There's not a whole lot we can say about Winston-Salem State, the second exhibition opponent, simply because they don't get a lot of press, even in Winston-Salem, where Wake Forest overshadows them. It wasn't always that way though.
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When Billy Packer was at Wake, not too many years after the school moved to Winston-Salem, he used to irritate some people by going over to Winston-Salem State to see Earl Monroe play. Clarence Gaines built a spectacular program there, but like every other HBCU, integration profoundly affected its athletic program as African-American players began to sign with a wide variety of programs. Money was never easy to get at schools like Winston-Salem State; TV contracts ensured that they would never again be able to compete with conferences like the ACC.
But don't tell that to the kids on the team. Gaines might not be pleased to see that Justin Glover, a self-described Duke fan, is promising to beat the Devils Thursday, but he would no doubt appreciate the competitive spirit behind the comment, made last month.
âWe will beat Duke," he said then.
Iâm confident in my team and my coaches, so I did say that. But we put our shorts on the same way they put their shorts on. We just want to go out there and give it 110 percent, and if we do that weâll be all right. Iâm glad I made the statement because it kind of fired up our team."
No doubt. The problem with statements like that is that it tends to fire up the other team. Duke will be aware of it and for a program which rarely comes out flat for a lightly regarded opponent, that's not good.
Still, you can't rule out an upset. Basketball is a game which runs on emotion and unity, and if you get five guys who are willing to work together, and who catch a wave, you never know. We've seen Davidson do it in recent years; Asheville almost did it to Syracuse last year.
But it's a tall order for the Rams. They have no one over 6-8 and it'll be tough to shut down Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. But they are picked to finish first in the CIAA Southern Division and as we say, it's a team game and a stronger group of lesser players can beat a weaker group of better ones. We're not saying that Duke is weaker, just pointing out what we hope is obvious.