Over the years, we've had some great opportunities to do Q&As with ESPN personalities thanks to their great PR staff. Had a great chance to hold a Q&A with former Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg. Seth answered my questions about Pitt's NCAA tournament chances, Steven Adams, recruiting in the ACC, the lunacy that is getting rid of Jamie Dixon, and more. (Note: This interview was before the Syracuse game)
Good stuff here from the coach -
Cardiac Hill: A lot of folks don't know you were an assistant coach for a few years at Pitt in the early 1980s. What was your time like here?
Seth Greenberg: I enjoyed my time as an assistant coach at Pitt. Some of my best friends today I met during my time as an assistant coach at Pitt. I have vivid memories of our two Eastern 8 championships and transitioning the program from the Eastern 8 to the Big East. That first year in the Big East we were fortunate to beat St.Johns, Georgetown and Syracuse in the Field House. Those wins helped raise the profile of the program.
2. While you were here, you had a chance to help coach two of the greatest players in school history - Sam Clancy and Clyde Vaughan. Just how good were those guys?
Sam and Clyde were special players and special people. They had tremendous appetites to compete. They were coachable and great teammates. Sam never took a play off and every time a shot went up you just expected he would end up with the rebound. Clyde was the first player I recruited to Pitt. He had the strength of a power forward and the touch of a shooting guard. He single handedly carried us to the Eastern Championship. He was the hardest worker I have ever coached. In the glory days of the Big East, with Chris Mullin and Pat Ewing, he was as good as any. His heart was as big as the city. To this day if I had to be in a fox hole and I could choose one person, it would be Clyde Vaughan.
3. You've been through your fair share of NCAA Selection Sundays. What's it like to deal with that, particularly if you're a bubble team?
It is not selection Sunday that is difficult because you finally have closure. It is the cumulative effect of the weeks leading up to Selection Sunday. Every game is under a microscope. Winning is relief and losing is misery. Trying to keep your players in the present and not getting caught up in the RPI and the talking heads. I always emphasized to our guys control what you can control. Be consistent and that every game is a separate entity.
4. Despite 17 wins right now, Pitt fans aren't quite sure what to expect this year when it comes to the postseason. Based on what you've seen so far, is this an NCAA Tournament team right now?
They are not alone. There are so many teams and fans that feel the same way. Every resume has scars. The key for the Panthers and every other team in the discussion is to keep winning games. The great thing about the Big East is that they will get numerous opportunities to help their resumes. Do I feel that Pitt could win a game or games in the tournament, without a doubt. They are getting back to the culture that made Pitt one of the elite programs in the country.
5. One thing plaguing Pitt is the lack of many signature wins. There was the 28-point win over Georgetown, but they've had their chances against Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette, and Michigan and couldn't close the deal. If Pitt beats the weaker teams left on its schedule and ends up with 21 or 22 wins, but are without another statement win, do you think they could be in trouble?
It all depends on what the field looks like and how other teams finish. Anyone who speculates today is fooling themselves. Too many opportunities for Pitt and the rest of the field. The main thing is they can not afford a bad loss. They need to hold serve and not eliminate themselves with a bad loss.
6. There's a small (okay, a very small) contingent of fans that I've had to deal with this season that say if Jamie Dixon misses the NCAAs again this year that he should be on some degree of a hot seat. Please tell me how ludicrous that is for my own sanity.
That could be the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in a long time. You’re talking about one of the elite coaches in our business, a coach that has been as consistent as any in college basketball. The people that would say that don't know what they don't know. Pitt is fortunate to have Jamie. Not a good coach, a great coach and ambassador for Pitt and college basketball.
7. Freshman Steven Adams has had a bit of a learning curve this season. He's had his share of good and bad games and has had a tough time fitting into the offense. What have you seen out of him and what's your assessment of his game so far?
Adams is a work in progress. I like his ability to pass and I see growth in his game. The only way you get acclimated to the speed of the game is to experience it. If you look at history he will improve dramatically between his freshman and sophomore year.
8. With Pitt going into the ACC next season, how do you think they'll fare in recruiting in the Mid-Atlantic states? My sense is that they'll be fine since they've thrived on under-the-radar type of guys in the past. But I'm guessing they may not get many elite kids away from the likes of North Carolina and Duke until they have a bit more postseason success. Do you think that's accurate?
No one beats Duke or UNC for guys they want except Kentucky. They can have all the success they want and the success they have had has been significant but UNC and Duke is a different animal. Pitt should not change their recruiting philosophy. Recruit hardnosed winning players that are committed to working on their games. Pitt is an attractive destination but not in the same category as the blue bloods of college basketball. Continue to recruit their geographic footprint and pick a few players outside if you have a contact.