WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Deacs (1-0) dispatched Radford relatively handily Friday night 80-59 in the season-opener at Joel Coliseum.
But the mood after was far from celebratory, and Wake coach Danny Manning was more critical than positive.
“I thought we did some decent things, but we have a lot to work on,” Manning said. “We’ll be able to watch the tape and see where we need to get better. The game goes into the correct column as far as a win, but we have to get better.
“We were fortunate enough to get a win. We won by 21 points, but the mood in the locker room was not celebratory. As a coach, that’s what you want.”
Perhaps this is what progress looks like for the program?
Manning’s Deacs made a concentrated effort to get paint touches in the second half, and it worked to perfection, as Wake wore down the Highlanders and poured in 32 points in the paint to consistently stretch the eight-point halftime lead.
“We only shot six 3-pointers in the second half. I thought our post guys had a little more presence in the second half,” Manning said. “We have to try to mimic that effort in the first half as well.”
John Collins notched a double-double in his sophomore debut, but earned the ire of Manning.
Collins finished with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, and 12 rebounds, both team highs.
“I haven’t watched the tape yet, but John can’t rely on just his athletic ability to try to block shots,” Manning said. “For us, it defensively jump to the ball. Instead of trying to time up a blocked shot, a lot of times he should already be in place to draw a charge.
“We need John on the floor. That’s something that’s very important.”
Bryant Crawford and Keyshawn Woods both scored 14, but earned varying levels of praise and disdain from Manning after the win.
Crawford had eight assists against four turnovers — turnovers Manning thought were costly and bothersome.
“I think if you look at Bryant’s numbers, they look okay, but I’m not happy with how he played,” Manning said. “He had four turnovers.
“You’re not a freshman anymore. You’re damn near a junior with the minutes you played your freshman year, compared to other freshmen. Our expectation for him is very high. He’s got to make sure when we come down offensively, we get a good shot and take care of the basketball.”
On Woods, Manning sang a different tune, as the sophomore added four rebounds and three assists against just one turnover in his first action as a Deac.
“This is the second game that Keyshawn has played in quite some time,” Manning said. “I thought he was quite good tonight. I thought he rebounded well and had three assists to one turnover. He’s kind of a jack of all trades for us.”
Freshman Brandon Childress didn’t shoot the ball well, going 2-for-9 from the field, but dished five assists without a turnover.
“He made some really nice plays,” Manning said. “There’s some things he needs to work on to get better. All these guys are workers. They want to get better.”
Junior forward Dinos Mitoglou showed some grit down low, scoring all nine of his points down low using a variety of post moves. He also grabbed six boards.
“Dinos has really good footwork in the post. The way the rules are right now, if Dinos catches the ball in the post and keeps his back to the defense, they can maintain an armbar on him,” Manning said. “But if Dinos faces up, they have to take that armbar off.
“To me that opens up a bag of opportunities for him, because if you shot fake, you have to jump because he’s a good shooter. We’re going to continue to put Dinos in situations where he posts up. He does have good footwork in the post.”
The Deacs held Radford to just five points in the first 10 minutes of play, but didn’t keep the intensity consistent through the course of the game, according to Manning.
“When you’re out there defensively, you don’t play the score, you play the possession,” Manning said.
The Deacs will have a quick turnaround, hosting Bucknell at 2 p.m. Sunday. Wake had to come from behind to win 90-82 at Bucknell last season.
“We’ll come in here tomorrow to practice and prepare for a very tough Bucknell team,” Manning said. “Last year down there they had us down double-digits at one point. They return three starters. We have to get prepared for them.”