It's becoming increasingly chronicled in major media that Wake Forest has consecutively regressed in every major offensive and defensive category over the course of this 2/3 of a season, losing by 26+ on average in ACC play, and setting historical records for awfulness. But what's drawing increasing attention, is the impact Bzdelik basketball is having on the Wake Forest basketball program's long-term future in terms of recruits. This article from the Fayetteville Observer was particularly enlightening, I've got the link for you and paraphrased the most germane stuff for easier reading (it's pleasantly a surprisingly lengthy piece). More on Bzdelik's wrecking-ball impact on our recruiting futures after the jump..
But with Bzdelik leading Wake in a demoralizing tailspin in which it has now lost nine of its past 10 games, dropping five straight ACC contests by an average of 26 points, optimism isn't the predominant emotion swirling through Winston-Salem right now.
In fact, it's just the opposite.
Right now, given the Demon Deacons' overall ineptitude and inability to play with both focus and emotion for a full 40 minutes, it's conceivable they will become the first team in history to drop 15 or 16 ACC games in a season. Add that possibility to a nightmarish season that already includes non-conference losses to Stetson, Winthrop and Presbyterian and it's hard to fathom there are many optimism reserves from which to draw.
So just how in the world can Bzdelik keep this ship from sinking? And can the new Wake coach revive the program with his work on the recruiting trail?
It will take much more than optimism to turn things around. And while the 58-year-old Bzdelik continues schooling this year's team on the finer points of the game, his greater challenge will come in acquiring the pieces with which to assemble future teams.
Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman may not have been pleased with the track record former coach Dino Gaudio had in finishing seasons strong. But at least, in his three years as head coach and six years as an assistant under Skip Prosser, Gaudio helped stockpile elite talent within the program.
From Josh Howard to Chris Paul, Jeff Teague to James Johnson, Ish Smith to Al-Farouq Aminu, the Demon Deacons had enough firepower to average 21 wins over nine seasons while making six NCAA tournament trips.
Now? Not only are the Deacs getting blown out by ACC foes, but there's not even a marquee recruiting class for fans to look forward to.
In the Class of 2011, Wake has commitments from three players: guards Chase Fischer and Anthony Fields and forward Daniel Green.
Fischer is the most heralded of the trio, a thin wing capable of stretching defenses with his shooting range. But even he is not ranked among the top 100 prospects in his class by any major recruiting service.
In short, it's a starter class for Bzdelik - decent but far from special. Which means the biggest challenge for the new Demon Deacons coach will be to make a significant splash in the Class of 2012.
On that front, the Deacs' most high-profile target is Amile Jefferson, a long and agile power forward who is being seriously courted by at least a dozen schools, including Duke, Ohio State, Villanova and Maryland.
Jefferson is ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the 2012 class by Scout, No. 9 by ESPN and No. 30 by Rivals and Wake's involvement will be worth monitoring as a litmus test on how effective Bzdelik and his staff can be in attracting the interest of high-profile high school stars.
With this season's struggles, Bzdelik not only has to convince high school prospects to buy into his vision at Wake, he may need to spend some time re-recruiting the players he already has.
After all, it's not far-fetched to think that a 22- or 23-loss season will have a couple Demon Deacons considering the transfer option.
Earlier this week, I asked Bzdelik how he'll keep a pulse on his players' moods.
"They show it really well in terms of their body language and how they look at you and how they respond when you coach them," he said. "It's obvious to me. . I'm going to find out who really is on board."
"Trust me," Bzdelik said.
Let's review Bzdelik's recruiting record at Colorado: exactly one 4-star recruit, four 3-star recruits, nine 2-star recruits, and two players who weren't even nationally ranked. Over 3 years, Jeff Bzdelik couldn't recruit nationally, and tallied more 2-star recruits than 3-star and a 4-star recruit combined. What's more, overall his recruiting classes got worse over time. If you don't believe me, see here for yourself.
Tack on this record: 10-38 in the Big 12 - a conference substantially less difficult to win in than the ACC - plus a meager 24-21 against extremely low mid-major teams in non-conference play (the season at Wake vs. low mid-majors now sounds more familiar than an aberration, doesn't it), and a 10-63 record in away games.
What upper 4-star or 5-star recruit would even sniff Bzdelik without being repulsed by him like he was a steaming pile of year-old mayonnaise?
This does not sound like a coach cut out for the ACC. This season's consecutive regression in every offensive and defensive category says it, the record-setting losses say it, the prior record says it, and most alarmingly since this season's going into Guinness as one of the worst in NCAA history - something our coach has to be held accountable for - his devastatingly bad recruiting record stands to stain our program deeply when you couple it with our historic awfulness and the extremely high probability of key transfers.
Our recruiting class is now the weakest in recent memory, the head coach has no track record recruiting to speak of, in a vacuum or an ACC context, and we're losing games by historic margins. Trust and cliches about leadership aren't enough. Bzdelik, this is the ACC big boy. You don't get 2nd-chances when you are this discredited.
Jeff Bzdelik says, "Trust me."
Sorry pal, I don't. You're a good person, most everyone believes that, but we care more about the direction of the program, rather than false hope and your empty word contrasted with a meager resume.
We aren't winning games we are supposed to win, we aren't losing credibly to teams we should be losing credibly to, and we're routinely losing by 26 points against unheralded ACC teams. If I were on the Wake Forest basketball squad, I wouldn't want to play under this system either. Regardless of his good intentions, Bzdelik by all measures is an astoundingly incompetent ACC coach who clearly is not up to par with Dino, much less any other coach in the ACC in terms of swiftly adapting and adjusting personnel as needed to maximize the abilities of the young talents he did have, and now does have. He's in over his head and we can't let him destroy the years of work that Skip Prosser & Dino Gaudio did to make Wake Forest a sexy place to play basketball and mostly win at a very competitive level.
The only transfer that would make nearly everyone in revolt happy would be Bzdelik's