Wake Forest Names Jeff Bzdelik Head Basketball Coach

April 14, 2010

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Video: Coach Bzdelik One-on-One with Stan Cotten
Video: Ron Wellman One-on-One with Stan Cotten

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Jeff Bzdelik (buzz-DELL-ick) on Wednesday was named as the 21st head basketball coach in Wake Forest University history. Athletics Director Ron Wellman made the announcement at a 10 a.m. news conference at BB&T Field.

Bzdelik, the head coach at the University of Colorado, comes to Wake Forest with a career collegiate coaching record of 111-105 in seven seasons including stops at Maryland-Baltimore County, Air Force, and Colorado. He has also served as a scout, scouting director and assistant coach in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat and New York Knicks.

Bzdelik spent the last three seasons at Colorado after having led the Air Force Academy to its most successful run in school history. Bzdelik is also a former head coach of the Denver Nuggets of the NBA. His first head coaching position was at Maryland-Baltimore County in 1986.

"I am very pleased that Jeff Bzdelik has accepted our offer to become our head coach," said Wellman. "He is a perfect fit for Wake Forest. Jeff holds the same values and the same standards that are so dear to this university. He has a great deal of experience in both collegiate and professional basketball. He will produce a program and develop players that we will be thrilled to have as Demon Deacons."

Wellman and Bzdelik first became acquainted back in the early 1980s when Wellman was the head baseball coach at Northwestern and Bzdelik was an assistant basketball coach under Rich Falk.

"It is an honor and a privilege to be here at Wake Forest," said Bzdelik. "I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work. We will be looking for a very special type of student-athlete for Wake Forest. We will be looking for young men who are passionate about playing basketball, care about getting a great education, have a high basketball IQ and care about their future."

"Our goals are simple," said Bzdelik. "We want to win games, get to the postseason, advance in the postseason and win championships without compromising the moral and academic integrity of this great university."

"This is a bittersweet day for myself and my family," said Bzdelik. "While we are tremendously excited about the opportunity to be at Wake Forest, we are also saddened to leave the many friends, colleagues, fans, student-athletes and relationships that we developed in Colorado. We greatly enjoyed our team and feel like the Colorado program is on the verge of having a truly outstanding year. I wish them all the best for the future."

Bzdelik also announced that he expects current assistant coaches Jeff Battle and Rusty LaRue to remain part of his staff at Wake Forest.

A 1976 graduate of the University of Illinois-Chicago, Bzdelik was a four-year letterman for the Flames. He was UIC's MVP as a senior and holds the school record for season free throw percentage at 88 percent.

He began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Davidson under Eddie Biedenbach and helped the Wildcats to a 75-72 win over Wake Forest in 1979. After two years, Bzdelik moved to Northwestern for six seasons before becoming the head coach at Maryland-Baltimore County in 1986.

In 1988, Bzdelik joined the Washington Bullets as an assistant coach. During his six years in Washington, Bzdelik coached former Deacons Frank Johnson and Muggsy Bogues. After spending the 1994-95 season with the New York Knicks as a scout, he became an assistant coach and director of scouting under Pat Riley with the Miami Heat in 1995. The Heat would win four straight Eastern Conference regular season titles from 1997-2000. During his time in Miami, Bzdelik was voted the NBA's best advance scout in a Sports Illustrated poll of NBA coaches and general managers. In 2000, he was named one of the top five assistant coaches in the NBA by USA Today.

In 2001, Bzdelik joined the Denver Nuggets as a scout and was promoted to head coach prior to the 2002-03 season. After opening with a 17-65 campaign, Bzdelik engineered one of the biggest comebacks in NBA history, leading the Nuggets to a 26-game improvement, the sixth-largest turnaround in league history. He also became the first NBA coach, since the adoption of the 82-game schedule, to lead a club to the playoffs a year after winning less than 20 games.

After being released by the Nuggets during the 2004-05 season, Bzdelik took over the program at Air Force. He helped the Falcons to a 24-7 record during the 2005-06 season and followed that with a 26-9 campaign. The 50-16 record during his two years in Colorado Springs marked the most victories in a two-year period in academy history. Air Force defeated three ACC teams during Bzdelik's tenure including a 94-58 win over Wake Forest.

Bzdelik was hired by Colorado prior to the 2007-08 season where he inherited a team that had gone 7-20 and 3-13 in the Big 12 while finishing in last place. Through careful recruiting, he made Colorado's basketball program relevant again, leading the Buffs to a 15-16 record (6-10 Big 12) in 2009-10 and a sixth place finish.

While in Boulder, Bzdelik improved Colorado's program in every facet, raising the team grade point average to 2.94 and improving attendance by 40 percent. He also recruited Alec Burks to Colorado as the freshman earned Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors and was voted to multiple Freshman All-America teams.

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