Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Manning at ACC Operation Basketball Q&A Part 4

Fourth part of our series of interviews with Wake Forest coach Danny Manning from ACC Operation Basketball.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bryant Crawford earned All-ACC Freshman honors last season, leading the Deacs in minutes, assists, steals and 3-pointers.

He was second on the team with 13.8 points a game and stepped in to run the team after a preseason foot injury sidelined Codi Miller-McIntyre.

For Wake Forest to improve on its 12-20 record last season, Crawford will have to continue to progress.

Wake coach Danny Manning talked about Crawford and a variety of other topics in this fourth installment of his interview from ACC Operation Basketball.

On if Bryant Crawford understands his importance to the team

Manning: “He's definitely one of our most important players, and I think he does have an idea of that. He understood that last year too. He knows we have a great deal of trust in him, to put him in that situation last year and basically just say, ‘Hey, go figure it out.’ It’s hard to do in the ACC, and he did very well being named to the All-Freshman ACC Team is a pretty good statement. The numbers he produced are on par with some pretty good players in this league, but he needs to continue to develop and get better — no question about it. That’s something we continue to stress to him day-in and day-out. He’s not buried on the scouting reports anymore. That’s going to be different for him now as well. Game plans are going to be geared to slow him down and to make him less effective. That’s another step he’s going to have to take and embrace.”

On how much more Crawford has figured out going into his sophomore season

Manning: “He’s got to figure out a lot more, and that’s not just Bryant — that’s any player. I’ve been around the game a very long time, and I’m still figuring things out. You can always learn. Each year, a point guard comes into a season. It’s a lot different for those guys, because they’re the quarterback of the team. They have to know their job and everybody else’s job. They have to make sure if somebody isn’t in the right spot, that they get them in the right spot. Then they also have to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each guy that they’re out there with, knowing when and where to get them the ball. Each year is a new experience for all point guards.

On Crawford calling Manning ‘a genius’ during his interview session earlier

Manning: “He’s very nice. For us as a staff, we’ve kind of walked in the shoes those guys are in. We’ve been blessed to have those experiences, and now we get a chance to share them with the guys every day. Hopefully they are beneficial lessons and are lessons they can take with them after they leave and be able to share with the next person.”

On how the team builds on the experiences from last season

Manning: “As a competitor, you don’t forget about it. You use it as motivation. You don’t want it to happen again. It’s pushes you and challenges you to continue to improve. I think this group is taking that to heart. The proof will be in the pudding, so to speak, when we get out there and start playing games. These guys have a better understanding of what it takes to be successful as players and young men.”

On Doral Moore’s development

Manning: “He’s definitely improved. Like any other player, he could stand to improve more and get better. The jump he made from his freshman year to this year has been significant. Athletically, Doral is very gifted. Not too many centers can go into the weight room, squat and almost put their behind on their heels. Or can jump up over the top of the backboard. He has some special gifts. We talk with him all the time — it’s having a presence each and every possession. By nature, Doral is a quiet person. We’re asking him to step outside his comfort zone and have a bigger presence. That’s communicating defensively or demanding the ball when he gets good post position. But he’s still growing. That’s just part of the process and part of his journey, but he’s definitely improved since his freshman year.”

On moving the college rules to more NBA-style

Manning: “I like it. Look at our society, whether it’s football, basketball, soccer, whatever. We make more modifications for sports than any other country. I think we just need to get to a point where the rules are the rules. Having four quarters lead to more excitement. You have more buzzer beaters. It leads to more excitement and energy. I’m all four that. I think changing the shot clock helped a little bit. It probably didn’t create as many possessions as people thought, but got us moving in the right direction.”

On going after Austin Arians once he got his release as a grad transfer

Manning: “I watched him play. I remember him. He’s a guy that’s capable of hitting a jump shot. He’s confident shooting it, and doesn’t mind shooting it. Looking at the makeup of our team, we thought that’s something we definitely need. Then you bring along his experience as a player and in life. We thought it's a win-win for us. We’re happy to have him. He’s had a tremendous impact on our team. We’re looking for a significant contribution from him this year.”

On him sitting out a year with a high-ankle sprain helping him understand the game a bit more, spending a season on the bench with the coaches

Manning: “I think so. For us, the way he communicates with him teammates, you can tell he’s someone who has some experience under his belt. He’s just an even-keel dude. He’s like Cool Hand Luke. He doesn’t get too high or too low. He’s out there competing and enjoying it.”


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