Will Sanity Prevail at Wake?

If sanity prevails, and Danny Manning really did coach his last game at Wake yesterday, future generations might wonder how a chapter of Deacon history that began with such fanfare and promise ended in such utter despair and failure.

The raw numbers of Manning’s five years are pretty raw indeed.

Overall record: 65-93.

Record against ACC competition: 25-71.

Regular-season finishes: 11th, 13th, 10th, 14th, 13th.

Record in ACC Tournament: 1-5.

Record in NCAA Tournament: 0-1.

Freshmen recruited by Manning who graduated: 1.

Scholarship players who departed with eligibility remaining: 18 (so far).

As if all that wasn’t damning enough, a better, more graphic indication of the abysmal brand of basketball played under Manning could be gleaned from video of yesterday’s 79-71 loss to Miami in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

I would instruct the curious to roll the tape to the 12:35 mark of the first half. The Deacons have scored eight straight to lead 16-9. Miami is reeling, having turned the ball over on four of five previous possessions. The Hurricanes’ spark plug guard, Chris Lykes, has two fouls. What Wake following there is at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center is making its presence felt.

Miami’s Jim Larranaga, out of desperation, calls time.

Now that’s the moment a good team, or even a mediocre team playing well, takes the game by the throat. Everything is going its way. The opponent has been playing short-handed all season en route to a 5-13 conference record. Larranaga is debating on whether to bench Lykes or roll the dice. The Canes, who have lost four of their last six, are discombobulated.

Anyone who expected such a result knows nothing about Wake basketball as played for Danny Manning.

What actually happens is the Deacons come out of the timeout and spill their lead down the nearest drain. Isaiah Mucius, playing like the freshman he is, turns the ball over. Jaylen Hoard, playing like the freshman he is, turns the ball over. Hoard turns the ball over again.

It’s oft been said there are no freshmen in college basketball come March.

It’s also oft been said that there is an exception to every rule.

Down at the other end, D.J. Vasiljevic pours in five quick points, hitting a jumper off an offensive rebound and nailing a 3-pointer from the right corner when Hoard loses track of him in the Wake zone.

And like that, the moment is gone and Wake is in a dogfight the rest of the way – a dogfight it would lose in most familiar fashion.

Miami, a team that has worn down all season because of lack of numbers, crossed midcourt with the ball 35 times in the second half. The Canes scored on 22 of those possessions.

Danny Manning was schooled by experienced, accomplished ACC coaches from the day he arrived at Wake, and he was schooled by an experienced, accomplished ACC coach in his final game.

Larranaga, the guy who has won 645 games over 33 seasons as a Division I head coach, knew what his team had to do. He told the Canes to drive the ball to the hoop.

Manning, the guy who has won 168 games over seven seasons as a Division I head coach, had no idea how to stop Miami. The Canes gutted the Wake defense in the second half like so many teams have done before over Manning’s five seasons.

That hat that Manning proclaimed he would hang his program on was once again stomped into the hardwood. Looking back, maybe the hat Manning had in mind was a beanie, with a propeller on top.

A long-time compadre, Ed Hardin of the Greensboro New and Record, asked what is on the mind of everybody and anybody who ever cared about Wake basketball after yesterday’s loss.

Did Manning expect to be back for a sixth season?

“That’s my hope,’’ Manning replied. “That’s always the hope. You know, I feel I’ll be back.

“You know, I’ll look at the scorecard, the score sheet, and everyone that scored is an underclassman. We had some guys that grew a significant amount this year in terms of their growth from the start to the finish, and that’s how we want to build it.’’

And like that the great excuse for this season – youth – has been given as a reason for Manning to get another season.

Wellman told reporters he’ll will go through the standard evaluation process and meet with Manning now that the season has ended, like he does with every coach at Wake. I can’t imagine we’ll hear anything until after the ACC Tournament concludes on Saturday.

But as I’ve written before, and may even write again before next week, the retirement of Ron Wellman and hiring of John Currie makes absolutely no sense if Wake intends to retain Danny Manning as head basketball coach.

No sense whatsoever.

It was Wellman who made a mess of the Wake basketball program, and it’s up to him to clean it up.

If Manning is head basketball coach next season, John Currie’s first season as director of athletics will be miserable, one mired in vitriol, rancor and full-fledge rebellion.

Does Ron Wellman really have the nerve, much less the indecency, to hang a 6-10 albatross around his successor’s neck?

23 thoughts on “Will Sanity Prevail at Wake?

  1. Dan, is it explainable that Wake never did figure out to run an offense against the zone defenses that it faced? Further even my wife asked why our guys would always stand around when compared to the motion that other teams had?

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    1. Collins, you nailed it yet again! To me the key stats in your blog are the freshman Manning recruited who graduated, 1…scholarship players who left Wake with eligibility remaining during Manning’s tenure: 18 (so far) It’s one thing to consistently lose…it’s something else to consistently lose players you recruited for your program. Wellman should have to fire Manning…but I want Currie to hire Manning’s replacement! I’ll believe it when I see it because I don’t know if “sanity will prevail at Wake”.

