Ron Wellman, athletic director at Wake Forest, decided that three years of Dino Gaudio as head coach was enough. Last April, he fired Gaudio primarily on the basis that the teams didn’t play well late in the season. True, Gaudio’s record as coach in the ACC and NCAA tournament was 1-5, with the lone win coming over Texas in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament. The Demon Deacons were summarily routed by Kentucky by 30 points in the next game. Several weeks after that loss, Gaudio was relieved of his duties, even though his record was 61-31 in his time there.
Gaudio left behind a talented, but young squad for new coach Jeff Bzdelik. Bzdelik was hired by Wellman because he believed Bzdelik’s teams played their best basketball at the end of the season. It may be time for the new coach to kick-start his end of the season push. With one week left in the month of January, the Demon Deacons are the only winless team in a down year for the ACC. What’s more, the losses have been bad-the smallest point differential in the five conference games Wake has played so far has been 19 points in a home loss to Maryland. The Deacons have been blitzed by a total of 128 points (or 25.6 points per contest) in those five conference games. Things have been so bad (and let’s not forget the non-conference losses to the likes of Stetson and Presbyterian) that there is already talk that Bzdelik will be out after one year on the job. The rumor may not be unfounded-after all if Gaudio could only get three years (and the first of those rated a mulligan after the untimely death of Skip Prosser just a few months before the season began), what’s to keep Wellman from pulling the trigger on a season that may be headed for disaster? The alma mater of Tim Duncan and Randolph Childress deserves better.
Looking up in the standings, the time is growing short for Maryland to get some quality victories. The Terps may need to make a run in conference if they want to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive. Maryland is still looking for a signature win. The past week saw the Terps get routed at home by Virginia Tech, while hanging on to eke out a victory over Clemson at the Comcast Center. This week brings two road games against Virginia and Georgia Tech, which while not exactly cakewalks, are definitely winnable contests. If Maryland can win those two games, it sets up another shot at the Duke Blue Devils, this time at home, in what may be the Terrapins last chance to claim a signature win.
Elsewhere, the current co-leaders in the conference, Duke and (surprise) Florida State each have one conference contest on the schedule. Duke gets Boston College at home Thursday night, while the Seminoles travel to Clemson on Saturday. Duke makes its annual trip to Madison Square Garden to take on St. John’s in an ACC-Big East clash on Sunday. Virginia Tech, coming off double-digit blowouts of Maryland and Longwood College, takes on the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta tonight and hosts Miami’s Hurricanes on Sunday. The Hokies need to keep winning to keep their presumed spot in the tournament (if you believe in bracketology this early).