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Wake Forest: Overinflated Expectations Induced Gaudio’s Ouster

by - Published April 11, 2010 in Columns

Wake Forest has an inferiority complex, and Dino Gaudio just became its latest victim.

As Gaudio looks for a new job, he’ll be sending an impressive résumé to potential employers. In three seasons at Wake Forest, he had a 66.4 winning percentage, reached the NCAA Tournament two out of three seasons and attracted a couple of top 25 recruiting classes. Maryland’s Lefty Driesell, in the wake of the Len Bias tragedy, is the only ACC coach with a better winning percentage to get canned. But it wasn’t good enough for the Demon Deacons to keep Gaudio around.

When Wake Forest Athletic Director Ron Wellman announced that the team would be parting ways with Gaudio, he cited the Demon Deacons’ post-season failures. In 2008-09, Wake Forest peaked in January, reaching No. 1 in the polls before fading down the stretch, losing in the team’s first games of the ACC and NCAA tournaments to worse seeds. This season, Wake Forest had similar struggles, losing in the first round of the ACC Tournament to No. 12-seed Miami. In the NCAA Tournament, the No. 8-seed Demon Deacons beat Texas before losing by 30 to top-seeded Kentucky in the second round.

In sum, Gaudio had a 1-5 record in the ACC and NCAA Tournament in three seasons. That’s not impressive. Of course, Dean Smith didn’t even get the Tar Heels to an NCAA Tournament until his sixth season in Chapel Hill. And Coach K didn’t reach the Big Dance until his fourth season with Duke.

However, it’s not like Wake Forest has the rich tradition of Duke or North Carolina. In fact, the Demon Deacons have fewer NCAA Tournament appearances and wins than North Carolina State and Maryland. Historically, Wake Forest’s post-season numbers — 28 wins in 22 appearances, with one Final Four— most closely align with Georgia Tech and Virginia. Since 1962, Wake Forest has made it past the Sweet 16 only three times. And they haven’t reached the Final Four since 1962.

By firing Gaudio, Wellman signified that he expects the Demon Deacons to be a championship contender on a regular basis. Those are lofty expectations for a program that hasn’t had such aspirations since Billy Packer was on the court. Wake Forest came closing during the Tim Duncan era, but the Demon Deacons managed to reach the Elite Eight only once, in 1996, even with one of the best four-year players in ACC history.

Under Gaudio, Wake Forest was consistently in contention for great recruits. He was instrumental in forming some of Wake Forest’s best classes of the past decade, including while he was working as an assistant to his mentor, Skip Prosser, whom Gaudio replaced in 2007 after Prosser died of a heart attack.

Some people speculated that Prosser’s death was evidence of the excessive stress that coaches face. Wake Forest’s firing of Gaudio lends credence to that theory. Who can feel safe when it’s not acceptable to win two-thirds of your games and constantly put an entertaining, talented product on the court in front of a boisterous, packed house?

Yes, Wake Forest slipped up in the post-season recently. However, Prosser failed to reach the NCAA Tournament during his final two seasons. And his teams also had some disastrous NCAA Tournament results. The Chris Paul-fueled juggernaut of 2005 came to an unexpectedly early demise when the No. 2-seeded Demon Deacons lost to No. 7-seed West Virginia. The No. 2 spot was unlucky under Prosser — Wake Forest lost to No. 10-seed Auburn in 2003.

Upsets happen. Mike Krzyzewski, Dean Smith and Roy Williams all witnessed major NCAA Tournament disappointments at least once in their careers. Wake Forest will never know whether Gaudio could have joined that pantheon of coaching legends by continuing to draw supremely talented recruits to Winston-Salem. Instead, Gaudio will likely land at another school within a year or two and start to rebuild elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the Demon Deacons want to move up the ACC pecking order and have just set a precedent of axing good coaches who don’t find a way to make it happen. Let’s hope Wake Forest’s next coach can channel his inner Zen master to handle those blood pressure-elevating expectations.

