BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech will have a new men’s basketball coach next season.
Will it also have a new point guard?
Erick Green said Monday that he had been planning to return to Tech for his senior season, but now that the school has fired coach Seth Greenberg, he might transfer if he doesn’t like Greenberg’s successor.
“I’ve got to look out for my best interests,” Green said. “I’m not going to say I’m leaving.
“I’m going to give the new guy a chance and see who they’re hiring and sit down and talk with them. If we fit, we fit. If not, … I’m not ruling out [leaving] at all.
“They’re going to hire a great coaching staff. I’m going to give them a shot, see what they have to say, and if we fit each other’s system, fine.”
Green made the All-ACC second team as a junior last season, when he averaged a team-high 15.6 points for the Hokies (16-17, 4-12).
He said he was shocked by Greenberg’s dismissal.
“It sucks. It hurts,” Green said.
Greenberg informed the players Monday he had been fired. The team later met with athletic director Jim Weaver and associate athletic director Tom Gabbard.
Green said he wanted Greenberg to return.
“He was a great guy,” Green said. “It just sucks that he has to go.
“He was intense. Everybody saw the side of him where he was yelling and doing crazy things, but he was really a good guy. He cared about not only us on the court but off the court, our families, how we interacted with people.”
Seven of the nine players in the Hokies’ rotation last season are scheduled to return, including Green and two other starters. They had all been planning to return before Greenberg’s firing, said Green.
Gabbard said no player asked for his release Monday.
“Hopefully no one leaves,” Green said. “I don’t think we’ve got to start from scratch because I think the guys we have, our chemistry and bond is real good.
“Hopefully we all stay in this program.”
Greenberg signed two recruits last fall, Marshall Wood of Rustburg High School and Montrezl Harrell of Hargrave Military Academy. Gabbard said Monday that Tech had not contacted the two signees.
Assistant coaches James Johnson and Rob Ehsan had left earlier this month, but Green said the team had been ready to adjust to the new assistants Greenberg would have hired.
“We’ve always had new coaches,” Green said.
What does Green want in a new coach?
“I liked Coach Greenberg’s system,” Green said. “It was kind of a guard system. I liked it. Hopefully this guy that comes in, we can kind of get after it, play fast, just like what Coach Greenberg wanted to do. Kind of the same style but probably get a little bit more after it on defense, attack more.
“But I don’t want to have no Princeton or no laid-back type of offense or anything like that, kind of boring to watch.”
Weaver said he would not rule out hiring an assistant coach or a “young, inexperienced head coach” as Greenberg’s successor. He said he also might hire someone “who has a good deal of head-coaching experience.”
Greenberg made $1.2 million in total pay this year.
How much is Weaver willing to pay to attract a top-notch replacement?
“I don’t know the answer to that because I haven’t begun in earnest to talk to people about money,” Weaver said. “We’ll start with that [today] and see where that takes us.”
There are three attractive possibilities in the state.
Shaka Smart led Virginia Commonwealth to the Final Four in 2011 and to the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament last season. But luring him to Blacksburg might not be easy.
Smart turned down the North Carolina State job last year and reportedly turned down the Illinois job this year, so he might be hard to pry away from the Rams. Smart made $1.2 million in total pay this year and is expected to get a pay raise next season. VCU athletic director Norwood Teague was hired by Minnesota on Monday, however, so that might make Smart a bit more open to leaving.
Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor might be another potential target. His salary was $212,160 this year. He has led ODU to four NCAA bids and previously steered Montana to two NCAA berths.
Richmond’s Chris Mooney steered the Spiders to the 2010 and 2011 NCAA tournaments, including a Sweet 16 appearance a year ago, and has also been the coach at Air Force. But he runs the Princeton-style offense that Green is not enamored with.
Cave Spring graduate Gregg Marshall of Wichita State is another attractive name. But, like Smart, he might not want to leave his current job. Marshall reportedly turned down the N.C. State job last year and the Nebraska job this year. Marshall, who reportedly makes about $1 million annually, led Wichita State to the NCAAs last season and steered Winthrop to seven NCAA bids.
Other intriguing names with head-coaching experience include Davidson’s Bob McKillop and Harvard’s Tommy Amaker.
If Weaver opts to hire someone without a ton of head-coaching experience, Murray State’s Steve Prohm might fit the bill.
If he goes the assistant route, Weaver might contact Duke’s Jeff Capel, a former VCU and Oklahoma head coach; Duke’s Chris Collins; or N.C. State’s Bobby Lutz, a former Charlotte head coach.
Former Tech assistants of note include Eric Skeeters, now a South Florida assistant; Bill Courtney, now Cornell’s coach; and Johnson, who joined the Clemson staff two weeks ago.