Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Danny Manning takes over at Wake Forest


— Wake Forest is hoping Danny Manning can turn around its slumping basketball team. No miracles needed.

The former Kansas University standout is taking over the project of rebuilding the Demon Deacons, and he thinks his new team is closer than recent results might indicate.

“We have aspirations of being a championship team,” Manning said Tuesday during his formal on-campus introduction. “We want to cut down nets, and we have to put forth the work. ... I’m willing to roll up my sleeves, and let’s go get it.”

The centerpiece of the Jayhawks’ “Danny and the Miracles” 1988 national title team was hired last week to replace Jeff Bzdelik, who resigned under intense public pressure three weeks ago following four mostly unremarkable seasons.

“We all know about Danny Manning’s career, one of the greatest college basketball players ever,” athletic director Ron Wellman said. “That has nothing to do with the reason we hired him as our basketball coach.”

The Demon Deacons haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2010 and had three straight losing seasons under Bzdelik before finishing 17-16 this year with sophomores making up the core of the team.

“I just believe that the pieces are in place,” Manning said. “You’re talking about this soon-to-be junior class, they’ve kind of gone through their hardships, so to speak, and kind of gotten a taste of what it’s like to play in (the Atlantic Coast Conference). ... I feel, and I believe they feel, they’re ready for a breakout year.”

The 47-year-old Manning was 38-29 with two postseason berths in two seasons at Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane started 1-6 last season but rebounded to win 11 straight games and reach their first NCAA Tournament since 2003.

There’s an element of risk to his hiring because of his limited head coaching experience, but Wellman said ex-Kansas coach Larry Brown told him Manning was more than just a standout player for those Jayhawks teams.

“He was the big-man coach as a player at Kansas,” the AD said. “That tells you something about what his track record and career path was going to be.”

It also doesn’t hurt that Manning brings a mix of national and local name recognition to a program that sank near the bottom of the expanded ACC.

Manning said his Demon Deacons will be driven by their defense and an up-tempo team on offense that works from the inside out.


David Brown 7 years, 8 months ago

Congrats to Danny Manning. His coaching at KU under Bill Self, then his work at Tulsa has secured this position at Wake Forest. Moving to the ACC will present both challenges and rewards to Coach Manning. Here's hoping that he elevates the Demon Deacons (especially when playing Duke!).

In the future, after a successful run at Wake Forest, might Coach Manning be the replacement for a retiring Coach Bill Self? Not by any means to imply that losing Self is good or desired. But Coach Self will retire at some point, hopefully one of his own choosing. Wouldn't Coach Manning be logical to step in at Lawrence at that point?

One final thought: Look at the last three KU coaches. Brown, Williams, Self. If that ain't the gold-standard trifecta of college hoops coaches, I don't know what is!

Tony Bandle 7 years, 8 months ago

You ain't justa kiddin' when you say "Gold Standard". Between the three of them you have 2813 ABA, NBA and NCAA college victories with 4 NC's. Also, Larry Brown is the only coach is history to win an ABA title, a NBA Title, a NCAA Title and an USA Olympic Gold Medal. Not too shabby!!

John Randall 7 years, 8 months ago

ABA + NBA + NCAA + Olympic Gold . . . Ok, I guess, for an itinerant of the hoops world.

A rookie head coach, starting out banned from post-season, POY gone with most of the NC lineup . . . leaving a hateful AD situation after multiple FFs, good ol' Roy deserves a lot more love and respect than KU can admit.

Okie cowboy climbing the ladder from grad asst to Div II to fringe of D1, to top level conf to King of Mount Oread –– not to mention Naismith Court in AFH, extending conf champ streak (and all-time) record, closing in on all-time wins lead. Seems like a steady road ahead.

Bryce Landon 7 years, 8 months ago

I dunno. The way Self stubbornly sticks to game-plans that don't work, relies on unreliable players, makes no adjustments, and keeps flaming out in the NCAA Tournament, maybe a coaching change should be considered. I'd trade all of our ten straight Big 12 titles for a national title, or even just a Final Four appearance. That Self has only two Final Fours in his eleven years, especially with the talent he has, speaks to underachievement.

Jeff Lisco 7 years, 8 months ago

Congrats and good luck to Danny! Will be great to see him square off against Turgeon every year. They will both be learning a lot in that league and I'd like to think that both of those guys are potential replacements for HCBS when he leaves Lawrence, which is no time soon I hope.

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