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ACC Roundup - State Visits Louisville, But Will Markell Johnson Be Ready?

State has survived without him but he’s a big absence.

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HoopHall Miami Invitational
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 01: Markell Johnson #11 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack dribbles with the ball against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the HoopHall Miami Invitational at American Airlines Arena on December 1, 2018 in Miami, Florida.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

On Thursday night there are two games scheduled - NC State at Louisville and Miami at Syracuse.

We don’t hold out much hope for Miami. The ‘Canes are just struggling and their best player right now is 5-7 against a long 2-3 zone he won’t get much penetration and depth is an ongoing concern for Jim Larranaga.

Syracuse was erratic early and we don’t expect they’ll be a great team this season but they have improved. Miami has just struggled. It’s going to be a long season for the ‘Canes and probably a long night Thursday.

Like Jeff Capel at Pitt, Kevin Keatts has done a superb job of changing the culture at NC State. You can probably toss Chris Mack into that as well although he inherits a vastly different program and one that is used to winning and expects to do it.

State is getting that way which is why, even without Markell Johnson, we’re not willing to concede this to Louisville even without Johnson.

It won’t be easy though.

Louisville has come a long way this season and again like Pitt, the Pack has minimal size.

It should be a tremendous game even with its many flaws on both sides.

We figured this wasn’t too far off: over at BloggerSoDear, Bart Johnson has posted the first call we’ve seen for Wake Forest to fire Danny Manning.

Philosophically we don’t like calling for coaches to be fired with malfeasance being the exception but we can’t blame Wake fans for being frustrated, particularly when State, Louisville and Pitt are experiencing rapid turnarounds and even Georgia Tech, limited by talent, sees Josh Pastner showing signs of strategic brilliance.

Like all the original ACC schools save Clemson, Wake’s athletic identity is primarily in basketball and the entire conference is better off when Wake Forest is competitive. If Manning goes, aside from basketball skills, we’d like to see the Deacs hire someone with a strong personality. The program needs a face and someone to rally around. Since Wake Forest hired Carl Tacy in 1972, Wake has made a habit of hiring quiet if not introverted coaches.

That wasn’t the case for Dave Odom who loved to talk. Skip Prosser was good with the media but you never got the sense that he enjoyed it that much. Dino Gaudio was more outgoing - he’s doing TV for ESPN now which tells you something - but we never felt like his personality was strong enough to manage the talent that he and Prosser had accumulated, much of which quickly left for the NBA. Jeff Bzdelik just didn’t want to be bothered with anything other than coaching his team and Manning was quiet as a player and has been so as a coach too.

Look around the country at some of the young coaches. Danny Hurley is a fiery presence. Nate Oates has built a great program at Buffalo against all odds. Archie Miller’s Indiana team is having some struggles right now but he’ll make that team competitive. Steve Wojciechowski has Marquette nearly in the Top Ten. Chris Beard isn’t as young as those guys but look what he’s done at Texas Tech. That guy’s tremendous.

Any of them would have succeeded in Winston-Salem.

Wake could really use a strong personality in that job. He obviously has to be able to coach but hiring another bland face would be a poor move considering how much this program has struggled since the tragic death of Prosser 12 years ago.

Conversely, hiring a guy with a forceful personality would give this program a real shot in the arm until he can get results on the court. Wake fans deserve something for still keeping faith.

NC State @ Louisville 8:00 ACCNE
Miami @ Syracuse 8:00 ACCNE
No Wednesday Results

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