The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
When: Every Monday from 7:00-9:00 during football season, 7:00-8:00 during basketball season.
Where: Click here for a list of radio stations, and to find the link for listening to the show on the Internet (look to the right on the hokiesports.com page that loads when you click the link). You can also watch the archive on hokietv.com.
Greenberg began the show by saying that the coaching staff went recruiting after they were eliminated from the ACC Tournament on Thursday night. Greenberg went to D.C. to watch a game, and then flew to New York to do some work for CSTV. On Tuesday he will head back out to recruit again. They had a team meeting on Monday to let the players know exactly what would be going on for the next six weeks. He also had meetings with several individual players on Monday afternoon.
Greenberg said they did enough good things to beat Virginia, but they did enough bad things to lose. They defended, but couldn’t come up with a 50-50 ball. They did a great job on Sean Singletary (8 points) but didn’t do a very good job against J.R. Reynolds (23 points). Tech certainly had a chance to win the game. It goes back to the same thing, not making plays. For example, J.J. Redick hit an 18-foot fade away jumper with a defender all over him to help Duke get past Miami. Duke made the plays they needed to win. Against Virginia, the Hokies did not, missing several open shots down the stretch. Tech got the looks they wanted, but just didn’t knock down the shots.
Greenberg said there is no pity party going on in Blacksburg. The team knows they were close, but there are a number of things they need to improve on. Those things will be addressed in the offseason. They have a terrific core of players returning. Fans will get down after a season like this, but no one has more invested in the program than the players and coaches.
Some things the Hokies need to do better include defending the small forward, rebounding the ball and making free throws. Those will be priorities in the offseason. Greenberg also said he sat down with several players and made it clear that they have to earn the trust of their teammates back. They have to do this by showing great work ethic in the offseason. They have a plan, and they are not diverting from the plan.
In year one, the team far exceeded everyone’s expectations. The same thing happened in year two. No one is ready to jump off the bridge because this year was disappointing in wins and losses. This program is far ahead of where anyone thought it would be at this point. Two recruiting classes ago, things didn’t look very good. Greenberg said the program is “eons” ahead of where they once were. They had a setback this year, but no one is going to panic.
Greenberg talked about Marquie Cooke, saying that was a scholarship the team was counting on this year. He hopes Cooke gets his life straightened out [editor’s note: Cooke transferred to Colorado State and was dismissed before the season], because he is a talented kid and he’s not a bad kid. The program is very close to doing some very good things. They have had certain things not go as planned, such as the Cooke situation and the off court incidents this year.
Greenberg said the Hokie Nation has been tremendous this year. They have offered a great deal of support, not just in basketball games, but through letters and emails as well. They share all of the emails and letters with the players.
At the beginning of the year, Greenberg said VT needed to improve on rebounding, defensive transition and free throw shooting. They were one for three. Their defense in transition was outstanding this season, but free throw shooting and rebounding did not improve. In fact, they have already started work on free throw shooting in the offseason. In rebounding, their backs were against the wall with Coleman Collins not playing as well as he is capable. It didn’t help that Robert Krabbendam and Allen Calloway missed the entire season as well.
Greenberg said they do block out drills until they can’t do them anymore, but they are turning it up a notch next year. He said he would start the team on what he called “war drills”. It is a drill where a player puts the ball up on the glass, and the rest of the team just pursues the basketball as hard as they can. In this drill, guys just have to get tough and knock each other over to get to the ball. It will teach toughness.
Greenberg said the NCAA Selection Committee made a huge statement on Sunday. It is apparent that they are really going to evaluate the power conference teams by their out-of-conference schedule and who they play on the road. Greenberg said they have a tough job, but some of the things they do don’t make sense. They can tell FSU that they didn’t play enough good teams out of conference, but they can tell Missouri State that their RPI of 19 wasn’t good enough. And then they can tell Air Force, who really didn’t beat anyone, that they are in despite their poor schedule and high RPI (50).
VT has a dilemma. If they go 8-8 in the ACC but upgrade their OOC schedule and only win 17 games overall, they probably won’t make the NCAA Tournament. You need to win enough games, you need to have a good RPI and you need to win enough games in your conference. You have to have the right mix. VT spent last week studying the Missouri Valley Conference, the CAA, St. Joseph’s and some other schools to see how they schedule. Those teams aren’t getting huge boosts from their conference schedules, but still have good RPIs.
Greenberg said the Hokies will play George Washington next year, but he did not specify where the game will be played. There are a number of other possible games on the board right now. They will be in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge, they are looking at another exempt tournament, and they are looking at another national game. They will eliminate most of the schools ranked between 200 and 300 from their schedule so they don’t drag VT’s strength of schedule down.
