I have an opinion. It's not popular, but I truly believe that Jeff Bzdelik can lead Wake Forest to greatness. I realize the last two years have been far from greatness, given our 21-42 record, but I still believe. I'll tell you exactly why I feel that way. I hope that this article can bring about a healthy conversation.
Last night, along with 15 or so other Screamin' Demons members, I had the privilege of having dinner with Jeff Bzdelik, Jeff Nix, Mike Lepore, and Mike Odom. I was fortunate enough to sit very close to Coach Bzdelik, and was able to have an on-going dialogue with him during the course of the 2-hour dinner. I was so appreciative of his candidness and openness with all of us. They were all actively pursuing ways in which they can improve and connect better with the student body. It's not easy for people in positions of power to admit that they have mistakes or have imperfections, but it is one of the most valuable traits that a leader can have. Leaders don't always have all of the answers, but they know the right questions to ask, and will seek out those who can help them accomplish their goals. Throughout the dinner the four of them were asking questions on ways they can improve and writing our answers down. They genuinely cared about the input from the students, and I believe our ideas will be implemented. The coaching staff also provided some excellent ideas of their own, and together we should be able to enhance the gameday experience at The Joel.
At the start of the dinner, Jeff Bzdelik conveyed his vision for the program. He wants to develop a junior-senior led team that competes for championships, and represents Wake Forest the right way. He will not sacrifice the values of the university, nor should he. The best players that we've had in our program's history include the likes of Chris Paul, Tim Duncan, and Randolph Childress. Not only were they incredible basketball players, but they were exemplary people off of the court. Coach Bzdelik is looking towards the future and believes this Freshman class will help to lead the way. He mentioned how each of the players will fit a certain piece to the puzzle, and believes that upperclassmen C.J. Harris and Travis McKie will provide outstanding play on the court and leadership in the locker room.
I asked him about the parallels he saw between Wake Forest's turnaround and that of Indiana, who is currently preseason #1 in the nation. In the 2008-2009 season, the Hoosiers won just six games. The following season they won 10. In the 2010-2011 season, Indiana won just 12 games, and last season they made the Sweet 16, before losing to the eventual national champion, Kentucky Wildcats. Bzdelik brought up those exact records. His belief is that we are ahead of Indiana's schedule. His point was that Wake won 13 games in his 2nd year, and Crean only won 12 games in year three. It certainly wasn't a slight on Indiana. Coach Bzdelik has great respect for that program. His point was just that our turnaround is closer than we think, and that it's not inconceivable to be competing for championships in the very near future.
Jeff Bzdelik will lead this program back to greatness.His humility and willingness to learn and ask questions will be integral in the turnaround process. He has put the correct pieces in place. The players who are on the team now want to be there. Wake Forest is quietly acquiring a lot of depth and talent. We'll now have the versatility to play a beautiful brand of basketball. It should be fantastic to watch the pieces come together. My advice is to get on the bandwagon now. If you wait much longer, it'll be too crowded to get on.