Bzdelik’s track record suggests a need for change

In the Feb. 14 edition of the Old Gold & Black, sports editor Ty Kraniak wrote an article entitled “Bzdelik belongs at Wake Forest,” concerning the state of Wake Forest basketball and its head coach, Jeff Bzdelik. Kraniak’s article reflected solely his own opinion and he believed everything he wrote to be true.

Photo courtesy of acc.blogs.starnewsonline.com

I am writing this article as a response because, while I respect Kraniak’s opinion, I could not disagree more with it. On Jan. 28, 2009, Wake Forest upset then No. 1 ranked Duke, pushing the Demon Deacons to the top of the college basketball rankings and improving their record to 17-1. That was only four years ago, but it already seems like an eternity.

In April 2010, head coach Dino Gaudio was fired after just three seasons, despite coaching the team to the NCAA Tournament in consecutive years. Gaudio, an assistant under Skip Prosser for six years, compiled a 61-31 record at Wake Forest and saw three of his former players selected in the first round of the NBA Draft.

At the time of Gaudio’s dismissal, athletic director Ron Wellman was very open about the decision.

“The decision was based on the overall performance the past three years,” Wellman said. “I looked at our February and March records and how the performances declined rather dramatically.”

Wellman wanted a coach that could win both late in the regular season and in the postseason. “I want someone for long-term success,” Wellman said.

One must wonder then, if Wellman indeed fired Gaudio for a lack of postseason success, how he could justify bringing Jeff Bzdelik, who has not even coached an NCAA Tournament game since his 2006-07 season at Air Force. Under Gaudio, Wake Forest went 20-24 in February and March and that, according to Wellman, was not good enough. Now in his third year coaching the Demon Deacons, Jeff Bzdelik’s teams have a combined record of 3-22 in that same period. That’s one more win than Bzdelik had in conference road games at his last two coaching stops. In his six seasons at Colorado and Wake Forest, Bzdelik’s conference road game record stands at 2-45.

His 2012-13 Demon Deacons have allowed their opponents to shoot over 45 percent from the floor, which ranks them 287th in the nation. On the offensive side of the ball, the team’s assist to turnover ratio of 0.77 sits at 293rd, also one of worst in all of Division I basketball. In the Deacons most recent game, a Feb. 16 loss to Georgia Tech, the team had just six assists compared to 17 turnovers. Yes, the Deacons sometimes play well at home and yes, they even play hard for their coach. But a coach whose players give effort is not something to brag about. That should be a prerequisite for any college basketball coach, not something anyone should highlight as a standout characteristic.

In an interview conducted with Dan Collins of the Winston-Salem Journal on Dec. 12, 2012, Wellman spoke about the recent performance of the team.

“I’m certainly not discouraged by what I’m seeing,” Wellman said. How could Wellman, who was so dissatisfied with Gaudio that he fired him after three relatively successful seasons, possibly be content with Bzdelik’s tenure as coach?

Dino Gaudio won about twice as many games as he lost at Wake Forest. Jeff Bzdelik, at 32-56 through Feb. 16, has almost the exact opposite record. This is not the program that produced NBA players Tim Duncan, Josh Howard, Chris Paul and Jeff Teague. This is not the program that appeared in a postseason tournament every year from 1990 to 2006. A common sports saying is that the ball never lies. In this case, the numbers don’t lie as well.

  • Bart Johnston

    Couldn’t agree more. This is a solid piece and provides the greatest evidence that can be shown: the numbers. The numbers don’t lie and the numbers for Bzdelik are terrible.

    Also see FireBz.com for more statistics

  • Cite Sources

    If you are going to pull from FireBz.com, please acknowledge accordingly.

    • Oh shut up Bill B.

      As long as he states the message, it doesn’t matter

  • #BuzzOut

    Nice job, maybe the sports section has a future after all!

  • John

    This should have been written instead of Ty’s first article.

