Embarrassing (adjective) - causing a feeling of self-conscious confusion and distress.
How low can the Wake Forest basketball program go? I don’t know the answer to that question, but it seems that the Deacs are hellbent in finding out the answer, so stay tuned.
The Deacs fell 73-69 yesterday to Gardner-Webb, snapping a streak of 19 straight wins against in-state teams in non-conference play. Wake is now 6-5 on the season with just Cornell left in the non-conference portion of the schedule before entering the ACC gauntlet.
The loss in and of itself isn’t necessarily horrible, as Georgia Tech also fell to Gardner-Webb in the past week, but given Wake has also lost to Houston Baptist, Liberty, Drake, and Georgia Southern all since November 10th of last year, it is just the latest in an embarrassing string of losses to teams that the Demon Deacons should rarely lose to.
As has been noted ad-nauseum in the comment sections here, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in all real life conversations that have been had about the current state of affairs, the question now is what does Athletics Director Ron Wellman do about it?
The answer thus far has been clear - absolutely nothing. He extended Danny Manning after making the NCAA Tournament’s First Four in 2016-17, but since then Wake Forest has been 17-25 overall, and it is a serious question if the Deacs will even reach double-digit wins this season.
I feel like I am speaking for the majority of Wake fans when I say that we have reached the point of apathy, which is the place that an administration should fear the most. I watched the first 16 minutes of the game yesterday, which looked like a game between two Division III schools instead of Division I schools, before heading to downtown Charleston to watch the Clemson football game. I didn’t even think about checking the final score of our game until halftime of the Clemson game, to which I chuckled, said “that sucks”, and went on with my day.
Normally a loss to a team like Gardner-Webb would have put me in a bad mood and made me question what’s going on, but nowadays, whether it’s simply growing up a bit and separating my personal life and emotions from the results of a game played by 18-22 year olds, or because Wake Forest basketball has been irrelevant in the college basketball scene for nearly a decade now, I just don’t care very much anymore.
I am not writing this to inflate my sense of importance in the fan base, but primarily to point out that if the managing editor of a Wake Forest sports blog doesn’t care enough to watch the game, or even write anything about it until 18 hours after the game is over, there is probably a big problem with the program.
I am also aware that writing this article about how apathetic I am is a bit hypocritical, because if I didn’t care at all then I wouldn’t write the article. So let’s just say I am apathetic about the results of the team and the future under Danny Manning, but still care greatly about Wake Forest basketball because it has been a huge part of my life and it is very sad to see where we are now.
My expectations are that Manning will almost certainly finish out the season, and barring a change at the top of the AD, will probably return next season. I obviously believe that is a big mistake.
We have lost so many future fans and donors of Wake basketball in the past few years due to how bad it has been, and I fear that we will continue to lose support if a change is not made in the program. That is something the administration should be extremely concerned about because if and when Wake does get better, who is going to be supporting it? How is the school going to get the donations needed for the basketball program to be successful? More importantly. who is that money coming from?
Once again, I am not going to keep writing “Fire Manning” articles after every game because I expect there will be a lot of losses ahead on the ACC schedule, but I did want to write SOMETHING following yet another loss to a team that makes most folks laugh when they see the scoreline.
I expect better from Wake Forest basketball, and until there is a serious commitment to actually changing the culture of the program, nothing is going to improve on the court, and that makes me sad.