Wake Forest coach Danny Manning previews 2019-2020 Deacs
Q. Coach, this is for you. Just what you can say about your time at Wake Forest up to this point, just what you’ve learned over the years? And then secondly, your relationship with the university and just what you can say about the university and you moving forward?
DANNY MANNING: Well, I’m excited. You know, obviously for me, I grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, most of my formative childhood years, and so Wake Forest was always the closest ACC program that I could see or touch. And so to be able to come back and to work at wake is something I feel very fortunate and blessed about.
I think wake provides a great opportunity for our young people obviously on the basketball court, to play at a very high level, but also be at a great academic institution. I feel like it’s one of the better private schools in the country, and it helps prepare you for life. And that’s something that we don’t take seriously in helping prepare our young people for life.
You know, right now I’m teaching life through the game of basketball, and at the end of the day, though, the ball is going to stop bouncing and our young people have to be prepared to be the best person that they can be, and that’s something that we enjoy stressing and sharing as a staff with our young men every day.
Q. Brandon, going into your senior year, assists seems to be your thing. As the leader of this team, how do you plan to contribute your senior year?
BRANDON CHILDRESS: As a leader, just trying to find ways to take different steps to approach the young guys and just understanding that we need everybody this year. We have a lot of guys returning, actually the first time out of the previous three years that I’ve been here, the majority of the team is returning. I think only one or two players left from last year.
So just understanding, sharing my knowledge of the game of basketball that I’ve learned from Coaching Manning and the rest of the coaches and the staff, and my brother here, Andrien, he’s coming back from sitting out last year. So just understanding what it takes to be successful and understanding that we’ve got to get over the hump.
Now that everyone is returning I’m actually excited. I’m ready for this year, and I’m looking forward to — ready for anything that comes our way.
Q. Brandon, obviously you’ve been there for a little bit. Winston-Salem last year, ups and downs, but didn’t finish the way you wanted to. How do you try to refocus coming into a new season with a new crop of players and new expectations?
BRANDON CHILDRESS: I mean, just embracing everything, just understanding what we have and what that takes. We open up with Boston College this year, so our level of preparation over the summer has really been different, opening up with a game that’s going to count towards conference and understanding that if we go out there and be successful, how that can help us from down the line.
So I mentioned before about passing on knowledge and things like that, and just understanding what’s at stake, playing the two early conference games and just moving on forward from that. Just finding different ways to be successful because a lot of guys are returning.
Q. For the players, Brandon, just what you can say about your evolution as a player at wake, and then Andrien, what you can say about being back in Charlotte but now finally getting to represent Wake Forest on the floor?
BRANDON CHILDRESS: I’m just constantly putting in the work, early mornings and late nights. I couldn’t do any of this without the coaches, so just having Coach Manning trusting in me, believing in me, giving me the opportunity to play the amount of minutes I played last year, taking advice from him. He helped me out.
The success I had last year, that doesn’t happen without the coaching staff that we’ve got. So my evolution is from the coaches. I have a role in that, but my coaches have a huge role in that.
ANDRIEN WHITE: Being here in Charlotte is definitely a great experience for me. Coming from UNC Charlotte and being back and now representing Wake Forest, it’s a dream to play for Wake Forest in a great conference like the ACC.
I think just my evolution as a player from sitting out last year to stepping in to play this year is just — overall, strengthening all my skills as a player and as a leader.
Q. Andrien, I wanted to ask you now that we’re less than a month away from you stepping back into a competitive game, really for the first time in about two years, are you getting nervous, excited? Can’t wait to get out there? What’s the emotion getting this close to you finally being on the court again.
ANDRIEN WHITE: I’m very excited after sitting out a year. I think the coaching staff here has done a great job of keeping me engaged and busy this last year, with helping with things like scout team and giving leadership assignments to help guys that need help getting through slumps and things of that nature.
I mean, I’m prepared. I feel as prepared as I’ve ever been in my career, and I’m ready to come out and make an impact for this school and this university.
Q. Coach, the Demon Deacons return six of the top seven scorers from last season, return 77.3 percent of the minutes played, 77.2 percent of the scoring, 68.2 of the rebounds and 82.7 of the assists. Fair to say these are pretty stout numbers, pretty healthy as you get into the season?
DANNY MANNING: Well, we’re excited. Brandon alluded to it a little bit. We do have some young men that have been battle tested in the ACC, and we have three senior guards that have played minutes in college and understand what it takes to be somewhat successful, understanding scouting report, understanding going into each game that you’re going to have to make adjustments.
We have some upperclassmen front court players that we feel are going to make great contributions for our team, as well, and then we have some freshmen that are also going to have those contributions night in and night out.
This is probably the first year in some time where we haven’t had to throw our freshmen to the fire and depend on them night in and night out, but there certainly will be times throughout the course of the year that they’re going to have their moments, but for us we can always fall back on the veterans that we have on our team and their experiences.
Q. Brandon, a similar question as it was for Andrien, but for you it might hold a little different meaning heading into your last season. What’s it been like to represent the Demon Deacons given the family history and for you wearing that black and gold?
BRANDON CHILDRESS: This goes all the way back to high school, just being recruited. I remember Coach Manning, before he took the job at wake, he was at Tulsa and the letter of recommendation that I got from Coach Manning, he didn’t know but I knew he was before he recruited me. So when I first got that letter I was extremely excited. It’s amazing how God works.
Three months later after the letter, he takes the job at Wake, and a month later my dad is back at Wake Forest, as well. I didn’t have any offers during the time, was not heavily recruited at all, had a good summer that year, then going into my junior year, thank God for Coach Manning and Coach Woodberry and my father. They gave me the opportunity to play at Wake. I took full advantage of that, didn’t hesitate at all.
And Coach Manning just said, Hey, I’ll tell you, I was calling his phone once or twice a week just getting knowledge of how can I be prepared for what’s at stake, for years coming at a time, and I feel like I took full advantage of that, and I did, going to the weight room a lot, watching film, just being ready for the ACC because there’s no other conference like it.
And I finally get to Wake, just embracing all the advice that he gave me playing with great players like John Collins and Bryant Crawford, and the list just goes on and on, and just embracing it.
So just understanding that this is my last year, I’ve been to the tournament my freshman year, had a good season last year, just knowing what’s at stake, just understanding and taking my time and just embracing all the little things that’s going on now because I won’t get this next year.
Q. Coach, what’s it been like coaching the son of an assistant coach, the assistant coach who obviously carries so much history with Wake Forest? Did you have to learn that coaching dynamic? You had never been in that scenario before. Take us behind the curtain just a little bit.
DANNY MANNING: I can relate to that scenario because that was what I was in in college. My father was an assistant coach at Kansas under Coach Brown when I was there, and so it’s a great memory for me.
You know, Brandon is going through very similar situation. He gets very aggressive counseling, so to speak, day in and day out from our coaching staff and from his father, as well. But for Brandon, his situation, his growth as a player is kind of what you want your players to go through.
He comes in as a freshman and he has a role, he gets a chance to contribute, but he also gets a chance to take things in. His sophomore year, he gets a little bigger role. His junior year, his numbers speak for itself and the things that he was able to do. His work ethic, his preparation gave him a chance to be successful like that.
And now not only him but Andrien and Torry, those three senior guards, it’s their role to give us a chance to go out and be successful night in and night out but also prepare the younger guys as we move forward.
I’m excited about this group. These guys work extremely hard, and we’re looking forward to the season.