Keep Track of the Coaching Carousel

by - Published April 7, 2010 in Featured

When Duke cut down the nets April 5, the 2009-10 season came to a dramatic conclusion. The Blue Devils and Butler Bulldogs were the last two men’s basketball teams to finish the season.

But while those two wrapped up yet another thrilling NCAA Tournament, plenty of other teams have been busy firing and hiring coaches. The coaching carousel is in full swing. Check out Hoopville’s map of all the coaching changes.

Red dots indicate the remaining open or interim positions. The lines indicate which coaches switched seats on the coaching carousel by taking a position at another school.
View 2010 Coaching Changes in a larger map

UNC-Wilmington: Seahawks Boot Moss From Coaching Gig

by - Published January 29, 2010 in Newswire

Coach Benny Moss will not lead UNC-Wilmington to the conclusion of this season after the university decided to reassign him within the athletics department, according to a school press release.

The Seahawks are 7-14 this season, on pace to record their third losing season in four years with Moss at the helm. In his stead, assistant coach Brooks Lee will be interim head coach.

Moss arrived in Wilmington after working as an assistant at Charlotte for six seasons. This position was his first Division I head coaching job. He finishes it with a 41-74 record.

Lee will step into his first head coaching gig after working as an assistant with the Seahawks, Wofford, East Carolina and UNC-Greensboro.

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The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Your Phil of Hoops

Saturday Notes – February 21, 2015

February 22, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

A busy Saturday saw a lot of results that shook up conference standings, including a three-way tie developing in one of them, and some at-large hopes took a hit as well.

William & Mary tries to manage through defensive struggles

February 19, 2015 by

williammary

William & Mary has had to overcome some things to be in contention in the CAA. The latest is some defensive struggles while adjusting to life without a key player for a stretch.

Saturday Notes – February 14, 2015

February 15, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

NBA All-Star Weekend is grabbing headlines, but there were key games on Saturday as several conference races remained tight and a few teams re-asserted themselves as favorites in their conference.

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Recruiting Coverage

2015 Boston Winter Invitational: What to expect

January 23, 2015 by

hoopguy-divisionII

The Boston Winter Invitational is coming up on Sunday at UMass-Boston. Here is a look at some of what to expect in the four prep school games that are on the schedule.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Monday notes

January 21, 2015 by

hoophall

Monday was the big day despite having just five games, as all were big matchups and most were nationally televised. There was plenty of talent in these games, and some big names played well.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Sunday notes

January 19, 2015 by

hoophall

It was a bad weather day outside, but fortunately we play the games indoors. Prep schools took center stage on a busy Sunday with some good talent and good games all the way to the end.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Saturday notes

January 18, 2015 by

hoophall

The Spalding Hoophall Classic picked up on Saturday, with a few good games, a couple of blowouts, then the best game of the day at the end. There was also plenty of good talent in each game.

2015 Hoop Dreams Mag Prep Classic – Sunday notes

January 14, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

Sunday was the day for a trip a little down the road from Saturday’s destination to check out some prep school action. We take a look at some notes from the day’s games in the Hoop Dreams Mag Prep Classic.

2014 Prep School Tour

Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: Putnam Science Academy
Sept 10: Commonwealth Academy
Sept. 11: St. Andrew's
Sept. 12: Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 16: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 17: Brooks School
Sept. 21: Holderness School
Sept. 23: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 24: South Kent School and Kent School
Sept. 25: Williston Northampton
Sept. 28: Wilbraham and Monson Academy and Suffield Academy
Sept. 30: New Hampton
Oct. 5: Worcester Academy
Oct. 7: Brimmer and May
Oct. 8: Cushing Academy
Oct. 9: Tilton
Oct. 12: Tabor Academy and Rivers School
Oct. 14: The Master's School
Oct. 16: Vermont Academy

You can also find them all right here.