Tech Talk Live Notes: Joe Fulce Talks ‘Behind The Arc’, Buzz Williams Recaps Win Over The Citadel

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Tech Talk Live

Virginia Tech men’s basketball was well-represented on Monday night as graduate assistant Joe Fulce and head coach Buzz Williams took to Tech Talk Live. Jon Laaser hosted the show as always, but without co-host Mike Burnop, who will return next week. Here are the highlights.

Joe Fulce

How relationship with Buzz Williams began and evolved

“Originally, how I first met Buzz, he was an assistant coach at Texas A&M University, just making his transition from Colorado State. I was a sophomore at the time, going into my junior year at high school back in Dallas, TX. I was on the radar a little bit and I was getting a little recognition for how I was playing, how our team was doing and what not. Once he came to recruit me, we just automatically had a good bond. We started talking more, every single day or when we had the chance to. He would come visit me, he would see me. Some of it wasn’t just because he wanted to recruit me, it’s because he saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. That was something that stuck out with me that I know I needed in my life, as a father figure, as a mentor and it just happened to be Coach. I ended up signing at Texas A&M, ended up going to Massanutten Military Academy for a post-grad year because I needed to get some of my grades taken care of. At that time, he still stayed at A&M but he ended up going to the University of New Orleans for his first head coaching job. Without having to visit, without having to ask a bunch of questions, he told me, ‘Joe, you know I’m going to help you in any way I can. If you want to go back to A&M with Coach Gillespie, I’ll figure out what we need to do there or you can go somewhere else.’ I said, ‘Coach, forget all that, I want to go to where you’re going.’ I ended up signing at the University of New Orleans. From there, he ended up leaving after my eighth week there during the summer session and he ended up going to Marquette University where I took that year to figure out where I was going to go at Tyler Junior College where I met Jimmy Butler. From there, we both signed at Marquette with Coach (inaudible) there.”

“Behind the Arc” series and what it means

“It’s a little more than behind the scenes footage of the program. It’s more looking at it from a previous basketball player, student-athlete and kind of showing the viewers what it’s like in my eyes, but in their eyes also. I like to show a different side of the player’s personality and the coaches’ personalities, their enthusiasm and kind of them just having fun also. Buzz doesn’t want to be in the limelight of it too much, but at the same time, I have to get those key parts of the lessons that he’s teaching and just his coaching style. Not a lot of people are like him. I have to show it.”

Buzz Williams

Thoughts from team Christmas party

“I just know their story. Some of those guys don’t want to open their gifts because they know that is their Christmas. That’s not to stereotype anybody, but when you’re familiar with their path that brought them here, then all of the work… Cara spends 100 hours on that, wrapping all the presents, trying to figure out what to give them and I’m constantly changing it… I’m constantly messing it all up, but it’s really special to me. I think as time goes, you understand it better because you’re an adult, but everybody understands how special it is. That was our 10th year doing it and this was our third year doing it here obviously and I think each year it’s gotten better… the real Santa Claus made an appearance. It’s cool. I think the older I get, that’s what life is supposed to be about.”

Special gift for players and staff at Christmas party

“Keep digging. It’s from second Kings, I think it’s a rules violation, there’s something about being at a state institution about separation between church and state. I bleed that line a lot… It was to build off what we talked about Sunday in the locker room, which I thought was as powerful as a postgame locker room as I’ve experienced. This is my 23rd year as a Division I coach and it was really, really good. That was on Sunday when we played Ole Miss. We were off on Monday and there are still finals going on, it’s a difficult type of week, relative to the itinerary. We were off on Monday and Tuesday, when we brought in the huddle, our guys always say family and I don’t tell them what to say and all that, I think that’s for kids. Six weeks ago, we had a Tech Talk and I was talking to them about the bigger your dreams are, the smaller your world has to be and if you do believe in God, the bigger your dreams are, the smaller your world has to be and the bolder your prayers have to become. I was trying to explain to them that when you see celebrities or in our guys’ case, athletes that play at the highest level, you sense their Instagram life, their Twitter life and that’s only the highlights of their life. That’s why social media in some ways, I think it’s ruined my children’s generation because they get a false sense of work and they get a false sense of who they are, because they actually feel like they have to one-up it, they only have to put up highlights. I was explaining to them, you don’t see all of the work. That was a Tech Talk that was really good, maybe the best we’ve had and it was our world. Over the last five weeks, they would say ‘our world.’ Then on Tuesday, after what had happened on Sunday, they said, ‘Coach, we’re going to say one, two, three, dig. Four, five, six, our world.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I like that a lot.’ I had Josh help me, in a 100-mile radius, go to every TruValue hardware store or Corey knows how to do it online, but those miniature shovels and then overpay the guy who helps us with the engraving so on the actual shovel… it says ‘keep digging’ and on the wooden part of the shovel, it was their number or their name if they weren’t a player, and towards the top it was like the brass plate you put on the bottom of a trophy and it has the year three ‘Get Better’ logo with the rings and then it had the date, because I wanted those kids, and I think they will, always remember when they see that shovel, wherever it is that they keep it, they’ll remember where it came from. Last night at the Christmas party, I wanted to explain that it’s more than just digging, there’s a bigger principle. You do have to dig, but if you think that’s all there is relative to your life and your relationships, that’s not enough. We took 20 minutes and had a miniature Tech Talk amongst the 80 people that were at the Christmas party.”

