Best Seat in the House column by Chris Graham
We saw a side of Dave Leitao Wednesday night that I hope I personally never see again.
“Mm-hmmm” was all the UVa. basketball coach could muster to the last of the five questions – that’s right, five – that he took at his postgame press conference following the Cavs’ 70-69 overtime loss to Virginia Tech.
I had the presser at 00:04:16 on my digital recorder – and that included a few seconds before and after his remarks to the media, such as they were, to set and then retrieve the recorder from the table where he sat to address us.
I think longtime Virginia media-relations guru Rich Murray deserves a medal or at least a gift certificate to the local Applebee’s for stepping in and cutting the conference short after the “mm-hmmm” answer, incidentally – because things were starting to get mighty ugly at that point.
By that point, Leitao had already dressed down a young reporter I think representing a college paper who was trying to ask a question of the coach about the lack of an effective second scoring option – basically embarrassing him in front of the assemblage by attacking the premise of the question, and then directing another reporter to answer the question for him.
That was out of line times 10 – because as SportsDominion correspondent Scott German speculated to me after the game, “How much do you want to bet that that kid ends up dropping journalism now?” after being called out by a major-college head coach like that.
I wasn’t fond of the way he dressed down Daily Press beat writer Melinda Waldrop, either, for the record, interrupting her twice as she tried to get a question out about Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg’s move to put senior forward Deron Washington on UVa. guard Sean Singletary on the Wahoos’ last possession.
I know full well that these have to be tough times for Coach Leitao – the pressure is on, indeed, given the current three-game losing streak following a 10-2 start that came on the heels of Virginia’s NCAA Tournament appearance a year ago.
I guess I just wish that Leitao would realize that it wasn’t me, for example, or anybody else in the media room, or any of the fans out there wearing orange, for that matter, who didn’t get out on A.D. Vassallo or didn’t box out Jeff Allen or couldn’t hit an open three.
Unless, that is, he’s trying to get us media types to hate him – so that we write stories like this one about him and in the process leave his team alone so that they can focus on things like checking three-point shooters and boxing out on defensive rebounds and draining jumpers and the like.
I’ll say that if that was his goal, he’s at least succeeded here …
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The SportsDominion.