Wake Forest eager to see fresh faces take on William & Mary

NCAA Basketball

A pair of teams looking to improve upon their seasons from a year ago tip off to start the season when William & Mary visits Wake Forest on Wednesday night at Winston-Salem, N.C.

There’s plenty new for Wake Forest, with three newcomers likely in the starting lineup for second-year coach Steve Forbes.

Building the Demon Deacons back to a contender in the Atlantic Coast Conference is going to take steps.

“You can’t put the cart before the horse,” Forbes said. “There’s a process to get there. I’m more worried about that.”

The identity for Wake Forest, which went 6-16 last season, needs to come from playing hard, Forbes said.

Jake LaRavia (transfer from Indiana State), Dallas Walton (graduate transfer from Colorado) and Alondes Williams (graduate transfer from Oklahoma) were starters for the Demon Deacons in an exhibition game last week against Winston-Salem State.

Isaiah Mucius and Daivien Williamson are Wake Forest’s most experienced returning players.

Forbes said freshman Cameron Hildreth is good enough to be a starter.

Protecting the ball will be a key toward determining which combinations Forbes uses on the court.

“That will be a precursor to playing time, as will being able to defend and rebound,” Forbes said.

The Demon Deacons begin the season with five straight home games. For Forbes, his first season came without more than a handful of fans permitted inside Joel Coliseum because of the pandemic.

“The fans are really important to create that homecourt atmosphere and we’re going to need them Wednesday night,” he said.

William & Mary was picked 10th in the 10-team Colonial Athletic Association preseason poll after producing a 7-10 record last season. Wake Forest is the only team from a Power 5 conference on the Tribe’s schedule.

“This almost feels like our first year of trying to establish our identity,” third-year coach Dane Fischer said. “We’ve got some really good young players.”

William & Mary guard Connor Kochera, last season’s CAA Rookie of the Year, received preseason All-CAA recognition after posting 13.4 points per game last season.

“Heading into this year, I’m leaning on him heavily from a leadership standpoint. A guy who sets a standard,” Fischer said. “We certainly anticipate him having a really productive year.”

–Field Level Media

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