Buzz Williams
Virginia Tech played much better in the second half in their win over The Citadel.

Reasons for better second half vs. The Citadel

“I thought we would take until the media timeout to get a vibe for it. I thought it would take probably a couple of more minutes to somewhat get in sync to it, after having been off for a week. That’s the least amount of games we’ve played in a seven-day period since we started. I thought they played incredibly well, specific to how they want to play, and I thought we played completely into their hands. I thought there maybe in the last five or six minutes when we tried to zone-press and kind of fall back into a little bit of a zone… it may have change the tenor of it a little bit, but other than that, we were throwing the ball all over the gym, we were taking average at-best shots way too often. They make 14 threes a game, they were above pace to do that. It was no good…

In the second half, against that style, I don’t know if you can play any better, but like I said in the postgame, we need to get to the point, regardless of the style of play, play to the scouting report more than just 20 minutes or we’re going to have some issues.”

Performance of Ty Outlaw vs. The Citadel

“I thought it was Ty’s best game and obviously when you make threes, it helps and he’s an elite-level shooter. I think his comfort level continues to get better. Of all the guys, verbatim, he does exactly what we ask him to do. He’s very intelligent, he knows what’s going on. Not just on the floor, he knows what’s going on academically, off the floor, he’s a great representation of our program and he wants to do right, and he knows he hasn’t been in a great rhythm. I think that’s delicate. When you sit out a whole year, he didn’t have the typical redshirt year because he literally couldn’t sweat, so it wasn’t like he had the opportunity to get better. Once he got released, he’s really worked hard on his body to lean back out and I think every practice, he is improving. That hasn’t necessarily always translated to every game, but I mentioned it in postgame… our guys want to throw Ty the ball and that’s big when you’re a guy that can shoot and that’s your game. I think for that to happen, I hope that ignites more consecutive positive production for him because as everything transpires, we have to get more from him and I think we have to continue to see (Khadim Sy)’s productivity and minutes increase. If we have that, I want him to force my hand so that Zach has to play some at another position other than his position. I think if we have a package, we were talking about it today, can we have a package when he does force my hand, ‘Ok, (Sy) you get to play, Zach, you get to play and when you guys are in the game, this is what we’re going to do offensively, this is what we’re going to do defensively.’ It hasn’t gotten to that point, I’m not saying it will get to that point, but if it does get to that point, I think it makes us a better team.”

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25 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. An Agnostic who self appoints himself or herself as a policeman for other people’s behavior or failure to bow to his or her agenda is just as obnoxious as a “religious” zealot (of any faith, Christian, Muslim,etc) who, rather that practice what they preach (ie tolerance and charitable behavior and actions) prefer to sit in judgment on anyone’s behavior they don’t agree with. College is a place for students to share ideas and interact with people different from themselves and learn about different points of view. The key word is LEARN, the whole point of education. If the players and staff were/are uncomfortable, they would not have come to VT to play for and work for Buzz; let alone stayed.
    ; Instead of being a political correctness policeman, try practicing a little non judgmental tolerance if you are capable. I doubt that you are. I suggest you take your agenda and judgmental attitude somewhere where it will be appreciated. Why don’t you go down to Clemson and challenge Dabo Sweeny’s program? It seems to work for them. It would infuriate you.

  2. Expressing your faith in a state funded school setting is not prohibited. I believe the Constition reads “freedom of religion” not freedom “from religion”. Sorry if that hurts anyone’s feelings and for not providing a “trigger warning” ahead of this post. Hopefully no one has terrible mental anguish for having to read the post or the original story.

  3. AXD1985- Then don’t let you kid got to VT and play for Buzz if you feel that way, otherwise quit trolling.

  4. The best recruiter in ACC football is Dabo Sweeney and I guarantee you he shows his faith in recruiting and coaching as well. Free speech goes both ways. Sometimes you have to hear things you don’t believe in. Just put your hands over your fragile, egg shell ears if you don’t want to hear it.