  • Tim M.

    wow, buzz sucks even more than I thought. Good job with the article though, hopefully more people will join the #BuzzOut movement.

  • Brendan

    I regained a little hope for the paper after this piece. How does Ty get to be editor over this guy?

  • Greg

    Well said! BuzzOUT!

  • Taylor H.

    Excellent article and great use of statistics…the numbers don’t lie!

  • Gary P.

    I think that this article really does a great job of getting the point across. It’s very clear and critical. Probably could have been more strongly worded but you’re a student after all and the university employs you.

  • Nancy

    Bravo!

  • Seeya Buzz

    Just wondering, why wasn’t this published in the sports section? Regardless I don’t think anyone needs convincing now that Buzz should be gone after the season. It’s just a matter of time at this point.

  • YOLO

    #BuzzOut

  • Deacs

    At this point I’m just looking towards the future for Wake basketball. Good job with the article and hopefully it’s the beginning of the end for Buzz.

  • Chris Paul

    THE BALL DON’T LIE!

  • Firebz.com

    Fire the Clown. Roll the quad.

  • Culture change

    But Nick, what about the great culture that Coach Buzz has developed over the pass three seasons? Doesn’t that mean anything to you?

    Oh wait, you aren’t a complete idiot like some of the other writers for this publication. #FireBuzz

  • the truth

    Thanks for telling the truth. The numbers simply cannot be overlooked, Buzz has to go. Wellman cannot ignore it for much longer if he expects to keep his job. I’m worried that it won’t be long before everyone forgets about just how competitive this program used to be.

  • Kerry

    Nice rebuttal, the Gaudio to Buzz comparison is especially insightful. I’m so focused on how terrible our offense is that I didn’t even realize what we allow our opponents to shoot!

  • Jeff Battle

    So do I finally get a shot at it now or nah?

  • Natty Hatch

    This whole thing is a mess. I don’t blame Bzz for taking the job. Wellman deserves all the blame for that. Wellman needs to go so a decent AD can right this sinking ship that is Wake Forest Athletics.

  • http://firebz.com/FireBz/Home.html Sean W.

    Jeff Bzdelik is the _worst_ head coach in Wake Forest men’s basketball history, and he *never ever ever should have been hired.* There is *literally no evidence-based*, credible defensible ground upon which Ron Wellman should have ever hired Bzdelik to coach here in the Atlantic Coast Conference, in the first place.

    Before he was hired to coach at Wake Forest, Coach Bzdelik coached at Colorado in the (compared to the ACC) comparatively easier Big 12 North Conference for three years. But as Colorado’s head coach, he was *36-58 (a 0.383 winning percentage overall) overall, and 10-38 (a 0.208 winning percentage against Big 12 North conference games) in conference games.*

    In those three years at Colorado, against weaker teams than we face here in the ACC, Coach Bzdelik had *zero seasons with _either_ a winning _or_ a .500 record, zero seasons with a winning conference record, and won exactly _one_ conference road game.*

    As Wake Forest’s head coach, Jeff Bzdelik has gone 32-56 (a 0.364 winning percentage) overall, 9-37 (a 0.196 winning percentage) in the ACC.

    And it’s not like our team has ever improved in February in March. Since Bzdelik was hired, does anyone know what our record is in February and March? It’s 3-22 (that’s a 0.120 winning percentage).

    Know how many road wins we have won since Bzdelik was hired three years ago? One.

    Know what Dino Gaudio’s record was against top-100 teams? 25-20. Know what Bzdelik’s is against top-100 teams? It’s 6-42.

    As Wake Forest head coaches, Skip Prosser went 39-1 (.975) and Dino Gaudio went 26-1 (.963) against teams outside the top-100. Know what Bzdelik’s is? It’s 26-15 (.634)

    Know how many NCAA Tournament wins Bzdelik has in his career as a major conference head coach in the Big 12 North (3 years) and the ACC (3 years)? Zero.

