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Back with a shrug

To Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg , inset, tonight's game at Florida State is not a "momentous occasion." So what if it's his first game in the Sunshine State since leaving USF in 2003?

"I have nothing but good feelings for the state and for South Florida and I have an unbelievable amount of respect for Leonard (Hamilton) and the program he's building," he said. "Hopefully, I'll get a chance to see some friends. I have some very, very close friends in Florida."

But ...

"It's no big deal," he said.

What is, to him, is trying to beat FSU. What is, to him, is how his young team will handle its first ACC road game. The Hokies, with Miami, joined the league this season.

"I'm thoroughly impressed by the intensity and the passion and commitment that the players in this league make," said Greenberg, who spent seven years at USF. "The hardest-playing team wins. That's what our guys have got to understand. That's what this league is all about. The teams in this league don't take plays off. The good ones. They attack you on both ends of the floor. A freshman doesn't understand that yet. A sophomore is starting to understand that."

Still, with only one senior, the Hokies (6-5 overall, 0-1 in the ACC) have shown signs of promise. They're coming off a hard-fought 71-65 loss at then-No. 21 Mississippi State.

"Are we making progress? I think we are," Greenberg said.

That's a big deal, too.

Off the rim

Kansas coach Bill Self didn't like the intensity of a recent practice, so he blew his whistle and told his players to go pick up some newly issued equipment:

Shoulder pads and helmets.

"It wasn't going as well as what I'd hoped, so we went and got them on," Self said of the football gear that his players had been fitted for earlier.

He had never resorted to something like that, but the toughness of the workouts had left something to be desired since the loss of power forward Wayne Simien to an injured left thumb Dec. 21. Three days after the pads and helmet work, his Jayhawks rallied from a 16-point deficit to beat Georgia Tech in overtime, 70-68.

"I don't think it had anything to do with us winning," he said. "I wasn't trying to do anything other than get their attention."

Must-see TV

TODAY: No. 22 Maryland at No. 3 North Carolina, noon, ESPN. This should be an up-and-down, light-up-the-scoreboard game; UNC is tops in the ACC in scoring (92.7 points) and Maryland is second (88.1). The Terps have won five of the past seven meetings.

SUNDAY: No. 2 Kansas at No. 8 Kentucky, 4:30 p.m., Ch. 10. These storied powers meet in one of the season's best intersectional games and what could be an NCAA Tournament preview. The Wildcats are the all-time Division I wins leader (1,886), while and the Jayhawks are third (1,835).

Quotable

"It's by design. When you see Kentucky is the first (SEC) game and not only the first game but the first (SEC) game away, you want to make sure that it's not a first-time affair for you. We will have experienced some adversity on the road."

_ DAVE ODOM, South Carolina coach on a nonconference schedule that included road games vs. Kansas and Pitt, both four-point losses. After leading by six at the half, the Gamecocks lost 79-75 Wednesday at Rupp Arena.

_ BRIAN LANDMAN, Times staff writer

Kansas football or basketball players? Only coach Bill Self knows for sure after he put his hoops squad in helmets and pads.

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