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Painful Realization

My name is Bart Johnston and I have an addiction. I'm addicted to Wake Forest sports. If you're on this site, reading this article you are probably in some capacity addicted to Wake Forest as well. I call it an addiction because it's one of those things that you would almost have to be crazy to do. I love being a part of the Wake Forest community and that is why the following article pains me as I type it out and put it out there for you guys to see and debate.

I love the ACC tournament. It's my Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's bundled up into one fabulous four day extravaganza. It's the best feeling in the world walking through the entrance gates on Thursday when every team is still in the tournament and every team can still make a run at the NCAA's. Walking in for today's first session I got goosebumps like always despite going in for what I considered to be one of the more lackluster first games. Wake obviously played in the second game so I was fired up about that, but wasn't particularly looking forward to the BC-UVA game. Throughout the UVA game I got increasingly nervous about our upcoming contest, but still was not too worried because we were playing Miami, and were the better team. As UVA pulled out a good win over BC, I was excited to start our 2010 ACC Tourney run.

Well of course as you well know by now Wake didn't just lose to Miami, Wake was humiliated by Miami. I was totally crushed. I'll be honest, to me this was worse than the Cleveland State game last year because following the Maryland beat down in the tourney I didn't have great expectations. I really thought that Wake had turned a corner against Clemson, would come out inspired and get a victory, starting a potential run at the title. 

Instead Wake pulled another epic flop on one of college basketball's grandest stages, losing by 20+ points to a team that went 4-12 in conference and didn't win a road game in the ACC all year. This was utterly humiliating. Virginia and N.C. State won today, two teams who combined for 10 wins in conference play. Humiliating is all I can think of.

The loss in and of itself was bad enough, but the way we did it hurt more than anything. Wake led 2-0 and was then never in the game. Trailing by 10 for nearly the entire first half, the Deacs never got within sniffing distance after Miami opened up the second half with an 8-0 run. For the first time in a while, I was embarrassed for Wake Forest, and somewhat embarrassed to be a Wake fan. This was a fairly foreign feeling as I'm very proud of Wake, but today I was ashamed of what Wake put out on the court.

I do not typically do this and I'm not one to throw players or coaches under the bus. I am not a huge fan of Coach Lobo but I wasn't the first to throw him on the chopping block and still from time to time think that Lobo can be salvaged as a member of the coaching staff. I say this with a heavy heart because of what he means as part of the Prosser era, but it is time for Dino Gaudio to be fired and replaced as the Wake Forest basketball coach.

There are so many problems that Wake has it is nearly impossible to pinpoint one or two instances where he could improve and remain as coach. His teams cannot run a half court offense against a zone defense. This is such a huge flaw in and of itself that a coach could be fired solely for this, but to make matters worse there is not even an attempt to break it. We're content to pass around the perimeter without finding seams in the zone until the shot clock runs down, forcing Ish to try to drive down the lane. Penetrating the lane with the point guard against a zone is hardly ever going to work and is certainly not a viable option for an entire game.

To make matters even worse, it's not like Wake struggles against atypical zones like FSU threw at us (1-2-2, hybrid matchups, etc.). Wake cannot even break a standard 2-3 that half the country runs. Wake does not set up a guy at the top of the key and pass to him, Wake doesn't flash the middle or get the ball on the baseline, and they don't have players post up inside on the blocks to try to get the zone to collapse before kicking out.

I could go on and on about deficiencies that I see in the offense and defense, but I think most have already been fleshed out by our readers either on the boards or in conversations with friends following the game. I do not feel great about this nor do I wish anything other than the best to coach Gaudio, but a winless post-season record is inexcusable especially when none of the games have even been close.

Wake needs a coach that can win games in the tourney and not just take us there. Dino has one more chance to prove himself to the Wake fan base next weekend and I desperately hope that Gaudio has a trick or two left up his sleeve. Dino is a great man and is a good coach, but I feel like he is in over his head at Wake Forest and it is time for the two to part ways.

Feel free to discuss this topic here or send me an email if you want to have a private talk. I'm not trying to flame Dino, I'm just offering an honest opinion from a life-long Wake fan who is as tired as losing in the post-season as anyone else.

As always, Go Deacs!