Sunday, March 30, 2008

Will Greenberg Stay at Tech?

Virginia Tech basketball coach Seth Greenberg has shown just how good a coach he is in the last two seasons. In 2006-07, he guided the Hokies to arguably the best season in their history.

Tech finished 22-12 and 10-6 in the ACC, earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and reached the second round.
The season also included wins over No. 5 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium and season sweep of North Carolina, including a win over the Tar Heels when they were ranked No. 1 in the country.

This past season, the Hokies were picked to finish 10th in the ACC. The young team struggled early on, but came together late in the season and earned a No. 1 seed in the NIT.

Tech reached the quarterfinals of the NIT and finished with a 21-14 record. The Hokies were also 9-7 in ACC regular season play and earned a bye in the conference tournament, where they made the semifinals. The season was successful and unexpected. Greenberg and the coaching staff got much more out of a young team than anyone could have expected.

The freshman who contributed experienced some growing pains early, but played like veterans late in the year. A.D. Vassallo grew both as a leader and a player. I give the coaching staff all the credit for this. I was down on Vassallo most of his career because I didn't think he played hard enough on defense and didn't work hard enough without the ball on offense to get open. Now, I have high hopes for his senior year when he will be the leader of the team.

Greenberg has built the Hokies into a formidable opponent in the ACC. No longer do teams view a trip to Cassell Coliseum as an easy win. The question now becomes, will Greenberg stay at Virginia Tech and continue to build the program, or will he take another job at a higher profile program if the call were to come.

Providence College recently fired head coach Tim Welsh. While that news probably didn't register on the radar screen of many Hokie fans, it did with me. Greenberg is a tremendous coach who is going to eventually get attention from other programs. While Providence may not give Greenberg a call yet, there's no reason to say that they wouldn't consider him.

There are reasons for Coach Greenberg to both stay and leave. The Hokies are on the rise and he has a chance to build a program and put his signature on it. Tech is also in the ACC, which Greenberg has said helps him recruit players he didn't have a shot at while at previous jobs. And, there isn't as much pressure at Tech. The fan base isn't used to having a good basketball program.

The flip side of that coin is that Tech is now and always will be a football school. No matter how much success Greenberg has, Hokie fans will always care more about how the football team is doing. Basketball is part of the distraction that gets fans to the fall. Look at Florida. The Gators won back-to-back basketball titles. But I doubt you'll find anyone in Gainesville that considers UF to be a basketball school.

I don't think about Hokie basketball much until football season is over, and I consider myself a college basketball fan. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the Hokie basketball team isn't on much in Oklahoma. The other part is that I just care more about the football team's injury reports and how we're going to handle the other team's defensively line on Saturday than I do about the hoops team until after the bowl game.

I could see Greenberg getting frustrated by the football focus and moving to a basketball-first school like PC, which doesn't even have a football team. Being in the Big East would allow him to still recruit the better players in college basketball.
I don't see Greenberg taking a step down just to be at a basketball school, which is why I don't think he would take the PC job if they came calling. But it would be a basketball conference and a return to the Northeast.

I think if Greenberg did leave, it would be for a school like St. John's, DePaul or even another ACC school. If Tech continues to finish in the top four of the ACC every year, he's bound to get an offer he can't refuse or Tech can't match.

As Coach Greenberg continues to grow the Virginia Tech program, he's bound to start getting calls from other school looking for a new basketball coach. The question is: Will he answer?

Should He Stay?

- ACC school (recruiting, TV)

- Less pressure

- Build a program

Should He Go?

- Basketball school

- More money

- Return to Northeast (if that's important)

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