Of all the ACC basketball games, those between Virginia Tech and Duke are my least favorite. Sunday night was why.
Many are aware that I have closely followed Duke basketball for decades, more closely and much longer than I have followed the same sport at Tech. Through the good graces of a fellow Hokie who also holds an MD from Duke, I have often been invited to attend games in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Take away my years as a Tech student and I have watched more games in Cameron than in Cassell. I was in attendance Sunday and for only the third time in all of my years in Cameron, I found myself wearing a maroon polo shirt emblazoned with ‘VT’ and desiring something other than a victory by the Blue Devils.
I didn’t get it. As is usually the case when Duke plays basketball on its home turf in Methodist Flats, the Devils won. Nothing much out of the ordinary there. While this Duke team is a far cry from the dominant ones of years past, it is the class of a down ACC. What was different from this trip when compared to most, other than my rooting against Duke, was the style of basketball being played. I don’t particularly care for it.
There was Virginia Tech in all of its trash-talking glory, fouling constantly while complaining bitterly about the ones that were actually called, seemingly trying their best to turn an high-quality ACC match-up with much riding on the outcome into a gang fight from the ‘hood. It is the way Tech plays under Seth Greenberg.
It is the way all of Seth’s teams have played. The only thing that overshadows Seth’s lust for publicity is the us-against-the world mentality he fosters in his teams. Seth has a compulsion to play the victim card, over and over and over, even to the point of making up perceived slights. He has done it everywhere he has been, at least until he runs away in the middle of the night via a back door seconds before the whole house of cards comes crashing down. For all of the good Seth has done for Virginia Tech basketball, which is a lot, his ‘they’re all out to get me’ means of drawing attention to himself is very off-putting. So is the gang-fight method in which his teams play. Especially so to a Hokie also fond of the Devils who finds himself sitting among friendly wearers of the true blue and having to explain, if not defend, what is transpiring on the court.
What was transpiring on the court, in between all of the elbows and forearms thrown by Tech players, was a demonstration by Duke that they could match the tough-guy image Tech portrays. There are teams in the ACC that Tech has physically intimidated- Carolina without Tyler the Good and a McFarlane-less Wake pop to mind- but the Devils ain’t among them. After experiencing some difficulties with Tech’s street ball style following ACC expansion, Coach K has adjusted quite well.Tech kept it close for most of the game, but, in the end, Nolan Smith standing jaw to jaw with Dorenzo Hudson demonstrated that if Tech wants to play this type of game, Duke will oblige, and win.
Since arriving in its spiritual and cultural home, the ACC, Virginia Tech has contributed more than have the Canes and Fredo combined. Tech football is all that has kept the league’s football expansion from being even more of a failure than it is. Across the board, athletically and academically, Tech has demonstrated that it belongs in the ACC and is a valued member. It is past time for the basketball program to start acting like it.
Around the rest of the ACC, it ain’t too often you see two last-second shots go in, even less when they both come from the same team. Were it not for more Terp heroics, the Maryland assistant that called the time out nanoseconds before the heave by Grevis Vasquez went in would find himself exiled to Tony Bennett’s Hoo staff. From a Maryland standpoint, all’s well that ends well. Twice.
Speaking of Bennett, there probably won’t be too many Coach of the Year votes awarded to a guy whose team has spent the past week getting blown out in one game after another. All of the algrohed bball coaches who preceded Bennett also experienced early success in Hooville. Jeff Jones, Petey and Fallback Dave, however, did extend it past the first month of their first conference season.
Carolina demonstrated that even when they play relatively well against a fellow ACC standings laggard, they can still lose, as the Heels did against Fredo. That’s what happens when you attempt to play without a coach, as Ol’ Roy keeps reminding all that none of the mess in Blue Heaven is his fault.
Then there is NC State. Given up for dead since an improbable beat-down of Duke back in January, up popped El Sid’s pack of wolves to knock off Wake Forest. At least for last Saturday, Dino Gaudio’s team looked very much like last year’s, right down to the collapse after losing to Tech.
The ACC now moves to the home stretch of the regular season. Tech has a very important street fight game looming at Fredo. The loss to Duke must be shaken off, or all of the good done during the wins over Clemson and Wake will be neutralized and Tech will find itself right back on the NCAA bubble. Also on the horizon is next Saturday’s home game against Maryland. That could mean much in the way of ACC tournament seedings and byes. While it always interesting to observe the dual Oscar-worthy performances of Malcolm Delaney and Vasquez and the sideline antics of Seth and Gary Williams, hopefully some actual basketball can be squeezed in. That would be ACC basketball, rather than Baltimore street ball.
I am quickly reminded that my views on Seth are not shared by a number of Hokies. That doesn’t particularly bother me. My opinions are my own. I would point out, however, that the Comments section is at the approval of the moderator, me. It will not degenerate into a loon-infested message board.