With two consecutive days of practice to put the latest end-of-game collapse behind them, Wake Forest and coach Danny Manning enter tonight’s 7 p.m. game against Boston College with perhaps even more self-motivation than is usually present for an ACC home game.
Now in his third year running the program, Manning admitted Sunday’s practice, which occurred just one day after Wake Forest blew a 10-point lead in the final five minutes and lost to Clemson 73-68, was rightfully “chippy” and that “people were a little upset.”
Wake Forest (9-5, 0-2 ACC) has now lost two straight games and dropped three of its last four, while also starting 0-2 in conference play for the third consecutive year after its loss to Clemson over the weekend.
Conceivably even more infuriating than the pure quantity of losses is the manner in which the losses have happened, as the Deacons have led or been within a single point in the final three minutes of each of their past four losses this season.
“There should be a little frustration. Whenever there’s a game and you are in control for the amount of time we were in control and we don’t get the desired outcome that we want, there is frustration,” Manning said.
“We’re at a point where this is our season. We know what our conference is. And look around — it’s a competitive conference and we have to continue to put ourselves in positions like we were in the other night and do a better job of finishing.”
Now, the Deacons are looking for a win against a Boston College team that is just two days removed from snapping a 20-game ACC losing streak and is in search of its second regular-season ACC win since beating Wake Forest at the end of the 2014-15 season.
The Eagles (8-6, 1-0 ACC) won their conference opener this past Sunday with a 96-81 victory over Syracuse by shooting 57.1 percent from the field and draining 16 of 26 (61.5 percent) from behind the 3-point line.
Boston College was led by 6-foot-1 guard Ky Bowman, a Havelock High School product who scored 30 points and made 7 of 8 from behind the arc just days after being named ACC Freshman of the Week last Monday.
As a team, the Eagles rank first in the ACC in 3-point field goals made, knocking down 40.9 percent of their attempts from long range. Meanwhile, Wake Forest ranks last in 3-point percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot 34.4 percent from behind the 3-point line.
“We have to be somewhat disruptive on the defensive end and not let them run their offense,” Manning said. “It’s a really good offense with a lot of passes and a lot of cuts, so we have to do a good job in our defensive principles of guarding and not chasing.”
Regardless of the heightened sense of urgency that may surround the Wake Forest basketball program entering tonight’s game versus Boston College, Manning said “there is plenty of time left” this year to put together a season the Deacons could be proud of.
“With whatever process that you go through you want it to be accelerated or fast-forwarded to get to the desired result, but you always know it’s a process,” Manning said. “Coming close isn’t good enough.
“And we can go down and pick out different things with our group across the line, but we’re still doing things to give ourselves a chance to win. We just have to finish games.”