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Coaching Comparison: Danny Manning vs. Bruce Weber

An extensive look at the coaching history of tonight’s two coaches

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

(Editors Note: This is a submitted article by Edward Foster, a Wake Forest Senior.)

The coaching matchup for the Wake Forest-Kansas State game is one that features two coaches with very differing styles and levels of experience. Kansas State coach Bruce Weber is 60 years old and in his fifth season as the head coach of the Wildcats. Wake Forest coach Danny Manning is 50 years old and in his third season as the head coach of the Demon Deacons.

Although they are only ten years apart in age, their coaching resumes could not be more different.

Bruce Weber began his coaching career in 1979 as an assistant at Western Kentucky. After one year, he left to become an assistant at Purdue, where he would serve on the Boilermakers’ staff for the next 18 seasons. In 1998 he was hired for his first head coaching job at Southern Illinois.

In his five seasons at Southern Illinois, Weber led the Salukis to consecutive Missouri Valley Conference championships and NCAA tournament appearances in 2002 and 2003, including a Sweet Sixteen finish in 2002.

During his time at Southern Illinois, he compiled an overall record of 103–54 (.656 winning percentage) and a 62–28 (.689 winning percentage) in the Missouri Valley Conference.

After the 2002-03 season, he was hired by Illinois to replace current Kansas head coach and future Hall of Famer Bill Self.

Weber’s time at Illinois is what he is most known for. His first season was a huge success, as the Fighting Illini won the Big Ten and made a run to the Sweet Sixteen, finishing with a record of 26-7 overall and 13-3 in the Big Ten.

Weber’s most successful season of his coaching career came in 2004-05. Wake Forest fans should well remember this season, as the Deacons drew the Illini for their ACC-Big Ten Challenge matchup, going to Assembly Hall (now known as the State Farm Center) as the #1 team in the nation for the first time in school history. Coach Skip Prosser had his Deacons playing some of the best basketball the program had ever seen, with a high-powered offense led by sophomore point guard Chris Paul. Coach Weber’s Illinois team, led by future NBA point guard Deron Williams, ran the Deacs off the court, winning the game 91-73.

Illinois would remain undefeated and the #1 team in the nation until the last game of the regular season. The team would finish the year as back-to-back Big Ten champs, going 15-1 in conference. They were awarded the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, and lost to North Carolina 75-70 in the championship game to finish the season with an outstanding 37-2 record.

After this amazing run, Weber never quite had the same success, as the furthest his team made it was to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. On March 9, 2012, one day after the Illini lost its Big Ten Tournament opening-round game to Iowa, Weber was relieved of his duties. During his nine-year tenure as Illinois’ head coach, Weber amassed a Big Ten record of 89–65 (.578 winning percentage), and an overall record of 210–101. His overall win percentage with Illinois (67.5%) stands as second only to Bill Self in the modern era.

Following his time at Illinois, he was hired as the head coach at Kansas State in 2012. In his first season, Weber led the Wildcats to a 27–8 record and tied for the Big 12 Conference title with a 14–4 conference mark. The title was K-State's first regular season conference championship since 1977. Weber was named the 2012–13 Big 12 Conference Men's Basketball Coach of the Year. That season ended with an upset loss in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to LaSalle 63-61, in what was essentially a home game in Kansas City's Sprint Center.

Below is a summary of his results as head coach of Kansas State:

Season Overall Conference Finish Postseason
2012-13 27-8 14-4 T-1st NCAA Round of 64
2013-14 20-13 10-8 5th NCAA Round of 64
2014-15 15-17 8-10 T-6th
2015-16 17-16 5-13 8th
2016-17 20-13 8-10 6th NCAA First Four
Total 99-67 (.596) 45-45 (.500)

Weber’s postseason record is 14-12, with an 11-10 mark in the NCAA Tournament. By comparison, Danny Manning is 0-2 in postseason play as a coach with an 0-1 record in the NCAA Tournament, but has had much less time to build up wins.

I won’t go into as much detail on Danny Manning since this is a Wake Forest site, but here is a summary of Danny’s coaching resume.

Danny Manning was obviously a great power forward at Kansas, leading them to the 1988 National Championship, and was the #1 overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft. While injuries derailed his potential, he still managed to have a productive 15 year career in the NBA as a sixth man and solid role player.

After his retirement in 2003, he joined Bill Self’s staff at Kansas where he served as team manager for 3 years, and then as an assistant coach from 2006-2012. During his time at Kansas, he coached many big men who went on to play in the NBA, including Wayne Simien, Julian Wright, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, Cole Aldrich, twins Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris, Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey. He was hired as the head coach of Tulsa in 2012.

In his second season, Tulsa improved their record to 21-13 overall, while going 13-3 in Conference USA. Tulsa emerged as the C-USA regular season leader, and won the conference tournament to receive an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 2003. The Golden Hurricanes lost in the first round to the UCLA Bruins 76-59.

After the season, Manning was hired by Ron Wellman as the head coach at Wake Forest, and returned to his home of North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad. He compiled a 38–29 (.567 winning percentage) overall record and 21–11 (.656 winning percentage) conference record at Tulsa.

We all know that Manning inherited a dumpster fire at Wake Forest from Jeff Bzdelik, but he quickly showed his skills in recruiting by bringing in late additions to his first class in Dinos Mitoglou and Mitchell Wilbekin. While his first two seasons weren’t successful in terms of record, he did establish a new expectation of working hard and buying into the goal of the team. His record at Wake of 43–51 (.457) overall and 16–38 (.296) in conference may not look great, it is somewhat deceiving, and he has accomplished more this season than any of us could have ever expected.

In 2017, Manning has won 3 conference road games-more than the previous six seasons combined, compiled a 19-13 overall record and a 9-9 record in by far the toughest conference in college basketball, and turned a prospect who wasn’t even ranked by most recruiting services into a projected lottery pick in John Collins. Most analysts had Wake projected to finish 13th or lower in the conference with far less than 9 ACC wins and 19 overall wins. Danny has taken the Deacs back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010, and Wake Forest is finally relevant nationally again!

His development of John Collins proves his knack for recognizing and developing talent, and should bode well for Wake Forest in the future.

While Manning struggled with late game management early in the season, he figured it out over the course of the season, and has Wake playing their best basketball in March. He has learned how to make adjustments, and has even kept Wake close in games with national powerhouses.

Bruce Weber has 37 years of coaching experience with 19 as a head coach, but Danny Manning has the advantage of having been a player himself and understanding the pressures major college basketball players are under.

While Danny Manning only has 13 years of experience, he had the advantage of learning under Bill Self, and developing a reputation for turning unheralded big men into NBA prospects.

Thanks as always to the staff of BloggerSoDear and GO DEACS!!!!!