Virginia Tech's Erick Green must answer to his toughest critic: his mother

"It's crazy how much she knows" about basketball, says Hokies point guard Erick Green of his mother Tami, who played at Howard. (Nick Wass)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 13, 2011

BLACKSBURG, VA. - Tami Green could tell her son was down when she heard how quiet his voice was on the other end of the telephone last Saturday evening. Never before had Erick Green finished a basketball game without making a field goal, as he had just done in Virginia Tech's 58-56 loss to Boston College.

But Green wasn't seeking sympathy from his mother following an 0-for-8 performance that ended with him missing a potentially game-winning shot. As he usually does after every game, he simply wanted some advice from the woman who taught him how to play in the first place.

Tami Green, a guard at Howard during her playing days, didn't mince words.

"There was no pity party. There's no moping. Mom just tells it like it is," she said with a laugh this week. "I just told him: 'Keep it moving. Everyone's entitled to a bad shooting night and you can't do anything about the past. It's about what you're gonna do about it now.' "

For Erick Green, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard from Winchester, Va., that meant heading straight to Virginia Tech's practice facility as soon as the team arrived back on campus. Instead of going home or even unpacking, he took shot after shot, trying to erase the memory of a bad game.

When he called Mom the next day to tell her, Tami Green was relieved. "That was the right decision. It's what I needed to hear," she said.

And so continued perhaps the most important mother-son relationship when it comes to whether Virginia Tech will make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007.

Heading into Sunday's home game against Georgia Tech, Green has blossomed into the Hokies' breakout player this season, keeping Virginia Tech entrenched on the bubble despite a wave of injuries. Since being thrust into the starting lineup in December, he's averaging nearly 13.7 points and has finished in double figures in 11 of 13 games.

Green admits the impetus for his strong play comes from an unlikely source.

"It's crazy how much she knows," Green said. "Our relationship about basketball is just unreal. We can talk about anything on the court. But my mom's not gonna sugarcoat it. Coach [Seth] Greenberg doesn't really need to jump on me. He knows my mom's gonna do it."

Tami Green was a spot starter at Howard between 1986 and 1990, and even when she moved from Washington to Winchester to work for the Frederick County social services department, her love for the game remained.

So when Erick decided to play recreational basketball as a 6-year-old, Tami was his first coach.

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