Tech Talk Live Notes: Buzz Williams Recaps Important Wins Over Iowa and Ole Miss

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Virginia Tech Talk Live

Tech Talk Live featured two guests on Monday night, as men’s basketball head coach Buzz Williams and guard Devin Wilson made appearances. Williams addressed the Hokies’ wins over Iowa and Ole Miss last week, while Wilson reflected on his journey at Virginia Tech. Here are the highlights. 

Devin Wilson

How different his career path has been than he thought it would be

“A hundred percent not what I expected. I expected to come in here and have the normal college experience. Play for the same coach all four years, have the same teammates, and obviously that’s not something that’s happened. The coaching change happened, not a single guy that was here my freshman year — everything is kind of changed around, but I wouldn’t take any of it back for anything.”

Making the decision to play football for the 2016 season

“Towards the end of the basketball season, when we were in the NIT tournament, Bruce (Garnes), he hears all the rumors. He was telling me the coaches were thinking about asking me to play football, and then that’s literally what happened. Maybe a couple days after our season ended, they approached me and asked if I wanted to come over and play, and if I was interested in it, and obviously I was. Took a couple days, talked to my parents, talked to Coach Williams, and they were all for it, and it was full go from there.”

Difficulty of sitting out 2016-2017 basketball season

“Very difficult, because I figured there was some areas I could help in. We weren’t that great of a defensive team, and I thought I could bring a better defensive presence. And then also a leadership standpoint, but not being able to be out there with guys that I was here for the longest with, like Seth (Allen) and Zach (LeDay) and Ahmed (Hill), it was something where I wish I could have been out there. Especially for the first time getting back to the tournament in years. So being able to be a part of that on the actual floor would’ve been very special, but I tried to bring my effort and leadership into practice every day, and help them as much as I could.”

Role on this season’s team

“I would classify myself as a ‘glue guy.’ I don’t know if everyone here has watched the games, but in one of the games I went in, he told me when I was checking in, ‘First, you’re going to play point, and we’ll take (Justin Robinson) out,’ because he was in foul trouble. ‘Then I’m going to bring (Justin Robinson) back in and you’re going to play the wing. And then I’m going to take Chris (Clarke) out, and now you’re going to play the four.’ So I was like, ‘Oh man, now I got to know eight different spots.’ That’s kind of been my role. Just plug me in wherever he sees fit, and because I’m so versatile defensively, he’s able to do that with some success.”

Buzz Williams

How Devin Wilson has grown at Virginia Tech

“I’ve said it publicly before, and I’ve said it to him multiple times. This is my 24th year as a coach and my 11th year as a head coach, and as an assistant or head coach, he went from the guy that I despised most to the guy I like the most. And I don’t know that there’s a more sincere thing I could say, other than that. I think just that statement, if a head coach is saying that publicly, can you imagine, privately, what the kid has went through? And that he’s still here, and that he went from what he was doing as a freshman, what he did as a sophomore, what he did as a junior, and I can tell it to you, 34 minutes a game as a freshman, shot more free throws than anybody on the team, won two games. As a sophomore, my first year here, played 26 minutes a game, won two games. As a junior, played 19.6 minutes per game, and went 10-8 and went to the NIT. Played football, and I told him at my house following training camp, which is the second weekend of October, ‘If you can play football next year you should play football. If you can’t play football, I want you to play basketball, and I’m going to hold a scholarship for you until the spring, and you’re the only player in my career I’ve told I would hold a scholarship for.’ And now he’s a senior, and I don’t know what it would be exactly after eight games, but slightly less than 19 minutes a game. He typically guards the best and biggest player remaining, other than the five, and he plays every spot, one through four. And he knows everything that’s going on, and he coaches our guys as if he’s Coach Wilson, and he’s never backed up one step from anything I’ve ever said to him since the day he’s been here. His parents have never said one negative word to me or anyone on our staff, and he’ll end up making a lot more money than a coach makes because he’s smarter than a coach. But if he ever wanted to get into coaching, I’d hire him, because I have the utmost respect for who he is. And for a guy to play less than half of the game, there’s not a more respected person/player in our program than Devin. When you look at what’s happened since we got here, through today, a large part of it is the evolution of my relationship with him, and his willingness to allow me to coach him the way that I did, while his playing time and shots and everything else went negative, and the wins went positive, and he’s still the first guy in line going, ‘Yeah, that’s what we need to do.’”

