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November 12, 2008

Strong start in exhibition win

Last Friday the Demon Deacon basketball team took the floor at the Joel Coliseum for the first time in the 2008-2009 season. Despite the fact that the game was only an exhibition and will not count towards the team's record or statistics, the team treated it like a real game. It's highly unlikely that they will be able win all of their games by the 97-62 margin they enjoyed against Mount Olive, but it was still a good experience for the team and good chance to see everyone in action.

Except for the fact that point guard Ishmael Smith did not play due to his foot injury (he is out of his boot now and may play on Friday in the season opener) and James Johnson sat out for unknown reasons (there are no indications that his is injured), every single player on the Wake Forest roster saw playing time in the exhibition. Jeff Teague, Harvey Hale, L.D. Williams, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Chas McFarland were the starters, although with Johnson and Smith returning it is unlikely that this will be the starting lineup for real start of the season.

Wake got out to a very slow start, trailing 12-13 at the 14 minute mark in the first half. Perhaps the slow start was due to first game jitters or just general rustiness, but it eventually the team picked things up and led 54-30 at the half. It was more domination in the second half, and when the scholarship players gave way to the walk-ons with about four minutes remaining they held a 95-49 lead. The final score was Wake Forest 97, Mount Olive 62.

The team shot an impressive 54% from the field; however 27% three point shooting and 54% free throw shooting are not good indications that this team has improved those areas significantly since last season.

L.D. Williams led all scorers with 22, and Al-Farouq Aminu, Chas Mcfarland, and Tony Woods joined him in double digits. McFarland looks improved in the post, seeming more comfortable with the ball and displaying some polished moves to get easy shots.

Of the freshman, both Aminu and Woods looked very good. Aminu is fluid and comfortable on the floor, and although it wasn't his best night he looks ready to contribute immediately. Woods is strong and aggressive and will certainly make an impact for the Demon Deacons this season. Ty Walker is very long and led the team with three blocks, but he only had one basket and looks like he needs to assert himself more when it comes to getting shots and grabbing rebounds. He's got a ways to go, but will clearly be very good with time.

Wake Forest will play three home games before heading to Anaheim over Thanksgiving to play in the 76 Classic. That home stand starts on Friday night against NC Central, continues with UNC Wilmington on the 19th, and concludes with Winston-Salem State on the 24th. All of these should be good opponents for the Wake, as they will allow the team to get its feet wet without presenting too much of a challenge. This should allow Wake to get out to a 3-0 start and head to Anaheim with some momentum.



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