Mike Krzyzewski

Coach K says ACC should get more NCAA tournament bids, dismisses Atlantic 10


NC State defeated No. 11 Syracuse in the ACC quarterfinals before bowing out to No. 7 Duke in the next round on Saturday. The Wolfpack are still on the wrong side of the bubble, which means come Selection Sunday, T.J. Warren — the ACC Player of the Year and one of the top scorers in the nation — will likely headline an NIT field.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is not happy about that. He told NC State head coach Mark Gottfried that at the end of the game and reiterated those statements in the post game press conference.

Then Coach K took out his frustrations on another conference.

“I’ll get in trouble probably for saying it,” Coach K said, according to Ryan Fagan of Sporting News. “Like the Atlantic 10, they’re a really good conference. I hear people saying there are six teams in there. Come on. I mean, they’re good, but put them in our conference and go through the meat grinder that our conference has to go through.

“That’s the thing. I don’t know if there’s a quantitative way of measuring the degree of difficulty that there is in playing in this conference or like a Big 12. You’ve got to be on all the time.”

Several weeks ago, following a loss to UMass, VCU head coach Shaka Smart mentioned that the Atlantic 10 is undervalued, and that there is a lack of sophistication as it relates to his conference.

“There are fill-in-the-blank, high-major programs and they carry a weight because of their name, first and foremost,” Smart said. “But the reality is if you look closer and you compare them to some of the teams in our league, I think our league shapes out pretty well. Again I’m not calling out anyone individually.”

In the latest edition of Dave Ommen’s Bracketology, the Atlantic 10 has six bids, though Dayton is still barely in the projected field. The ACC has five bids as Pittsburgh has likely secured a spot after defeating North Carolina in the ACC quarterfinals while NC State will have to sweat it out during Sunday evening.

According to kenpom.com, 10 ACC teams are ranked in the top 100. The Atlantic 10 has eight. In the RPI Top 100, both conferences have nine teams listed with five A-10 teams ahead of NC State. Combined, the nine A10 teams have more wins over RPI Top 50 teams than those nine ACC teams.

In 2013, the ACC won six tournament games. The A-10 won five — seven if you include Butler and Temple, which were conference members last year, but not this year.

Maybe Coach K doesn’t agree with the amount of bids each conference will receive this evening, but the A-10 has proven to be a major conference in college basketball recently.

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the NBCSports.com Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.