Basketball is a game of high energy. Players whiz up and down the court making astonishingly athletic plays.
With slam dunks, blocks and three-point shots, it truly is a beautiful game to watch and experience. It’s also a game that is difficult to win if a team plays with low energy.
The best way to harness that energy is from the home crowd. When a home crowd gets involved, the team can play at the level of the Harlem Globetrotters.Without it, they may look more like the Washington Generals. The home crowd can be the difference between a win and a painfully close loss.
I grew up just outside of Winston-Salem. In North Carolina, college basketball serves as almost another religion. People probably argued more over UNC and Duke than they did during the election. Needless to say, I grew up a devoted Wake Forest fan. I have seen the team experience both highs and lows, but I’ve never regretted pledging my fan allegiance to Wake Forest.
This team is also a different beast than some of the others I’ve seen during my time at Wake Forest. They are one of the best offensive teams in the country (13th on KenPom), but even more importantly, they play with a lot of heart and dedication. They show all of the hard work they’ve put into taking their game to the next level. Whether that is through a powerful alley-oop from Bryant Crawford to John Collins, a tremendous three from Mitchell Wilbekin or any number of exciting and dramatic plays that come from hours of work. All that perseverance is starting to show to those outside the sphere of Wake Forest since during the last couple of weeks they have been projected to make the NCAA tournament in March.
On top of all the work they put into their success on the court, they also must be Wake Forest students. Everyone is familiar with ‘Work Forest,’ and that’s especially not lost on the athletes. At times I think we as fans forget that the players on the field are also Wake Forest students at the end of the day. They do all the class work on top of everything that is required to be a Division I athlete. All of the work they do alone deserves enough respect to come and cheer them on to victory.
We, the fans, definitely started to recently realize the special team we have on our hands. The last two home games, UNC and Miami, had a fantastic turnout by fans and it showed in the energy that it gave the Deacs on the court. We need to bring that same energy to the Duke game and build off it.
I can’t even explain the importance of this game. It goes beyond simply being a tobacco road game. The Wake-Duke rivalry is the oldest in ACC Basketball. It’s also crucial for this team to pick up a win against a ranked opponent and it would be so sweet to get it from Duke. I want to send Grayson Allen crying all the way back to Durham, tripping anyone he comes across and incoherently uttering his mantra “sweep the leg” from his idol Johnny from the Karate Kid.
We need everyone to come to the game Saturday, get loud and support our fellow students. The Deacs have a game to win and everyone should be there to experience it.