Better late? Never, coaches say to starting basketball on Nov. 1 In ACC, they want more preparation

GREENSBORO, N.C. — GREENSBORO, N.C. -- As with nearly everything else in life, there are two ways to view the NCAA's mandate that the start of basketball practice be moved this year from the customary Oct. 15 to Nov. 1.

If you're a coach, it's terrible.


If you're a player, however, the extra 16 days without practices can be a time to focus on studies, get into condition for the season at hand, or just do nothing.

Reactions seemed to fall along those lines Sunday during Operation Basketball, the annual Atlantic Coast Conference preseason media briefing.


Most coaches viewed the later practice start -- mandated by the NCAA's Presidents Commission in the January 1990 session -- as an unnecessary intrusion into their preparation schedules.

"They [the players] are put into a stressful situation without being fully armed," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. "Eventually it will erode the quality of the game."

North Carolina coach Dean Smith said, "I look at it like the presidents did what they thought was the best thing for the student-athletes, but they didn't ask the student-athletes themselves. On most campuses, most students know something about soap operas. Maybe we shouldn't have soap operas after Oct. 15."

But most players took the change in stride, feeling they were able to manage the additional time just fine on their own.

"It's just great," said Virginia senior Doug Smith. "I know the coaches hate it, but it hasn't affected us much. They need to move it back even more."

Malcolm Mackey, a Georgia Tech senior, said, "You're still playing ball, even if it's just a pickup game. I was ready to get it going."

Most coaches said the reduction in preseason practice time from six weeks to four has forced them to move more quickly to introduce new systems and taken them away from teaching.

"We see it in our freshmen," Krzyzewski said. "I liken it to learning a new dance. Tony [Moore] doesn't know the dance steps. You hope you don't have a lot of athletes playing college basketball who don't know the dance steps."


Others saw the decision as the latest in a series of assaults on the coaching profession by college administrators.

"Coaches are perceived as an evil and I don't think that's fair," said Maryland women's coach Chris Weller. "We are the ones who see them the most and we are going to care about the total person. It's hard to do that when you only have so much time to interact with them."

Maryland men's coach Gary Williams said, "I know that a lot of people don't believe that you want your players to do well in the classroom, but as your players do well, it's good for your program. It creates good things."

In other developments, the conference announced an agreement with Home Team Sports to carry more than 50 hours of ACC sports on the regional cable sports channel.

HTS will carry eight ACC women's basketball games, six of them live, including Maryland home games in January and February against Virginia and Georgia Tech, respectively.

In addition, the channel will carry championship events in all ACC sports except men's basketball as a part of its periodic "ACC Sports Sunday" magazine show.


All-ACC preseason awards

First team Bobby Hurley, Duke

Rodney Rogers, Wake Forest

rTC Grant Hill, Duke

Eric Montross, North Carolina,

Sam Cassell, Florida State


Second team Malcolm Mackey, Ga. Tech

Douglas Edwards, Fla. State

George Lynch, North Carolina

Kevin Thompson, N.C. State

Thomas Hill, Duke

Player of the year Rogers, Wake Forest


Rookie of the Year Johnny Rhodes, Maryland