  5. No mention of faith, just wisdom that happens to be Biblical. Get over it. No one is trying to convert anybody.

  6. I don’t know if it’s just the direct quoting of Buzz, or the way the article is laid out, but I don’t really understand much of what’s being talked about with the Christmas party stuff. Maybe a little more context is needed than just “Thoughts from the team Christmas party”. And I expect that it won’t be a popular opinion…but yeah, not a big fan of him intentionally “bleeding the line” with regards to religion at a state institution.

  7. I get what Buzz is saying about playing Zach and Sy together but realistically I think our player rotation is pretty much set for this season, with Buzz trying to gradually increase Sy’s and Ty’s minutes. Playing LeDay and Sy together is a matter of the maturity of Sy’s overall game. Don’t get me wrong because Sy is doing great IMO, but to play him with Zach you have to replace another player(s) who’s already getting major minutes and making major contributions. I don’t know who that would be right now, because everybody who is playing now is a big contributor to the whole, and the games tend to be so close that even just trying it for a few minutes in conference games is a risk. The good news, of course, is that Sy is coming along fast enough that he is giving us a go to option for when Zach must be out of the game – some unexpected depth most of us probably didn’t know about until we saw him play – and actually helping offset the loss of Blackshear.

    Next year, though, is going to get real interesting. If Sy becomes the force inside I think he can be with another off season to get bigger and stronger, and Blackshear returns and picks up where he left off in his progression, then I could definitely see that combination being used on a more regular basis in our future rotations, especially against teams with bigger front lines.

  8. Buzz is my favorite coach of all-time. So glad he’s at VT. “Keep digging. It’s from second Kings, I think it’s a rules violation, there’s something about being at a state institution about separation between church and state. I bleed that line a lot…” Love it! Not only an incredible basketball coach but knows what’s truly important, and instills those principles in his kids. Doesn’t give a damn about potentially offending someone or worrying about the PC police. He knows the truth. He believes what he’s preaching. And our kids are buying into it and are better basketball players and human beings because of it. Not many coaches are willing to put all of that out there. Doesn’t hide his faith. Wears it on his sleeve. Doesn’t check it at the door. Hope Buzz is at VT for a VERY long time!

    1. Agree 100%. He’s different and different in a good way. Also I have been saying why not put Sy & Zack on the floor at the same time? I hope it happens, especially if Blackshear can not return. We are so small otherwise.

    2. “. Doesn’t give a damn about potentially offending someone or worrying about the PC police.”

      He should. This is a state institution. I’m not paying my taxes for your faith. I expect it to be agnostic. This needs to change ASAP.

          1. AXD1985- What gives man? “what a sham and you hope he fails”?? What are you even doing on this site? Sheez..

          2. You know there is a team Chaplain for football and basketball, right? And Buzz did get hired directly from a private Catholic institution– pretty sure if any player is offended they wouldn’t sign with VT. In the end it is really more about the players than the fans and what we may think.

      1. Players and families know who Buzz is when he recruits them. His faith comes out in normal everyday conversation without being intentional and that’s ok. He wasn’t quoted as saying he intentionally does it. That was another poster. If he pulls a positive, motivational and inspirational piece from a book, any book, that’s ok. Nothing is forced on any of his players, you can be sure. If it is a problem with any of the student athletes, the AD, other coaches, or parents, I’m sure it would be addressed. It’s not necessary to have a grievance (based off one comment you read online), just to have a grievance. Life’s too short.

        1. This is on point. There are no church/state issues with Buzz referencing the biblical text. I’ve seen this take get out of hand with virtually enforced FCA stuff in some programs. That’s not what going on here. If he chose to play a kid based on some faith-based issue or required kids believe a certain way that would be different. Not everyone is going to buy into what Buzz is selling . . . that’s a risk he takes. But, on the whole, it seems to work just fine.

          1. “His faith comes out in normal everyday conversation without being intentional and that’s ok”

            False. This is not ok. Express your faith and other things outside of a state-funded institution. Go to Liberty if you want that. If I have my child going to the school of which i’m paying taxes to help fund, I want a clear separation of what you believe in vs what you’re going to provide. If this is not what’s happening then it needs to stop. Period.

            “If he chose to play a kid based on some faith-based issue or required kids believe a certain way that would be different.”

            Not sure if they do it with Bball, but you mean like “non-mandatory prayer after games / practices”? Sure it’s not required, but if 99% of the team does it then…..

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