photo credit: Gabriel Herrera
Wake Forest Men’s Basketball is on a hot streak, but will the team’s momentum be enough to bust the bubble and dance in the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 2017?
Riding a wave of momentum, the Deacs boast a 5-game win streak with triumphs over Florida and Rutgers. Their last three games have been won with a final winning lead of 19 points or more and a total point margin of 72 points. Sharpshooting transfer Hunter Sallis leads the offensive attack, pouring in points every night to pace Wake Forest. The junior guard is averaging over 35 minutes and 16 points per game, providing a consistent scoring punch.
Yet Sallis isn’t the only new Demon Deacon making his presence felt. 7-foot tall, Efton Reid III brings a towering frame and tenacious rebounding after limited minutes with Gonzaga’s crowded frontcourt last season. Since gaining eligibility, his presence in the paint is giving Wake Forest a dose of physicality down low. Coach Forbes told The Report, “He’s a tremendous representative of this institution on and off the court.” Together with Andrew Carr at power forward, the team now boasts a powerful combo.
How good must Forbes’ squad be to make it back to the dance?
Despite recent success, the team’s rebounding has missed the mark so far this season. The team is currently ranked 55th overall according to KenPom, but ranks 256th in average rebounds per game. Forbes expressed his frustrations with rebounding struggles in the first half against NJIT,
“We had two [in the first half]. We had fifteen against Rutgers. C’mon.” “Those were extra opportunities [for NJIT].”
Clearly, there is still some room for improvement for the Demon Deacons if they want to give the NCAA a real reason to let them play come March.
Starters who Forbes considered to have the most potential, such as transfer Kevin ‘Boopie’ Miller and Zach Keller, must continue to learn and make progress. Wake Forest veterans Cam Hildreth and Andrew Carr must continue to set the tone and lead the rest of the team.
Whether or not Wake Forest makes it deep into March will ultimately depend on the team’s ability to convert recent hype and short-term successes into long-term victories against competitive ACC teams that they have lost to consistently for the past decade.