In a town where the football coach has been a fixture for the past 25 years, coaching uncertainty is an unusual feeling for Virginia Tech fans.
Yet after the men’s basketball team’s poor start to this season, people have started to wonder about head coach Seth Greenberg’s future at the university.
For a team projected to be on the rise in the ACC this year, the squad’s 12-8 overall record and 1-4 mark in the conference has been seen by some as a disappointment.
No one was expecting the Hokies to win the league, but the hype surrounding incoming freshmen, like Dorian Finney-Smith, has made some wonder if a change in leadership would be appropriate.
It is hard to dispel some of the criticism surrounding the team. The team’s best non-conference wins are a pair of victories over Oklahoma State, and its lone ACC win was a low-scoring affair against University of Virginia.
Greenberg’s teams have only made one NCAA tournament in his seven years as coach. And this team doesn’t seem to be on track for recognition. It is undeniable that the team has deserved to be included certain years, but one for seven doesn’t look great on a resume, regardless of the circumstances.
However, these critiques can only go so far. Greenberg may not have tournament victories to show off, but he is still the best man for the job.
The latest recruiting class has been among the best Tech has ever brought in. Finney-Smith has had his ups and downs, but he can really fill up the stat sheet when he gets going, and many of his struggles can be attributed to freshman jitters and playing out of position.
Robert Brown has started to find his way recently, averaging eight points per game and earning starting opportunities. C.J. Barksdale has shown similar flashes and only needs to find more consistent playing time to hit his stride.
The team’s record does not necessarily indicate its quality of play either. Several of these losses have been extremely tight — the Florida State, Boston College and BYU defeats — and can be attributed to a lack of veteran presence on the team.
A dearth of veterans — often due to injury — has proved to be the team’s undoing the last several years.. J.T. Thompson is the most notable player who has struggled with injuries, and both Dorenzo Hudson and Cadarian Raines have been beat up over the course of Greenberg’s career.
Greenberg’s critics are also quick to overlook how well he can motivate the team for big games.
The big rivalry win over U.Va. on the road this year certainly represents Greenberg’s fine job of inspiring the team.
He even deserves credit for the team’s excellent first half against North Carolina. The Hokies weren’t able to pull out the win, but to contend so well against the Tar Heels’ superior talent speaks to his coaching ability.
More than anything, Greenberg is the face of the program. He’s always animated at press conferences, and his charisma has undoubtedly been part of putting Tech basketball on the national stage.
Even if people only know the Hokies for Greenberg’s sarcastic comments about another tournament disappointment, they still know them. Another coach can’t necessarily command that kind of attention.
It’s been said by some that Greenberg will remain coach as long as Jim Weaver remains athletic director, and it’s hard to disagree.
But those calling for his job should consider what he’s already done for this program and what he can do in the future.