|ESPN.com: Men's College Basketball||[Print without images]|
Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman had an unenviable task: filling the head coaching position left vacant by Skip Prosser's tragic passing. Jay Bilas says Wellman made a smart move in hiring longtime Prosser assistant Dino Gaudio. Blog
|Dino Gaudio has head coaching experience. He coached at Army and Loyola (Md.), although he never had a winning record in any of his seven seasons there.|
Dave Telep, basketball recruiting editor for Scout.com, said Gaudio's promotion was key for the program to begin healing after Prosser's death."From a recruiting perspective, the only move that could unify their present roster and give them the best chance of maintaining their three commitments was to hire somebody from within," he said. "I'm sure it was a difficult decision because that staff is loaded with high-character guys, and I don't think anybody on that staff thought of themselves as above another guy." Wellman outlined his search plans during a meeting with current staff members last Friday, the day before Prosser's burial in Cincinnati. "My priority was to secure a basketball coach that would do the things that they had laid the foundation for," Wellman said. A nearly four-hour interview with Gaudio on Monday led Wellman to strongly consider him that night, and a day later he finalized the decision to promote Prosser's longtime assistant. "Nobody is going to be more driven, more motivated to complete the task that we set out a few years ago," Gaudio said. "We'll make certain that what we started, we're going to finish." Sophomore point guard Ishmael Smith said the players were relieved that Gaudio was promoted, because there was a lingering worry about having to learn the new systems and schemes of an unfamiliar leader. "Coach would want us to keep fighting, keep pushing, put this behind us and move on with coach Gaudio," Smith said. Prosser and Gaudio first paired up in 1980-81 at a Catholic school in the northern panhandle of West Virginia. The native of Yorkville, Ohio, took over the program at tiny Wheeling Central in 1984-85 after Prosser left to join Xavier's staff, and a year later, won a state championship. They reunited in 1987 under Pete Gillen at Xavier and stayed together until 1993, when Prosser took the head job at Loyola of Maryland and Gaudio accepted a similar position at Army. Gaudio went 36-72 in four seasons with the Black Knights before moving to Loyola of Maryland, where he was 32-52 before he resigned in 2000. He rejoined Prosser at Xavier in 2000-01, and the two moved to Wake Forest together the following season. Prosser's death following a midday jog stunned the college basketball world and left Wake Forest's close-knit campus in disbelief. "I have a very heavy heart in how this opportunity presented itself," Gaudio said. "You know how much Skip meant to me. He was my best friend, he was my mentor, he's the one I turned to for advice, and he always looked out for me. Maybe he's looking out for me right now." An example of how close the two were: Gaudio was nervous Tuesday night when calling Prosser's mother to tell her he would take over for her son. He shouldn't have worried. "She was like, 'Terrific!' She was excited, and she made me feel so good," Gaudio said. "I said, 'Grandma Jo, you're still in this family, and I still need your advice."'