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Steve DeShazo on the ACC basketball coaches gathering
By STEVE DeSHAZO
There was Williams, who has made a career of tilting at windmills and decrying every perceived slight, testifying about the rigors of life in the ACC.
"If you play Duke and Carolina back-to-back, you may lose that third game because you're beat up, even if you should win," he said.
And there was Hewitt, one of the most reasonable men you'll meet, citing the ACC's No. 3 ranking last season in the conference Ratings Percentage Index.
"People don't respect how hard this league is," he said. "We need to look at how we market ourselves. People remember back in the late '70s and early '80s, when the best two or three players in the country were in the ACC. That's not the case now. There are great players everywhere. This isn't 1983 or '82. This is what college basketball in 2006 looks like.
"This is still the best conference. Every year, we still get the best classes, but they say we're not as good. Every year in the NBA draft, I hear a lot of our players' names called."
Yes, mistakes are made in the NCAA selection process. Air Force had no business being in last year's tournament.
But there's a flaw in the ACC's argument. It doesn't really matter how good a conference is; it's the strength of the individual teams. And beyond North Carolina, Duke, B.C. and N.C. State, the ACC didn't have a fifth worthy representative last winter.
FSU beat No. 1, then killed its chances with a loss to last-place Wake Forest in the ACC tournament. Maryland? A 3-7 record from Jan. 28 through Feb. 26 killed the Terps. Virginia, Miami and Clemson all finished 7-9 in the league.
Wilt Chamberlain once said that no one feels sorry for Goliath, and the ACC won't get much sympathy by whining. The way
But the game isn't played only on the court anymore. Williams cited Valley commissioner Doug Elgin's pre-tournament PR campaign as a reason for his league's record haul of four bids. The ACC is now firing back.