BOZICH | Krzyzewski says addition of Louisville "off the charts" - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Krzyzewski says addition of Louisville "off the charts" for ACC Basketball

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Rick Pitino (left) and Mike Krzyzewski and two of four Hall of Fame basketball coaches in the ACC. Rick Pitino (left) and Mike Krzyzewski and two of four Hall of Fame basketball coaches in the ACC.
 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Add Sports Illustrated to the list of publications convinced that basketball in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season is going to be worthy of more cover shots.

SI ranks Kentucky Number One, but follows that with four ACC teams placed in its top 11 – Duke (4th) Louisville (7th), Virginia (9th) and North Carolina (11th).

The ACC has not pushed a team into the Final Four since Duke won the 2010 title in Indianapolis. In other words, the league has been 0-for-the-last-4 seasons. That streak should end in 2015.

The ACC figures to crackle this winter in ways it has not crackled for years. Ask Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. At ACC media day in Charlotte, N.C., last week, Coach K sounded almost as energized by the arrival of Louisville as he was by the presence of his high-octane, four-player recruiting class.

“If we were in business, this would be, the acquisition of Louisville basketball would be, off the charts,” Krzyzewski said. “Just off the charts.”

Raising the profile of the league?

Coach K nodded to that idea.

“And I would hope raise theirs,” Krzyzewski said. “Mutually beneficial. I'm anxious to see … how Louisville playing against different ACC teams, what spark there is.

“There will be a spark. I'm sure when we play them (at the KFC Yum! Center Jan. 17) that will be a big-time game. It will be an event. How many conferences can have games? Our conference can have events.”

Krzyzewski is correct. Duke vs. Louisville equals an event. Louisville vs. North Carolina equals an event. Louisville vs. Syracuse equals an event. Duke vs. North Carolina has long been two events – one in February, another in March.

The presence of four Hall of Fame coaches – Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino (U of L), Roy Williams (UNC) and Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) – makes it so.

Duke vs. Syracuse last season became an instant ESPN Classic.

“Our two games against Syracuse last year were magical,” Krzyzewski said. “There's a chance that those things will happen now (with Louisville).

“Just because of where the four of us are at in our careers, Roy, Jim, Rick and myself, us being the coach of one of those franchises, one of those assets makes it even cooler. It makes it better.”

Krzyzewski's admiration for Pitino is considerable. It has been for more than two decades, since the two coaches were matched in the game that was so unforgettably compelling that it deserved its own book – Duke's 104-103 overtime victory against Kentucky in the 1992 East Regional championship game in Philadelphia.

Krzyzewski and Pitino also played twice during the 2012-13 season, a season that ended with Pitino winning the game that mattered as his U of L program bounced to the NCAA title.

As a student of the game who grew up in the Midwest, Coach K's knowledge of Cardinal basketball stretches back to the days of Wes Unseld and Butch Beard. He understands what the ACC is getting in this transaction.

“A tremendous asset,” Krzyzewski said. “Just Louisville, the total history of Louisville  and its passion for the game, its accomplishment in the game, how people religiously follow it.

“To bring Louisville in with Rick Pitino being the coach, you're talking about one of the giants of the game.”

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