Story by Chris Graham
You’re Seth Greenberg, and you want to be happy about how far your team has come this year.
I mean, you were picked to finish 10th in the league by the media types who get to vote on these kinds of things.
That has to be some motivation as you sit on the bubble of an NCAA Tournament bid this late in March. Right?
“I don’t get caught up in that stuff,” Greenberg said in his weekly teleconference with reporters as his fourth-seeded Hokies began to get themselves ready for this week’s ACC Tournament.
Virginia Tech (18-12, 9-7 ACC) will play the winner of #5 Miami-#12 North Carolina State Friday afternoon.
“If I was selecting, and I knew how good this league was, and I knew that we were graduating 4,000 points, you’ve got to pick someone ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th. And that’s the thing. There are so many good teams that anyone could rationalize picking anyone anywhere, excluding maybe one and two. So there’s a very thin line, and all we’re trying to do is get better. And if we spend an ounce of energy worrying about where we’re getting picked, or what someone thinks about us, in the game, out of the game, on the bubble, off the bubble, you can’t spend time worrying about those things. You can only spend time worrying about things that you have control over, and that’s trying to get better. Why waste time on that other stuff,” Greenberg said.
“All the magazines picked us 12th or 11th. So, I mean, I thought you guys were actually a little kinder to us. So I appreciated that,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg stresses every time he gets the chance to do so that all he’s worried about is the next 40 minutes. It would seem that his next 40 might be the most important in his coaching career. The conventional wisdom is that Tech will need at least one win in Charlotte, and maybe two, to secure an invite to March Madness on Selection Sunday.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish this past season,” Greenberg said. “I think this team has really matured and grown and developed a good chemistry and a really good trust as this season has moved forward. We’ve dealt with the adversities that the ACC is all about, and yet we’ve had our own adversity. People talk a lot about our close wins, but it’s real simple. We’ve also had some very tough, agonizing losses, and we’ve been able to deal with that.
“We’ve been on both sides of making the game-winning shot and losing the game at the buzzer. But we always seem to rebound, cleanse ourselves and kind of move forward. And that’s what we’re trying to do,” Greenberg said.
The secrets – those fabulous Virginia Tech freshmen, led by future star Jeff Allen (12.4 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game), and a change in attitude.
“We had a pretty big freshman class, and they all came from winning programs, and they expected to win. And they didn’t know what they didn’t know. That worked in our favor, and it also worked as a detriment. We had to get them to understand what they don’t know in terms of how hard you’ve got to play and how hard you’ve got to compete,” Greenberg said.
“It’s all part of the process of changing a culture and changing an expectation. I talk to our team a lot about when those guys who graduated last year were freshmen, there was no ownership, there was no passion, there was a minimal amount of interest and expectation. Now we’ve got great crowds, we’ve got great ownership. Our students came back early to celebrate Senior Night. There are a lot of great things going on that are obviously the residual effect of having an NCAA Tournament year, probably,” Greenberg said.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The SportsDominion.