After a 34-60 mark in three seasons under coach Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest looks for a quick start to the new year as it hosts Colgate on Friday. The Demon Deacons return four starters and Bzdelik is looking for his core players to draw from the experience of an up-and-down 2012-13 season. “They’re older, they’re wiser, they’re stronger, they’re more mature,” he told the Winston-Salem Journal. “They gained a valuable understanding of what’s expected of one to win at this level.”
Forward Travis McKie, who averaged 13.5 points and 7.0 rebounds last season returns for his senior year and should become the focal point of the offense for the Demon Deacons with C.J. Harris lost to graduation. With Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse joining the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, Wake Forest will have its work cut out and Bzdelik may very well find himself on the hot seat without significant improvement. The Raiders welcome back three starters from a year ago, including their leading scorer in forward Murphy Burnatowski and guard Luke Roh, who led the team in assists and rebounding last season, and look to be a contender in the Patriot League.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3
ABOUT COLGATE (2012-13: 11-21, 5-9 Patriot League): Burnatowski returns after averaging 17.4 points last year to rank third in the conference. Fellow senior Pat Moore, who complemented Burnatowski’s output averaging 9.8 points, is also back, giving the Raiders their top two scorers from a year ago. Colgate has high hopes for a pair of transfers in center Ethan Jacobs from Ohio and guard Austin Tillotson, who joins the Raiders from Monmouth.
ABOUT WAKE FOREST (2012-13: 13-18, 6-12 ACC): With Harris gone, the Demon Deacons will look to last season’s leading distributor, Codi Miller-McIntyre and post-graduate transfer Coron Williams, an established 3-point threat out of Robert Morris, to man the backcourt. Williams has the ability, striking from beyond the arc at a 42 percent clip for the Colonials over the course of the last three seasons. Defense was a problem for Wake Forest last year, ranking at or near the bottom of the conference in almost every category.
1. The Demon Deacons are 2-0 all-time against Colgate, though the teams have not met since 1957.
2. The Raiders ranked third among Patriot League teams a year ago, averaging 35.2 rebounds.
3. Wake Forest ranked second in the ACC, averaging 7.1 steals last season, trailing only North Carolina (8.4).
PREDICTION: Wake Forest 77, Colgate 66