Story by Chris Graham
Listen to today’s “SportsDominion Show,” featuring interviews with Virginia Tech basketball coach Seth Greenberg and Virginia basketball coach Dave Leitao.
Interesting column over the weekend by Bob Lipper of The Times-Dispatch contrasting the approaches of UVa. basketball coach Dave Leitao and Virginia Tech basketball coach Seth Greenberg.
Not that Dave Leitao was among those who saw the piece.
“No, no. One thing I think I’ve done a great job is – no disrespect, but I haven’t read that paper in a long, long time,” Leitao said today during his weekly teleconference in response to a question on the Lipper column posed to him by Roanoke Times gadfly Doug Doughty.
What Doughty was really trying to get at was a quote attributed to UVa. freshman center Mike Scott in the col that seemed like a direct shot at the coach.
“We’re not playing with confidence,” Scott told Lipper. “Seth Greenberg’s team – all the freshmen are playing with confidence. Sometimes we’re walking on egg shells. We don’t want to mess up.”
One definitely gets that sense when watching the Cavs play of late – and the egg shells are getting more and more difficult to tiptoe around as the slide, now at seven losses in eight games, deepens.
“I don’t look at it in having to deal with frustration,” Leitao said in response to another question in today’s teleconference, put out there by Jeff White, the UVa. beat writer from the paper that Leitao says he doesn’t read.
“I think we’re all frustrated -losing as opposed to winning brings about that. But we can’t really deal with that so much because there’s far too much basketball information and preparation day by day that really supersedes frustration. Because if you allow that, if you allow yourself to be frustrated, then obviously you don’t coach as well, you don’t play as well. And although you have to understand that part of it is there, you just cannot succumb to it,” Leitao said.
No frustration to speak of at all down in Blacksburg – where Greenberg has his loosey-goosey team firmly entrenched in third place in the ACC with a surprising 5-3 conference mark at the halfway point of the 2007-2008 campaign.
Two of the five wins have come at the expense of the struggling ‘Hoos – both in overtime. Another win came by one point at home over Maryland, and a fourth came in overtime on the road at Boston College.
“I think there’s a residual effect of winning some close games,” Greenberg said during his more relaxed teleconference this afternoon. “You know, your practices are better. You have more bounce in your step. I think your kids have greater trust. Having said, we’ve played eight games in the league, and number nine has nothing to do with the first eight. And if you think it does, then you’re fooling yourself.
“It might have something to do if you’re Duke or North Carolina, but if you’re Virginia Tech or the rest of the field, you’ve got to just say, Well, that last one was pretty good, and we’re happy that we found a win to win it, obviously it’s given us a little confidence, but we’ve got a lot of basketball to play, and we’ve got to do it 40 minutes at a time,” Greenberg said.
Speaking of residual effects, Leitao did eventually address the comments attributed to Scott in Lipper’s T-D column.
“The position that Mike is in is we’re asking so, so much of him to essentially be the back line and stabilization of our defense, and you saw in overtime the other day where he probably went for a couple of steals, which he wouldn’t do normally, especially that late in the game, where you probably know that you’re the guy that’s going to have to be the back line, to get that stop, to deflect a shot, or just provide help defense,” Leitao said.
“That’s part of the growth process that unfortunately one has to go through. And I don’t know that that should get you frustrated. It should probably, for a young guy, anyway, provide excitement – because you’re learning, and you know that through your mistakes you’ll get better,” Leitao said.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The SportsDominion.