Krzyzewski wouldn't mind if ACC grows to 16 teams

BY foxsports • October 12, 2011

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.''

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