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Greenberg still coaching, but in a different fashion
The former Hokies coach says he still checks Tech’s basketball scores, but realizes it’s “not my team.”
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
Seth Greenberg has moved on to commentary after coaching Virginia Tech.
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg celebrates with Erick Green (11) after beating Virginia in Charlottesville last season.
RICH ARDEN | ESPN Images
SportsCenter anchor Max Bretos (left) with college basketball analysts Jay Williams and Seth Greenberg.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Seth Greenberg has been spending the winter shoveling a lot of snow and talking a lot of basketball.
The former Virginia Tech coach has been offering his opinions on television, radio and the Internet in his first season as a studio analyst at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn.
While the season is over for his former team, Greenberg still has four weeks left in his. He will be on the air every day from now until the end of the season, culminating in a trip to Atlanta as part of the ESPN crew giving analysis from the city that will host the Final Four.
“I’ve been given this great opportunity and a great platform,” Greenberg said in a phone interview. “I’m very excited about what I’m doing every day.
“It’s been hard on my family — it’s a different lifestyle. But I feel like I’m still in the game of basketball. I’m coaching the viewing audience.”
This is the first season in his adult life that Greenberg, 56, has not been a college basketball coach. He spent nine seasons as Virginia Tech’s coach before being fired last April.
Greenberg lives in Avon, Conn., with his wife, Karen, and youngest daughter, Jackie. His eldest daughter, Paige, graduated from Tech three years ago and his middle daughter, Ella, graduated from Tech in December.
“It’s been harder for Karen and Paige and Ella and Jackie. They miss having a team,” Greenberg said. “That team was our family, an extension of our family. We took a lot of pride in that.
“On the other hand, I’ve had more time to spend with them. And I’m not getting any younger. It’s afforded me an opportunity to see some things in a different way.”
Working with Jay Williams, Andy Katz or Rece Davis isn’t quite the same as working with Erick Green, Malcolm Delaney or Zabian Dowdell.
“The thing I miss the most is the interaction with the players,” Greenberg said. “I miss the kids. I miss the relationships.”
Did he check Tech’s scores this season to see how his former players were doing?
“I check all the scores, but obviously I followed my guys,” Greenberg said. “But I’ve stayed away from it. That’s not my team. It’s someone else’s team. I love those kids, but it’s not my team.”
Greenberg provides halftime and postgame analysis during ESPN’s game telecasts. He also appears on the nightly highlights show “College Basketball Live.” He enjoys interacting with Williams when the two are in the studio together.
He also makes regular appearances on “SportsCenter.” He likes those segments because he gets to use video to help tell a story, such as what makes Gonzaga so good.
He spends two hours a day reading about teams online. He also calls three or four coaches each day for insight into their teams and leagues.
“I’ve always been a basketball fan. I’m one of those guys that stayed up late at night and watched games all night. So it’s not like this is new to me,” he said. “But getting deeper into those teams — their strengths, their weaknesses, the key players around the country — you’ve got to do your homework. I’ve approached this no different than I approached coaching.”
He does a podcast with Katz for ESPN.com, enabling him to interview coaches and “stay connected with my coaching friends.”
Greenberg also writes a column for ESPN.com, although he has found that more difficult than writing letters to recruits or boosters .
He recently spent a morning filling in for Mike Golic as Mike Greenberg’s co-host on ESPN radio.
“They’re all great learning experiences and it’s been a lot of fun,” Greenberg said. “Everyone’s been so supportive and willing to give me feedback and help me get better.”
Greenberg has also gotten out of the studio, working courtside for six games as a color commentator. He found that role exciting because “you’re coaching both teams and you’re putting together a scouting report for two teams.”
When Greenberg watched a coach in action from across the court, did the competitor in him miss coaching?
“The highs are definitely higher and the lows are definitely lower,” Greenberg said of coaching. “While I’m doing games, you are immersed in the game. You are really engaged in the game. That’s probably the closest I’ve been to feeling like I’m coaching again.”
Greenberg does not criticize coaches during his ESPN appearances.
“I’ll talk about a play,” he said. “People see a play and they’ll say, ‘What’s that coach thinking?’ Players don’t always respond exactly the way they’re taught.”
Greenberg has visited about 20 practices to see other coaches at work, including practices at Duke, North Carolina State, Villanova, Butler and St. John’s.
He learned that he should have spent more time in practice on special situations, such as out-of-bounds plays and post-timeout defense. But he was also reassured.
“I learned that we were doing things the right way,” said Greenberg, who led Tech to seven winning seasons, one NCAA tournament berth and five NIT bids. “I’m really proud of what we were able to do. I went to the best practices in the country and realized that we were teaching and practicing in a very similar manner.”
Greenberg holds a camp and clinics in Connecticut, enabling him to continue coaching kids.
Is he done with coaching college basketball? Or will he take another head-coaching job in the next few years?
“You never say never,” he said. “But I wouldn’t have moved here if I wasn’t committed to doing this thing the right way.”
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