Krzyzewski wouldn’t mind if ACC grows to 16 teams

Mike Krzyzewski supports the Atlantic Coast Conference’s recent

expansion to 14 teams – and wouldn’t mind if the league keeps

growing.

The Hall of Fame coach at Duke offered his opinions Wednesday

during a wide-ranging press conference as part of his team’s media

day in which he discussed the changing faces of both his roster and

the ACC.

”I think you have to continue to explore” expansion questions,

Krzyzewski said. ”Is 14 the right number? Will 16 be? I don’t know

if I’m in the minority, majority – I don’t talk to anybody about

this – but (it) seems to me that if you’re going to go 14, then you

should go 16.”

The ACC last month announced it would add Pittsburgh and

Syracuse from the Big East to reach 14 members, and Commissioner

John Swofford has said the league is comfortable at that

number.

Swofford said that the league is moving forward with plans for

scheduling and divisional alignments for a 14-team league, and that

could include divisions for men’s basketball for the first

time.

If the ACC does stop at 14, Krzyzewski said he would support

divisions of seven teams apiece and a 19-game conference schedule

in which schools would play divisional opponents twice and

cross-divisional opponents once. Krzyzewski says the idea of

four-team pods ”makes me vomit” because ”you’ve got to be

careful about splitting up your brand too much and regionalizing

within your region.

”You’ve always got to maintain your brand of a conference and

not get caught up with, `Oh, what about my rivalry with this one

school?”’ Krzyzewski said. ”Although we should always have the

rivalry with Duke and (North) Carolina. Don’t get me wrong on that.

But when you’re expanding, you’ve got to develop rivalries with

everybody.”

It’s not clear when Pitt and Syracuse will begin playing,

because of the complicated terms surrounding their exit from the

Big East.

But when they do, it sure sounds like the 64-year-old Krzyzewski

will be around for it.

Krzyzewski enters his 37th season as a head coach with a record

of 900-284 – two wins shy of Bob Knight, his college coach and

mentor who holds the Division I men’s record. He could catch Knight

at home Nov. 12 against Presbyterian and pass him three nights

later against Michigan State at Madison Square Garden.

Krzyzewski certainly sounded excited about his current challenge

of retooling a Duke lineup that will be without four-year stars

Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, who have graduated and moved to NBA

rosters. They also lost one-and-done point guard Kyrie Irving, the

No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft who missed all but 11 games of

his college career with a nagging toe injury.

Replacing Irving with another freshman phenom – guard Austin

Rivers, the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers – sounds easier

than it probably will be. Krzyzewski said Rivers is ”not as ready

as Kyrie” because they play different positions in the backcourt.

Irving is a true point guard, but Rivers won’t be asked to handle

the ball quite as often.

”We’re both playmakers. We both can score but at the same time

give up the ball,” Rivers said of Irving. ”That’s where we’re

similar, that’s why a lot of people compare us. We both come in

with a lot of accolades from high school and all that, and people

are going to try to see what I can do. I’m not really even worried

about it. … Kyrie’s always told me to just go out there and just

play my game. That’s what I’m going to do.”

The players on last year’s team had a knack for creating their

own shots; this year’s group likely will have to rely on each other

to generate good looks at the basket, he said.

”I think that’s what makes college basketball so good, that you

really have a different team every year or at least every two

years, and trying to figure it out,” Krzyzewski said. ”I think

over the time I’ve been here, we’ve adjusted fairly well,

especially offensively, in putting together an offense that’s

suited for the strengths of our personnel, to be created in what

you’re doing in that regard.”