Preseason Interview: Jeff Bzdelik

With the season fast approaching and the first exhibition game approching this coming Friday, DeaconSports felt it was time to get Coach Bzdelik to give his views of the team on the record.

DeaconSports: What can Wake fans expect from this team coach?
Coach Bzdelik: A team that plays with a lot of energy and passion. A group of guys who get better as the season goes along and that plays unselfishly.

DS: With all the new players and with you being new yourself, how hard has the adjustment to each other been?
CB: It's been smoother than you would think. Oh there have been some trying times but they have learned what we expect pretty well.

DS: You had a lot of turnovers in your scrimmage last Saturday, was that due to your point guard being out and will he be available Friday night?
CB: No he won't. I think a lot of our turnovers were because we have a lot of talented but very young players who can get to the cup and in high school they could get to the cup and finish. In college when you get to the cup, you have to make a decision whether you can finish or if you need to pass the ball to an open teammate. There was a period there where I thought we tried to force things, not out of selfishness but just… habit.

DS: You did shoot the ball well in the scrimmage.
CB: Yes, we shot 50% from the floor, 47% from three and 77% from the FT line on 34 FT's. Just cut the turnovers from 38 to 20 and that gives you 18 more possessions. If we had shot the same percentage for those 18 possessions, that gives us 18 more points and we win the scrimmage. Point is I was encouraged by the scrimmage, not discouraged, because with a young team these type of mental errors are correctable.

DS: With some of those turnovers coming on the perimeter, I would assume it led to some easy baskets the other way for them too.
CB: Exactly! They probably got 12-16 points that way on our excess turnovers which, if reversed, would have made the margin even more different in our favor.

DS: How have the injuries affected you?
CB: That is probably why we had so many mistakes, I don't think I have had a full team to practice one day yet. Hard to teach them their roles if they are not available for practice and if we have to keep changing their positions and responsibilities.

DS: Is Tony Chennault practicing yet?
CB: Yes, he had a partial practice yesterday but is still not totally released for all activities but we will see how it goes after that partial practice. So far he seems okay.

DS: How did the scrimmage help you?
CB: I have figured out now what we want to do. I had to backpedal a little and rethink our strengths and weaknesses and how best to play to our strengths

DS: What are those strengths?
CB: Driving the ball and shooting. Shooting however is variable so we have to become a very good defensive team. With young players, this is something they have to totally understand.

DS: Okay. So what weaknesses do you see?
CB: Our understanding of how intense you have to play all the time. With young players, the intensity of effort is very hard for them to understand

DS: After watching your practices, I have been surprised by the "hands on" approach you take yourself to showing them exactly how to stand, move and place themselves.
CB: That is the way I coach and with the excellent staff I have, I can also sometimes just stand back and watch them teach their own considerable skills to the players. It is after all my job on the line and my salary is paid to coach and teach and that is what I will do.

DS: Will we see any different defenses?
CB: Yes we will try to slow some teams down at times with some zone traps, both half and three quarter court. I don't want to tip my hand too much though so I will leave it there. (Big smile)

DS: How do you think this team will do?
CB: I really like my team. I want them to play together, get better every day, and be a team everybody here will be very proud of.

Coach Bzdelik seems genuinely fond of his team but is under no illusions that this year will be an easy one. There is a good chance that Wake Forest will be minus 3 players (4 if you count Nikita who is not yet eligible) on Friday night so Wake could be in for a rather rough and rocky start. In the long term however, we believe that this team will play better later than earlier and will be inconsistent throughout due to their extreme inexperience.

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