Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams and Kevin Dresser headlined Tech Talk Live on Monday night, recapping their team’s recent games and taking a look ahead in their schedules. Here are the highlights.
Thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. and his impact on mentoring young people
“No doubt. I think every day is important. All of the things that Martin Luther King did, I’ve studied all of it. I’m real close with George Raveling, who was there on stage with Dr. King when he gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Years ago, before (Raveling) put it in safe keeping, he showed me the actual copy of the notes and just so you know, ‘I have a dream’ wasn’t in the notes. I’ve read a lot of that stuff and have studied it over the last several years and have profound respect for Dr. King for sure.”
Rebounding from Notre Dame loss, psyche of team and mood of practice
“Well that’s the biggest thing. The older you get, I think losses stay with you longer and you don’t try to win for maybe the same reasons you once tried to win. You try to win to avoid losing. I don’t think kids operate that way. Kids are much more resilient, they don’t process the losing in the same manner that coaches do and I’m not sure that they should. The older I get, I would think that maybe what goes into coaching, you would process better but I seem to be getting worse with it. I’m much more anxious than I’ve ever been as a coach in preparation for the game. I think I’m a lot better at preparing for an opponent and preparing our team, but you would think that with wisdom, and I think that I’ve accrued some, that you would be able to diagnose and dissect how to handle all of that better, but I seem to be going in the opposite direction.
I do think this — in any sport, how you handle winning and how you handle losing will determine how good you can be. I think it was Tommy Lasorda that said, ‘A third of your games you’re going to win, a third of your games you’re going to lose, but how you handle the other third is the key.’ I thought that was a great opportunity for us to play the first-place team, a top-15, top-20 team, back-to-back Elite Eight appearances, they’ve had a really high level of success in the ACC in the time we’ve been at Virginia Tech. Like I said to you in postgame, to have every opportunity to not be in the game and then have every opportunity to win the game, rarely does that happen. Normally all the conversations we have postgame are trending in one direction and the conversation we had on Saturday, it was both. At the intersection, after being down 19, with 2:41 to play it was a tie ballgame. Against a team as good as they are, that’s rare that it happens. That’s why I said what I said. I wasn’t saying it out of selfish thought, I just felt that way collectively. I think our fans, the people who were at the game, probably felt the same way. Just because I happen to have a microphone, that doesn’t mean I’m more important than anyone else. I was, in my opinion, just stating the obvious.”
Team not being tough enough in loss to Notre Dame
“I always think if there’s an issue relative to toughness, it’s always been my opinion, it’s always a reflection of the head coach. I think Notre Dame is one of the tougher teams we’ve played since we’ve been here and in general, my career. I thought they made tough plays. That doesn’t mean that we made soft plays, but they made more tough plays than we did and I always think that’s a reflection of the coach. I think our players tried to do everything that I asked them to do, but we’ve got to get to the point where there’s even more and there can only be more if I’m demanding more. I think the coaches that blame it on the kids, specifically on a kid… I don’t mind talking about kids and what transpired but when it becomes, ‘They didn’t do it and I did,’ I just think that’s fraudulent.
Thoughts on Josh Pastner’s job at Georgia Tech
“Josh has done a great job. I’ve known Josh since we we’re teenagers. He’s from Houston, I’m from a small town in Texas. I’ve known Josh forever, known his dad who’s been a big part of AAU basketball my entire career and Josh’s entire career. I talked to Josh many times before he took the Georgia Tech job and talked to him a lot in the process of his taking the job. He kept saying, ‘Buzz, they keep saying we’re really bad,’ and I go, ‘I don’t think you’re really bad. Not that you want to watch tape of the Hokies from year No. 1, it can show you what really bad is. I promise you you’re not really bad.’
They’re starting two freshmen, one that Coach Gregory signed last November and one that Josh signed in the spring, a kid from California. Ben Lammers will be the most improved player of the year, in my opinion, on their team. Stan Heath’s son (Josh) is a returning player on their team. (Tyrie Jackson)’s older brother is a returning player on their team. (Quinton) Stephens is a returning player on their team. Having said that, I’m not saying he walked into a league championship and every job is different when you get there. To Josh’s credit, thus far he’s done a really good job in league play, beating North Carolina at home to open up conference play, I thought obviously, that was a huge win. Their win (Sunday) night at NC State was a huge win. He’s done a great job and I also think their talent, their team was better than what most people thought. Every coach has been saying that before and after the game and that will continue. Like I tell people all the time, the media is the one that voted on the preseason stuff and I know the coaches do too. I don’t know who last place is, but I don’t think it’s Georgia Tech.
Thoughts after winning Virginia Duals
“Ty (Walz) and Joey (Dance) had really good weekends. They had four dual meets and they really dominated. That’s not to say the other weight classes were bad, they weren’t bad, we were just a little inconsistent and as coaches, we love consistency. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing, keep improving and we’ve got a great group of guys, I can tell you that. We’re excited to get home as much as we’ll be home over the next month or so.”
“We’ll have six dual meets coming up, five of them at the Cassell and one of them at Moss. I’ve got a photogenic memory so I know everyone here will be there. Within a 30-day period, we’re home potentially six times if we make the national duals and that’s hopefully going to be our crescendo at the end of the year if we do a good job in our dual meets. We can host a Big Ten opponent, someone probably like Penn State, Ohio State or Iowa at Cassell on February 19. From January 20 to February 19, we’re home a lot. I’m pumping it up right now.”
Comparing this year’s team to last year’s team
“Right now, as of mid-January, this team is ahead of last year’s team, just because we had a few more injuries in the middle of the year and we had a couple head issues we had to get fixed and we fixed those pretty good before New York City. If we progress, this could be a trophy team. In our sport, if you’re in the top-four in the nation you get a trophy so when I say a trophy team, if this team progresses we can do that. We’ve got to stay healthy, I’ve said it before, we’ve got to stay healthy. We have to progress and we’ve got to have a little luck. If we can do all of those things, we’ll be alright.”