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October's Getting Closer!

Despite all the talk about the ACC becoming a football conference - and you
have to admit, they've basically taken the state of Florida away from the SEC -
the basketball tradition is still alive and well, and a potentially remarkable
season will begin in a few weeks. First some notes and points.

With the demise of the round-robin, the only true way to see who is best is,
once again, the ACC Tournament. The pressure of having to win to go to the
NCAAs is only there for bad teams now, but the regular season championship is
meaningless and should probably be junked, since you could theoretically win it
while only playing one game against Duke, UNC, and Maryland.

That's going to be even more true soon. With Duke, UNC, Maryland, Georgia
Tech, Wake Forest, and N.C. State already established, and Florida State not far
away, the conference is in great shape. Clemson is going to get better
fast under Oliver Purnell (they've had coaches who couldn't recruit and
recruiters who couldn't coach, but this is the first time they have a coach who can do both),
Miami made a smart hire in Frank Haith, who is a rising star in the profession,
and whatever happens with Pete Gillen, Virginia is going to have a gorgeous new
arena which will go a long way towards selling the program. Virginia Tech
is the weak sister and may be for some time.

This may also be one of the great eras in ACC coaching, too. Obviously,
legends are in place in Durham and Chapel Hill, Maryland has one of their two
best coaches (one could make an argument that Lefty was better, but of course he
never won a title), Paul Hewitt has made his name, Oliver Purnell is tremendous
though not well known yet, Herb Sendek, who seemed to be on tenuous ground a few
seasons ago, seems to be gathering strength in Raleigh, Skip Prosser is, in our
judgment, the best coach in Wake history, period, Leonard Hamilton is
known for building programs and has generated an amazing talent influx in
Tallahassee, and Frank Haith helped Rick Barnes to lay the groundwork for his
current success at Texas.

The talent is different now, of course - younger, more volatile, less
interested in sticking around. But as October draws nigh, we can feel the
interest around here rising. Football is definitely more interesting than
it used to be, but basketball is still the bomb. So let's get started with some