WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — With Wake Forest football still a little over two weeks away from kickoff of their season, somehow we’re going to actually watch the Deacs play some basketball first.
Danny Manning’s young Deacs are heading off to the Bahamas, where they will play three exhibition games in three days — a type of international trip that’s allowed once every four years that also includes the side benefit of 10 extra practices.
We spoke with Manning before practice Friday about the progress his team is making and what he’s looking for during these three contests.
On if he’s been watching the Olympics
Manning: “Sure have. It’s been an activity me and my wife have enjoyed.”
On what he thinks about the trash talking
Manning: “Trash talking at most competitive levels that you have to deal with. It’s a tactic that a lot of people employ to try to throw others off their game.”
On if there should be a higher standard at the Olympics
Manning: “It’s competitive sports. You take every advantage you can get. If the officials are going to let you push somebody and not call a foul in basketball, you continue to push, because you feel that’s a competitive advantage. If you feel there’s any way you can take your opponent and make them a little more uncomfortable and not as focused, and you’re still able to fulfill your requirements for your team and be successful, it’s a viable option.”
On adjusting to international basketball rules
Manning: “We started out and all the rules we talked about and implemented were about what we were going to see. We’ll have a tough adjustment with balls on the cylinder. They can jump up on the cylinder and knock it off. Our guys know that’s goaltending. We’ll probably get there, another team will do it, and our guys will realize. Free throw box outs, you only get three people on the line. Things like that. Taking it out of bounds, the transition happens a little bit quicker. The lane is a little bit wider and the ball is just a little bit smaller, in my opinion. These are things we’ll have to adjust to, but we’re making our guys aware of these changes we’ll see. We don’t want to put too much emphasis on it, because it’s just three games of exhibitions that the only people that are really going to see from start to finish is the coaching staff, when we break down film.”
On what he’s looking for from the freshmen and transfers during these three games
Manning: “I just want them to go out and play hard. Hopefully, we put all of our guys in a situation where they step out on the court and we’re able to just act. If we see something, we can react. But I don’t want those guys to go out there and think a whole lot. With the package we’ve put in defensively and offensively, we don’t know who we’re playing. We don’t know what kind of zone they play or if they play man. We don’t know what kind of offense they run, so for us the package is base, but it’s a pretty good base because we have to be ready for whatever. We’ve thrown a lot of sets and formations at these guys, and they’ve done a pretty good job of picking it up. We still have mental lapses from time to time, but I’ve been very pleased with the effort level and camaraderie of our guys.”
On the trip helping team chemistry
Manning: “I think that’s part of the reason for taking the trip. It gives us a chance to implement some things a little bit sooner than we would if we weren’t taking the trip. Hopefully when we get back and once we start school, we’ll move into practices our guys will have a pretty good base and we won’t have to spend as much time teaching. This summer has been a summer of teaching because of the new guys. As far as going over there, it’s going to be a trip that’s very quick. We feel like we have some time throughout the day for our guys to bond, but it’s not a glamorous trip by any means. We leave on the 15th, we get there and check into the hotel, we’ll get a meal then go to the gym where we’re going to play so we can get used to the floor, the rims, the clock and the shot clock. The next day, we play at 10 in the morning — so that’s an early wake-up call. The next two days, are in the evenings. The last day, we’re going to do a basketball clinic with some of the youth in the area. Then we’ll take the guys on a catamaran boat trip, then go out for a nice dinner. We head home the next day. It’ll be an intense period of bonding, because we’ll all be together.”