Transfer Woods helps Wake get best of his former team

Keyshawn Woods had every reason to gloat after his current team put a hurting on his former team Tuesday at Joel Coliseum. Instead the sophomore transfer let the scoreboard do his talking for him

Jeremy Brevard—USA Today Sports
Dec 6

WINSTON-SALEM — Keyshawn Woods had every reason to gloat after his current team put a hurting on his former team Tuesday at Joel Coliseum. Instead the sophomore transfer let the scoreboard do his talking for him. It read: Wake Forest 91, Charlotte 74. That was all the satisfaction he was looking for from an emotional reunion that could have been much more contentious than it actually was. “The main goal was to win the game,” said Woods, who scored 12 points on 5 of 9 shooting for the winning Deacons. “Losing, I know there would have been a lot of heat coming my way. I know my teammates had my back. They knew what was at stake with this game. I’m glad we won.” Woods is one of four players that left the 49ers after former coach Alan Major was replaced by current coach Mark Price. He sat out last season at Wake under NCAA transfer rules. Though he still maintains friendships with the few remaining players that are still on the team and participates in pickup games with several of the others during the offseason, his relationship with the 49ers’ fan base isn’t nearly as cordial. Woods took plenty of abuse for his decision to leave on social media before Tuesday’s game and heard even more during it from the small group of Charlotte supporters sitting in the second behind the visiting team’s bench. “I heard it all, see it all,” he said. “It is what it is.” While the sophomore wing said that the taunts aimed in his direction every time he missed a shot neither bothered nor fueled him, current teammate John Collins said it was obvious this game meant more to Woods than the first eight the Deacons had played this season. “Playing against the school you came from is always going to be big-time wherever you go, especially since it’s in-state and he’s from Carolina,,” Collins said of Woods, who is from Gastonia. “To go from a mid-major to a high-major ACC school, see all his old friends, there was a bunch of hecklers in the crowd … I think he responded well.” Woods made an immediate contribution by scoring on his team’s first possession after entering the game at the 13:44 mark of the first half. The basket was part of a 17-0 Wake run that turned a 5-5 tie into a double-digit lead the Deacons (7-2) never gave up. Collins led Wake with 20 points and 15 rebounds while Bryant Crawford added 15 points on a night in which the Deacons shot 54.7 percent as a team and outrebounded the 49ers by a 37-28 margin. Woods was a major factor in the victory. Resisting the urge to put on an individual show against his old team, he played under control for his team-high 29 minutes on the court — adding two assists, two rebounds and a steal to his scoring total. Those numbers were slightly below his season averages of 13.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists. Although he ranks among the top three on the team in all three categories and has played the most minutes of anyone on the roster, coach Danny Manning prefers Woods coming off the bench rather than having him in the starting lineup. “He’s a sixth starter to me,” Manning said. “He comes in and he’s able to play (positions) one through four and has a good feel for the game. He plays starter’s minutes. He knows how we feel about him. He knows he’s got to be ready at all times because we feel like he can do a lot of different things for our team to have success.” Now that he’s exorcised a ghost from his past, Woods can concentrate all his efforts on helping the Deacons build on their hot start and earn their first postseason bid since 2010 — or at least until Jan. 21 against NC State, when he goes head-to-head against former teammate and fellow Charlotte transfer Torin Dorn. Woods said he’ll face that game with a similar approach to the one he took Tuesday. “Whatever I’ve got to do and my team has to do to win, that’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “At the end of the day, I know why I made my decision. I feel like I made a great decision regardless of what anybody else outside of here thinks. I’m happy with the situation I’m in now and I know I made the right decision to come to Wake Forest.”