This isn’t my first item about Mike Krzyzewski’s sadness over Maryland’s departure from the ACC, and I reckon it won’t be the last.
“Now their fans, they don’t have a place,” he said of Maryland last January. “They’re outsiders. They really are outsiders. What price? What price is paid for that?”
“I’m sorry that Maryland’s not in the ACC,” he said last month. “I’ve spoken about it and I’ll continue to speak about it. And I wish they were still with us. You know, it doesn’t seem right, them not being in the ACC. And I wish that that didn’t happen.”
Well, this week was ACC men’s basketball media day. And that meant Coach K was on ESPN Radio with Scott Van Pelt. And there was no chance those two could have a conversation about ACC basketball without this coming up.
“How do you describe a new landscape for a very proud conference?” Van Pelt asked.
“Exciting,” Krzyzewski began. “I think what the ACC has done — and I don’t think it was the prime mover for doing it, for expansion — they’ve really [fallen] into the best conference for basketball in the United States. And when we add Syracuse, Notre Dame, Pitt and then next year Louisville, where a lot of conferences get new members and they’re worried about rivalries or loss of tradition and rivalries, we’ll have instant rivalries and instant tradition.
“The only sad thing for me — and I’m saying this because you’re doing the interview — is I would love to have Maryland still be a part of our conference,” he said. “I think that’s a mistake by both parties. But saying that, I think we’re going to have the best conference, and it’s exciting.”
“Since you brought it up, Maryland plays Duke Feb. 15, that’s the one regular-season game,” Van Pelt later said. “And it’s gonna make me sadder than I can possibly explain that that’s the last time that the Terps will come visit there. And I’m like you, I agree, I wish it were different, but it’s the reality of it. But I’m glad over the years at least I had the opportunity to let you know how I viewed it from my Maryland eyes. And it’ll be sad to me.”
“Well, it’s sad for me, because Maryland was one of the charter members of the ACC,” Coach K said. “And to me, I’ll always feel that Maryland should be in the ACC. Again, I don’t make those decisions. But I really feel bad that they’re not with us. And I think a lot of Maryland fans, when they hear me say that, say, c’mon, you don’t mean that. I mean it 100 percent.
“Two of my best friends in coaching are Lefty Driesell and Gary Williams. To watch them, how they built the Maryland program, to be in Cole Field House and the Comcast Center, to play in that type of an environment — once in a while you won and sometimes you lost — but you always were a part of something very very special. You know, it’ll be interesting how they build that up again. It’s one of those things that’s not gonna happen anymore. And that’s sad. I think it’s really sad.”