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Another Snub

Throughout his twenty-year career as a head college basketball coach, Seth Greenberg has had plenty of opportunities to explain why his teams were not chosen for the NCAA Tournament. The most recent Selection Sunday with its most recent snub of Virginia Tech, provided the latest.

A week ago, Tech had seemed a lock to finally shed Seth’s NIT tag and provide him with a rare appearance on the bigger NCAA stage. But, as has usually been the case for a coach who lusts for the limelight as much as Seth, when given close proximity, his team, again, came up small. In their first and only ACC Tournament game, the Hokies had acted as if they had never before encountered a zone defense, losing to the ACC’s worst team, the Canes, for the second time in three games. Malcolm Delaney looked much more like a guy who has made game officials very weary of his theatrics and constant complaining than the All-ACC guard he is.

There were some compelling storylines in Greensboro before Duke won its 9th ACC basketball championship in the last 12 years. None belonged to Tech. While Frank Haith was putting on a coaching clinic and El Sid was rallying his troops into the semi-finals, Seth was back in Blacksburg indulging in his media obsession and regaling followers of his Twitter posts with a frenzy of tweets about how good was his team, despite all ACC Tournament evidence to the contrary.

There did not seem to be many followers of Seth’s numerous tweets among members of the NCAA’s Selection Committee. Faced with scraping up thirty-some at-large contestants from what was described as the weakest pool of candidates in years, the committee again found reasons to exclude Tech. Although his coaching accomplishments have been few from a won-loss standpoint, Seth can now lay claim to being the only ACC coach to ever win 10 conference games and still miss the NCAA Tournament.

The reason for Tech’s latest NCAA snub was fairly simple: a woeful schedule. There wasn’t much that could done about the ACC rotation that had Tech twice playing the five worst teams in the league, except perhaps not lose to a Fredo team whose record gets a little worse every year they are in the ACC, or drop 2 of 3 to the Canes. Who knew that the bottom would drop out at Carolina, devaluing Tech’s win over the Heels?

What was well within Seth’s control, however, was the OOC. Clocked at 339 out of 347 D-1 teams, it was incredibly weak. While most of the other ACC teams were spending December engaging in contests worthy of catching the eye of ESPN, Tech was feasting on a murderer’s row of UNCG, Longwood and NC Central, among others. There had been a season-long suspicion that Tech’s gaudy win totals had been achieved at least partly through the liberal application and usage of scheduling smoke and mirrors. It turns out the Selection Committee saw it the same way.

Despite the 10 ACC wins achieved against the easiest conference schedule possible, Tech’s OOC was a millstone around the team’s  RPI  neck. All of the ACC teams that Tech beat and made the NCAA had better ones. You have to play a really weak OOC for that to happen. Tech did.

Following the CBS presentation of the field in tones generally used when announcing the selection of a Pope, the ESPN talking heads launched into hours of bracketology. Seth, on the other hand, engaged in victimology. Seth dearly loves to play the victim and, given his track record, has had numerous opportunities to become really good at it. He was at his best on ESPN, defending his indefensible schedule, whining that nobody wanted to play him and, of course, campaigning for an NCAA field expansion that would finally make him a big tournament coach. Who knows, he might get his wish.

He might also get to indulge on a wider scale his media fetish. After all, there are more television cameras located in New York City, home of St. John’s, than in the entire state of
Virginia. The ‘Seth to St. John’s’ rumors floated around the Greensboro Coliseum around the time Tech was clowning its way through its Wednesday public workout and Seth was tweeting that his team was ‘focused and ready to play’ before laying the egg against the Canes. When microphones are stuck in front of Seth, his usual reaction is to talk, talk, then talk some more. He displayed a rare reticence when asked about St. John’s.

Given that these things rarely make the papers unless there is at least something behind them, it can be assumed that back-channel contact has been made between Seth and whatever nick St. John’s goes by these days. Given that there were also hints in the NYC papers that Rutgers was also interested, it would seem that Seth’s agent has been a busy man. Whether Seth wants to return home to the bright television lights and big city remains to be seen. Given his penchant for playing the victim, Seth would seem a perfect fit for the long-suffering Dorks.

Or, Seth could be using the NY/NJ schools to frank jimmy for more cash from Tech. That would certainly be a neat trick, given Tech’s basketball financial constraints due to the relatively low amounts of revenue generated by the smallish Cassell. Seth would have learned well from those golf dates with Frank at Ballyhack. It should be noted, however, that Frank’s instincts cause him to frank when the iron is hot, not following a disreputable showing against the Canes.

That will play out down the road. In the meantime, Tech heads, yet again, to Seth’s familiar stomping grounds, the NIT. The game against Quinnipiac, whoever they are, should have Cassell rocking. There does loom a potential second-round date with UConn. Seth would be able to garner at least some collateral television face time from all of the camera crews that follow Jim Calhoun.That would beat the novelty of a one-and-done in the NCAA, eh, Seth?


  1. JoshC — March 15, 2010 #

    It seems pretty clear that, while Seth did bring us up from the depths of Stokesdom, we’ve risen to his level of incompetence.  I certainly don’t see a reason why an annual mid-February to early-March collapse merits our participation in a bidding war for his services — if anything, I’d be happy for SJU, Rutgers or whoever else to save us the eventual trouble of firing his rear end.


  2. JDanWuff — March 15, 2010 #

    When’s the Spring game…………………………


  3. Bon Air Hokie — March 15, 2010 #

    Hind sight is 20-20.  Let me remind folks that the conference’s Operation Basketball picked us 8th in the preseason poll.  We finished in a tie for 3rd.  I’m not going to look up past predictions but I have a sneaky suspicion that Seth’s teams have beaten the predictions almost every year.  In my book, that’s an indicator that maybe the teams have over achieved a bit and that may have just a little bit to do with coaching.  We certainly don’t have the talent level of some of the schools but it’s getting better and finishing in the top half (or better) in the ACC just might have something to do with the coaching.   Seth padded his schedule this year but he also had some bad luck with teams that were top 50 last year, drop out of the top 100.   You can look it up.
    Seth is a big step up from Allen, Hussey and Stokes.  He also has had a lot more success in his first six years than someone named Frank who went 2-9, 3-8, 6-4-1, 6-5, 5-6,  and 2-8-1.  That’s 24-40-2 if my math is any good.  Seth is 130 and 92.  I’d say he’s doing ok considering the miserable condition he inherited.  We can play with anyone in the ACC and beat them and that after 6 years isn’t too bad in my book.


    Jim Reply:

    The comparisons with Stokes are not valid. Ricky never had a fair chance at Tech. What would Stokes’ record have been had he been given the budget and stable conference situation available to Seth? Terry Holland, who had both on his Hoo staff, thinks it would be about the same. Even with the handicaps, Stokes still brought in two players who anchored the only NCAA team Seth has produced at Tech.


  4. '71 Hokie — March 16, 2010 #

    It wasn’t that long ago that missing a televised VT basketball game was no big deal.  Now I try real hard not to miss one.  Why?  Seth Greenberg’s affect on the program.  IMHO.  


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