A little more than a month after one of the more exciting Colorado mens basketball seasons in years the program is about to take a serious hit.
According to the Denver Post’s Natalie Meisler, Buffaloes coach Jeff Bzdelik met with his players and staff today and it is expected that he will be announced as Wake Forest’s new basketball coach as early as Sunday evening. Wake Forest’s athletic director, Ron Wellman, flew to Boulder, Colo. to discuss the position with Bzdelik and the two are expected to fly back to Winston-Salem, N.C. later today to make an official announcement.
Bzdelik will take over the position vacated by Dino Gaudio–who was let go after post-season failures. The always strong Demon Deacons are annual contenders in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the job is a considerable upgrade from the Buffs position–with the team typically finishing in the bottom third of the Big 12 conference.
Since being relieved of his duties in the NBA as the head coach of the Denver Nuggets in 2004, Bzdelik has reinvigorated his coaching career on the NCAA level and has brought success to both the Air Force Academy Falcons and the Buffs. In 2005-06 he took the Falcons to the first round of the NCAA tournament and after a successful season with Colorado this past season many thought the Buffs would be in contention to make the tournament in 2011.
Bzdelik (36-58 with CU) took the Buffs from the bottom feeders of the conference to an eighth place finish in the Big 12 and had his team delivering big home wins in the Coors Event Center. He was a solid recruiter and brought top notch players to Boulder, including last year’s Big 12 freshman of the year Alec Burks and Buffs star Cory Higgins.
NBADraft.net has projected Burks as high as the second overall pick (currently the sixth) if he declares for the 2011 draft after his sophomore season and Bzdelik’s decision has many concerned in Boulder about the future of the team’s young stud.
However, Burks and his father, Steve, told Meisler that his son has a strong connection with potential replacement and current Buffaloes assistant coach Steve McClain, meaning there is little danger of Burks leaving the program if the Buffs can agree to a deal to make McClain the head man.
“I’m a huge fan of Steve McClain’s,” Steve Burks told Meisler. “Alec likes him a great deal, too. . . . He’s one of the reasons I let Alec go to CU. McClain had a lot to do with it. McClain is a huge part of this. I hope it works out well.
“We have a plan if it doesn’t go the right way,” Burks said. “As of now we’re extremely happy where Alec is at.”
There is a chance McClain could follow Bzdelik to Wake Forest but it is also known that McClain pursued the head coaching job at Hawaii earlier this year and may be looking to become a head coach once again, something he hasn’t been since 2007 when he lead the Wyoming Cowboys squad.
Keeping McClain in Boulder will be a must for CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn as the university has recently invested in the construction of a new practice facility and is hoping to build upon the success Bzdelik produced in 2009-10.
Congratulations to Bzdelik and his family. He has been a key piece to basketball across the state of Colorado since 2001 and his presence will be missed.