The Basketball Podcast: EP251 with Seth Greenberg on Better Coaching

RELEASE DATE : 18/01/2023

In this week’s coaching conversation, college basketball broadcaster Seth Greenberg joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on coaching, college basketball and educating players.

Prior to becoming an analyst for ESPN Greenberg was a coach for 34 years, the last 22 as a head coach. Greenberg has been the head coach at Long Beach State, the University of South Florida, and Virginia Tech. He was a two-time ACC Coach of the Year.

Prior to becoming a head coach, Greenberg was an assistant coach at Columbia, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Miami and Long Beach State.

Long Beach State promoted Greenberg to head coach in 1990. In six seasons with Greenberg as head coach, Long Beach State went 105–70, second behind Jerry Tarkanian for the most wins in the program’s history. Postseason appearances during the Greenberg era included the 1992 NIT, 1993 NCAA tournament, and 1995 NCAA tournament.

Greenberg next was head coach at the University of South Florida from 1996 to 2003 and had a 108–100 record there South Florida became the Conference USA regular season champions in the 1999–00 season and made the NIT after the season. South Florida also made the 2002 NIT.

In his last coaching position, Greenberg coached nine seasons at Virginia Tech. Greenberg attained a 170–123 record. Greenberg’s tenure at Virginia Tech began with the school’s final season in the Big East Conference before joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004. Following his second season at Virginia Tech that included an appearance in the 2005 NIT, Greenberg won the ACC Coach of the Year award.

Listen Here:

Seth Greenberg Quotes:

“In coaching, it’s not what you know, it’s what the players know and what they can go out and execute. And [in broadcasting] it’s not what you know, it’s what you can communicate to the fans that they can break down and digest and enjoy.”

“First and foremost, you’ve got to figure out a system that can put you in position to be the best in your league; and then figure out a system that matches your team’s personnel; and then figure out a system that matches your community.”

“Coaching, to me, is putting players in position to play to their strengths, building a system that fits your personnel and your skill set offensively and defensively.”

“I think the most important part of coaching, outside of the X’s and O’s, is connecting with your team. The hardest playing, toughest team finds a way to win.”

“The best coaches are really good communicators . . the best coaches have the trust of their teams, and that enables them to coach them [the players] hard.”

“Sometimes when a player was struggling, at the end of his highlight film I’d always put his best plays and say, ‘Hey, this is who I think you are. I don’t know who you think you are. But, this is who I think you are.’”

“If I was coaching today, I’d go up and down much more. Because I think if you’re going to play out of flow, you’re going to have to practice in flow, you can’t stop it every two seconds, I’d spent much more time in special situations, because I think in league play, where there is a more level playing field, those five point games are decided on underneath out of bounds plays, first play of the half, last play of the half, shot clock situations.”

“As a young coach . . I was so consumed by what happened the day before. I never gave my team my best day. Because I was in the past, I wasn’t ready to move on. As I became an older coach, after we did film, I would literally erase the grease board and say, ‘Clean slate. Let’s go. Let’s have a great day.’”

“I was big on, ‘Who are we? And how do we win?’ And in getting those leaders [in the locker room] to understand, who are we, and how do we win.”

“Every time I sent my guys to work out for NBA teams, I said, “Make sure you show them what you can do, not what you can’t do.”“Winning games is about putting guys in position to play to their strengths and winning games is about players giving up a little bit of their ego to help the group, as a team, win. So, I would say “We’re going to spend a ton of time helping you develop individually. But when that light goes on and our system is in place, you’re going to show people what you can do, not what you can’t do.”

“When the ball goes up for a game, it’s about how can we put ourselves in a position to be successful? The best way we can do that is for everyone to embrace their role.”

“Everyone thinks the road to the NBA is a rite of passage, as opposed to being part of the most exclusive club and they lose track of the most important thing which is using basketball as a vehicle to build a bridge to get an education, to have a life.”

“We’re going to have a generation of kids that, at the end of this four or five years, if they don’t make it, aren’t part of anything. Where’s their support system? So, I look at this thing as a bigger picture that we’ve lost track of the value of education, we’ve lost track of really helping mentor and build bridges for these young people to grow, develop for the next 40 or 50 years of their lives.”

“We still have to get back to the idea of educating and helping these young people be employable at the end of their college experience.”

Seth Greenberg Breakdown:

1:00 – Knowledge on Broadcasts
5:00 – Access to Coaches
8:00 – Imitating Coaches
13:00 – Relationship on Players
15:30 – Evolution of the Game
20:00 – Coaching Them Hard
25:55 – 26:36 – Immersion Video Ad
26:00 – Philosophy Behind Meetings
30:30 – Resist Trends
36:00 – The Modern Game
39:00 – Two-Way Contract
43:30 – College Basketball
46:30 – Set of Rules Internationally
50:00 – CFL
52:00 – Shot Clock on High School Level
53:00 – Conclusion

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