RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – As the VCU Rams prepare for Friday’s NCAA tournament game against Stephen F. Austin State University, Rams head coach Shaka Smart is making headlines for his reaction to recent comments by Duke University hall of fame basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Following Duke’s win over N.C. State Saturday at the ACC tournament, Coach K lobbied for the Wolfpack to get into the 68-team NCAA tournament field while taking a swipe at the perceived strength of the Rams’ Atlantic 10 conference.
“I’ll get in trouble probably for saying it,” Krzyzewski said. “[I] like the Atlantic 10; they’re a really good conference. I hear people saying there are six teams in there [worthy of making the tournament]. 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.”
When asked about the comments during his Monday press conference, Smart fired back.
“I’m not going to take a shot at other people’s leagues. That’s just not the way I was raised by [his former head basketball coaches] Oliver Purnell and [Florida head coach] Billy [Donovan] and people like that. That’s low level,” Smart said.
Click here to watch Coach Smart discuss Coach K’s comments
“Comparing your own league to someone else’s league is like me saying ‘my daughter is cuter than your daughter.’ There’s a level of bias that comes into play that you shouldn’t even make those comments,” Smart said. “Let’s just have a level of respect for each other.”
Smart’s comments seem to contradict what the coach said two years ago about VCU’s conference at the time, the Colonial Athletic Association.
“The reality is if you go by the numbers, if you go by postseason, if you go by even guys going to the NBA, the best programs in the state are in the CAA. It’s really not even close,” Smart was quoted as saying in the Washington Post. Both Virginia and Virginia Tech are members of the ACC.
The conference war of words will ultimately be decided on the basketball court.
Both the ACC and A10 received six bids to the NCAA tournament. N.C. State won its opening round game Tuesday night and will face A-10 regular season champion St. Louis on Thursday night. As for VCU and Duke, they would not match-up until the national title game.
The last time the Rams and Blue Devils squared off in the NCAA tournament was in 2007. VCU won 79-77.