The annual ACC Media Day is an event that helps get diehard ACC fans excited for the upcoming college basketball season.
While it’s a nice opportunity to hear from coaches and players around the league, it often delves into players giving nothing more than cliche quotes, reporters asking the same pointless questions to each person at the podium, and every coach being ridiculously optimistic about his team’s chances.
We get it.
Every coach likes his team’s chances of being competitive in the ACC.
There aren’t any teams that stand out above the rest because the league is so strong from top-to-bottom.
Every freshman has done a nice job of adjusting to the college game but still has a long way to go.
All the upperclassmen have been great about taking on more of a leadership role.
For the most part, you can predict what these guys are going to say without even asking them a question.
This is part of what makes it interesting when you get coaches and players who are willing to break the model and show more personality. Thoughtful and honest answers stand out because so few are willing to offer them.
Based on my experience from watching most of the day’s podium interviews, UVA’s Malcolm Brogdon, Duke’s Amile Jefferson, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim & Trevor Cooney, and Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams were the most entertaining.
Here are some of my other biggest takeaways from the day’s festivities.
Malcolm Brogdon gets my vote.
The Virginia guard was one of the most underrated players in the country last season, and we had a chance to see on Wednesday that he’s just as impressive off the court. Brogdon, a junior, was incredibly articulate and thoughtful with all his answers and seemed to have complete control of the room when facing the media. You can tell his composure and maturity are a natural fit with Virginia head coach Tony Bennett.
Buzz Williams is going to be great at Virginia Tech.
There’s an edge and honesty about Buzz Williams’ personality that should make him the perfect person for the rebuilding job at Virginia Tech. He comes across as a guy who will be comfortable developing a program with a chip on its shoulder that has to compete against the blue-blood programs of the ACC. His comments about introducing his wife and children to the Virginia Tech players soon after arriving on campus because he wants to instill a family culture is also great to hear.
Williams may have had the quote of the day at the end of his podium session. When the moderator told him “Good luck,” Williams quickly responded, “Thanks. We need it!”
They won’t need luck for long. He’s going to turn the Hokies into a huge pain.
Mike Krzyzewski expects a lot from Jahlil Okafor.
As part of his media appearances for the day, Mike Krzyzewski sat down with Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg for ESPN’s College Basketball podcast. Coach K had quite a few interesting comments about the state of the ACC and college basketball in general (which he often does in these settings), but one thing that jumped out to me was how he talked about distributing minutes for this year’s team. He acknowledged that Duke has 10 guys who could play, but everything will start with Jahlil Okafor, essentially saying “we’re going to give him as many minutes as we can.”
This is consistent with what we’ve heard the coaching staff say about Okafor for the past few weeks. However, shortly after mentioning the importance of Okafor, Krzyzewski also quickly mentioned Justise Winslow as another guy who’s standing out that will deserve lots of minutes. If these two freshmen are already living up to the hype, it’s a great sign for the Blue Devils.
Roy Williams needs a consistent message in response to the Wainstein Report.
I’ve been reluctant to say much about the Wainstein Report and the academic scandal at North Carolina because there have been plenty of other news outlets who’ve been providing great perspective on the issue, but it was the main topic of discussion for Roy Williams on Wednesday.
It obviously wasn’t his preferred choice of things to talk about, but it was the first time many reporters had the opportunity to question the UNC coach.
I’ll leave the argument about the type of penalties North Carolina deserves for another day, but it’s become clear to me that Roy Williams needs to figure out how he’s going to respond to questions.
He’s already become irritated about the subject being brought up so frequently, but this can’t come as some sort of surprise. It’s a scandal that took place over the course of 18 years. He’s mad that people are still asking questions one week after the report was released? Sorry, Roy. We may have short memories, but not that short.
The other issue is with his claim of being ignorant about the entire situation.
If that’s true, fine. If it isn’t, whatever. Either way, most people have likely already formed an opinion.
But if Roy is going to stick with his stance that he didn’t know what was going on, he can’t defend the integrity (lack thereof) and decision making of the people who were proven to be involved in the scandal.
Wayne Walden was named in the Wainstein Report as an individual involved with steering players toward the paper AFAM classes. Walden, who served under Roy Williams as an academic advisor at Kansas and UNC, basically kept the head coach in the clear by telling investigators that he couldn’t remember telling him about any of the issues taking place.
Whether he’s being truthful or not, Walden is obviously falling on his sword.
For Williams to tell reporters that Walden is one of the most ethical people he’s ever met in his life makes Roy look like he’s sticking up for his guy who has already admitted to being guilty.
If Williams is calling Walden ethical, it calls his own ethics into question, which is the last thing he needs right now.
Did you catch any of the coverage of ACC Media Day? Anything stand out to you? Let me know in the comments section.