    Remember how many Dino Gaudio had in his 3-year career in the ACC? One.

    Does anyone remember the official reason Dino Gaudio was fired? I remember Ron Wellman saying “It was because of the lack of success in the post-season.”

    What makes Jeff Bzdelik, officially, the _worst_ head coach in Wake Forest men’s basketball *history*?

    By comparison, Bob Staak, who *used* to hold that title, went went 45-69 at Wake Forest (a .395 winning percentage) over four years.

    Right now, if we were somehow able to win 2 out of 5 remaining games, Bzdelik’s third year here would officially conclude at 34-59 overall (0.366 winning percentage). Fun fact btw, Dino Gaudio went 61-31 overall, 27-21 in the ACC and he was fired.

    This all means that Bzdelik would have to go 15-15 next year just to have a better four-year record than the worst coach in Wake Forest basketball recorded history.

    This isn’t even going into the fact that Bzdelik got called out on live radio by a Deac fan in December for blaming our players, and even blaming having to play on a Tuesday, for our terrible, terrible play under him. What happened? No change, the radio show just got cancelled and rebooted in a non-live format so he wouldn’t have to face criticism from Wake Forest fans, who are probably the most respectful, reasonable fans in the ACC.

    We’re already *routinely* crushed by the ACC’s greats and by traditionally lesser ACC basketball programs, and it’s only going to get worse with Syracuse, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh joining our conference.

    Wake Forest basketball is desperate for change. Fire Ron Wellman and fire Jeff Bzdelik. Based on the past three years it’s clear to me that we need to hire someone more competent to run this basketball program and coach this basketball team.

  • MJU

    Nick, thank you for your objective and rational analysis of our basketball team’s woeful performance and dreadful results under head coach Jeff Bzdelik. Unfortunately people in our athletic department and administration want to put on rose colored glasses and ignore the pitiful results of our program over the last few years. Bzdelik supporters cite “improvement” – but in a traditionally high caliber ACC program going from 8-24 to 11-14 can hardly be touted as improvement, especially for a basketball program that has not seen a 3 year postseason drought since the 1980s. The fact that this is not only acceptable to our AD but met with gleeful adulation is disturbing at best. Unfortunately, until the powers that be can take the rational objective approach to analyzing our basketball program, we will be stuck in this rut with nothing for our great fans to look forward to or cheer for. Culture and “fine young men” are great things and should be expected of any program. Winning is what matters most. Those who think Bzdelik’s great culture change will result in a winning program will likely be waiting for a long long time, and cheering amongst themselves Ina very empty Joel Coluseum.

  • Facts Not Opinions

    This is how you craft an argument. My only complaint is that you included only a subset of the overwhelming evidence that Jeff Bzdelik is in fact one of the worst coaches in the history of the NCAA. Jeff is flat out stealing from the university and I encourage all alums to speak with their wallets.

  • Mark

    These facts can’t be brushed under the rug any longer! Thank you for the honest and factual assessment of this coach. Once the facts are evaluated without emotion, the decision for Mr. Wellman is clear. Like many other Deacon fans, I look forward to returning to games and committing financial support to a program we can all be proud of.

  • Jimmy

    Maybe this has been the master plan all along. Make us terrible at all sports so that losing becomes the norm so when we move to CUSA or the new new new Big East a mediocre and occasionally decent year looks good.

    Rise up Deacs Rise up. Accept mediocrity and you can expect to live there or in our case worse than mediocre. Mediocre is a borderline NIT team and that looks sweet right now.

  • Kevin

    Bzdelik’s record does not suggest a need for change. His record demands it. In his first year he set the all time high for conference losses in a single season in the ACC. In his second year he became the first Wake coach to lead a Wake team to consecutive season ranked below #200. He has mismanaged personnel as evidenced by the 7 transfers that occurred in his first two years as coach. This style of roster management has delivered a freshman class that makes up half our roster, a distribution of scholarships that cannot sustain success over the long term. Under his watch student, alumni, and local interest in the team has plummeted, ticket sales are way down, and the number of nationally televised games that Wake participates in is down to one or two a year. There is no justifiable reason to continue employing him as the head basketball coach at Wake Forest.

