Wake Forest’s basketball team had a day off after Wednesday night’s drubbing at the hands of Louisville.
On Friday, the Deacons were ready to move forward while extracting the positives from the loss to the Cardinals. It starts with, as always, getting back to work.
“You’ve just gotta come in and work. The way our schedule falls, we take a day off,” Coach Danny Manning said. “They’re going to come in and they’ve always come in with a good attitude and they’ve worked and they’ll continue to work and get after it.”
It’s work that the Deacons hope goes into winning at Clemson, which is coming off a win against Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Here are five things to watch in Sunday’s game at Littlejohn Coliseum:
1. Ball movement and shot-making
Wake Forest had three assists against Louisville, the fewest in a Deacons game since at least 1975. The problem, per Manning, was that the Deacons didn’t make the shots they needed to.
“Well the ball moved, we missed a lot of shots that game. We probably missed six to seven shots within 2 feet of the rim. And some other open shots,” Manning said. “Obviously you can continue to work the offense and move it around, but you’ve still gotta make some shots. And that’s going to help your assist total.
“We didn’t make many shots the other night, and therefore we had a low assist total.”
That part is true — the Deacons shot 18-for-68, their 26.5 percent clip ranking as the worst in nearly four years.
2. Body language
The Deacons hardly seemed upbeat once Louisville landed its initial blow to the Deacons, and Wake Forest was visibly shaken for most of the game.
Asked if his team’s body language during the game was concerning, Manning admitted it wasn’t great, but that the Deacons were still supportive of each other in other spots.
“You’re going to have ups and downs and peaks and valleys. Watching the game throughout, were there times that we could’ve been better? Absolutely,” Manning said. “But you know, yet and still there were guys still supporting one another throughout the course of the ballgame. You’re not going to … in a game of that type of run that they went on — a lot of times what you look at is not actually what’s going on in their minds. Sometimes they’re just upset with how they played.”
As the cliché goes, basketball is a game of runs, so observing Wake Forest’s non-verbal cues might be precursors to how they’ll respond to any Clemson runs in Sunday’s game.
3. Offensive rebounding
Wake Forest has been the best offensive-rebounding team in ACC games, collecting 36.5 percent of its misses. That culminated in a season-high 20 offensive rebounds against Louisville.
On the other side of that, Clemson is the second-best team in the ACC at limiting their opponents’ offensive rebounds in ACC games. The Tigers only give up offensive rebounds on 24.5 percent of misses.
Something will have to give in this area of the game.
4. Extracting the positives
The 28-point loss to Louisville was Wake Forest’s largest margin of defeat this season.
Among the responses are taking the positives out of the game to move forward.
“Just try to put it in the past. Definitely learned from it,” freshman guard Sharone Wright Jr. said. “I know we’re going to watch film (Friday), just learn from it. That’s the best way I can put it, can’t really keep dwelling on the losses or anything like that.
“We don’t hold our heads for losing a game or something like that, but we definitely don’t just go around jolly-walking. It still affects us. We try to take good things from the loss.”
5. Wright back at (dad’s) home
Sunday’s trip to Clemson will be a personal one for Wright, whose dad, Sharone Wright Sr., was an All-American for the Tigers before he was the sixth pick in the 1994 NBA Draft.
“It’ll be weird for me, because… I’m in college now. It’s really happening, my dad played here. I’m pretty sure I’ll look up there and see his jersey, something like that,” Sharone Wright Jr. said.