Legendary Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski was critical over the weekend of five schools from the A-10 receiving an at-large bid to the Big Dance, basically saying that the A-10 isn’as competitive as the famed ACC.
“I’ll get in trouble probably for saying it. (I) like the Atlantic 10, they’re a really good conference,” Krzyzewksi said. “I hear people saying there are six teams in there. Come on. I mean, they’re good, but put them in our conference and go through the meat grinder that our conference has to go through.”
Monday, Smart countered Coach K’s claim, saying that the A-10 is as deserving of their NCAA berths as any conference in the nation.
“First of all, comparing your own league to someone else’s league is like me saying that my daughter is cuter than your daughter,” he said. “There’s a level of bias that comes into play that you shouldn’t even make those comments. Secondly, coaches are too busy to be an authority on someone else’s conference.
“I know our league really well because we’ve been in our league preparing for our league, but I don’t know much about anyone else’s league beyond the teams we’ve played in non-conference play,” he said.
Smart also ripped Coach K’s comments as being self-serving and low-level.
“You kind of want to stand up for your league … a lot of this league solidarity, like a Duke guy standing up for N.C. State, that’s all self-serving too. Let’s be honest. ‘Our league is great because it’s our league.’ It’s a lot of that. Let’s just have a level of respect for each other and let’s respect the nine people on the selection committee and the work they put into to picking the 68 teams.”
Smart’s success at VCU has made him a hot commodity during college basketball’s off-season and one of the most desired head coaches in the NCAA. Standing up for his league is admirable, even more so when he’s doing it against a coach as beloved as Coach K.
To Smart’s credit, his VCU teams have advanced as far as the Final Four in the tournament and made it to at least the third round in their three previous appearance. Maybe Smart’s claims are the most accurate here, not Coach K’s.
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