  • Where did all of the comments go?

    There were 200+ comments on here. Did Ron Wellman make you guys take them down?

  • Brian Stratton

    I implore all Wake fans to let Wellman know that you are not donating one penny to the Deacon Club until this clown is fired!!! Also, purchase or make #BuzzOut shirts and wear them to the games.

    Wellman is delusional and will not get rid of Buzz until we force him to.

    #BuzzOut. Go Deacs!!!

  • Terry Denny

    The numbers do indeed lie in this case. Go back of you will to the untimely death of Skip Prosser and the quick hiring of Dino Gaudio. I’ll never forget Skip’s prognosis of the future of the program when he said, “were goingf to be good again.” Dino inherited a program obviously on the upswing and all he had to do was not screw it up. Each year ended with a feeling that the team did not produce and the season ended with an empty feeling and disappointment. Jeff Bzdeik inherited the mess that Dino left behind. I remember numerous times watching him coach and being very frustrated with his lack of fire and stiffness as a leader Hey man, disagree with the ref and get in a player’s face every once in a while. By the way, Bobby Knight was my favorite coach and any real ball player would have run through a brick wall for a coach with that much passion. All you folks jump off the bandwagon and give the man another year or two. I do wish however that he would show a little more fire also.Lastly, what does this comparison of Gaudio and Bzdelik with the NBA players mentioned. Put that in your pipe and smoke it Nick.

    • Dale

      Those are certainly some ugly numbers, but do you guys really think Dino (or Phil Jackson, Coach K or anyone) could have done any better that first year? I think it’s a miracle they won one conference game.

      I guess based on his first 3 years, you guys would have run this mystery coach out of town even faster than Buzz.

      Season Overall Conf Conf Standing
      2008–2009 6–25 1–17 11th
      2009–2010 10–21 4–14 T–9th
      2010–2011 12–20 3–15 11th
      Mystery Coach Totals 28-66 8-46
      Buzz Totals 33-56 10-36

      That coach, Tom Crean, is now in his 5th year and has Indiana number one in the country. After going 50-12 the past two seasons, he finally has a .500 record.

      While I haven’t been thrilled with everything Buzz has done, I don’t hold the first 3 years against him. We are showing progress and these freshmen have some talent and appear to want to play for him.

      That was a great game on Saturday. Hope you could enjoy it. Proud to be a Deacon!

      • Mystery Coach BS Again

        Let’s take a closer look at the situation with Tom Crean since that is commonly used to support Bzzz.

        1. In his years at Marquette, Crean had a .664 winning percentage. Bzzz in his previous job had a .382 winning percentage. Keep in mind Marquette is a tough place to recruit given the successful program at UW. Crean was by any objective an outstanding coach prior to coming to Indiana.

        2. Indiana was a program was riddled with NCAA issues such that Crean inherited a team devoid of scholarship players. Contrast that to Bzzz who inherited a top recruiting class + some returning experience. You aren’t going to play the ‘youth doesn’t win in the ACC’ when our dear GDO had highly competitive young teams in the post-Duncan era.

        The 2 situations and coaches are polar opposites. Find me a coach who was terrible for a number of years, then got hired into a high major job and continued to suck, and then turned it all around. Then you will have your apt comparison.

  • BigT

    Great comparison Dale. Coach K and Dean Smith had rough start also. Needs to be more substance with opinions from Old Black and Gold before its taken seriously.

  • Jeff Bz

    It ain’t fair when you go and use numbers like that. The only number I know is number 1 because I am the number 1 fan of Ron Wellman! AD of the century!