ACC Basketball Tournament - Wake Forest v Maryland

Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik: ‘I don’t read the newspapers or the Internet’

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Maryland topped Wake Forest, 75-62 on Thursday in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals, sending the Demon Deacons out on a 13-18 (6-12 ACC) 2012-2013 campaign.

Head coach Jeff Bzdelik has been under a cloud of scrutiny for weeks now, starting with an ad in the school newspaper urging for the school to fire Bzdelik after three underachieving seasons. Before the quarterfinal loss, another ad was paid for by the students, highlighting Bzdelik’s 1-24 record in his 25 road games at Wake Forest. Following the loss, Bzdelik downplayed the frustration of the fan base.

“I don’t read the newspapers or the Internet, and that’s the truth, and I don’t watch sports on TV except for games that I need to watch, so I’ve never seen anything, have no clue about what’s being said,” Bzdelik told reporters. “I don’t worry about things I don’t have any control over. I just do my job and what I know is this: We have built a really strong foundation without compromising any values or integrity at Wake Forest University, and there is a very bright future.”

If Bzdelik does happen to browse the Internet he should avoid FireBz.com, which features his 34-60 record on the site’s home page. To Bzdelik’s credit, the young Demon Deacons team has wins over at the time No. 2 Miami and N.C. State at home, yet there is that 26-point rout from MAAC champion Iona.

After three seasons, Dino Gaudio was canned after a 61-31 record. Bzdelik is trying to sell the fans that a foundation that is being built with his recruiting classes. His 2012 class included Devin Thomas, Wake’s leading rebounder as well as Codi Miller-McIntyre who was fourth (right behind Thomas) in scoring and was second in assists. Bzdelik has a pair of three-star recruits — wings Greg McClinton and Miles Overton. He also locked up Shelton Mitchell, a four-star point guard from the 2014 class.

“You know, we have beaten four out of the top six teams in this league. We’ve lost in numerous close games. As these young men grow up, get bigger and stronger, they’re going to turn those close losses into great wins. They really are.”

Bzdelik may have built the foundation, but the fans seem to have had enough. Several college coaches have gotten the axe already and we haven’t hit Selection Sunday, will Bzdelik be the next in line?

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Some conference matchups play out before football

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, left, reacts after scoring a basket against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Oregon defeated Utah 77-59. (AP Photo/George Frey)
(AP Photo/George Frey)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Utah at No. 16 Oregon, 4:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:

Utah suffered one of the worst losses I’ve seen in a while on Thursday night, when Brandon Taylor, for some unknown reason, decided to foul an Oregon State player firing up a half court prayer at the buzzer. The Utes, who are arguably the second-best team in the Pac-12, will look to bounce-back on Sunday against the best team in the Pac-12, No. 16 Oregon at 4:00 p.m.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. No. 12 SMU will attempt to stay atop the American standings as they travel to South Florida. While the Mustangs won the first matchup between these two teams at home by 14, they’ve dropped their last two games on the road.

2. A few more American contests are going down as East Carolina travels to UConn and Houston heads to Tulsa. The game between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane is especially interesting because both teams are sitting two games back of SMU and trying to make a move on the postseason.

3. No. 5 Iowa continues the soft part of the schedule as they face Illinois on the road. The Hawkeyes posted recent easy victories over Northwestern and Penn State and will be heavily favored again on Sunday.

4. Could be an intriguing game as No. 17 Miami travels to Georgia Tech. Although the Yellow Jackets aren’t a major contender in the ACC, they’ve been tough this season, especially at home. The Hurricanes fell victim to Georgia Tech last season while they were ranked by Marcus Georges-Hunt has to get back on track after a recent slump for that to happen.

5. There is an Atlantic 10 game that will be featured on NBCSN on Sunday: Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure (2:00 p.m.).

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.