CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Wake Forest coach Danny Manning is working to mix in six new players on his Demon Deacons while trying to improve from last year’s disappointing 12-20 finish.
Manning spoke about team chemistry and competing in the ACC in the fifth installment of his interview session from ACC Operation Basketball last week.
On the players talking so much about improved team chemistry during Wake Forest media day
Manning: “I hope that’s the case. That’s something that’s very important, in terms of dynamics with the team. I think the Bahamas trip was very good for us in that regard as well. I’m glad to hear that. One of the things we talk about with these guys all the time is that if you’re that close, then you can continue to hold each other accountable. I think this group is paying heed to that, and trying to move in that direction. That’s nice to hear, and I think next year will be even better.”
On having those sentiments with six new players on the team
Manning: “We added Brandon Childress in terms of a new body, but not really. Keyshawn Woods is a new body, but not really. Austin (Arians) is new, and of course Rich (Washington), Donovan (Mitchell) and Sam (Japhet-Mathias) are all new. They’ve come in and the group has accepted those guys. I thought when we were in the Bahamas and not practicing — we only practiced once when we were there — you could see them paling around at the hotel. They were always in groups. As a coach, that’s nice to see.”
On the depth in the ACC
Manning: “This league is a beast. No question about it. But that’s ACC basketball. That’s what we understand. That’s what we know. As a competitor, that’s what you like. Night-in and night-out, preparing for these games is a welcome challenge. Satisfyingly frustrating. Right now, you have four teams that you play home-and-home, then 10 teams that you play one time. It’s challenging. I tell people all the time, every time our student athletes play a game, it’s like a student taking a test. You have to study and prepare for it, then when you get there you have to perform. The stress that all these young people are under athletically, academically and socially? It’s a lot. For us, we have to try to help them find balance.”
On if it’s different preparing as he becomes more acclimated to the ACC
Manning: “I don’t think so. When you’re preparing in the off-season, you’re preparing to be the best. It doesn’t matter if you finished last season as the champs or you didn’t. That’s just the competitive nature of it. Then you want to put all that work to good use by making your team successful.”
On if Bryant Crawford backs up his on-the-court competitiveness with an off-the-court work ethic
Manning: “Yes. He does. Having been a part of many, many teams — you respect that. You respect guys that walk the walk. There are a lot of people these days that you look on Twitter and they’re all like, ‘I’m grinding. I’m doing this or that.’ Then you look at them play and it’s like, ‘I don’t see it.’ That’s today’s day and age. You look at the recruits out there, and social media is a big part of recruiting these days. I don’t know how many kids talk about being in the gym, being in the lab, grinding, doing this and that, and then you watch them play a game and it’s like - no you haven’t. That’s just part of the era we’re in right now.”
On if he likes the work ethic of his team
Manning: “I do. Absolutely. They push each other. They challenge each other, and that’s how it should be. I like this group. I’m looking forward to being with them the next couple years. We’ve got to continue to grow and develop, but I think we’re headed in the right direction.”