After two exhausting weeks of rumors and speculation, the Demon Deacons players finally gave a sigh of relief. With the announcement that Danny Manning will be Wake Forest’s next head coach, the team expressed an eagerness to move forward. A desire to prove doubters wrong and build towards ACC wins and NCAA berths.
Before mentioning the 47-year-old’s conference championship at Tulsa or his prowess at developing big men at Kansas, Aaron Rountree spoke about how Manning was "there to bat for his players."
Rountree explained that the only time he watched Manning coach at Tulsa, he got ejected "I was scouting Maryland and it was an intense game. [Coach Manning] thought his player got fouled. He received a technical [which he didn’t understand] that resulted in another technical… He’s a big time energy guy and loves his players."
Before discussing Manning’s national championship pedigree or his NBA All-Star appearances, Codi Miller-McIntyre discussed the former 6-10 big man’s resiliency to fight through three ACL surgeries during his 15 year professional career. The Greensboro-native holds the distinction of being the first NBA player to successfully return after reconstructive surgeries on both knees.
Miller-McIntyre added, "[His ACL recoveries] show that he won’t quit on us no matter what and he’s ready to go to battle with us."
Two seasons ago, Rountree and Miller-McIntyre both came to Wake Forest with widespread fanfare as a part of the "Sensational Seven." After two troubling seasons under head coach Jeff Bzdelik, this crop of talented freshmen was expected to rise the Demon Deacons from the ashes. Two seasons doubled to four and Wake Forest still is without a postseason berth.
The soft-spoken Miller-McIntyre raised his voice about the team’s sense of urgency, "It’s crazy how fast time is flying. Time is running out. Now going into our junior year, it’s a different feeling than coming in [as freshmen] and as sophomores. This process [of getting a new coach] has let us get focused on the task at hand."
"We’re Wake Forest. Nobody respects us," stated an emboldened Miller-McIntyre. "I love the fact that [Coach Manning is] a competitor and he’s going to come in with a chip on his shoulder and prove his point to us and come in prove himself in the ACC. That’s exactly what my teammates and I are trying to do."
This group of Demon Deacons came together to redeem a floundering Wake Forest program. Two years later, the players feel like they have the right coach to restore the winning tradition of a Demon Deacon. A coach who isn’t coaching them from the sidelines, but a coach is going to battle with them on the front lines.
Other Notable Quotes:
Rountree, "I haven’t heard anything about anyone leaving. We’re excited."
"I can’t speak for everyone else, but Codi Miller-McIntyre will be back."
Rountree with a Yogi-ism-- "[Manning] is one of the best coaches to play the game."