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.
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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.