Difficulty factor rising, Wake Forest takes on Oregon State
After a sterling start to the season, it's time for Wake Forest to find out more about its team as it faces increasingly stout competition.
Some new revelations should be forthcoming for the Demon Deacons, beginning with Friday night's game against Oregon State in the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Fla.
"We need this right now," Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said. "We're ready."
Wake Forest is 5-0 for the first time in eight years. It's also the first time in seven seasons as a Division I head coach (five at East Tennessee before moving to Wake) that Forbes has directed a team to five wins to begin a season.
Meanwhile, it has been a rough opening stretch for Oregon State (1-4). The Beavers are coming off consecutive one-point home losses to Samford and Princeton, extending their losing streak to four games.
"I'm tired of losing," Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said, just eight months after leading his team to the NCAA Elite Eight. "I don't believe in moral victories."
Tinkle said he's not pleased with the Beavers' record, but at least the team has a good range of experiences so far. Now it's a matter of getting it going "when it's the right time."
Wake Forest will be away from home for the first time. Its first five opponents had low power ratings and the slate is about to be upgraded.
The winner of the Oregon State-Wake Forest game meets the LSU-Penn State winner Saturday. The losing teams also face each other Saturday. After that, the Demon Deacons face Northwestern in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and get an early ACC conference game against Virginia Tech.
"They know. They're very aware of what's coming," Forbes said of his players. "They're ready. I'm not sure it could have gone much better the first five games. I think we've gotten better every game. We've still got things we know we've got to work on."
A victory Friday would mark the program's first 6-0 start since 2008-09, when they started 16-0 to rise to No. 1 in the country before finishing second in ACC and then being stunned as a No.4 seed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Wake Forest has shot above 50 percent from the field in each game this season. At the same time, four of Wake Forest's opponents have failed to hit 40 percent.
Alondes Williams, the leading scorer for the Demon Deacons (19.4 points a game) sat out for a long first-half stretch after picking up two fouls.
"I think it showed our depth," Forbes said. "I don't think we're reliant on just one player."
Oregon State's depth could be tested as well. Maurice Calloo, who is tied for the team lead at 12.8 points a game, missed Sunday's matchup with Princeton because of a sore knee. Warith Alatishe also averages 12.8 points.
--Field Level Media