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      1. I’ve repeatedly heard from multiple secondhand sources Manning has an $18 million buyout. If that figure is even remotely true, Wellman shouldn’t be allowed to “retire”, he should be fired immediately! Is it possible Wake could be negotiating a buyout for Manning? If the school has to dig into the piggy bank that deeply, who could they afford to hire as the next coach?

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      2. I guess the answer is “sanity did not prevail” at Wake! This decision is extending the middle finger to what few fans are left of what used to be our marquee program. My guess is Hatch wouldn’t dip into the endowment to help offset the cost of Wellman’s screw up with Manning’s contract extension. Wellman says the decision to keep Manning was his call alone. He’s clearly put Currie in a tough spot. I personally, although I’ve been a modest contributor, will not donate another dime to the Deacon Club until Manning is gone!

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  2. Manning’s comment that everyone who scored is an underclassmen. Childress is a junior – Johnson is a grad student. No one challenged him on this “fact”? (Yep. I know. There are plenty of things he says that can be challenged. But to be so wrong about his roster …)

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  3. If Currie allows Wellman to keep Manning another season, the Currie gets exactly what he deserves. You are correct when you say it makes no sense to make a change at the top and not make a change with the coach. I wish I had a buck for every time Manning used the “hang the hat on defense” line. Wake has statistically been at the bottom of the ACC in defense every year of Manning’s reign. That youth crap doesn’t hold water either. I’m a long time Wake supporter but I refuse to attend anymore games until change is made. I don’t think I stand alone on that course of action!

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      1. True story- my eldest son wanted to see Zion play this season so I purchased a three game package to include Wake at home against Duke. I had the choice of several games to pick from along with the Duke game. I chose Houston Baptist and Gardner Webb obviously thinking those would be games Wake could actually win…..and of course you know the rest of the story. My family is still laughing at me…..no such thing as a sure win the last 9 years or so!

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  4. Dan,

    So in your scenario, does RW do the firing then JC do the hiring for the replacement? I just cant imagine RW hires the coach most fans care the most about, then hands the keys to the new AD, who will be then left to deal with that situation-good or bad. I can only think that JC took the job with the promise that he will be able to hire “his” personnel.

    Thoughts?

    LB

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    1. The call for new coach has to be that of Currie, don’t you think? I’m sure they will confer, but if you’re not going to give Currie the latitude to have his own guy, then Ron reitring now makes no sense. At least not to me. So yeah, Ron fires and Currie hires.

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  5. Time for RW to fire Danny. No reason for Wellman to compound his biggest mistake (the contract extension) by retaining him. Leaving Currie with this mess would be unpardonable.

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  6. I’m a Wake grad from the Tacy era, and I have to admit I’ve completely lost interest in the program. I buy tickets (perhaps no more) and do a few games, but I just don’t care anymore. I live in the Raleigh area and prefer attending Campbell games. They play hard and are well coached. I never thought I’d feel that way about Wake hoops but its become a reality.

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  7. Dan, what you’ve said about no reporter asking Danny what he felt about the AD situation is false. I asked him about it on the teleconference about 4 hours before the press conferences on Monday. I’ll send you the transcript if you’re interested in being accurate.

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    1. My apology Conor. I asked around and was told the question had not been asked, and I didn’t read the answer anywhere. Did it make the print? Regardless, I was wrong and I’m sorry. My bad. The post will duly be cleaned up.

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  8. Dan, did you see the list of the 10 worst college basketball coaching hires over the last decade? Manning was number 9, Bzdelik number 5, a fitting testament to Wellman’s legacy at Wake, at least as far as basketball is concerned. Let Wellman fire Manning and keep Wellman as far away as possible from hiring the next coach. I’m getting tired of March Madness turning into March Sadness.

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    1. Its been a rough 10 years. Its definitely time for a change. A,D and coach. Not only does the record speak for it self but look in the stands. Carl Tacy didnt really recruit any blue chip players when he was there. But they won and played defense.

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  9. NO! Sanity will not prevail…..the insanity will continue because Manning is coming back. This is a huge mistake that will cost them more lost revenue and more lost fan base. I’m done with Wake basketball

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  10. Hi Country,
    Sent the following email to Wellman and Currie today. Looks like the idiots are indeed in charge at the asylum!!! No it means nothing to them, but had to unload…

    Many thanks for the update. Since Skip’s passing, this program has been cursed. Wellman’s idea of bringing “CULTURE” to the program without a desire to win and succeed is horrendous. Many long time fans of Wake’s signature sport going back fifty years plus will now be out…

    If Wellman was a Chief Executive Officer of a Corporation the shareholders would have had his ass canned many years ago.

    This past season I have not endured the agony of watching a complete game. Thank you your “Ronness” for allowing me to enjoy the Winter months in peaceful tranquility! If Clawson should depart for greener pastures, it is not inconceivable that WFU be requested to withdraw their ACC membership! NO ONE LIKES LOSERS!!!

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