Source: Associated Press and ACC Sports Media October 25, 2009
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - Virginia coach Tony Bennett settled in at a table across the room from the biggest names in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Roy Williams’ table was diagonal from his. Behind that was Gary Williams. Over in the corner? That’s Mike Krzyzewski.
Welcome to the club, rookie.
The only new coach in the ACC this season found himself in some elite company Sunday during the league’s preseason media day, surrounded by three coaches who have combined to win six national championships.
He’s known them all for quite some time - “you recruit all these national events, and you pretty much bump into them,” Bennett said. But here comes the challenge: Matching wits with them.
“I asked (Stanford coach) Johnny Dawkins and (Arizona State coach) Herb Sendek, ‘What is this league like?’” Bennett said. “I think certainly, the rivalries, the proximity, the crowds on the road, whereas in the Pac-10, the proximity, you can’t travel as many people to come and watch your games … There are tremendous players in the Pac-10, tremendous players here. The coaches in this league will say, top to bottom, the ACC is so strong.”
Virginia hired Bennett from Washington State in March to replace Dave Leitao, who resigned after going 63-60 in four seasons. Bennett guided the Cougars to a 69-33 record in three seasons with two NCAA tournament berths.
The son of former Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett is coaching in the ACC for the first time but does understand how deep school ties run in this college-centric part of the country. He played parts of three seasons down the road in Charlotte with the NBA’s Hornets.
An ACC without Tyler Hansbrough and Greg Paulus means a lot fewer lightning rods for opposing student sections.
Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez might be ready to fill that void.
“Some teams really hate me … it makes it fun,” Vasquez said. “The game’s a lot more fun when you’ve got somebody that you hate and you really want to beat so bad, and that motivates me to play even harder. I think that’s my personality. It’s nothing against anybody, any fans or anything like that. … I mean, it’s a game.”
Vasquez might be the league’s top showman, whether he’s flirting with a triple-double - he had one last year against North Carolina, and flirted with two others during his career - or tweaking other team’s fans, as he did when he riled up the Cameron Crazies by joking their famous arena was “my house.”
“I used to tell my fans, ‘Please don’t get on Hansbrough because he’s going to kill us today if you get on his back,’” Vasquez said with a laugh. “Don’t get on the best players from the other teams, because they’re going to get back and they’re going to go off. So now that Hansbrough is gone, I guess they’re going to pick on me now, but I’m looking forward to it.”
ON THE MOVE:
The ACC tournament is headed back to Atlanta in a few years - but to a different venue.
Commissioner John Swofford said the 2012 tournament will be played at Philips Arena, the 18,729-seat home of the NBA’s Hawks and NHL’s Thrashers. Associate commissioner Karl Hicks says extra seats will be added to bring the capacity up to about 20,000.
Last year’s event was held at the spacious Georgia Dome.
“Having our tournament in a traditional-sized arena was the best thing for us, in terms of protecting the tournament brand, in terms of having the atmosphere and environment that we want to have,” Swofford said, “and protecting what is, quite frankly, one of the most sought-after tickets in all of sports.”
The Greensboro Coliseum will host the tournament this season, in 2011 and from 2013-15.
1, 2, 3:
John Clougherty, the league’s coordinator of officiating, provided one of the day’s lighter moments when he described a renewed emphasis of a sometimes-overlooked rule: Three seconds in the lane.
“I can see some of you chuckling because we never call three seconds,” Cloughtery told a ballroom full of laughing reporters. “And that’s the problem. The coaches know we don’t call three seconds. The players know we don’t call three seconds, so they abuse it. … It does get comical because we’ve got players in there for eight, nine seconds. We’ve got to do a better job.”
Later, Swofford quipped: “This is Sunday. Is this a confession?”
Clemson’s Trevor Booker insisted there isn’t any poster envy between him and football player C.J. Spiller.
Clemson distributed life-sized posters of Spiller a few months ago during the league’s football media day. For the basketball event, the Tigers had posters of Booker - but they were the standard size.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
After finishing last year in a tie for the Eastern Division SEC regular season title, the Gamecocks find themselves projected fourth in the East in the upcoming season after improving the talent and returning four starters and all players receiving significant burn during the previous season. Coach Darin Horn is now being forced to prove that the new exciting up tempo USC Gamecocks were not a fluke and are positioned to commence a season challenging for the conference title and advancing to the NCAA tournament. The NCAA post season event is not a foriegn location for the second year coach who has parlayed his early success in the NCAA's to the current SEC head coaching position. With potential NBA players in the upper classman status like Devan Downey and Dominique Archie returning the Gamecocks should have been considered at least a number two or three finisher in the division. Fourth alone is a disrespect to Downey, who will be every teams' nightmare this year, commands the respect of more than a mediocre placing in the preseason rankings. Archie will have a lot to say about it as well as the second leader of a team that is now built on confidence in each other, confidence in the coach and a love for the new fan atmosphere. John Wall was the marquee topic, along with the movement and dealings of John Calipari, but somewhere in the mix the Gamecocks have been left to the world of nowhere and will have to sneak up on the world again, only this year it will be apparent early that this team has arrived to the level of respectability.