Wake Forest Names Jeff Bzedlik Head Basketball Coach

April 14, 2010

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WakeForestSports.com)– Jeff Bzedlik (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.

Bzedlik, 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.

Bzedlik spent the last three seasons at Colorado after having led the Air Force Academy to its most successful run in school history. Bzedlik 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.

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

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, Bzedlik 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, Bzedlik moved to Northwestern for six seasons before becoming the head coach at Maryland-Baltimore County in 1986.

In 1988, Bzedlik joined the Washington Bullets as an assistant coach. During his six years in Washington, Bzedlik 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, Bzedlik 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, Bzedlik joined the Denver Nuggets as a scout and was promoted to head coach prior to thre 2002-03 season. After opening with a 17-65 campaign, Bzedlik 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, Bzedlik 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 Bzedlik’s tenure including a 94-58 win over Wake Forest.

Bzedlik 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.