Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg Named ACC Coach of the Year
March 11, 2008
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Nobody expected much from Virginia Tech before the season, and after a 39-point loss last month at North Carolina, those expectations dipped even further.
The Hokies could have packed it in - but instead, they made an unexpected, late push toward the top of the league standings and put themselves in the conversation for the NCAA tournament.
And for orchestrating that turnaround, Seth Greenberg was named the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coach of the Year on Tuesday for the second time in four seasons.
Greenberg, who took a Virginia Tech team picked to finish 10th and guided it to a 9-7 league record and the No. 4 seed in the ACC tournament, received 25 of 90 votes cast by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.
Frank Haith had 23 votes after guiding Miami, the preseason last-place pick, to a fifth-place finish, with North Carolina's Roy Williams (17), Clemson's Oliver Purnell (15), Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (8) and Wake Forest's Dino Gaudio (2).
"I'm very proud of what our staff accomplished this year, and (what) our team accomplished this year," said Greenberg, who also won in 2005. "There are so many coaches in our league that did such a tremendous job. ... For people to feel that we got the maximum out of our kids this year is appreciated, but not expected."
Greenberg didn't have many experienced players to work with back in October when he had to replace five graduated seniors, including scoring threats Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon, from a team that made its first NCAA tournament trip since 1996. He crafted a rotation that includes six freshmen and a sophomore to complement leading scorers Deron Washington and A.D. Vassallo.
"I thought we had a chance to be a good basketball team because our young players came from winning programs and our veterans had success last year," Greenberg said. "Our team had a little chip. We had a cause. We came in with very little expectation, very little respect."
The Hokies started 14-8 and won five of their first eight ACC games before going cold, dropping three straight in league play. That rough stretch included losses at eventual last-place team North Carolina State and a 93-52 rout at North Carolina after which Greenberg said he wasn't sure if "John Wooden could get much out of this tape."
Looking back, Virginia Tech did manage to extract a few lessons out of that defeat, because what followed was a four-game winning streak that catapulted the Hokies back up the league standings.
"We talked about trust at the start of the season. We really learned about trust after the Carolina game," Greenberg said. "We really learned to respect each other and what everyone brings to the table to help the team be better. That's a hard thing when you have so many young players. Our players have always had good team chemistry, and they've always liked each other, but trust is developed. Trust is earned."
A regular-season-ending loss at Clemson cost Virginia Tech (18-12) the No. 3 seed in this week's league tournament, but their lofty position in one of the nation's toughest conferences has the Hokies under consideration for a second straight spot in the NCAAs.
"This march to try to make the tournament, this is not a burden because there was no expectation," Greenberg said. "They created expectation. Nobody gave them anything, and they need to enjoy it and have fun with it and embrace it and not use it as a burden."
The voting for the 2008 Atlantic Coast Conference coach of the year, as determined by 90 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association:
Seth Greenberg, Virginia Tech (25)