It was a game that was a battle from the outset, and the Spiders were never allowed to feel comfortable as the Baby Deacs scratched and clawed to stick in their first true road game, losing a battle with Richmond 62-60.
Good defense. Honest. Richmond shot 38% for the game, 30% from three. Wake Forest gave up eight offensive rebounds, which isn't good, but considering they took 42 shots and only made 16 of them, that's a lot of rebounding opportunities, and relatively few of them led to second chances for the Spiders. I was admittedly only listening on the radio, but the crew was very quick to point out that the Wake Forest squad was fighting hard on the glass, a marked difference from most Deac performances the last couple of years.
Vastly improved free throw shooting. 20-26, for a respectable 77%. Take out the fact that Arnaud William Adala Moto was 0-3, and that brings the average all the way to 87%. Eight Deacs shot multiple free throws and missed only one, if that, each.
Tightening up ball control in the second half. Only three turnovers the second half. Good stuff.
Aaron. Freaking. Rountree. Seriously, scope this line: nine points (3-3 shooting. 1-1 from three, 3-4 from the line), five rebounds, three blocks, an assist (should've been two but the man he passed it to couldn't nail the easy shot), and two steals, with only two fouls and one turnover. Also, a tip-in at the buzzer of the first half. In only 16 minutes. Seriously, why the heck isn't this kid playing more? He's a boss every time he's on the floor, and appears to make everyone around him better.
Great shot selection behind the arc. 4-6 from three. I approve.
Key misses. A missed free throw here, a missed tip-in or layup there, it seemed like there were tons of opportunities that were good things done by the Deacs, but they just couldn't capitalize. One or two of those missed opportunities go to Wake Forest, and I'd be sitting here talking about a win.
Devin Thomas lost his cool. Now normally, I really wouldn't want to call out a specific guy in this section, and let me preface by saying other than that, Devin had a great game (team high 11 points on 3-4 shooting, 5-6 from the line and six rebounds in 21 minutes), but he had a possession I'm sure he'd like to forget. Playing with two fouls, he fouls a Richmond player going up for a shot, and then immediately says something to the ref and gets a technical. A one point Richmond lead immediately becomes five, and Devin picks up his fourth foul. I'm sure Devin knows this, but you can't have that. Period.
Where'd you go, C.J.? Another rough game for the hometown hero. 31 minutes, only six points (1-5, 0-1, 4-4), admittedly three assists and a steal, but also three turnovers. I don't know what's going on with C.J., but I really hope he gets out of this slump. The team needs him. Tonight, admittedly, was a step in the right direction, so I hope he doesn't get too down.
Early turnovers. Ten turnovers in the first half. Not good. Come on, fellas.
I realize there's been a lot of fire on the "Fire Bzdelik" train lately, and I can understand it on certain levels though I myself will decline to comment specifically on that. But this was a good game of basketball, their first true road game in a harsh environment, and Richmond is not a bad basketball team to say the least. Kenpom has them 71, putting them higher than Boston College, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and only two spots below Maryland. It also puts them 16 spots below Miami and 18 below Clemson, which given the number of teams is approximately a 5% difference.
Really, this means that Richmond is at least in the territory of a mid-level ACC squad this year, and we gave them a fight on the road. Is it a cure-all? Would it be acceptable long term? No, but it's certainly not a bad outing, and it made me happy in some ways, which is good. Go Deacs.