Honeymoon period over for Manning

In the spring of 2014, Wake Forest fans were up in arms over the basketball program. They wanted coach Jeff Bzdelik and athletic director Ron Wellman run out of town. The program, only a few years away from a No. 1 ranking, had become a non-factor in the ACC during Bzdelik’s four seasons.

Those fans got their wish when Wellman reluctantly pushed Bzdelik out after the ACC Tournament. Enter Danny Manning, who brought a fantastic playing resume and the appearance of an up-and-coming coach.

In his final two seasons, Bzdelik was 30-34 overall, 12-24 in the ACC (6-12 both years). In 2014, his team beat No. 4 Duke down the stretch and won an ACC Tournament game.

Two years later, heading into the ACC Tournament, Manning has posted a 24-38 record overall, 7-31 in the ACC. The Deacons lost 14 of their final 15 games, beating only Boston College, which went winless in league play.

Manning’s only real chance at a signature ACC win fell away when Darius Thompson’s 3-pointer went in at the buzzer to save then-No. 11 Virginia. Even that close loss wasn’t anything to celebrate as the Deacons blew a 10-point lead with 1:23 to play.

The program loses two seniors who have started for four years and, after losing out on a race for the No. 1 player in the class, the 2016 recruiting class only features one top 100 player vs. two the year before. In fact, No. 91 Samuel Japhet-Mathias is the only one of four recruits to be ranked in the top 200, and he looks like a big-man project. In addition, Manning has only one open scholarship over the next two seasons, and that’s because a player was kicked off the team.

So how should Wake Forest fans feel about Manning and the program now, given that it doesn’t appear to be in any better shape than when Bzdelik left?

Certainly, Manning can defend himself. The Deacons…