Friday, September 02, 2011

Wake Forest's Ty Walker Suspended; Hits Rock Bottom?

Dino Gaudio's final recruits continue to embarrass the Wake Forest program, with Ty Walker now getting himself suspended until December 10th for bad behavior. This isn't the first time for him, and it comes on the heels of Melvin Tabb being kicked off the team and getting arrested. And of course the school had to wash its hands of Tony Woods.

And let's remember that it's not like Wake Forest has at least been getting wins out of these bad characters. Last year's team was historically bad. They were arguably the worst team from any BCS conference last season, and were the worst ACC team we've seen in well over a decade.

I was down on the Jeff Bzdelik hire, though it's hard to give him too much blame for what's happened to Wake Forest basketball the past 18 months. I do think that the team's 2010 recruiting class had a pretty solid freshman season, and the 2011 class looks to be solid as well. And Bzdelik has already landed a couple of nice 2012 players (point guard Codi Miller-McIntyre is currently considered the jewel of that class) and is in play for more. By my math I think they've still got three scholarships open for that class, though Bzdelik will probably want to pocket some of those for 2013 to spread out his classes.

If there's a silver lining for Wake Forest, I think it's that they might be hitting rock bottom. I'm reminded of a post I wrote about Indiana nearly three years ago, when I declared that the Hoosiers had hit rock bottom. Kelvin Sampson had been fired, the team was facing all sorts of embarrassing stories about the program under Sampson, and the team was utterly bereft of talent.

And Indiana had hit rock bottom when I wrote that post. As bad as that team was that year, the program and the fans rallied around Tom Crean. That year they went 1-17 in Big Ten play, and the one win came at home against Iowa, the second worst Big Ten team that year. But I still remember clearly how the Indiana fans rocked Assembly Hall that night like they were playing for a Big Ten title. Crean began bringing in quality recruiting classes after that, and the team was actually a little bit feisty in 2009-10. This past season the team was even better, though injury problems derailed them. With a big time 2011 recruiting class, led by Cody Zeller, I think Indiana might actually get themselves onto the bubble.

I tell that story as a guide for Wake Forest. With the football program there falling apart, it's a reminder that Wake is a basketball school. The fans have to rally around the team and take pride in the little victories with their young players. I do think they've hit rock bottom, and that for the sake of their fans it's only forward from here.

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