Virginia Tech basketball
Nickeil Alexander-Walker (4) and Virginia Tech picked up a big non-conference win vs. Iowa on Tuesday, Nov. 28. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

What last week was like (wins over Iowa and Ole Miss)

“Just so I don’t offend anybody, I said the biggest week since I’ve been here. I don’t ever want to be disrespectful to the coaches prior to us, but not because of the results, obviously the results are fine. You guys know this, and the people here, thanks for coming, you know it, you’ve followed it enough, it’s hard to win. Period. It’s hard to win, period. Saint Louis hasn’t won since they beat us. Iowa hasn’t won since we beat them. It’s really hard. It’s really hard to win at home, that’s why when all the people show up in game one and game two, and they’re sellouts, that’s a really big deal. No matter who you’re playing. Ask Georgia Tech, they lost to Grambling. We remember when that happened to us, when we lost to Alabama State. It’s really, really fragile. All of this is, and everybody is really, really important. Not just Devin, not just Buzz, just because we get the microphone tonight, but I thought all of the things we were going to be forced into in preparation for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, could we win back-to-back ACC/Big Ten Challenge games, and then have a day off and in essence, play a completely different type team. Play them on the road, and play them at 1 p.m. Central Time? Can we go from a 9 p.m. East Coast game on national TV to a 1 p.m. Central Time game that’s streamed on the internet? There’s a lot of stuff that went on, and down 16 at the first media timeout of the second half, it took everything. As I told you, I try to be consistent in taking care of my children’s college fund, I’m never going to say anything about the officiating until my last year, then I’m going to say what I believe, just so everybody knows. If you hear me talking about officials, you know it’s the swan song. It’s the reunion.

I just thought our guys responded. When we were getting our head handed to us at the Garden, I thought our reaction to calls was that of a nine-year-old. And I told our guys when we got back, ‘No matter the time, no matter the score, no matter the locale, when I see any reaction, any, you’re out.’ And I’m pulling guys out of the game in the last four minutes at Ole Miss, and we’re markedly better than we were. But if we would have had the same reactions that we had against Saint Louis, in Oxford, no matter what anybody would say, and I told (Robinson) this when we got on the bus, they would have made sure we left with a loss. And that, even though I’m just now saying it publicly, that’s something we have to learn through. That’s something we have to grow from. That’s something we have to mature to. Very thankful, but like you said, that’s what’s so sad about all of this, is why don’t we talk about this next week? Can we talk about this past week again next week? And the answer is you can’t.”

Increased minutes for Chris Clarke vs. Ole Miss (played 35 minutes, finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and four assists)

“We would not have won without Chris. Of the 12 rebounds, I think nine of them were traffic rebounds. The only player on our team that’s going to get that loose ball there is Chris, and that’s all I’m hollering. We’re on offense, and I’m hollering at Chris, ‘You have to get it down there. You have to get it down there.’ The other thing with Chris that goes unspoken, probably too much… I think Chris makes the game so easy. He helps PJ (Horne). He helps (Kerry Blackshear). Any time a team plays zone, forget whatever it is that we’re doing, the ball is about to go to Chris, and Chris makes the game easy. When he gets a defensive rebound, we’re so effective, because there’s for sure three shooters that are surrounding him, and he’s going to force help. Thirty-five minutes, I pulled him out in the second half, I don’t exactly remember when it was, I pulled him out and I pulled (Robinson) out. It lasted down, back, down, and I called timeout. ‘Hey, you guys got to go back in.’ We had to have him. I thought it was his best road performance since he’s been here, against a Power 5 opponent. I just thought he was complete in what he did, made the three over there in front of our bench, obviously the 12 rebounds, but he was vital to what we were doing.”

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7 Responses You are logged in as Test

    1. Wasn’t it something about how the team already had a Justin, and Robinson is kinda long, so Buzz just went with his player number? And JR never spoke up about it because he was a newbie, so it stuck?

      Note, not a credible source! I hear a lot of these kinds of stories while attending the TTL shows, but I am also partaking in adult beverages, so the memories are always hazy!

    1. I think it is obvious if you watch the sideline during games, especially in ones where we have a sizeable lead. Seth and Justin Robinson are prime examples in how much they love Buzz, and Buzz loves them back. You will see them appreciate great plays by all the team members, try to pick each other up when there are bad plays/calls, and Seth/Justin spend a lot of time talking plays and plans of attack based on how the game is going. Gone are the days of certain players being angry at or frustrated with the coach. Buzz has built a fantastic culture of each person fully buying into what they are trying to accomplish: each is prepared to sacrifice for the betterment of the team, and no one is thinking of ways to better just themselves. They win together, they lose together, and probably most importantly, they have fun together. It is exciting to watch, both on and off the court.

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