01/21/09 — Opinion -- Gaudio no longer a secret in ACC

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Opinion -- Gaudio no longer a secret in ACC

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on January 21, 2009 1:46 PM

Prior to last season, most Atlantic Coast Conference basketball fans outside of Winston-Salem had never heard of Dino Gaudio or had any idea he had been in coaching for over 25 years.

It's safe to say the man who inherited the helm of the Wake Forest basketball program after the passing of Skip Prosser is quickly becoming a household name.

Gaudio had worked alongside Prosser since their days on the boys' basketball coaching staff at Central Catholic High School in Wheeling, West Virginia in the early 1980s.

Prosser left his post as head coach at Central Catholic in 1985 to become an assistant at Xavier. Gaudio took over the program and led Central Catholic to a state championship in 1987 before joining Prosser as an assistant at Xavier on head coach Pete Gillen's staff.

A native of Yorkville, Ohio, Gaudio has made head coaching stops at Army from 1993-97 and at Loyola (Md.) from 1997-2000. He returned as an assistant at Xavier for the 2000-01 season before joining Prosser at Wake Forest.

Despite having the youngest team in the conference last season, Gaudio guided the Demon Deacons to a 15-2 record at home, the fifth-best season in Joel Coliseum history.

Wake Forest finished 17-13 a year ago and highlighted the campaign with a win over No. 2-ranked Duke. It was the program's first win over a top-five team since the 2004-05 season.

In the midst of coaching the Demon Deacons to a 16-0 start and a No. 1 ranking this season, Gaudio has handed the keys of the offense to sophomore point guard Jeff Teague. Teague is averaging just over 21 points and four assists a game, and has already surpassed the 25-point mark six times this season.

Wake Forest entered the week ranked in the top five in the nation in scoring offense, rebounds and field goal percentage. Four of the Demon Deacons' starting five are scoring in double figures on a nightly basis, and three of those five are either freshmen or sophomores.

Perhaps Gaudio's biggest stamp on his team is its ability to be remain poised in pressure-packed situations the same way their head coach did in replacing Prosser.

Wake didn't crumble on Jan. 11 when North Carolina sliced a late seven-point deficit to three with less than a minute to go. The Deacs' exuded that same composure last Saturday at rowdy Littlejohn Coliseum as Clemson cut a 14-point margin to one late in the second half.

Two years ago, Gaudio was saddled with the responsibility of replacing a respected and beloved head coach while keeping Wake Forest toward the top of one of the nation's elite conferences.

Gaudio's on his way to living up to those expectations and then some.

And somewhere, Skip Prosser is loving every minute of it.