BOZICH | Five hot questions for ACC Operation Basketball - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Five hot questions for ACC Operation Basketball

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Rick Bozich has five questions he'd like to have answered at the ACC's Operation Basketball. Rick Bozich has five questions he'd like to have answered at the ACC's Operation Basketball.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – In the Atlantic Coast Conference, they call it Operation Basketball because when you have one of best leagues in the game you can call it something sexier than media day.

Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Charlotte, N.C. Team photo featuring Hall of Fame coaches. An all-day preview of hoops in the ACC, a league that is expected to crackle with half of the top six teams in the nation – North Carolina, Duke and Virginia.

The basketball, basketball, basketball story line will be interrupted Wednesday by the absence of Louisville coach Rick Pitino. He decided to stay home rather than deal with questions about the investigation about the Stripper Scandal at U of L.

Pitino said it is on the advice of his attorneys. Skeptics say he does not want to be confronted by question after question in an environment that he cannot control.

Either way, the show goes on. Here are the Five Questions I’d love to have answered.

1. Who will be the first coach to toss a zinger at Pitino?

That’s easy -- Jim Boeheim of Syracuse. Eric Crawford of WDRB, who is making the trip to Charlotte with Tom Lane, and I agreed on that Monday.

There’s a short list of  coaches with the chops to take on a Hall of Famer. Can’t imagine Brad Brownell of Clemson or Buzz Williams of Virginia Tech saying a peep. It’s not part of Mike Brey’s personality at Notre Dame.

Roy Williams? Don’t think so. He’ll be handling questions about the UNC academic fiasco and his team being picked to win the league.

Mike Krzyzewski? Coach K and Pitino are friends. Coach K usually remains on the High Road.

But Boeheim?

Make sure your microphone is turned on.

Boeheim was perturbed at Operation Basketball last year when he was directed to sit in a ballroom and answer questions about the NCAA investigation into his program. In fact, word spread in the afternoon that Boeheim was not going to speak in the breakout sessions.

But he did. He did not say much, but Boeheim usually enjoys the give and take because he can be counted on to give as much as he takes.

Boeheim has known since Friday that Pitino will not stand in there the way that he stood in there last season. He’ll be prepared.

2. Has Coach K Stolen Coach Cal’s Playbook?

The world howled when John Calipari put Kentucky basketball on the course to One-and-Done Heaven in 2010. He was soiling the college game. His players only had to go to class for one semester. Somebody needed to change the rules.

Calipari made the Final Four in 2011, won the NCAA title in 2012 and made the final game in 2014 – with most of his roster turning over every season.

Kentucky won 38 straight games last season but did not win the national title. Duke did – featuring three freshmen who exited Duke for the NBA several months after cutting down the nets.

Now Coach K is back with another powerhouse pre-season team that features two or three possible one-and-done guys.

What’s the difference between Coach Cal and Coach K these days?

3. How will the productivity of Damion Lee and Trey Lewis translate to the ACC for Louisville?

This is a test tube season for the Cardinals. Louisville does not return one player who averaged five points per game last season –  at least not for U of L.

Pitino is counting on Lee and Lewis, a pair of senior transfers. Lewis averaged 15.8  points for Cleveland State. But that was the Horizon League. You won’t find guys like Marcus Paige and Malcolm Brogdon in the Horizon League.

Lee averaged 21.4 for Drexel, a team that plays in the Colonial Athletic Association that finished 11-19. Nice league. But a one-bid league.

If you check Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency ratings from last season, Lee was ranked the third-most efficient player in the Colonial. Lewis was the fifth-most efficient guy in the Horizon League.

How will their numbers translate against swifter, stronger and taller competition?

4. Can Virginia be as good in March as the Cavaliers are in January and February?

Tony Bennett has built a solid program in Charlottesville, a program that does not approach the game the same way as the other ACC powers.

Virginia wins with defense. Virginia wins by limiting possessions. Virginia wins with three- and four-year guys.

Virginia has failed to make the Elite Eight the last two seasons, stumbling against Michigan State. Last season the Cavaliers were slowed by injuries – and their inability to string together effective offensive possessions.

But folks are still going to ask: Can Virginia win the six NCAA Tournament games that matter playing that grinding style?

5. Can Notre Dame keep rolling?

Mike Brey has yet to make the Final Four in South Bend, but the Irish were one possession away from achieving a regional title last season.

Brey won 32 games last season with an entertaining team that could attack at all five spots. But he lost guard Jerian Grant as well as sharpshooter Pat Connaughton.

Will guard Demetrius Jackson and center Zach Auguste have a strong enough supporting cast to keep the Irish in the top tier of the ACC?

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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