Q&A with Coach Gaudio -- Part I

DeaconSports sat down with Wake Forest assistant coach Dino Gaudio to talk about the Demon Deacons' 2004-2005 season as well as the future of the Wake Forest program.

Demon Deacon assistant basketball coach Dino Gaudio sat down with DeaconSports earlier this month to speak about the Demon Deacon basketball program. Although NCAA rules do not allow coaches to comment on the recruitment of prospective student-athletes until they have signed with a college program, Coach Gaudio was able to discuss Wake's '04-'05 campaign, the 2005 recruiting class, and the status of the program. The following is DeaconSports' Q&A with Coach Gaudio:

DeaconSports: Coach, what are your thoughts on last season? Did you reach your goals or are there things that you could have done better?

Coach Gaudio: Well we didn't reach all of our goals. One of our goals was to go to the final four and win a national championship. But we won 27 games which is the most in the history of the school, we won 13 ACC games which ties for most in the history of the school, and we were 16-0 at home, so it was a pretty good year. We're disappointed the way it ended but when you look at it in a broad sense, the big picture, from when we came here to where we are now where the expectations are such that people want to win a national championship and go to the final four and if you don't you're disappointed – I think we've come a long way.

DS: Were you somewhat prepared for Chris [Paul] leaving or was that kind of out of the blue and last minute where you were kept in limbo for a long time?

CG: Chris has to do what's best for Chris and his family. What Chris Paul did for us and this program is hard to quantify. He did a great job for us and that's a part of the business and I'm happy for the young man. When he decided to go, I called him and told him I was proud of him. He did a great job for us and anything we could ever do for Chris we'd be happy to do because he did a lot for us.

DS: You have several players who have already committed. Swinton, Weaver, Hale, of course Shamaine Dukes who just signed, and Stanley who redshirted last year. That gives you five different players to come in and help your team next year. What do you expect from those guys?

CG: You would think that anything the freshmen give us would be a little bit of a bonus, but with the loss of three seniors and the loss of Chris, some of them will have to come in and play for us. I think they're good enough, talented enough, but the biggest aspect of going from going to high school to college are the strength factor and quickness factor, but I think those guys are strong enough and quick enough to come in and help us. It remains to be seen which of those guys will do that. Two or three of those guys are going to have to come in and play for us and play well, which they're capable of doing.

DS: I suppose that is one reason that Shamaine was offered so late in the process is that he was needed as another guard since we were thin at that position right now.

CG: No question that is what happened. We didn't want to be in a position we were in a few years ago when, if you recall, Justin broke his jaw at Duke. We had Taron at the point and really no backup. If we were left with Justin and Harvey, that's the situation we would have been in. If one of those kids gets hurt, you've got a freshman running the point, but I think Justin will do a great job running the point for us. He's a veteran, he's waited a long time to run that position. That's what we recruited him as. I think he'll do a good job of that. Who will run the point for us next year ultimately depends on what happens in practice. Shamaine is very talented and could very well be the guy. Taron started at times as a freshman, as did CP, and we are not averse to having a freshman at the point but Justin gets first shot.

DS: With the current players, I suppose you have given each of them instructions on how to improve their games over the summer. Would you feel uncomfortable about talking about some of those areas they need to improve on?

CG: No, not at all.

DS: Let's start with Eric, assuming he comes back...

CG: Well, Eric needs to expand his game a little bit...move his shooting range out to maybe 15-17 feet. He has to do a better job using his left hand, because he has a real proclivity to go over his right shoulder a lot, so he has to diversify his game a little bit and he needs to be able to go to the free throw line and make free throws. He's going to get fouled, he's going to find himself at the free throw line a lot. Those are big things for Eric. For Justin – Justin has to be able to go from 3 to 2, developing more of a mid-range game. Now that he's running the 1 for us, he's got to break people down and get to the basket which he's capable of doing. I think the biggest challenge for Justin will be that Justin really has a scoring mentality and we do need him to score to be successful, but now that he's got the ball in his hands he has to understand that he has to get other people involved and I think he'll do that.

DS: What about Trent. Trent's got enormous athletic potential. Do you think maybe this is the year he can really tap into that and really step up?

CG: I think so and I hope so. I think Trent has to work on his perimeter game and his ballhandling a little more. Everybody knows Trent has a tremendous amount of athleticism, he jumps well, he has the potential to be a good defender on the ball...he has to come in next year and, not only from an offensive perspective, but from a defensive perspective, be an impact player for us. Jamaal Levy was sort of a stopper for us. Jamaal could guard a center, a wing, a 2-guard. Trent is going to have to try to be that guy. I think his play will be more consistent when his practice becomes more consistent and I think he has a great chance to be a very good player for us.

DS: We can kind of lump Kyle and Chris in together because they play somewhat similar positions, but what do you expect from those guys next year?

CG: I think their games are really different. Chris Ellis is more the Vytas Danelius kind of forward. He can shoot the basketball, he's a pretty good passer, so he can hit those trail jumpshots which stretches the defense for us, and he's a very good offensive rebounder because of his size and his jumping ability. Chris has to continue to do those things – he has to rebound the ball, continue to shoot the ball well from the perimeter for us and he is going to have to be a good defender for us inside. Chris' challenge is, in this league, there are guys who can step out and shoot the ball from the 4-position like Evtimov, the kid Pittsnogle we played from West Virginia. You have to have a 4-man on your team who can go out and guard those guys. Kyle, we want him to be a power player for us right now. Having a physical presence inside, running the floor which he did very well his freshman year...I think Kyle's time went down this year not because of something that he didn't do, but with Vytas being back healthy, Chris Ellis coming back healthy, that's why his minutes dwindled, but he's going to have to play a big, big role for us next year…most likely at the 5-position, but he can play a little bit of 4. But that's probably where he will be. Those three kids, Williams, Chris Ellis, and Visser will have the initial shot at those 4 and 5 positions.

DS: You also have a walk-on, Mike Drum, coming in. I understand he's a great shooter and that's primarily where he may be used in spot situations.

CG: Mike comes from a great high school program and was very well coached in high school and he knows how to play. He can shoot the basketball and is a tough kid. He has a chance to play for us, he really does. He has a chance as a walk-on to come in and play for us. I'll tell you another kid who has a great chance of coming in and playing is Richard Joyce. He's a hard-nosed kid, shoots the ball really well, he just has to be a little more consistent in practice. If he does those things, he can really be a good player for us as well.

DS: Is [Richard] considered more of a two or a three?

CG: No question, Richard's a 2 for us.

Thanks to Coach Gaudio for taking the time to sit down and talk Wake basketball. Stay tuned to DeaconSports later in the week for the final segment from our Q&A.

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