Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Deacs close non-conference slate with LSU tonight

Wake Forest will host LSU at 9 p.m. tonight at Joel Coliseum in the final non-conference game of the season. Wake coach Danny Manning previews the matchup for us.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A win tonight over the LSU Tigers (8-2), and the Deacs will be right back at 9-3 going into ACC play — exactly where they were last season before it all fell apart. 


Wake coach Danny Manning spoke with the media after practice earlier this week to discuss the matchup with the Tigers and the outlook for the Deacs moving forward.


On what LSU does well

Manning: “They’re very athletic and do a great job of getting out in transition. They have great length across the board with their players, and they cause problems defensively because they can switch and throw some different looks at you because of that length. For us, we have to make sure we rebound the ball, then offensively we do a good job of taking care of the basketball. We have to do more drive-to-pass. We want to get the defense to collapse to the paint and then kick it out to shooters or drop it off to our bigs.”


On what he took away from the Xavier game

Manning: “More negatives than positives. If there were more positives, we would have got the win. We put ourselves in a position, like in the Northwestern game, where we were there, but just didn’t make enough plays to win the game.” 


On how you handle mistakes like the behind-the-back pass from Bryant Crawford, and do you coach/manage players differently 

Manning: “You can’t treat everybody exactly the same. We get our point across to everybody that we need to get it across to in the way we need to. He understands that he has to do a better job in those situations.” 


On Crawford having such a positive streak of plays in that game immediately followed by two-to-three poor plays

Manning: “Correct. We are what we are. This is what we go to battle night-in and night-out. We have to find a way to get it done. For him, he’s held to a higher standard than a lot of other sophomores in that situation. It is what it is. This is what he signed up for. This is what he wanted, and this is what we wanted him for. We’ve got to continue to improve and when we get into situations like that have a better thought process as to what I want to get offensively for our team. He’s our leading assists guy, so we know he gets our guys touches. He just has to make himself a little more sure in these situations.” 


On how he will instruct John Collins to bounce back from a 13-miss game at Xavier

Manning: “I think he has to figure out ways to manufacture point. Perhaps getting out in transition and out-running you man one time. Or when the other team in the bonus, post up, keep your feet moving and maybe they will call a foul on the defender as you try to get post position. When we’re in the bonus, being strong with the basketball and getting fouls to get to the foul line. That way he can manufacture points and get himself going. All you have to do is see the ball go in the basket one time to kind of get that confidence level going again.”

On if he was happy with what he got out of Sam Japhet-Mathias at Xavier, and if that excites him that he might be able to extend the rotation a bit

Manning: “I did. I think Sam has worked hard. We tell all of our younger kids, and guys that aren’t in the rotation that they have to be ready. It’s a frustrating and hard part of your gig, when you’re not playing as many minutes as you would like. Hopefully everybody is ticked off they aren’t playing more minutes. It is what it is, and they all understand that. Sam got him number call, he was ready and he did great for us.” 


On if he knew he was going to get a shot that night

Manning: “No. We were yo-yoing John (Collins) back and forth, because I didn’t want him to pick up fouls in the first half after he picked up that early one. Doral (Moore) came in and picked up three quick ones. We went to Sam and he did a really good job for us.” 


On what has him most excited about the team as they come to a close of the non-conference slate

Manning: “I think we’re improving. Our numbers defensively need to improve, but I think we’re slowly starting to tip the dial. Offensively, we haven’t shot it as well, but our numbers are still good. If you look at what we do offensively, people have to take notice of what we have offensively, because we have some guys who are putting up some proficient numbers.”


On what has him the most concerned

Manning: “It’s the ACC. It’s a battle every night. The end of the Northwestern game and the end of the Xavier game? Those are conference-like games for us. So that’s what we’re going to get from this point forward, even with LSU.”


With the records being similar, if he feels better about the team headed into ACC play than he did last year

Manning: “I do, what do you think? We hope there’s a difference being seen. Our guys are working hard and they understand what we want. They understand how to buy into the system offensively and defensively. We’re still a work in progress. We have a long ways to go. Every time we step on to the floor, we have to improve in some form or fashion.”


On Keyshawn Woods making the starting lineup at Xavier

Manning: “We’ll see. Keyshawn brings a little more versatility because of his size. It’s a fluid situation and it always is.”  

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