The Wake Forest Demon Deacons are the final team to be featured in our series of ACC Basketball previews to help get you ready for the 2014-15 season. We’ve reached the end!
We’ve gone in alphabetical order through every team in the new-look ACC, but excluded Duke – seeing as how the Blue Devils already receive a fair amount of coverage on this site.
If you’ve missed any of our previous previews, I encourage you to check them out to get an idea of the landscape around the ACC. We covered Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, N.C. State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
The Jeff Bzdelik era is over in Winston-Salem. Danny Manning is the new head coach of the Demon Deacons and has the fans excited about the future again. Here’s what he’ll be working with this season.
2013-14 Record: Overall – 17-16 | ACC – 6-12 (12th Place)
Games against Duke this season: Wednesday, January 7 at Wake Forest | Wednesday, March 4 at Duke
Typically, a season that includes wins over North Carolina, Duke and N.C. State would be an indicator of a good year for Wake Forest. However, as was consistent under Jeff Bzdelik, the Demon Deacons only won one conference game away from home, an 83-77 victory over Virginia Tech.
Wake Forest finished with an overall winning record at 17-16 and managed to win six ACC games, but it still wasn’t good enough for a program with a proud basketball transition and fanbase that’s tired of being irrelevant.
Last season’s squad featured some talented players, including leading scorers Codi Miller-McIntyre and Devin Thomas, who are back again this season and can serve as two pieces new coach Danny Manning will be able to build around.
Key Players: Codi Miller-McIntyre, Devin Thomas
Not many people outside the Wake Forest program have noticed, but Codi Miller-McIntyre has nicely progressed through his first two years as a Demon Deacon. The 6’3” junior guard gained valuable experience as a freshman and then led the team in scoring last year with 12.6 points per game. He gives the Deacs a viable scoring option in the backcourt and could be an All-ACC caliber player.
If Danny Manning can maximize the talent of Devin Thomas this season, it makes Wake Forest a different team. At 6’9”, 245 pounds, he’s got the size and physical talent to match up with any other big man in the ACC. The questions with him have always been about effort, consistency and decision-making. Thomas is capable of being a double-double machine if Manning can help him establish the proper mentality.
X-Factor: Greg McClinton
Coaches have been raving about Greg McClinton, who missed all of last season due to a knee injury. The redshirt freshman has reportedly bulked up and is now at 6’7”, 200 pounds, and will likely earn minutes due to his athleticism and length, which will help the Demon Deacons, particularly on defense. A strong season from McClinton can also give Danny Manning an idea of what he has for the future.
While some of the teams around the ACC have been at the bottom of the standings over the past couple years because they lack talent, I think this is a Wake Forest team that has played below its ability.
Looking at the roster, this is a squad that has some guys who can play.
Are there starters at Virginia Tech who would play for any other team in the league? Boston College? Georgia Tech?
At Wake Forest, you at least have two guys in Devin Thomas and Codi Miller-McIntyre who can hold their own and excel against ACC competition.
Things won’t significantly improve in Winston-Salem until Danny Manning makes an impact on the recruiting trail, which he’s already started to do, but there should be reason for optimism this season.
The NCAA Tournament is probably a stretch, especially with how deep this league is, but this is a team that looks capable of reaching the postseason, likely in the NIT.