Greenberg told the players that they are supposed to have a good basketball team next year. They now have to schedule appropriately, expecting to be a good basketball team. You can’t have a bad loss. Greenberg said he is in favor of adding an extra day to the NCAA Tournament so that 128 teams get in. Send 32 teams to the NIT, and you still have a lower percentage of teams in postseason play than you do going to a football bowl game.
Greenberg then interviewed Beth Dunkenberger, whose team had just been named a #7 seed in the Women’s NCAA Tournament. They will face #10 seed Missouri in the first round. Dunkenberger said that until you hear your name called, you are always nervous about getting into the tournament. She said she has been on the outside looking in before. She said she was somewhat familiar with Missouri because Bonnie Henrickson keeps her up to date on all the Big 12 teams. They aren’t exceptionally talented, but they play well together.
Dunkenberger said she gave the team a few days off, and when they came back they had some of the most intense practices that they’ve had all season. They seem like they are fired up and ready to go. Virginia Tech would likely play UConn in the second round, if they get past Missouri.
A caller asked Greenberg about the outlook of the team next year, and also about incoming recruits. Greenberg said basically the entire team will return next season. The key is getting them back mentally, physically and emotionally. They have five or six guys coming back who have extensive experience playing at the highest level. Also, Robert Krabbendam will be back, hopefully weighing about 250. They will have Terrance Vinson back, and he will provide some athleticism.
As far as recruits go, Nigel Munson is coming in, and he is a terrific point guard. He is a guy that people love to play with because he delivers the basketball. Lewis Witcher has a chance to be a terrific player as well. The guys that are coming in will help to continue to build the program and continue the process.
Greenberg said Terrance Vinson just got back into town today. He met Vinson at the airport today when he got back into town. He had been back home dealing with the death of his grandmother. He’s in good spirits, and his back [the reason he redshirted] is feeling much better. He will start working out tomorrow.
Robert Krabbendam has been back from his knee injury for some time and is practicing with the team every day. Greenberg said he gave the team the next two weeks or so off, but Krabbendam and three or four other players were still in the gym working out today. He is lifting four days a week right now. A.D. Vassallo was another player who came in voluntarily. Krabbendam has had a good redshirt year because he has approached it the right way. He didn’t see it as a vacation, but used it to get better. He has changed his body and made vast improvements to his game. They have to get him more assertive in blocking shots, but he has made great progress.
Greenberg was asked what the team improved on from their first season in the ACC. He said it is hard to compare, because players change, and obviously this year so many guys missed time. He said defensive transition really improved, and turnover margin stayed at the top of the ACC. Jamon Gordon really improved his game this year. A.D. Vassallo improved as he got playing time. Deron Washington improved his ball handling and shooting.
Greenberg went on to say that the team needs to improve on the initial push in their speed game. They obviously need to be able to shoot the ball better. They need to get the right guys shooting the ball. But the guys in the program are really committed to making things right in the offseason.
The staff issued some pretty blunt challenges to the team today, and Greenberg will meet with each individual player in the coming weeks to give them his expectations for the upcoming season. They were given a self-evaluation questionnaire today. The players evaluated themselves as players, students and people. They gave feedback on what the staff could do to help them. They gave their opinions on what they need to do as a team to improve. They rated the other players on the team as teammates, from 1 through 15. This is to ensure that each player thinks about the team first.
Greenberg said they will begin to evaluate the release of each player’s free throw shot. If a player isn’t shooting a certain percentage in practice, then his release will be altered whether he likes it or not. Free throw shooting, defensive rebounding and rebounding effort will all be addressed in the offseason. They will also look at the final five minutes of each game, and the first five minutes of each second half, and try to learn from their past mistakes.
Greenberg said he wants to get the main starters down to around 30 minutes per game next season. They need to be fresh for the end of the game. This could help them from the three-point line and the free throw line. Their defensive field goal percentage also has to improve. Tech played more zone than usual this year, and that hurt their field goal percentage defense. They will have a lot of depth next season and a lot of different lineup options. They want to put their system in during preseason so they will have time to alter it during the season. They will evaluate the newcomers and make some tweaks, but right now they are planning on having 10 or 11 guys in the rotation, if they stay healthy.
Greenberg closed the show by giving his Final Four. He predicts that Duke, BC, UConn and UCLA will be in the Final Four. UCLA has great guard play, and BC has a difficult style of play to defend. UConn is the most talented and mature team in the nation.
- Monday was day 465 Virginia Tech’s continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup and day 522 of Virginia Tech’s continuous possession of the Black Diamond Trophy.