Ladies and gentlemen the state of the Hokie basketball program is fundamentally strong. I understand that is a hard idea for some to embrace after the last two games. The past two games have been really disappointing, from personal experience I've had clouded judgement a few times which resulted in disappointment, but don't let the last two games cloud your judgement of the Hokies basketball program.
The Hokies basketball program has come a long way into now being nationally relevant. This past Saturday I went through a St. Patty's theme DC bar crawl wearing a green Virginia Tech shirt and a girl who graduated from Kansas came up to me to talk about VT basketball and our big win against Duke; when I was a freshman at VT nobody wanted to talk about the basketball program. I remember going to only a couple of games at Cassell when I was a freshman in which the biggest game was when we played Uconn and there were plenty of seats around to see us play against the eventual national champions. A week ago I saw the best environment ever at Cassell Coliseum when we beat the #1 team in the country in which tickets were selling online for upwards of $200. Seth Greenberg has really built up the brand of VT basketball.
|2004-2005||16||14||50%||ACC||NIT 2nd Round|
|2006-2007||22||12||63%||ACC||NCAA 2nd Round|
|2008-2009||19||15||44%||ACC||NIT 2nd Round|
Seth Greenberg is arguably the best coach in VT basketball history taking into account Charles Moir committed NCAA infractions during his tenure in the 80s
From a historical perspective VT basketball hasn't had much prior success and is arguably in its most successful period right now. Charles Moir coached the Hokies starting in 1976 and went to the NCAA tournament 4 times but his program was found to have committed 12 NCAA infractions during his tenure before he was dismissed in 1987. The Hokies have made the NCAA tournament only twice in the last 24 years. In the 8 years of Seth Greenberg's tenure as head coach we've had 5 seasons with a conference winning record in the ACC while in the previous 12 years before Greenberg we had 1 season with a conference winning record which was in 1995-1996 season when we were in the Atlantic 10.
|1995-1996*||Bill Foster||23||6||81%||Atlantic 10|
|1996-1997||Bill Foster||15||16||44%||Atlantic 10|
|1997-1998||Bobby Hussey||10||17||31%||Atlantic 10|
|1998-1999||Bobby Hussey||13||15||44%||Atlantic 10|
|1999-2000||Ricky Stokes||16||15||50%||Atlantic 10|
|2000-2001||Ricky Stokes||8||19||13%||Big East|
|2001-2002||Ricky Stokes||10||18||25%||Big East|
|2002-2003||Ricky Stokes||12||17||25%||Big East|
Season records since 1990, 12 seasons before Coach Greenberg's tenure, not very successful except for 3 seasons with Bill Foster who made the tournament once in the 1995-1996 season
Our basketball program is not an underdog team anymore. In the past 20 years our basketball program has been in 4 different conferences and are now settled in the ACC. When VT switched to the ACC during my sophomore year it was a pretty big deal to beat the 2nd tier ACC teams like Maryland and Wake Forest but now beating teams not named UNC or Duke isn't that big deal at all. We've averaged being 6th place in the regular season standings while being in the ACC and that is where we are ending this regular season at.
|Season||Regular Season Place in Final ACC Standings|
|2004-2005||4th (2 way tied, 5th seed in tournament)|
|2006-2007||3rd (3 way tie, 4th seed in tournament)|
|2008-2009||7th (3 way tie, 9th seed in tournament)|
|2009-2010||3rd (2 way tie, 4th seed in tournament)|
|2010-2011||4th (3 way tie, 6th seed in tournament)|
VT averages out being 6th seed in ACC tournament and usually 5-6 ACC teams should make the NCAA tournament
The biggest criticism of the program has been that we have plateaued as an NIT team. The arguments have been that we deliver 1 or 2 great upsets each year but shrink in the moments when we are expected to deliver a tough quality win especially on the road. The quality wins and road wins components are a very important part of a tournament resume. As of right now that seems as something the team does need to improve upon as the program makes the way up to where we want it to be. As far as post season I get the feeling that realistic expectations have been raised for us to make the tournament regularly enough so that each class of students has a chance to fill out one bracket that includes VT.
The expectations of VT bball have been raised and the program has been elevated to heights that have never been accomplished at VT without the specter of NCAA infractions. I went down to Blacksburg to feel first hand the excitement and electricity in the air during College Gameday and in the big win against a national power but the novel thing for VT was this was on a Saturday night in February and not November. The university administration has stepped up its efforts to elevate the basketball program by signing Greenberg to an extension as well as building the Hahn Hurst Basketball Practice Center. Now that the VT basketball profile has been raised for us to be a big boy program we are going to need to start getting into March Madness to keep Digger Phelps and Dickie V coming back.
This season started off with the highest expectations for a VT basketball team since the mid 80s. We were ranked in the pre-season and had a group of 4 senior starters coming back when the season kicked off in November. The problems came early with the injury bug hitting our front court depth and then our starting SG while we began the season with losses to Kansas State, Purdue, and UVA before VT even had a full day to celebrate winning the ACC in football. The team then came together with Greenberg making the ballsy move of switching his 3 year starting PG to SG and letting Erick Green run the point which lead the team to make a solid run that saw VT not lose a game for a month. On January 13th VT had tragic heartbreak giving up a huge lead on national television to UNC and losing a game that saw Malcolm Delaney deliver an outstanding performance that made him a national twitter trending topic. Our ACC schedule then had us on a win win loss pattern until we had an extra loss to break the pattern yesterday. Right now in this winter of attrition there's still a chance to dance.
We still have hope to make the NCAA tournament. Right now ESPN's Joe Lunardi, aka Joey Brackets, has us as part of his last 4 in to make it to the big dance. The collective perspective is that VT needs to win 2 games in the ACC tournament and possibly win 3 to make it to the final game in order to secure Joey Brackets' prediction. VT plays GT on Thursday night then if we won would play Friday night against FSU and a great thing to note is that we've beaten both teams in the regular season. I for one think it would be a huge shame for the seniors Malcolm Delaney, Terrell Bell, and Jeff Allen to never get to the NCAA tourney once in their careers. If we do get to the NCAA tournament this year that would mean that we made the tournament once in every 4 years of Seth's tenure with the significance of that being every class of students since the incoming freshman class of 2003(which I was a part of) has experienced the NCAA tournament as a student.
Looking past this season the future looks bright. VT has a top recruiting class coming in that features Dorian Finney-Smith and I'm not on the fence about calling Mr. Finney a huge get for VT that should make a big impact during his career here. Next year should also see the return of Dorenzo Hudson and JT Thompson with hopefully Allan Chaney coming into the fold. Erick Green looks like he will be a star with the starting experience he received this year and right now he leads the ACC in assist to turnover ratio. Going even further into the future today saw VT get a commitment from a top class of 2012 recruit in Montrezl Harrell. The Hokies basketball program is trending upward.
In conclusion right now I'm on a roller coaster of emotion from the pure elation of the Duke win to the heartbreak of the last 2 games but I can't wait to cheer on the Hokies on Thursday.
I can't get enough of this gif from the Duke preview article by @kburkeVT, think it adds an extra nod to VT being nationally relevant with Seth Greenberg being on an ESPN commercial
Lets Go Hokies!!!