BLACKSBURG — J.T. Thompson is leaving Virginia Tech, but Seth Greenberg is not.
Greenberg, who recently finished his ninth season as Tech’s men’s basketball coach, scoffed Monday at media speculation that he is a candidate for the vacancy at Southern Methodist.
Greenberg said neither he nor any representative of his have had any contact with SMU or with SMU’s consultant on the search, Blacksburg resident and former Virginia Tech athletic director Dave Braine.
So Greenberg considers the SMU speculation pish posh?
“There’s nothing to pish posh about,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg recently spent nine days as a guest analyst for ESPN’s NCAA tournament coverage on “SportsCenter” and “College GameDay.” He returned to his office Monday, wearing a Tech shirt and hosting a prospective recruit.
He was free for ESPN duty because the Hokies (16-17, 4-12) had a losing record for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
A Richmond TV station mentioned Greenberg as an SMU candidate Sunday on Twitter, citing anonymous sources.
“I’m not on the hot seat any more?” Greenberg said with a grin.
Greenberg said he likes his life in Blacksburg. His youngest daughter, Jackie, is a junior at Blacksburg High School, while his middle daughter, Ella, is a junior at Tech.
Greenberg said he also likes his athletic director, Jim Weaver.
Weaver said in late January that Greenberg was not on the hot seat and would be back next season. When asked at that time if next season would be a do-or-die year for Greenberg, Weaver said he doesn’t make “those kind of comments” because “it’s not fair to people.”
Greenberg, who has four seasons left on his contract, said he is proud of what he has accomplished at Tech. He is 170-123 with one NCAA bid and five NIT berths in nine seasons.
Not everyone on the Tech bench will be sticking around, though.
Thompson, who has been sidelined by knee injuries the past two seasons, will not return to the team next season as a sixth-year senior. The power forward from Monroe, N.C., said he hopes to transfer to a school closer to home so he can spend more time with his 4-year-old daughter.
“It was hard being up here five years and not really getting to see her the way I want to,” he said.
Because Thompson has graduated from Tech, he is eligible under NCAA rules to play immediately at a new school without having to sit out a year. He hopes to talk to coaches at Charlotte, Gardner-Webb, Winthrop and Division II Johnson C. Smith.
He missed the 2010-11 season with a torn ACL in his left knee and missed this season with a torn ACL in his right knee. He hopes that by finally having a senior season, pro teams overseas will see that he can still play.
Next season’s Hokies will also be without starting off-guard Dorenzo Hudson (10.9 ppg) and starting center Victor Davila. Both were seniors this season.
Greenberg said the Hokies might have been able to win 20 games instead of 16 with a healthy Thompson and Davila (7.5 ppg).
Eleven of Tech’s 17 losses were by four points or less or by overtime, including eight of the team’s ACC regular-season losses and the ACC quarterfinal loss to Duke.
In 2005-06, 10 of the Hokies’ 16 losses were by five points or less. The next season, Tech made the NCAAs.
Greenberg hopes having a more experienced team next season will enable Tech to win more close games. Seven players in the rotation will be back next season, including starting point guard Erick Green (15.6 ppg) and starting forwards Jarell Eddie (9.1 ppg) and Dorian Finney-Smith (6.3 ppg, 7 rpg).
Greenberg said Eddie or Finney-Smith might move to off-guard next season. Robert Brown (6.8 ppg) is also a candidate to succeed Hudson next season.
Cadarian Raines (5.9 ppg) will succeed Davila at center. He played well when Davila missed the final eight games of the season with a groin injury.
Greenberg had to play undersized Eddie at power forward this year but considers C.J. Barksdale (2.7 ppg) and signee Montrezl Harrell candidates to start there next season.
The 6-foot-8, 235-pound Harrell was a senior on Hargrave Military Academy’s postgraduate team this season. He averaged 25.6 points, 13.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.
“He’s a powerful, explosive player,” Hargrave coach A.W. Hamilton said. “He’s going to have an unbelievable career at Tech. He’ll probably be one of the more athletic guys on that team next year.
“We went 38-1 and the biggest reason was because of Montrezl.”
Backup point guard Marquis Rankin will be back next season. So will post player Joey Van Zegeren, who redshirted this season.
The roster will also include signee Marshall Wood of Rustburg High School. Greenberg compared the forward to former NBA star Scottie Pippen. Wood averaged 24.1 points and 12.5 rebounds and made 42 3-pointers this year, when he broke the Rustburg records for most points in a career (1,402) and season (579).
Greenberg might sign one or two more recruits this spring.
The Hokies will need to play better offensively next season. They ranked 11th in the ACC in field-goal percentage (42 percent) this season, when they were prone to scoring droughts. In ACC play, the Hokies tied for ninth in scoring offense (59.9 ppg) and last in field-goal percentage (39.6 percent).
Greenberg wants the Hokies to play faster next season, which could lead to better shots.
He also hopes improved play in the paint will make his team better when it does use a halfcourt offense. But the Hokies need to hit the weight room and get stronger, said Greenberg.
The nonleague schedule is still being set, but it will include a game against Brigham Young in Salt Lake City; home games with Oklahoma State and Rhode Island; and a game with UNC Greensboro at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Hokies will also play in a Las Vegas tournament, which will feature two games at Tech and two games at the Orleans Hotel & Casino.