Miami is a very talented team. They’ve got some big talent, particularly in the frontcourt. They are very physical in the frontcourt. It’s as big a frontcourt as Tech will face this year. Their backcourt is solid and skilled.
The Clemson win was very big. The Hokies had a lot of guys step up and make plays at key times. They have to guard the basketball better down the stretch. They gave up penetration, which gave Clemson angles to offensive rebound. Tech also had some empty possessions down the stretch that really hurt them.
James Johnson (Assistant Coach)
The win on Saturday was big for Tech’s confidence. They are a young team, and to start out so well was nice to see.
Clemson pressed Tech and took them out of their transition offense late in the game. That really slowed down the Tech offense, and it took the Hokies longer to get into their halfcourt offense.
Victor Davila has been playing well this year. He’s been working with Coach Richardson, and he’s developing more patience. He’s got more confidence in his moves. He’s going to have to guard Reggie Johnson on Thursday night, who is a big, strong guy. Johnson lit up Duke in Miami’s upset over the weekend. He will be a big part of Miami’s gameplan.
James Johnson coached under Jim Larranaga at George Mason. He thinks Miami is playing with more confidence with Larranaga as head coach. He inherited some very talented players.
Jim Larranaga is going to keep it simple for his players. He’s going to let them go out and play basketball. They are going to be well-prepared and ready to play on Thursday night. Larranaga has the talent at Miami, and he’s done a nice job implementing his system in his first year.
Tech would like to sign two more players: a combo guard and another post player.
Johnson is living the dream. He loves coaching, and he gets to coach in his home state and in the ACC. He couldn’t be happier.
John Richardson, Assistant Coach
Richardson was happy about the win over Clemson. Over the last two weeks, the coaching staff has really emphasized the positive things they are doing to the team. Any kind of success is confidence building at this point.
Richardson met Dorian Finney-Smith when he was seven years old. The last few weeks have been hard on him. It’s been different. It’s a big step from high school to college. That shooting slump was huge, but that’s just part of life. He’s going to take that experience and become a much better basketball player for Virginia Tech.
Finney-Smith has always been the most talented player on the court, so it’s been different for him. This type of adversity will make him a better person down the road. Richardson is proud of him for coming back with a strong game on Saturday.
Two years ago Erick Green went through the same thing. He shot about 20% two years ago as a freshman. He’s been a great guy for the current freshmen to be around.
Seth Greenberg has handled Dorian Finney-Smith very well. They have a lot of one-on-one sessions to make sure Dorian’s confidence isn’t affected.
Miami is playing very good basketball right now. They have a lot of experience, so they are imposing their will on people at this point in the season. Both Miami and FSU have won in Cameron Indoor Stadium this week.
Coaching in the ACC is unbelievable. Richardson grew up in North Carolina, and coached in the 757 for a long time. Like Coach Johnson, he’s living the dream. The best part about coaching in the ACC is getting the opportunity to beat the best every night.
Richardson coached in the CAA at Old Dominion before coming to Tech. There are good teams in the CAA, but games in the ACC are a bigger deal. You are playing Duke, UNC, etc. in the ACC. He joked that he has made a lot more friends since he became an ACC basketball coach. It also opens more doors for recruiting.
It’s much easier to build a brand in the ACC than it is in the CAA. Recruits see that Cassell Coliseum can be a very loud, very exciting venue.
Lightning Round with John Richardson
The thing the Hokies must improve on down the stretch is: the ability to finish games.
The guys who are poised to have a big second half: everybody is getting better, they all have the potential.
Syracuse vs. UNC: Syracuse
Best dressed assistant: James Johnson
Worst dressed assistant: John Richardson
It’s been an easy transition from Maryland to Virginia Tech. Those schools have competed in the same league for awhile now, and he’s recruiting many of the same players and same areas. The transition was very smooth. He already has an understanding of the other ACC teams as well, because of his past experience.
It was always a pretty good rivalry between Virginia Tech and Maryland. The games were always close. The game last year with Jeff Allen and Malcolm Delaney returning to their home state was probably the most lopsided of the series.
Coaching against Virginia Tech through the years, Ehsan thought Virginia Tech was the second toughest road environment, behind Duke.
Tech has a young team, so the coaching staff has to send positive messages. The margin of error is very small. They could easily have won a couple of more games had a few plays gone differently, and then everyone would feel much better about the season.
Ehsan feels like he would rather play Miami with the Canes coming off a big win than a bad loss. The nature of college basketball these days is to have a bad game following a good game.
Ehsan said it drove the coaching staff at Maryland crazy when people would say that the ACC is down. He thinks things are a little better this year. When Miami and FSU win at Duke, people say the league is down. When there is an upset in the Big East, it’s because there is good parity. Why can’t it be parity in the ACC when Florida State upsets Duke or UNC?
A lot of it is because of media perceptions. When Syracuse moves to the ACC, they media will have better things to say about the ACC.
The Hokies need to rebound the ball better. Tech is near the bottom of the league in rebounding. They have to limit teams on the offensive glass. That’s going to be very important down the stretch.
Clemson has a nice motion offense that puts their players in a position to get penetration into the lane. The Hokies only had one day to prepare for the Tigers because they played Duke on Thursday night. Ehsan also thinks the Hokies were a little too passive on both ends of the court towards the end of the game while trying to protect the lead.
Ehsan has never won at Miami. He hopes to break that streak on Thursday night. It’s a winnable game. The Hokies have to play well, play defense and make shots. They’ll have a chance to win.
Monday was Day 2,627 of Virginia Tech’s continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.