Ex-ACC bench fixture Dave Odom talks K, Roy and N.C. State hoops
On familiar turf, former Wake Forest basketball coach Dave Odom delivered a scouting report on the men’s ACC basketball in this state during the Durham Sports Club’s luncheon at Croasdaile Country Club on Wednesday.
Odom, who coached at the old Durham High School — now Durham School of the Arts — was right at home among the room full of seasoned citizens, mentioning many of them by name, including former Durham County Sheriff Worth Hill and former Duke basketball coach Bucky Waters.
“It’s a great time for me to come,” Odom said. “The basketball season is all but over. It is over in this area.”
Duke’s basketball season ended just shy of the Blue Devils making another trip to the Final Four.
Odom praised Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski for getting his squad so deep into the NCAA Tournament after injuries to seniors Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly.
“Really, their team changed twice during the year,” Odom said, “and as you look at (the) Duke team, you’ve got to give Mike Krzyzewski ... a lot of credit, because he coached his team through the going and coming of two integral parts of his team, and it’s just hard to do that. But he held it all together.”
Regarding North Carolina, “I give Roy Williams at least an equal amount of credit,” Odom said.
When it comes to Tar Heel basketball, the UNC system generally always has prevailed in terms of players adjusting to a brand of basketball built around a solid point guard having two big men down low and a couple of guys on the wings who could knock down shots, Odom said.
But that wasn’t working for Williams, so he erased what he had on his white board and went with that smaller lineup that got so much attention. It was one of Williams’ better coaching performances, Odom said.
“It’s the first time that I can remember a coach at North Carolina adjusting himself and his system to the talent he had available,” Odom said.
Odom took issue with an account in the media that slighted Wake Forest’s historic impact on ACC basketball. A lot of standout basketball players were Demon Deacons, he said.
Rodney Rogers, who had a long and solid career in the NBA, went from Hillside High School to Wake Forest, which is where Tim Duncan played before joining the San Antonio Spurs. Odom got both of those guys — and L.A. Clippers point guard Chris Paul — to play for him at Wake Forest.
“And Randolph Childress,” Odom added to include one of the ACC’s more potent scorers.
Odom said he is pleased that Jeff Bzdelik will remain on the bench as Wake Forest’s coach.
“North Carolina State, on the other hand, started with such great promise; kind of plummeted out there at the end,” Odom continued.
N.C. State was projected to win the ACC title but didn’t, and then the Wolfpack got bumped in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“The biggest loss was when they got back to Raleigh,” Odom said.
Odom was talking about N.C. State’s C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown declaring for the NBA draft, and that was compounded by Rodney Purvis’ decision to transfer after just one season with the Wolfpack. Combine that with Wolfpack seniors Richard Howell and Scott Wood exhausting their eligibility, and N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried has issues, Odom said.
“Those are five guys that I don’t know that you can replace them in one year. I just don’t know how you do that,” Odom said.
Odom talked about former N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson, and how after his relationship with former Wolfpack football coach Tom O’Brien broke down, he took advantage of an NCAA rule that allowed him to transfer to Wisconsin and play immediately. Gottfried needs to do likewise and find some experienced, fifth-year senior basketball players, Odom said.
“I don’t think you can go out into the high school ranks right now or the junior college ranks and bring in players that are going to keep North Carolina State where they were this past year. I just don’t believe it,” Odom said. “And who knows if the last shoe has fallen over there?”
Odom was referring to N.C. State freshmen Tyler Lewis and T.J. Warren possibly leaving the program.
“There’re a lot of losses ahead of them. There really are,” Odom said. “And you just hope those kids don’t turn and run.”
Warren on Wednesday posted this message on his Twitter page: “Excited for the future #packnation.”
“So, when you look at it, it was an OK year for the ACC, not a great year,” Odom said.