The Fourth of July means baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and college basketball?
Well, actually July is one of the busiest, and believe it or not, one of the most important months of the year for college basketball coaches. That crunch time started this weekend.
New recruits arrive on campus as future prospects participate in camps throughout the country. I caught up with Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg before he left town for much of the next few weeks to get his thoughts on the Hokies’ July goals and other topics.
Recruiting: “There are two 10-day recruiting windows in July, and our staff will be recruiting both nationally and internationally this month,” Greenberg said. “Lots of 5 a.m. flights. I’ll be in Indianapolis, Akron, Myrtle Beach, Augusta, Florida, Las Vegas, Phoenix, D.C. and back and forth between those places. Most of what we’re doing is for the [recruiting] classes of 2012 and ‘13. We have two or perhaps three scholarships to go. Rob [Ehsan] will be going overseas during this period.”
On July’s crazy schedule: “It’s too condensed,” Greenberg said. “They took April away and so now kids are playing on consecutive days, and we’re not always getting a good evaluation. You can’t get a clear evaluation of a kid if you’re watching games from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. one day, and in the next city from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. the next day.”
So what will Greenberg look for in July evaluations?: “Work ethic. Attitude. What kind of teammate someone is,” he said. “The best players have the best body language. I’ve been here eight years. I understand the kind of kid who can be successful here.”
Can he tell right away if he likes a player?: “Malcolm [Delaney], I knew the first time I saw him that he’d be our kind of player. I don’t sit with anyone at these camps. I’m the most anti-social coach there is. I take notes on my iPad. It’s all about evaluation. Plus, you’ve got to be seen. You’ve got to be a bobble-head doll so you’re seen.”
On the 2011-12 non-conference schedule: “We’ve got a tremendous schedule [Kansas State, St. Bonaventure, ETSU, at home. Oklahoma State, Rhode Island, and Minnesota on the road.] Plus, with the preseason NIT, we can play one to three more top-50 teams (Syracuse, George Mason, Stanford, etc).” Note: Greenberg later announced a series with BYU will begin this season in Blacksburg as well.
Has there been a change in scheduling philosophy?: “We are going to play better teams from non-BCS conferences. We’re going to shore up our ‘middle schedule’ and try to eliminate teams from the far right who are 250 [in the RPI] and below. We want to play more teams from the far left of the RPI. The culture is not what it was 10 years ago. There is no such thing as a mid-major anymore. There are teams out there from some conferences that get credit just for playing good non-conference teams, not even winning those games. You should get credit for winning games in the ACC.”
On ACC improving its basketball image: “It’s marketing. We’ve got to be more supportive of each other. After expansion, the initial perception was ‘if Virginia Tech is winning games in the ACC, and Boston College is winning games in the ACC, and Miami is winning games, then the league must be down.’ That’s just not logical.”
On ACC having seven players picked in the NBA draft: “Pretty odd that the ACC is supposedly down and we have seven guys picked in the NBA draft,” Greenberg said. “And Carolina could have had three guys drafted had they come out this year. Seriously, we would have had 10 players picked in the draft if they (Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, and John Henson) didn’t decide to return to Carolina. In the ACC, a team might be ‘down’ compared to where it was at some point in the past, but the league isn’t ‘down’ in terms of talent and the number of [future NBA] players you go against every night. Talent-wise, the league is never ‘down.’”
On Delaney not getting drafted: “He reminds me of Zabe [Dowdell] in his approach. He has a plan in place. He’s going to play professionally this year [France] and do that for a year or two and then get his shot again. The odds of a full NBA season being played this year are slim anyway. He knows now he’s going to play professionally this year so he has a good plan.”
On Jeff Allen: “I don’t know this, but I think he takes a different route. I’d say he goes more the NBDL route.”
On the makeup of the 2011-12 Hokies: “It’s a great balance. We’ve asked a lot of our upperclassmen to show the younger guys the attention to details and chemistry. Erick Green has shown great leadership this summer.”
On his new staff and staff turnover: “We have a really good mix of personalities and networks within our stuff. Jeff [Wilbrun] brings a professional approach to our operation. He’s a real ‘systems’ guy. Rob [Ehsan] has done a great job connecting with our players. He is one of those guys who has to be in the gym all the time. He came here, bought a house and wants to be a Hokie. John [Richardson] understands me more now. He’s going to be more aggressive since he’s been here for a year. He’s just terrific. JJ [James Johnson] is the cagey veteran. People need to understand that in basketball it’s different. Jay Wright at Villanova has always had staff turnover and yet they win. If you run a good program and teach guys how to work, you’re going are going to be in demand. You’re going to lose assistants. Three of mine have left to be head coaches (Bill Courtney at Cornell, Brad Greenberg at Radford, Dennis Wolff as the VT women’s coach).”
Greenberg and his staff all hit the road later this week. It may be mid-summer, but it’s serious time for college hoops.
For updates on Virginia Tech Athletics, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@hokiesports).