Possible Jeff Bzdelik ACC Swan Song Ends Against Pittsburgh

Posted by Matt Patton on March 13th, 2014

His postgame press conference said it all. Jeff Bzdelik‘s body language and tone, never his strongest attributes as a coach, showed the toll of another Thursday ACC Tournament loss to Pittsburgh.

“They hit us right between the eyes. We were on our heels the entire game.”

Jeff Bzdelik didn't have the answers against Pittsburgh. (credit: Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer)

Jeff Bzdelik didn’t have the answers against Pittsburgh. (credit: Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer)

While his postseason and conference road records paint a black and white picture of Bzdelik’s tenure at Wake Forest, there are certainly bright spots when you look closer. He recruited a young core of talented players that showed a lot of potential in sweeping Tobacco Road at home this season. He also sat down with the deck stacked against him. People love to cite Dino Gaudio’s record, but there’s no denying Wake Forest was in a tailspin after Skip Prosser died. It’s not Bzdelik’s fault the vaunted 2008 class didn’t pan out. But no one expected the turnaround to move so slowly.

“We just lost some confidence, and we’ve been fragile with that throughout the course of the entire year.”

This game cast a similarly dark shadow. Wake Forest was outclassed at opening tip, unable to slow down the Panthers’ offense. Early, the Demon Deacons couldn’t grab a rebound. Pittsburgh, to its credit, couldn’t miss. While Travis McKie had one of the worst games of his career, Talib Zanna and Lamar Patterson executed flawlessly. Every time the lead got to single digits, Pittsburgh responded with a run. Coron Williams had another good game, and Codi Miller-McIntyre showed flashes of his aggressive potential, but there’s no sugarcoating a 29-point loss.

Pittsburgh shut down Devin Thomas, but his future is still bright. (credit: Bob Leverone/AP Photo)

Pittsburgh shut down Devin Thomas, but his future is still bright. (credit: Bob Leverone/AP Photo)

“I’m just going to answer questions about the game.”

Probably the biggest strike against Bzdelik not found in the loss column is his public relations. Fans want coaches to be confident and inspiring, especially when teams are struggling. When Bzdelik speaks with confidence, he affects disdain. But there wasn’t any confidence Thursday afternoon. Just a man looking at a lopsided stat sheet in the foreground and a couple of dozen people who expect him to be fired in the background.

“If you had a chance to play again, would you like to play a postseason game (in the CBI)?”
“We certainly don’t want to go out like this.”

That might be the last question Jeff Bzdelik answers as head coach at Wake Forest. As the final questions were directed to Coron Williams, Bzdelik appeared to shut his eyes and rock his head back and forth. He looked like a man facing a lose/lose proposition, wanting desperately for it to be over but still hoping for one more chance to prove the doubters — maybe himself included — wrong once and for all.

In the end Jeff Bzdelik earned the record, currently at 51-78, that will sit next to his name. And I believe that it’s time for a change in Winston-Salem. But the next coach at Wake Forest will begin a better situation because of Bzdelik’s work, and I’m glad the embattled coach won a game in the ACC Tournament. With rumors that Wake Forest will be accepting a bid to the CBI, McKie, Bzdelik and Williams will get a chance to at least partially rewrite their endings. But the final act appears set.

mpatton (466 Posts)


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One Response to “Possible Jeff Bzdelik ACC Swan Song Ends Against Pittsburgh”

  1. WakeFan says:

    Not a clear cut argument that the program is in any better shape than it was when Bzdelik was hired. We need transfers, else we’re sunk for the next 3 years or so. We have 1 scholarship to give for the next 2 years, no reliable shooters returning, and then will have 8 players graduate in 2016.

    The floor is lower (even Bzdelik managed to get to a winning record), but the ceiling isn’t very high with this group.

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