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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 7, 2010

CBKB: Gaudio out as Wake Forest hoops coach


By JOEDY McCREARY
AP Sports Writer

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Wake Forest fired men's basketball coach Dino Gaudio after three seasons Wednesday during a hastily drawn news conference.

Athletic director Ron Wellman said "the basis for the decision was our late-season and postseason performances." Gaudio was a combined 1-5 in Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA tournaments, the only victory coming in the first round of the NCAA tournament this year against Texas, when Ishmael Smith hit a last-second jumper in overtime.

"This was not a snap decision. It was not a snap judgment," said Wellman, who served on the NCAA Division I men's basketball committee this season and was in Indianapolis earlier this week for the Final Four.

Gaudio was 61-31 at Wake Forest since he was hired in 2007 to replace Skip Prosser, who died of a heart attack. Gaudio received a contract extension in October, but pressure has been mounting because of those poor late-season performances.

Neither Gaudio nor his assistants returned several messages left on their cell phones.

"Six months ago, I was convinved that we were going to perform better at the end of the season," Wellman said. "That did not happen."

Wake Forest opened the 2008-09 season 16-0 and was briefly ranked No. 1, before finishing 24-7 and going one-and-done in both the ACC and NCAA tournaments. The Demon Deacons were the highest seed to lose in the first round when they lost to No. 13 seed Cleveland State.

"We started off 16-0, No. 1 in the country, then lay an egg in the NCAA tournament it tore us to pieces when we knew we weren't going to finish our dream," guard L.D. Williams said before the season. "All season long, coach Gaudio talked about 'Final Four, Final Four, Final Four,' and we don't even make the final 32. It kills us every day."

Part of the problem for Gaudio has been players leaving early for the NBA. Jeff Teague and James Johnson both left early last season, and leading scorer Al-Farouq Aminu declared for the draft last week with two years of eligibility remaining.

The Demon Deacons also lose Smith, their second-leading scorer, and 7-foot center Chas McFarland and guard L.D. Williams to graduation.