Seth Greenberg will visit family and prowl old stomping grounds. His wife will cross Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade off her bucket list. His Virginia Tech basketball players will roam the City that Never Sleeps, some for the first time.
Most important about the Hokies' junket to Greenberg's native New York this week: an opportunity to measure themselves against a legitimate national championship contender.
Clues will emerge Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, where Tech faces No. 5 Syracuse in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off. Oklahoma State and Stanford meet in the other semi, with the consolation and championship games Friday.
Since beating No. 22 Virginia in December 1995, the Hokies (3-0) have lost 12 consecutive games to ranked, non-conference opponents. Their last top-10, non-league conquest was No. 7 North Carolina State 28 years ago.
Such history won't affect Wednesday's outcome, but it does speak to the opportunity Syracuse represents.
"We need to find out about ourselves," guard Dorenzo Hudson said. "We're trying to build an elite team here, so we need to step up the competition."
Syracuse placed associate head coach Bernie Fine on indefinite leave Thursday after two former ballboys accused him of sexual assault. Authorities have not charged him with any crime.
Will the Orange be distracted? Could this develop into a Penn State-level scandal?
Those are unknowns. What is known: Syracuse (3-0) is a step up from most and several notches above East Tennessee State, Monmouth and Florida International, teams Tech handled convincingly at home.
Led by forward Kris Joseph and guard Brandon Triche, the Orange returns four starters from a 27-8 team that reached the round of 32 in last season's NCAA tournament.
Most famously, Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim employs a 2-3 zone defense, and with a starting frontcourt of 7-foot Fab Melo, 6-9 Rakeem Christmas and 6-7 Joseph, Syracuse plays that zone like no other.
"Their zone is so different," Greenberg said. "Their forwards come up so high (on the wings). So they force you to throw it low, and then they trap it. They distort passing lanes. The thing about this team is, Syracuse has always been long, this team is long and thick. … They are big-bodied, barrell-chested guys They're not the Stevie Thompson that you and I would remember, the Hakim Warrick, even the Carmelo (Anthony)."
Conversely, the Hokies lack bulk. Dorian Finney-Smith averages 11 rebounds, but the 6-8 freshman weighs 192 pounds, 30 less than Christmas, 52 less than Melo.
Four of Tech's starters — Hudson, Erick Green, Jarell Eddie and Victor Davila — are shooting 50 percent or better. Reserve guards Ty Garland and Robert Brown are averaging 11 points. Encouraging, yes, but skewed by the competition.
Let's see how they fare against a team that limited Fordham, Manhattan and Albany collectively to 35 percent shooting and outrebounded them by 11 per game.
"We're going to find out a whole lot, get a dose of reality," Greenberg said. "This is a very, very tough spot. …
"We have to be more physical rebounding the ball. The good thing is, we're in the right place, but we're not doing the right thing yet. We get in position to block out, but then don't push them back. When you're giving up inches, you've got to create space to rebound the ball."
Greenberg is steeped in Garden lore. He and his late father spent many an afternoon and evening there watching college and professional games, most notably Game 7 of the 1971 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Knicks. Wilt and West. Clyde Frazier and the heroic Willis Reed.
But might his young team be star-struck by a basketball cathedral and ESPN's prime-time cameras?
"I'm more worried about Syracuse than the bright lights," Greenberg said. "I hope they're excited. I'd be disappointed if they're not. I'd be disappointed if they didn't have little butterflies. I'd be disappointed if they couldn't understand and appreciate the environment, the opportunity and the experience. …
"If that's what playing all these games in AAU in the summer has created, where they could be numb to the experience, that's sad. …
"Let's put it this way: I'm 55 years old, and every time I go in there and have the opportunity to play, I get butterflies."
David Teel can be reached at 757-247-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/sports/teeltime and follow him at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
Playing Syracuse in Garden big step up for Virginia Tech
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