Even With Winning Record, Dino Gaudio Fired by Wake Forest
Wake Forest announced Wednesday that Gaudio (right) has been fired after three seasons, creating a second head coaching opening in as many days in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Vowing to make the Blue Demons "Chicago's team" again, Oliver Purnell left Clemson Tuesday to become DePaul's coach.
And let's not forget that Steve Donahue, who led Cornell to three straight Ivy League titles and to the round of 16 in this year's NCAA tournament, was hired Tuesday as Boston College's coach. So much for league members taking a moment to share and soak in the euphoria from Duke's fourth national title.
Naturally, the vacancies lead us to runner-up Butler and its head coach Brad Stevens, the boyish-looking wonder.
Oregon is expected to throw a multimillion dollar offer at the 33-year-old. Clemson and Wake Forest will also probably be willing to write a check that would presumably pay Stevens more than the $750,000 dollar total package he had with the Bulldogs this season.
Others could be jockeying for position.
Names linked to the Clemson opening include UAB's Mike Davis, Minnesota Timberwolves assistant Reggie Theus, Virginia Commonwealth's Shaka Smart and Western Kentucky's Ken McDonald. Ron Bradlley, an assistant at Clemson who was named the interim head coach, will interview for the Tigers opening.
Names that could attract interest from Wake Forest officials might include Baylor's Scott Drew, Wichita State's Gregg Marshall, Xavier's Chris Mack and Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon. Or about about alumnus Rusty LaRue, a few doors down in an assistant's office at Wake Forest?
Dino, meanwhile, was done in by poor finishes.
Over the last three years, Wake Forest has lost its first round ACC tournament game to a lower-seeded opponent by 10 or more points. In all postseason games, the Deacons are 1-5 over the last three seasons.
Gaudio was named head coach on Aug. 8, 2007, following Skip Prosser's sudden death from a heart attack.
The Deacons were 17-13 in Gaudio's first season and followed that with a 24-7 record in 2008-09.
Wake Forest was ranked No. 1 in the nation in both polls in late January 2009, but fell to Cleveland State in a first-round NCAA tournament shocker two months later. This past season, the Demon Deacons finished 20-11 and posted a first-round win over Texas in the NCAA Tournament before losing 90-60 to Kentucky in the second round.
Gaudio was 61-31, 27-21 in the ACC, in three seasons. The school will immediately start a national search for a new coach, who, in turn, must immediately turn his attention to the Deacs' incoming freshmen. The list includes Carson Desrosiers, Travis McKie, and J.T. Terrell.
Wake Forest also returns a solid core in C.J.Harris, Tony Woods, Ari Stewart and Ty Walker.
"Dino has made contributions to this program over the last 10 seasons," Wake Forest athletics director Ron Wellman said in a statement. "He stepped into a difficult situation at a very trying time when Skip Prosser passed away and he steadied the program.
"But from a competitive standpoint, it has been disappointing that we have developed a pattern of not playing well late in the season and in the postseason. Wake Forest has a proud history of basketball success but we have not been as competitive in the postseason as we would like."
No surprise, but Purnell's decision to leave Clemson appears to have come down to money.
University officials wouldn't say if they could have matched DePaul's offer to Purnell had money been a factor in his departure. Purnell accepted a seven-year deal worth $15 million.
"Whether you have the money or not, it always depends on what else is possible for you to spend it on," Katie Hill, senior associate athletic director for internal affairs, told The Greenville (S.C.) News. "It's not in anybody's best interest to say we woulda, shoulda, coulda or had an opportunity to."
While Purnell is noted for his ability to build a program, he'll have his work cut out for him at DePaul - the program has won only one regular season Big East conference game the last two years.
And Purnell's replacement at Clemson might have to convince Devin Booker to return to the Tigers for his sophomore season. Unhappy over his role this season, Booker is said to be still weighing his options and will make a decision after a new coach is named.
Booker was eighth on the team in minutes played (just under 12), averaging 4.5 points and 2.9 rebounds. He was considered a cornerstone to a recruiting class that also included All-American Milton Jennings and Southern Cal transfer Noel Johnson. Booker's older brother Trevor, a departing senior, was one of the league's top players.
Just days before his abrupt departure, Purnell believed the depth of players he had returning made the Tigers a contender for a school-record fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAAs.
Purnell expected guards Demontez Stitt and Andre Young to play bigger roles and Jerai Grant to make an impact inside alongside Booker.