Welcome to the ACC, Tony Bennett.
We’re not sure if the snail’s pace basketball you used to become one of the nation’s hottest coaches in 2007 and 2008 will work at Virginia. But you seemed like a decent guy when we met you in Charlotte last year for the NCAA Tournament regional, and after suffering through three seasons of Dave Leitao, Virginia needs a decent guy.
In a little more than a month, you will find yourself seated in a Ritz Carlton conference room on Amelia Island near Jacksonville, Fla., with the rest of the ACC’s coaches. Here’s what you need to know about them as you join the conference:
Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams: They are not as clumsy as they look in their “Guitar Hero” TV commercial guest spot. K likes fine wine and Roy likes to play golf. And though they may seem friendly, Roy will run circles around you in recruiting and K will simply outcoach you during the course of a game.
Sidney Lowe: He’s a really loud whistler. And he's a strong X's and O's coach. His ability to build a program, though, has yet to be proven.
Oliver Purnell: You don’t want to play his team in early January. You do want to play Clemson in late February or March. It may be because the Tigers’ full-court press wears them out.
Paul Hewitt: Don’t get too close to him, because he might not be around too long. He’s a heck of a recruiter and a highly principled leader in the college basketball world, but his teams are never as good as the sum of their parts.
Gary Williams: If you could put Hewitt in charge of recruiting and Williams in charge of game coaching, you’d have one of the strongest programs in the country. Williams might be the best X’s and O’s guy in Division I, and he’s not a maniac away from the court even though he looks like one while he’s coaching.
Al Skinner: Here’s another guy who will flat-out take your lunch. How he beat North Carolina and Duke with a team that consisted of Tyrese Rice and not much else this season is almost impossible to figure.
Seth Greenberg: This is the coach in the ACC you’d most want to have a beer with. Unless you were a referee. For some reason, he always seems like he thinks the officiating tilts against his team.
Leonard Hamilton: If you need a primer on how to coach defense in the ACC, this is your guy. If you’re interested in offense, you might want to consult somebody else.
Frank Haith: He’s still a good coach even though his team underachieved this season. But when you see him, be thankful you landed where you did. Miami is just not a college basketball town.
Dino Gaudio: Don’t worry if he doesn’t have much to say. He’s still trying to figure out how a team with three future first-round NBA draft picks could get hammered by Cleveland State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
One more piece of advice, Tony. Make sure you’re wearing a sweater when you leave your room at the Ritz for the conference room, which is the coldest place in the ACC region other than the Greensboro Coliseum media room.
In the meantime, good luck getting started at Virginia. The new arena there is gorgeous and the fans will be excited to have you around. It won’t be difficult to generate more good will than Leitao did, so you should have a nice grace period as you prepare to build a winner when you start without much talent.