Blogger So Dear: What's your vision for this basketball program under your leadership?
Danny Manning: "Cut down nets. You don't compete to be in second, third, or fourth. You compete to win. You want to be the best, and we're in a league that is in my opinion the best basketball league out there in college basketball. At the end of the day you want to be the best. You want to cut down nets. That's going to be the goal regardless of what we have going on. That's always the end goal."
BSD: You have a 13th scholarship available now that Aaron Rountree is going to graduate, and I know that you're actively going to pursue filling all 13 of your spots. I know you cannot comment specifically on players, but do you have a preference of landing a graduate transfer versus a high school senior? Are you just looking for best fit available?
DM: "Best player, best fit."
BSD: It seems like that is a shooting guard.
DM: "Best player, best fit (laughs)."
BSD: One thing I'm interested in is Dinos Mitoglou. How did you find out about him. He didn't seem like he had that many offers. Obviously he had a great season.
DM: "Well there are players all across the world that people don't know about. Randolph [Childress] did a great job identifying him. We did all of the necessary work we needed to do in terms of recruiting him and talking to him about how he'd best used, his role, what Wake Forest University is about, the ACC. It worked out very well for us. He had an outstanding freshman year and we're very excited."
BSD: I saw where you are headed to Greece tomorrow for an international coaches clinic. Is recruiting at the international level something you'll consistently look to do?
DM: "We'll go anywhere to get the best players and the best fit. There are a lot of very talented basketball players that are overseas. It's a different system over there. But there are a lot of kids over there who want the opportunity to play in the states."
BSD: I read on your website that the school plans on spending about $40 million on the Joel. Do you know of any specific examples of plans of renovations for this season or some time in the future.
DM: "I think there will be some changes made. I know there will be some changes made to continue to enhance the experience at the Joel. Exactly what, I'm not quite sure. You know we're not going to wave a magic wand and fix it. We can do it incrementally, a little bit piece by piece and that's kind of the approach that we're taking."
BSD: I recently read the article about the SportsVU monitoring equipment that you're getting for both your practice facility and the arena itself. What are you most looking forward to with that program?
DM: "The information and data that we get from it. Continue to help us be cutting edge from a technology point of view. This year Aaron Rountree missed an extended period of time because of his hand. We didn't have any soft tissue injuries, we didn't have any torn ligaments, we didn't have any of that this year. A lot of that can be directly attributed to the system that we have in place in our trainer Greg Collins, and definitely our strength and conditioning coach & director of sports performance Ryan Horn. Those guys did a wonderful job, and hopefully knock on wood we continue to go down that path."
BSD: Is your staff a pretty big believer in analytics? It sounds like you are with the financial commitment that you all are making.
DM: "Yeah, it's more data, it's more information. I don't think it's the end all, be all. I think it's something that you can track trends, especially for players' tendencies."
BSD: According to Ken Pom, Wake's defensive efficiency was 137th nationally last season. In your first season at Tulsa you were also ranked 137th, but in your second year you jumped to 30th nationally. It seemed like you had a very large improvement in 2 point field goal % defense. What do you believe was the key or several keys to improving your defense by that much?
DM: "I think the guys had a better understanding, had a year of experience under their belt. Mindset changed. Just because they've heard our message for a year, well next year would be two years. The year after that will be three years. So I think that has something to do with it. I also think having a better understanding of what we wanted from them system-wise helped. But you have to have guys that go out there and take it upon themselves to be a stopper, to a certain extent. We had some really good defenders when we were at Tulsa, who did a great job of guarding their man, being a great team defender. We'll be an improved defensive team, we need to be next year. Is it where I want us to be? No. And even the last year we were at Tulsa, defensively we had some good things going but we still wanted to get better. You want to improve, but until you're the best of the best you have to keep working. And even when you are the best of the best, it's not like you win a national championship and go 'oh man, I don't want to do anything for the next 10 years.' You want to keep winning. That's our mindset. That's our demeanor. If you look at our coaching staff, we've been a part of some very successful teams. Three of us played professionally, and we played over 10 years each. So you have a certain mindset and a certain demeanor to accomplish that, and that's what we're trying to instill in our program. Not just with these guys, not just with this team, it's who we want to be as a program."
Tomorrow we will release part two.