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Demon Deacons Delivered Devastating Defense Last Season

When it came to defense, Steve Forbes wasn’t messing around last season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 09 ACC Tournament - Wake Forest v Boston College
 BROOKLYN, NY - MARCH 09: Boston College Eagles guard Brevin Galloway (51) drives to the basket and is fouled by Wake Forest Demon Deacons forward Jake LaRavia (0) during the second half of the ACC Mens college basketball tournament game between the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Boston College Eagles on March 9, 2022 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Trust us: This is not what anyone might expect, and for good reason.

Last season Wake Forest led the ACC in field goal percentage defense, a measure of defensive prowess more often associated with Florida State, UNC and Virginia. But, other than Tim Duncan’s last three years at Wake causing opposing attacks to unravel (1995-97), the Demon Deacons had not previously led the ACC in field goal percentage defense.


Three of the program’s four most successful efforts to suppress opponents’ field goal accuracy came during Duncan’s career. In 1996 and 1997 Wake and Duncan led the ACC in blocked shots. A force at both ends of the court, Duncan was voted the league’s player of the year in both ’96 and ’97.

Last season’s Deacs ranked just 15th in school history in suppressing opponents’ shooting accuracy, but it was enough. They were also second only to North Carolina, a Final Four team, in defensive rebounds and fifth in blocked shots.

Two of the ACC’s top 11 shotblockers played for Wake – Dallas Walton and Jake LaRavia. LaRavia also was sixth in steals.

The ’22 Deacs were from season’s start among the better collections of wet blankets in program history. That helped them jump to an 11-1 record. By mid-January a triumph at Charlottesville, a tough venue, gave Steve Forbes’ charges 15 wins, already more than in any of the previous four seasons under overmatched Danny Manning.

The ultimate consequence of this improved defensive profile was to help lift Wake to a 25-10 finish and an NCAA bid. Not since 2005, three coaches prior to Forbes’ tenure, had the Deacons, coached by Dino Gaudio, won so often.

With ’22 success came rewards: forward Alondes Williams was honored as 2022 ACC player of the year and Forbes was tabbed the league’s premier coach.

Note that in the ACC’s early years, when a team shooting under 40 percent from the field was not uncommon, Wake had a losing season despite holding rivals to .398 accuracy (1958) and another (1959) when opponents made .406.

The best team field goal defense by any league team was mounted in 1954, the ACC’s inaugural season, when Frank McGuire’s Tar Heels held opponents to .320 acuity.

Top Team Field Goal Percentage Defense at Wake
(Single NCAA Entrant From Each League Through 1974)
FG% Def Season Record Postseason Coach
.364 1997 24-7 NCAA Dave Odom
.369 1956 19-9 None Murray Greason
.378 1960 21-7 None Bones McKinney
.3878 1995 26-6 NCAA Odom
.3884 1957 19-9 None Greason
.390 2010 20-11 NCAA Dino Gaudio
.393 1996 26-6 NCAA Odom
.397 2003 25-6 NCAA Skip Prosser
.39829 1958 6-17 None McKinney
.39834 2009 24-7 NCAA Gaudio
.40469 2000 22-14 NIT champ Odom
.40499 1994 21-12 NCAA Odom
.406 1959 10-14 None McKinney
.409 2001 19-11 NCAA Odom
.413 2022 25-10 NCAA Steve Forbes