Hall of Fame basketball coaches continue to gravitate toward the ACC


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — First-year Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams made it clear that he relishes the chance to build a winning program at one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s doormat — or dormant, in his opinion — programs.

“It’s easy to do it at places that have done it before. It’s kind of like, do you want to buy a house that someone has already lived in or do you want to build your own?” Williams said.

The former Marquette coach is also aware of the mansions standing in this neighborhood of coaches.

Mike Krzyzewski* Duke 983
Jim Boeheim* Syracuse 948
Roy Williams* North Carolina 724
Rick Pitino* Louisville 696
Jim Larranaga Miami (Fl.) 531
Leonard Hamilton Florida St. 441
Mike Brey Notre Dame 399
Mark Gottfried N.C. State 349
Jamie Dixon Pittsburgh 288
Brad Brownell Clemson 241
Jim Christian Boston College 236
Brian Gregory Georgia Tech 215
Tony Bennett Virginia 175
Buzz Williams Virginia Tech 153
Danny Manning Wake Forest 38
* indicates member of Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

With this year’s addition of Louisville, the ACC boasts a Mt. Rushmore of college coaches as four of the five active men’s basketball coaches in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame are now in the conference (Rick Pitino joins Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim).

“I think it’s pretty special. I think that all four coaches understand why they win, and are very humble about it,” Pitino said. “We all know it’s the players.

“See, the older you get, the more humble you get, and you realize why you win. When you’re young, you invented the game. When you’re in your 50s and 60s … you understand why you win.”

While the fifth member of that category — Southern Methodist coach Larry Brown — is unlikely to join the ACC any time soon, the four legends are relishing the chance to see each other on a regular basis.

“I’ve been playing golf with Roy Williams for over 30 years. I hired Rick Pitino 38 years ago [as an assistant coach] and I’ve been good friends with Mike [Krzyzewski] for 30-some years,” Boeheim said.

Krzyzewski might garner the most national attention this year when he becomes the first men’s coach to reach 1,000 career victories. He’s just 17 shy of the mark and Duke’s 17th game is Jan. 17 at Louisville.

“Some things are just going to happen. Like on that day — hopefully it’s this year — … it’s just going to happen,” Krzyzewski said. “On that day, I’ll be emotional and I’ll understand the relevance of it, which I will, just like I did in Madison Square Garden against Michigan State [when he passed Bobby Knight for the all-time victories record].”

Boeheim’s 948 victories are second behind Krzyzewski. Roy Williams’ 724 are fourth among active coaches, while each coach has at least one national championship. Pitino has 696 victories in college, with him being the only one of the four who has coached in the NBA.

Buzz Williams figures he’ll enjoy the historical significance while he can.

“I don’t know that there will ever be a league, in your generation or my generation, that will say that a fourth or a fifth of the league coaches were active Hall of Fame members,” Buzz Williams said. “Coach K will win more games than maybe any coach ever. Coach Boeheim is going to finish right behind him in second, and then it’s hard to argue with what they’ve done.”