Wake Forest coach turns attention to restoring the basketball team

Wake Forest coach turns attention to restoring the basketball team
April 02
00:00 2015
(Above: Photos by Craig T. Greenlee Wake Forest point guard Codi Miller-McIntyre (0) was Honorable Mention All-ACC.)

College basketball’s Final Four is only two days away from tip-off. By this time next week, we’ll all know whether Kentucky succeeded or failed in its quest to become the first team in nearly four decades to go undefeated and win an NCAA championship.

Danny Manning of Wake Forest knows a few things about this time of year. From both a player’s and coach’s perspective, he knows what it takes to win at the highest levels.

Prior to his 15-year NBA career, Manning fortified his reputation as one of the best to ever play the college game. The former two-time All-American led Kansas to a national title in 1988 and was the consensus pick as National College Player of the Year. He was an assistant coach on Kansas teams that advanced to the Final Four twice and won the national championship in 2008.

Now, it’s his job to restore a Wake Forest program that had nose-dived in recent years.

Given Manning’s results as Tulsa’s coach, there’s a tidal wave of optimism about the future for Wake Forest basketball. In his second and final year at Tulsa, he guided the Golden Hurricanes to the Conference USA tournament title and a second-round NCAA Tournament appearance. It was Tulsa’s first trip to “The Dance” in 11 years.

As expected, the Deacons had plenty of lumps and bumps in Manning’s inaugural season as head coach. An early ACC tournament exit mirrored what the season was like. At times, Wake Forest (13-19) showed promise. But there were far too many other instances in which Manning’s squad self-destructed.

In a frantic stretch that lasted all of six seconds, Wake Forest’s basketball season was laid to rest. The Deacons put together an inspired second-half comeback to bring the Greensboro Coliseum crowd to its feet. But it wasn’t enough to prevent an 81-80 loss to Virginia Tech in the opening round of the ACC Tournament.

This loss was an especially difficult pill to swallow. Wake had genuine opportunities to pull this one out, but couldn’t find a way to close the deal.

Down by 1 point with time running out, Wake power forward Dinos Mitoglou took a 9-foot jumper from the left side which bounced off the back side of the rim. Devin Thomas followed up, but his tip-in attempt was also off the mark. Codi Miller-McIntyre elevated above the traffic in the paint for another tip-in try, but his potentially-game-winning shot rimmed out at the sound of the final buzzer.

Game over. Season over.

“There was growth,” Manning said. “The players are beginning to understand how important it is for us to establish effort and energy as a mindset. I liked what I saw in those games when we competed and were locked-in defensively. But we didn’t always do that every night. In order for us to be successful, we must play with emotion and intensity all the time.”

The defense must also improve. Wake Forest ranked last in the ACC in scoring defense (72.1 points per game) and next-to-last in field goal percentage defense (.450). Bottom line: the Deacons couldn’t stop anybody, especially at critical times during the late stages of games.


On the plus side, Wake Forest has four returnees who contributed and played meaningful minutes as first-year players. True freshmen Cornelius Hudson, Mitchell Wilbekin and Mitoglou, along with red-shirt freshman Greg McClinton (Winston-Salem Prep) will only get better as they continue to elevate their level of play.

Upperclassmen Miller-McIntyre and Thomas are primed to make the most of their upcoming senior seasons. Miller-McIntyre (14.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists per game) was voted Honorable Mention All-ACC as a point guard. Thomas, a 6-feet-9 power forward (12 points, 8.8 rebounds per game) played well at times, but has struggled with consistency.

“Our young guys logged a lot minutes and they handled it well,” said Manning. “The progress they made gives me confidence that we are moving in the right direction. Still, we’re not moving nearly as fast as I’d like. But, we are getting there.”

If Manning’s signings from last fall live up to their four-star ratings, the Deacons will get immediate help for next season. Doral Moore, a 7-foot center, chose Wake Forest over Kentucky, Florida, Illinois and Ohio State.

John Collins is a prized 6-feet-9 power forward who had considered Miami, Kansas State, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, Texasand Maryland. Point guard Bryant Crawford is a skilled 6-feet-3 playmaker/scorer who was heavily recruited by Georgetown, Southern Methodist, N.C. State and Tennessee.

About Author

Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors