Wake Forest's second half surge came up short last night, as the Wake Forest Demon Deacons ultimately lost to the Louisville Cardinals 85-76. The Deacs actually had the lead on the Cardinals despite the fact that they made fewer three-pointers and had an average star ranking of 2.667 compared to Louisville's 3.736 (per Verbal Commits). Manning had an excellent game plan last night, but Louisville's talented players made very difficult shots.
It's clear to me, and apparently to the media members watching, that head coach Danny Manning has Wake Forest headed back where the program belongs. Manning has had the job since April, and it's evident that he is very adept at improving the talent level of a roster and game planning. Our sets have much better spacing and ball movement than in previous years.
Mitchell Wilbekin originally committed to play for Danny Manning at Tulsa, but ultimately changed his commitment once Manning accepted the head coaching position at Wake Forest. Wilbekin is already the best shooter on the team, and looks to be a potential four-year starter. At the very worst he'll be an excellent offensive weapon coming off the bench. Manning also added graduate transfer Darius Leonard, who is Wake's 2nd best 3-point shooter this season (minimum 10 attempts). Cornelius Hudson has been a positive addition and has an offensive rating of 94.4, which is above average for a freshman. Finally Konstantinos Mitoglou was an incredible find from Greece. He has an offensive rating of 114.5, has a low turnover rate, and is a very good rebounder. He didn't finalize the roster until September when Hudson officially enrolled in school and made it through the NCAA Clearing House. I really cannot fathom how bad this Wake Forest team would be without those players and with Jeff Bzdelik at the helm.
Looking ahead to next year, the only rotation player Wake Forest will lose is Darius Leonard. Manning will insert two four-star big men in Doral Moore and John Collins. On the perimeter Manning will add four-star guard Bryant Crawford, who has the skills to be an impact player next season. With the return of Codi Miller-McIntyre, Devin Thomas, Mitchell Wilbekin, Greg McClinton, Greek Deac and Cornelius Hudson, plus the addition of the aforementioned four-stars, you're looking at an NCAA Tournament team. Perhaps Manning will play the waiver wire and land another post-graduate transfer who is eligible to play next season. That would require one other player transferring or graduating early, but that certainly appears to be a possibility. If Wake can add a scoring wing, then the Deacs will really be in business.
This is without question a program on the rise. Buy stock in Danny Manning now, because it won't be too long before it soars.
@jayroon I'm saying I'd much prefer to have Danny Manning coaching my big men that anyone at Kentucky. Yes.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) January 5, 2015
Danny Manning is made a statement tonight that Wake Forest is not going to be a cake walk for teams. WF is going to get right soon— HoopDreamsMag.com (@HoopDreamsMag) January 5, 2015
Impressed with Danny Manning's gameplan against Louisville. Knew the weaknesses and went at them at both ends.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) January 5, 2015
Capt Obvious here, Manning is going to do work at Wake after a couple years— C.L. Brown (@clbrownespn) January 5, 2015
Pitino: "You already know this, but you hired the right man because he's a terrific coach."— Deacons Illustrated (@WakeRivals) January 5, 2015
Pitino: "I've watched Wake Forest play 4 or 5 times, but Danny has these guys getting better & better."— Deacons Illustrated (@WakeRivals) January 5, 2015