Commissioner pays tribute to decorated past, looks ahead to new groundbreaking ventures.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (theACC.com) – Atlantic Coast Conference basketball continues to move ahead and break new ground, but league history and tradition were very much on Commissioner John Swofford’s mind as he met with members of the media on Wednesday.
As Swofford welcomed his audience and began his opening remarks, he mentioned the presence of Bobby Cremins – who starred as an ACC player in the late 1960s and went on to coach Georgia Tech to the 1985 and 1993 conference championships.
“In a few minutes I'm going to talk about our history and the tremendous successes the league has had over the years …. I'm going to talk about the ACC Tournament a little bit, and all of those things remind me of Bobby,” Swofford said. “Because here's a guy from New York, where we're going to have our tournament this year, that played in the ACC on great teams, not good teams, great teams. The first ACC Tournament that I personally ever had the chance to attend in person was here in Charlotte, and Bobby Cremins played in it.”
As Swofford turned to the current state of ACC basketball, he welcomed new coaches Josh Pastner (Georgia Tech) and Kevin Stallings (Pitt) to the conference.
“They join an impressive group of coaches, including four of the active six Division I coaches that have been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame,” Swofford said. “Collectively, our coaches have just under 7,000 career wins, 10 national titles, 51 conference titles and 333 NCAA Tournament victories.”
Swofford added special congratulations to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.
“They just finished up, as you well know, with winning three gold medals in the Olympics with three different teams,” Swofford said. “That's just remarkable. I'm very proud that those two are a part of the Atlantic Coast Conference, very proud of them when they go out. That's not an ACC success, per se, but it's certainly an extension of our league, because that's just a remarkable run.
“Sometimes you win so much, and in the case of our national basketball team, that can be said. But some people don't fully appreciate it. And believe me, I do, and I think anybody who understands and knows basketball does. I did want to mention that right at the the beginning of talking about our successes.”
Bryan Kersey – long recognized by ACC players, coaches and fans for his work as a league official – takes on a new role this season as the league’s Supervisor of Officials.
“Bryan is no stranger to ACC basketball with 27 years of experience in our league, including 21 ACC Tournaments,” Swofford said.
This season will find Kersey, in conjunction with Big East counterpart John Cahill, managing the ACC/Big East men’s basketball officiating alliance.
“The alliance enables our conferences to work together on all officiating matters and will serve to enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials,” Swofford said.
The ACC will make history March 7-11, when the 64th annual New York Life ACC Tournament will be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the first time.
“This is an opportunity to showcase the premier conference basketball championship in the media capital of the world,” Swofford said. “Barclays Center is one of the best basketball venues in the nation and will provide an exceptional experience for both teams and fans with cutting edge technology, exceptional hospitality and incredible surrounding attractions.”
Swofford considered last season’s tournament at Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center a huge success for the conference.
“We thought it went extraordinarily well there,” Swofford said. “We think it was the best tournament we've had in the D.C. area.”
For the third consecutive year – and as it did for the first 28 years of existence – the ACC will play its tournament championship game on Saturday.
“I think the fact that we're playing our semifinals on Friday night and our championship game on Saturday night is a real plus for fans as well as the tournament itself,” Swofford said. “So we're pleased to be back to that. That's something we did a long time ago, and then went to the Saturday afternoon/Sunday afternoon format. That was successful. But it sure feels good to be back to the Friday night/Saturday night situation.”
The traditional talk of “any team” being able to win the ACC basketball championship once bordered on cliché, but Swofford noted that trophy has indeed made the rounds in recent years.
“One of the things about our tournament, some of you probably know this – some of you may not – but six different teams, six different schools have won the ACC Basketball Championship in our tournament over the last six years,” Swofford said. “Man, does that say something about the depth of this league year-in and year-out. It is really healthy thing for our league, and yet there were teams, obviously that didn't win the tournament during that time that went on to win national championships or play for national championships.
“So, again, there are just a lot of great things going on with the Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Tournament that we think are going to continue and continue.”