DAYTON, Ohio — Tuesday’s contest between Kansas State and Wake Forest might be decided in the post.
Wildcat forward D.J. Johnson has a chore on his hands as he takes on the task of guarding Demon Deacon forward and NBA prospect John Collins.
Collins is a 6-foot-10 player who Weber compared to Baylor’s Jonathan Motley this week, but he does have some differences. Collins is a more post-centric player, while Motley likes to take mid-range jumpers.
Collins averages 18.9 points and 9.8 rebounds for Wake Forest, and he is the focus of the Wake Forest offense.
K-State coach Bruce Weber said Collins’ abilities open up of other facets for Wake Forest.
“They spread you out,” he said. “The get you in roll and replace, where the one big guy who can shoot comes out on the court and then they dive Collins in there and they get you spread out.
“And they get you in transition. The get you inside and they can get you with space and make open shots.”
Two other players score in double figures for the Demon Deacons. Guard Bryant Crawford is putting up 16.1 points and 5.4 assists, and Keyshawn Woods scores 12.8 points per game.
Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said it all starts with Collins.
“What we continue to talk about is manufactured points,” he said. “For John, we talk about second-chance opportunities, getting to the free-throw line, and then early post-ups in transition. And if he can get anywhere from 10 to 12 points in those categories, we’re going to have a chance to have some success throughout the rest of our offense in terms of getting him post touches and just touches in general.”
The Demon Deacons rank among the best teams in the country on offense, scoring 82.7 points per contest to rank 16th among Division-I teams.
A lot of what Wake Forest does reminds Weber of teams the Wildcats have faced in Big 12 play this season. Unsurprisingly he said the Demon Deacons remind him of Kansas — where Manning played and coached — but he also sees them a little like Iowa State.
“You look at what (Kansas has) done this year, scoring-wise,” Weber said. “The first time around against them they were scoring at a high level. Iowa State scores at a high level. (The Cyclones) don’t have quite the inside presence that (Kansas) does, but we faced some people that have played at this pace. They play at a good pace.”
Wake Forest is more worried about what the Wildcats could take away. K-State ranks in the top 60 teams in the country on defense, limiting opponents to 66.9 points per game.
“We’re playing a very talented team in K-State,” Manning said. “Very balanced team. Their whole starting lineup is averaging double-digit points and everybody brings something unique to the table in that starting lineup. And defensively, they’re one of the better defensive teams in the country.“Most of Coach Weber’s teams always had that type of mentality, so to speak. It’s going to be a tough challenge for us, but one that we welcome and look forward to.”