Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Offensive Identity: The Wake Forest offense is powered by its smallest player. At 6’0”, Ish Smith is one of the quickest guards in the country and coach Dino Gaudio likes to spread the court and have Smith break his defender down off the dribble. This allows Smith to drive to the hoop, where he is most effective at shooting floaters or dishing to an open shooter.
Gaudio also has forward Al-Farouq Aminu as an excellent option. Aminu is a future NBA first-round draft pick and leads the Deacons in scoring and rebounding. At 6’9”, the versatile Aminu can play a range of positions and has the ability to step out and knock down jump shots. The sophomore gives opposing coaches matchup nightmares.
On the wings, the freshman duo C.J. Harris and Ari Stewart provides the Deacons with capable shooters to whom Smith can dish off if the dribble-drive isn’t open. Harris averages double-figures in scoring and Stewart is shooting 43 percent from downtown. L.D. Williams, the team’s most athletic player who adds to the Deacon highlight reel with his above the rim style, is also part of the mix.
Centers Chas McFarland and Tony Woods aren’t scoring threats, but they provide the Deacons with a rebounding presence in the post.
For Wake Forest to be successful, Smith has to continue to be the ignition to the Deacons up-tempo style while making good decisions. The continued development of Harris as a third scorer will make Wake Forest tough to defend come March.
Defensive Identity: Wake Forest doesn’t mind a track meet, so defense is not a priority. The Deacons’ defensive numbers aren’t great, but Smith can cause opposing guards fits with his quickness on the ball.
With his superior length, Aminu leads the Deacons in blocks and makes it tough to shoot over him. McFarland and Woods are both 7-feet and you would think they would make it impossible to out-rebound Wake Forest. Surprisingly, however, Wake has been out-rebounded in all of its losses but one. For the Deacons to make a serious run in March, they need to sure up the questions on the boards.
As mentioned, Williams is the team’s most athletic player and also Gaudio’s best defender. With his 6’4” size, Williams can lock down the opposition’s best perimeter player.
Wake Forest has outstanding athleticism and quickness on the perimeter defense with Smith and Williams. The question remains in the post andwhether or not the Deacons can improve their rebounding.