This may come as a surprise, but in the game of basketball, shooting is very important; in fact, if a team is trying to win a basketball game, it’s helpful to make a lot of shots. Feigned sarcasm aside, teams that make jump shots are generally better than their antithesis. Which is why Wake Forest fans should be grinning: Danny Manning’s club can shoot this season. The Demon Deacons are 2-0 on the season, having one both games by at least 20 points. As a team, Wake is 18-of-44 from beyond the arc (40.9 percent). Conversely, a year ago, it took the Deacs nearly four full games before they hit their 18th 3-pointer. In 2015-16, Wake Forest shot just 31.6 percent from deep, which ranked 304th in the nation.
Everyone is getting in on the act; six players have attempted at least two 3-pointers already this season —and Wake ranks 53rd in the nation in effective field goal percentage (56.9 percent), according to Ken Pomeroy. Keyshawn Woods, however, has led the charge. The Charlotte transfer came billed as a shooter, and he’s done just that: Woods is 6-of-9 on threes this season — an ACC-leading 66.7 percent. Woods is averaging 18 points per game, but his shooting proficiency is showing up in some even deeper metrics. According to SCACCHoops.com, Wake Forest has outscored their two opponents — Radford and Bucknell — by 36 points while Woods has been on the floor.
This is great offense against Bucknell: penetration, ball reversal, which leads to an open jumper for their best shooter.
The Demon Deacons have had just two players in the last five seasons shoot more than four 3-pointers per game, and make at least 40 percent of those attempts: C.J. Harris (2012-13), Coron Williams (2013-14). It’s super early, but Woods and Mitchell Wilbekin would like to take a run at that throne. Wake’s starting five, which features four three-point shooters, was plus-eight in relatively limited minutes against Bucknell. Robert Reinhard at Blogger So Dear pointed this out, but it’s worth repeating: this lineup, with their ability to space the floor, could run a lot of nifty actions to loosen defenses, and free up shooters.
During Manning’s first two seasons at the school, Wake finished outside the top 120 in Pomeroy’s offensive rating metric; this season, so far, has been a revelation. The Demon Deacons are scoring 108.1 points per 100 possessions, which ranks 52nd in the nation, and is up two points from last season. Woods is currently No. 1 on the team with an insane offensive rating of 169.9 points per 100 possessions.
The key for Wake Forest will be finding ways to continue their improved offensive output once the competition stiffens up. According to Pomeroy, the Deacons scored fewer than one point per possession in ACC play last season; this ranked second to last in the league — only Boston College was worse.