at the Charleston Classic invitation in mid-November — he noted the long road ahead of Saturday’s victory at home. 

“I think our team’s made a lot of improvement from Charleston to now,” Forbes said. “The key will be how much more because there’s a lot left in this tank.” 

The team next takes on Delaware State (6-7) at home on Monday, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m.

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Andrew Braun, Sports Editor
Andrew is a freshman from Wrightsville Beach, N.C. intending to major in politics and international affairs and minor in journalism. Outside of the OGB, he is a member of a capella group Innuendo and Model United Nations. In his free time, you can find him playing bass and guitar, watching only the most obscure NBA matchups and paddle surfing at the beach.

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