WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — That cautious optimism I talked about earlier in the week?
The “cautious” part was all but tossed aside Thursday. A season-high crowd of 9,643 entered Joel Coliseum and witnessed the Deacs throttle LSU 110-76.
Dinos Mitoglou went nuts behind the arc, going 8-for-11 from 3-point land while scoring a career-high 28 points, Bryant Crawford dishes 11 assists while notching a double-double, and the Deacs drained 16 long-range bombs — a record number in a single game during the Danny Manning Era.
And the crowd loved every second of it.
They stood. They cheered. At times they were borderline rabid, and the Wake Forest players fed off that.
That’s without even mentioning their spirit during the Chick-fil-A free throw promotion.
I’m now starting to see glimpses of what big-time basketball looks like in Winston-Salem. Spoiler alert. . . it seems like a lot of fun.
But here’s where I remind everyone (including myself) to temper this blatant optimism.
First of all, Wake SHOULD have pounded LSU — maybe not by 34 points, but by double-digits, for sure.
The Tigers shoot poorly from the field, are terrible behind the arc, had barely outrebounded their sub-par competition, and came into The Joel with more turnovers than assists on the season. By the way, Thursday was the the Tigers very first true road game.
If Wake hadn’t won this one easily it would have been a problem.
Let’s also take a moment to reflect on last season, where the Deacs also finished the nonconference slate 9-3, with what were considered to be signature wins over Indiana and UCLA.
The Deacs are once again sitting at 9-3, and once again fans are seemingly getting on the bandwagon. Will it be in vain?
We’ll find out soon.
Wake begins ACC play at No. 21 Florida State before hosting games against Clemson and Boston College.
If the Deacs can take two out of those first three ACC contests, it will go a long way to showing that the strides they seemingly are making are legit.
It would also mean a lot more fun this season at Joel Coliseum — and not just for the free chicken sandwich giveaways.