Win And In: ACC commissioner uncertain all 18 teams would play in league tournament in 2024-2025

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Win and you’re in.

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips, a fan of rewarding success, is unsure everyone in his super-sized league next season should make the cut for the 2024-25 conference tournament.

“I don’t know that we would invite 18 teams to an ACC men’s or women’s basketball championship,” Phillips said Wednesday at the league’s annual tip-off gathering.

The league adds Cal, SMU and Stanford next season.

There is a postseason flow that currently works for teams, fans and venues as the tournament runs from Tuesday through Saturday or, perhaps Wednesday through Sunday, Phillips explained. He didn’t want to disrupt that with an additional day to accommodate all teams.

“I don’t feel like that’s something that we should do,” Phillips continued. “I’ve told them that. I’m not speaking out of turn.

“You’ve got to earn your way to play in, the most prestigious basketball tournaments in the country, and if you don’t get to a certain threshold, then you just don’t make it that year.”

Phillips took Virginia Tech coach Mike Young by surprise. “The thought of all teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference not being in the ACC tournament is troubling,” he said.

His Hokies were a seventh seed for the 2022 ACC Tournament and won four games in four days, including an 82-67 win over top-seeded Duke, to clinch an unexpected automatic bid to the NCAAs.

“Now, our league’s going to get it right,” Young said. “But I didn’t like that thought from the commissioner this morning.”

Clemson coach Brad Brownell understands why Phillips believes a smaller field is better. He, too, thinks all potential Cinderellas should have a crack at the Big Dance.

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“I’d probably be for more teams than not,” he said.

Phillips said the ACC is working through many issues that will affect the larger league, including travel to the San Francisco Bay Area and to Dallas-Fort Worth. The conference, Phillips stressed, will ultimately do what its members want.

“We’ll listen to the membership and see what they have to say,” Phillips said.

Coaching diversity

The ACC had three head coach openings for men’s basketball, and all of them went to Black candidates at schools that previously had White coaches.

Former Syracuse player and assistant Adrian Autry took over for Jim Boeheim, former NCAA champion at Arizona and NBA standout Damon Stoudamire replaced Josh Pastner at Georgia Tech, and ex- Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry is Notre Dame’s new coach, following Mike Brey.

The trio gives the ACC nine minority coaches, by far the most among Power Five leagues and the Big East. The Big East is second with six minority coaches, followed by the Big 12 with five and the Big 10 and SEC tied with three.

The Pac 12, in its last season, has no Black coaches.

“That says a lot about our league because that’s not the way it is in our nation,” said Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton, who is starting his 22nd season in the ACC.

Autry believes all the ACC’s minority coaches are talented and capable of success.

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“I feel like everything is changing,” Autry said. “What our league has done puts us at the forefront of embracing [diversity] and giving people opportunity.”

Old man Bacot

North Carolina forward Armando Bacot is once more front-and-center for the Tar Heels.

Bacot, 23, passed on the NBA again this offseason to return to college. “This is my third time doing this,” he said at ACC Tipoff. “Has to be somewhat of a record.”

Bacot, at 6-foot-11, has gone from the NCAA championship game two years ago to missing the tournament after entering the year as the preseason No. 1.

“The big thing for me is this year is going out there and playing hard every possession,” he said. “If I do that, we’ll be in a good position to win a lot of ball games.”

Switching orange

Joe Girard III has traded in one Orange for another at Clemson. The ex-Syracuse guard was one of the best transfer portal players available and decided that staying in the ACC with the Tigers was his best move.

Girard averaged 16.4 points a game for Syracuse last season. He and Tigers forward PJ Hall (15.6 points average) are the top two returning scorers in the league.

Girard, who hit 38.1 percent of his 3s last season, has been impressive from the outside, according to coach Brad Brownell. Girard said in a recent drill he made 94 out of 100 from behind the arc, surpassing the 93 out of 100 team mark set by Hunter Tyson.

“Here’s your new record,” Girard told Brownell after successfully completing the drill.

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