WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Here’s part two of Wake Forest coach Danny Manning’s conversation with the media prior to the Deacs departing for a three-game exhibition tour of the Bahamas.
On his comfort level with the team, having recruited nearly all of them personally
Manning: “I like the direction we’re heading. Obviously, you have to continue to improve and get better each and every year. I like the pieces we have, and the skill set and talent level. We have a chance to do some things. We’re just young. We lose some guys that had really good experience in Devin (Thomas) and Codi (Miller-McIntyre). Those guys had been through some wars and you’re talking about two guys that were four-year starters. We’re replacing them with Austin Arians, who is our grad transfer, but this is a different level than he’s played before. Then Keyshawn Woods, who sat out last year because of a transfer. This is a different level than he’s played before. Our freshmen are coming in with no idea of what it’s like in terms of not being around it before, with the exception of Brandon Childress, because he’s been around the program the last couple years. He walked into this with a little better sense of understanding than other freshmen. For us, we have to make sure that there are certain things we do, offensively and defensively, which is adhere to the scouting report and we have to play with effort and energy. We have to make sure our technique and detail are pretty much on point.”
On Bryant Crawford saying the biggest improvement he’s seen on the team is attention to details
Manning: “Some days (laughs). We’ve talked about this before. We don’t want to be December-sharp right now. I want nothing to do with that. This is just to get the base in, get the terminology in, get them to understand the work ethic and how we’re going to do things both offensively and defensively. Then you fine tune those as we get closer to the season. For us, we are a technique and detail staff. We understand that you play at a certain speed and you have to have a certain level of physicality out there, but in our opinion, being former players — you have to have technique and the how to do it, before you do it. We spend a lot of time trying to break it down in that aspect. We haven’t really gone up and down for 40 minutes in any practice we’ve had. We might go up and down for maybe 30, depending on how the guys are feeling, but a lot of it is half-court work. For us, something that our coaching staff had to remind me of — we don’t have the same numbers we’ve had in the past. We’ve had an arena football team the last couple of years. We had a scout team devoted to just our opponents. We don’t have that right now. Our guys are all on the court getting good reps in.”
On what a successful trip looks like for them
Manning: “One, you want to win all your games, regardless of the competition. You want to go out, be competitive and win games. We also want to make sure that when we leave there, we have an understanding of the intangibles we have to bring to the game, of executing our plays offensively and defensively and making sure the guys hold one another accountable for what they have to do on the court. Also, off the court. We’re talking about taking these guys out of the country. We foresee no problems at all, but even in the Olympics you have guys not making the right decisions and a couple of them are sitting in a Brazilian jail right now. That’s the life part of it and that’s the teaching part of it we also share with our guys. Ignorance is not an excuse when you go to another country. These are all things we have to educate our guys on as we get closer to leaving.”