Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Wake coach Manning say Deacs ahead of schedule

Wake Forest basketball coach Danny Manning on boot camp, transfers, goals for the season, and improved outside shooting.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Wake Forest coach Danny Manning continued answering questions in the second half of this Q&A from Demon Deacon Media Day last week.

On what will make the Deacs a better defensive team

Manning: “Doing a better job of taking care of the basketball. We had a ton of live ball turnovers that lead to scoring opportunities for our opponents. So one thing we have to do is take better care of the basketball. I think we will. This team can do that. Then we also have to do a better job of staying in front of the basketball defensively. We’re going to play against a lot of great, skilled players. We have to make sure we take the right angle, have great attentions to detail, and stay in front of them to contest all shots.”

On if 280 is a good weight for Sam Japhet-Mathias

Manning: “I think he looks good and carries it well. He’s no different than any other freshman. He’s taken a step since we went to the Bahamas and he did play a little bit. When they get into the games for real, it’s going to be another step. Then when we get to the ACC, it’s going to be another step. As long as those guys continue to battle and put forth effort, he’ll be okay. Sam is a big guy. We’re not by no means trying to get him down to 215-220. That’s just not who he is. He’s a big guy, and that’s why we call him Big Sam.”

On Keyshawn Woods and Austin Arians transitioning to ACC play

Manning: “I think they’re excited for it, but we have a long ways to go before ACC play. We’re still a ways out from playing our very first game, then we have our non-conference schedule, then we’ll move into conference. I know those guys are just excited to be on the court, especially Keyshawn after sitting out last year.”

On if the scheme changes with the additional outside shooting threats

Manning: “No. Nothing changes. Nothing changes for us. We still have the same system. We want to play up tempo. We want to get the ball inside with paint touches. If we can’t score, we want to throw it out, if we don’t have a shooter open we want to create another paint touch. That’s the mindset still.”

On Dinos having a procedure on his shoulder and missing Bahamas action

Manning: “Dinos has been 100 percent. What do we gain playing him in the Bahamas?”

On if they have any specific goals for the season

Manning: “Not really right now. For now, the tangible goal is to get better each and every day in practice. The goal is to understand what we’re trying to accomplish offensively and defensively. Then you kind of go from there. Obviously, every time you step out on the court, you want to win and to put yourself in a position to win. We all know we’re involved in college basketball, and when you’re in college basketball the understanding is that you want to play in the NCAA Tournament. Obviously, that has to be in the back of every players’ mind. That’s not something we’ve talked about right now.”

On if he’s noticed a difference in the early practices, with having gone through the Bahamas experience

Manning: “I did, and we didn’t start practice as early as you can start it because of the Bahamas trip. It’s a long year and we don’t want to burn our guys out. We’ve got three practices under our belt, and we’re much further along in those three practices than we have been in the last two years solely because of that trip to the Bahamas. I feel like we’re making progress each and every day, and we’re excited about what we see.”

On if they still had the boot camp

Manning: “Usually boot camp last from a week-and-a-half to two weeks. This week we did cut it back a little bit to about a week. It went pretty well. That boot camp is meant to challenge our guys mentally and physically, and knock out a lot of our defensive principles, concepts and drills. It went very well.”

On Brandon Childress

Manning: “He’s going to have a chance to play. He’s put himself in that position. We’ll go from there. How much is he going to play? I don’t know. Will he play with Crawford some? Absolutely. We play three guards. There will be times those guys will be on the court at the same time. How much? I don’t know. It depends on matchups, foul trouble, injuries, who’s playing well and who’s not playing well.”

On the changes in John Collins body and game

Manning: “Not just John, but BC (Bryant Crawford) too. Their bodies have changed. They’ve gone from high school kids to a full-fledged college player embarking on manhood. Going through what they went through last year and that adjustment phase just takes time. John certainly did show a lot of flashes last year of doing some special things and being a special player. If you look at his production per minute, he was really good. He has to do a better job defensively of not putting himself in harm’s way.”

On if free throw shooting should improve

Manning: “I think a lot will be determined in the games, but looking at it right now this is the best shooting team we’ve had in the last three years without question. This is based just upon three games in the Bahamas and what we’ve seen in practice. We’ve certainly made many more shots at this point in practice than we did in the last two years without question.”


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