Bobby Cremins got his wish today . . . almost.
Speaking at the annual preseason gathering of Atlantic Coast Conference coaches, players and media members, the Georgia Tech coach pleaded with the assembled press not to put pressure on his team by picking it to do great things this season.
The Yellow Jackets were 19-11 last season, return their top six players and have two very good freshmen. Duke and N.C. State are in similar positions.
The Blue Devils, 24-10 last year, were picked today as the media's choice to win the ACC title, getting 43 of 92 first-place votes. State, 19-14 last year, got 25 first-place votes and was picked second. Cremins' team got 18 first-place votes and was picked third.
North Carolina, which has finished first or second 18 years in a row, was picked fourth, followed by defending champion Maryland, Virginia, Wake Forest and Clemson -- which got 77 eighth-place votes.
It is a coaching tradition to play down preseason expectations, but Cremins went even further today. "I'm extremely concerned that we've gone from respectability to greatness in the minds of a lot of people," he said. "We're still going through a lot of growing pains . . .
"I'm afraid if we don't live up to all these expectations, our kids will get down, they'll lose confidence in us and we'll have a terrible season. I'm not lying to you, I'm not trying to con you. I just hope we don't fall on our faces."
Cremins was followed on the program by Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski. "It's funny how when you're out recruiting in September you hear about guys in other programs talking about how great their program is, how great their team is, how great their players are," Krzyzewski said. "Then when you get close to the season, you hear about all the problems people have.
"I'm not going to go through all of that. We have a good program and a good team. I don't know if we're the best in the league, but we'll compete."
A few minutes later, State Coach Jim Valvano began by saying, "Let's see, what am I supposed to say? Oh yeah, we have a bad team, a really bad team. Think of the worst team you've ever seen and we're worse than that."
All of this preliminary squabbling means nothing, of course. Duke was picked seventh last year and finished third in the regular season, reached the ACC final and went to the NCAA tournament.
League coaches met today and reportedly voted, 6-2, to recommend to the league that ACC coaches be barred from working all-star camps. The move is directed at Virginia assistant Dave Odom, who has worked at the Five Star Camp since he was a high school coach. Cliff Ellis, Clemson's new coach, was the only coach to support Odom and Virginia . . . Virginia leaves Monday for Hawaii, where it opens Friday against Providence.
Injuries: Anthony Jenkins, Clemson, has a torn Achilles' tendon and is out for the season. Wake Forest's Todd May broke his foot again and has left school. Georgia Tech's Craig Neal re-injured his right wrist (operated on this summer) and will be examined Tuesday. Duke's David Henderson is hospitalized with back problems, has not practiced for a couple of weeks and the date of his return is unknown. Duke's Martin Nessley will be out at least 10 more days with a knee problem.
Walker Lambiotte, a 6-6 forward from Woodstock, Va., has signed a letter of intent with N.C. State. Lambiotte, the younger brother of former Virginia guard Kenny Lambiotte, became the fifth player to commit to N.C State this fall.