Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner always relishes the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Championship on his schedule, even if he is enthusiastically considering no longer playing matches ins empty arenas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It will be nice to meet people in a certain normality, in person and to meet people in the stands "Pastner said.
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And yet, it will be anything but a normal season for the lore-rich basketball league.
This is the first in nearly two decades that Hall of Fame member Roy Williams will not coach North Carolina. This is Hall of Fame member Mike Krzyzewski's final round in a 42-season career at Duke, as other veteran coaches move closer to their own eventual final. Acro lists the conference has transformed amidst the upheaval of the new world that is easier to transfer.
It all comes as the league tries to restore its reputation after a disappointing performance in the NCAA tournament.
The league is changing, or evolving as Virginia coach Tony Bennett says. It's unclear exactly what things will look like by the end of the coming season.
"I just don't know " Bennett said on Tuesday at thee league preseason media day. "It 's more and more difficult as we talk about establishing dynasties, dominant - maybe even conferences because of transfers now and early departures. So that makes it difficult.
"But it's still a basketball league. It's still a big league. "
Williams - who won three NCAA titles at UNC - announced his retirement in April. The team turned to the 'Assistant coach Hubert Davis, a former Tar Heels player under Dean Smith and a 12-year NBA veteran.
The Tar Heels are coming out of two bumpy seasons that have been on Williams, first a 14-19 season in 2020 and an 18-11 season last year. Now it 's up to Davis to put things back on a steady upward trajectory.
"Our children, they are desperate to be relevant, "said Davis. " They are desperate to have their own stories and propsres testimonies and their own memories. ... They want to have the experience of playing big games, hitting big hits and winning championships. It's a great place. "
Above rival Duke, Krzyzewski announced in June that he would retire after this season and move to associate head coach and former Blue Devils player Jon Scheyer. Krzyzewski is
The Blue Devils come out of their own year like this of Duke: A 13-11 season that included withdrawal from the ACC tournament due to COVID-19 concerns before missing the NCAA for the first time since 1995.
"It's a change of power, "Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said of the two retirements, " and the rest of us are not complaining at all. "
The decisions of Williams and Krzyzewski drew thewatch out for another Hall of Fame in Syracuse 's Jim Boeheim, who is entering his 46th season with the Orange and will be 77 in November. But Boeheim, who won the NCAA Championship in 2003 when Syracuse was in the Great East, doesn't say when he might call it a career.
"I've been coaching for a while and have " I've seen 10 Hall of Fame coaches that I know very well retire, "said Boeheim. " The other eight didn't affect me and neither did those two. "
Beyond Boeheim coaches veterans Leonard Hamilton, 73, entering his 20th year at Florida State; Jim Larranaga, 72, in his 11th year in Miami; and Brey, 62, in his 22nd season with the Fighting Irish.
"We are going through one of those times of transition," said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips in an interview with The Associated Press. "But you welcome me in new coaches all the time. And then this nis not one or the other. It's not just the Hall of Fame coaches, and then the coaches who are just starting their careers. You have another team right behind them. "
For this year, anyway, the pressing issue is to get back to playoff victory.
The league was coming out of A formidable five-year race leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Duke (2015), UNC (2017) and Virginia (2019) winning national titles. nine nominations in 2017 and 2018, close to his public goal of become a 10-candidate league when the ACC added Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame in 2013.
But after the pandemic called off the 2020 tournament, the ACC flopped in 2021.
Five of the seven teams that made Indiana -The bubble tournament did not win a game , FSU and Syracusemaking the deepest runs to the Sweet 16. And the ACC record of 4-7 was his first loss in the NCAA since 1987.
Answers are coming, he's coming. Whether it's just one bad year or the start of a tougher battle for the ACC to maintain its position.
"I think that's what you want to do take it "said senior Duke striker Joey Baker. "You can say the conference is going down or you could say it was a weird year because of COVID. I guess we will find out this year.