GREENSBORO, N.C., OCT. 28 -- Once an orderly, tradition-bound group, the Atlantic Coast Conference finds itself dealing with changes on numerous fronts "more than at any time in its history," says North Carolina State basketball coach Les Robinson.
Robinson is a part of those changes, replacing Jim Valvano with the Wolfpack. He was here today along with another first-year coach, Virginia's Jeff Jones, for the league's annual preseason basketball meeting.
Jones's predecessor, Terry Holland, was also here. After 16 seasons, Holland left the Cavaliers to become athletic director at his alma mater, Davidson. He was in Greensboro getting material for a second new career as a television analyst.
With much of the conversation focusing on the ACC's pending addition of Florida State, there was minimal talk of shaking and baking and full-court pressure.
"There are a lot of things going on in a league where, often times, the only things happening were on the court," said Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski. "Maybe it's part of the changing times but it can be a little uncomfortable. I know Les and Jeff, but I miss Terry and Jim."
By January, Krzyzewski likely will long more for former players Phil Henderson and Alaa Abdelnaby. The Blue Devils were chosen to finish second behind North Carolina in a poll taken today. The Tar Heels, who some think had one of the finest recruiting classes in college basketball history, were picked first on 58 of 88 ballots.
Virginia finished third, followed by Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Clemson and Maryland. The Terrapins were picked last on 79 of the 88 ballots and their highest predicted finish was sixth.
"I think we can prove people wrong," said point guard Walt Williams. "People are counting us out just like they did last year. I'll love proving them wrong."
For that to happen, Williams will have to consistently show the brilliance he intermittently displayed last season, when he averaged 12.7 points and 4.4 assists.
Today, Terrapins Coach Gary Williams was not hesitant to say that those numbers almost will have to double if Maryland is to truly surprise.
"Basically, he's put the ball in my hands and says to make good decisions," Walt Williams said. "I don't want to press myself, saying I have to score this much or do this. I just want to go with the flow and see what happens."
If Williams can live up to his coach's expectations, he will certainly figure prominently in what will be many discussions on who is the league's best point guard.
With the exception of Clemson, each ACC school has its starting point guard back. Georgia Tech's Kenny Anderson has the biggest national reputation, but many here would just as soon take Williams, Duke's Bobby Hurley, North Carolina State's Chris Corchiani or Virginia's John Crotty.
"All I care about is who is the best point guard in the games I'm playing in," said Crotty. "To try and measure yourself against anyone else is too difficult. We each have our own way of playing -- Walt Williams is 6-8, Kenny Anderson is freewheeling."
With the departure of Dennis Scott and Brian Oliver, Anderson is the sole remaining component of Georgia Tech's Lethal Weapon 3. As such, he has to improve on a freshman season in which he averaged 20.6 points and eight assists if the Yellow Jackets are to contend for the ACC title.
"You play to be the best and you have to play against the best to do that," he said. "It's a lesson being in the ACC, but I don't care if someone thinks I'm the best. Everybody is going to have their opinion; you can't get caught up in that. You just try to be yourself and play -- it works out for me."