One That Got Away .......

Former Charlotte recruit Marquie Cooke kicked off Va Tech.

Greenberg makes the tough call

David Teel

April 27 2005

Like most coaches, Seth Greenberg will take a chance on a troubled athlete. As long as he’s talented. As long as he shows some remorse - sincere or otherwise.

But unlike most in his racket, Greenberg tolerates darn little foolishness once a player arrives. Run afoul of the law and/or team rules more than once, and odds are your time with Greenberg’s Virginia Tech basketball program is over.

No soft touch this streetwise New Yorker. More like a hanging judge. And more power to him.

Case in point: Marquie Cooke.

Greenberg, the Hokies’ second-year coach, dismissed Cooke on Monday for failing to “abide by a set of standards we set for our basketball team.” There was no smoking gun, no arrest warrant, no Bluto Blutarski grade-point average.

Rather, this was the accumulation of Cooke’s season-long refusal to forgo his personal agenda for the program’s. He was, in short, a bad teammate, a moody, inconsistent character who became a distraction in the locker room.

Too bad. Cooke, a freshman point guard, was Virginia Tech’s most heralded signee in more than 20 years, a national-caliber prospect out of Suffolk’s Nansemond River High and the centerpiece of Greenberg’s first full recruiting class.

Bent on establishing the Hokies in Virginia, talent-rich Hampton Roads especially, Greenberg pursued Cooke relentlessly. So did many others, but as the chase progressed, some lost interest.

Part of the reason was Cooke’s baggage, which included his expulsion from Nike’s summer camp in 2003. Nike officials did not publicly explain their decision, but rest assured they briefed college coaches.

In the end, Cooke weighed scholarship offers from Tech, Clemson, Virginia Commonwealth and Charlotte. On the day he committed, Cooke had grand visions of another Hampton Roads product who elevated a Tech team to unprecedented heights.

“I can be the Michael Vick of basketball,” he said.

Indeed, if you buy into recruiting rankings, Cooke, an approachable young man with a warm smile, was the most regarded prospect to choose the Hokies since Dell Curry in 1981. Curry scored 2,389 points, then a school record, and had a distinguished NBA career. Cooke was an ineffective reserve, a shadow of the player who was all-state in high school as a sophomore, junior and senior.

Even as starters Jamon Gordon and Zabian Dowdell relieved Cooke of any pressure to produce, Cooke averaged a meager 3.6 points. Most discouraging, he shot poorly: 31.3 percent from the field, 19.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and 57.1 percent from the free-throw line. Those numbers were worse against ACC competition.

In what turned out to be his final game for Virginia Tech, Cooke played 15 minutes and scored two points in a 73-54 ACC tournament quarterfinal loss to Georgia Tech. After the defeat, Cooke demonstrably voiced his frustration over playing time outside the locker room.

Suffice to say, Greenberg was not amused, and he suspended Cooke for the Hokies’ games in the National Invitation Tournament. Greenberg offered Cooke conditional reinstatement for offseason workouts but Monday severed ties.

Credit Greenberg with the consistency Cooke lacked. When Justin Holt, another promising member of last season’s recruiting class, violated team rules, Greenberg sent him packing before he’d ever played a game. When Cooke went awry, he too was banished, and under NCAA rules he must sit out next season if he transfers to another Division I school.

Greenberg’s decisions carry consequences. In the retention rates that factor into the NCAA’s new academic standards, his program will suffer. In overall talent - Holt, a wing forward, was the 2001 Washington state high school player of the year before enrolling in junior college - the Hokies take another hit.

It doesn’t matter. Greenberg has standards, and they are non-negotiable. Quite a concept.

David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at "

Copyright © 2005, Daily Press

We’ll take him.

Yup, we probably will, its part of our problem.

we don’t need anymore players that would have a negative impact on our school. Last year was enough to last a decade.

He would fit in perfectly at memphis state with calimari.