Winston-Salem, NC - Players and coaches spoke with Deacons Illustrated following Wake Forest's 78-58 loss to Clemson (12-12, 4-6 ACC).
The blowout is the Demon Deacons sixth straight loss. Wake falls to 11-14 overall and 2-9 in ACC play.
Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik
Opening Statement: "Obviously we are embarrassed. Obviously we have some limitations on this team. As the game goes on those limitations at times will diffuse our energy in areas that we can control, like defense and rebounding and what we have to do is be stronger and tougher to stay the course with great energy in those areas that we can control, like defending and rebounding and running the court. That's what we talked about in that locker room, controlling those things that we can control right now. I think the last couple of games we've seen that we've come out with great intention, and our energy in those areas that I just mentioned and defending and rebounding they get diffused because of our limitations in other areas. We just need to be mentally to stay the course in those areas that we can control."
Your team looked like you mentioned it lacked some physical and mental toughness out there today. Which disturbs you more? "Mental toughness, because the physical toughness it's physical. It is what it is. That's what we're referring to is the mental toughness. It takes an extremely mentally tough person to persevere through some rough, difficult times coupled with some limitations and so yeah you're right; no question."
Jeff, how do you deal with a situation where you keep telling the players the same things you told them I'm sure after tonight's game you told them after Virginia when you have to keep repeating yourself how are you able to keep deal with that? "I just talk to them very honestly, because they're smart young people and they're hurting as I'm hurting and Wake Forest fans are hurting. We're all hurting. This is a we thing, so obviously there's been moments when I've tried other alternatives too. Honestly you just tell the truth in the most honest way you can."
Is it a matter of it not sinking in? "I think you're asking the wrong person."
Wake Forest forward Travis McKie
Are you guys at a point where you're going to be able to turn it around now? "Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. You all are going to go right back and write what you want to write, and say we lost by 20 again. We see that stuff. We've just got to believe in each other. Nobody understands the type of situation we're in, the type of burden we carry every day and the way we have to walk around campus and be a part of this basketball team. We have to keep fighting every day. The season's not over. Nobody's going to feel sorry for us, so we have to get the job done."
I saw you out there still playing hard down the stretch, keep fighting and everything. Do you feel like you were playing alone out the last few minutes? "No, I feel like everybody competed. I might just move faster than everybody else or something like that, but I think everybody played hard. I don't think anybody was out there loafing. I don't think we have anybody on our team that would quit. When we're just so far behind everything is critiqued and everything you do seems wrong. That's the case, but we've got to continue to believe in each other and keep fighting."
Wake Forest guard C.J. Harris
What can this team do to reenergize itself, get itself more excited about playing and coming out with intensity during those crucial moments in the first half, beginning of the second half should coach call a timeout with five minutes left in the first half and say, 'Hey look this is where we are and these are things we need to do and just reiterate that? "It's just really on us as players. We're making the same mistakes over and over. That's comes to a point where we just have to take ownership, take accountability and just get the job done."
What do you think it needs to be for you all to get it? "That's a question I don't have no clue, when it clicks and everybody says I got it."
Wake Forest guard Chase Fischer
Obviously you weren't here for last year, so you didn't go through it. Is the way this season is going what you expected? "After last year I knew it was going to be a rebuilding process, but there's a lot of great pieces here, a lot of great guys. We're still young this year. I'm a very optimistic person, so I don't look at anything in a negative way. I love my team. We're going to be back. We've just got to keep putting in the hard work, and the wins will start coming. As we mature the mental breakdowns will stop happening."
Being the optimistic person that you are. How do you keep the others from getting discouraged? "Just working hard, and trying to be vocal and trying to keep the mood light always. Even though I'm a freshman I'm still trying to be a leader and trying to stay positive. I know everyone's frustrated, and I'm frustrated, but I think that just by staying positive and keeping everyone's mood light and translate into wins."
Clemson head coach Brad Brownell
Opening statement: "I'm really proud of my guys. We've obviously had a couple of tough weeks here where we lost games in the last possessions. At this time of the year it gets hard to try to keep on the grind, and I thought our guys did that. We got off to a great start in the beginning. Wake Forest really responded and played really good there for six or eight minutes right through the middle of the first half. We were a little undisciplined. They kept getting to the free-throw line. That was problematic, but Tanner [Smith] made some big plays, big shots in the first half and that really rallied us. I thought we were more solid and better defensively in the second half, and were able to separate. We had one of those nights where we shot it really well, which obviously makes everything a lot easier, so good win for our team."
You're the first Clemson team to win here in 22 years. With the kind of year that you've had is it nice have something to put on your mantle like that? "Yeah, that's more for media than it is for players. We're just glad to get a road win and make this feel a little better. Now we've got to try to get ready to play a very good Virginia team on Tuesday."