Virginia Tech men’s basketball is entering one of the tougher stretches of their season. The Hokies will play five of their next seven away from Cassell Coliseum, and will play at Virginia on Wednesday. Buzz Williams and Zach LeDay appeared on Tech Talk Live on Monday night to talk about the team’s progress this season and just how demanding of a league the ACC is. Here are the highlights from Tech Talk Live.
“Secret” for consistency this season
“Just trying to be consistent with everything I do and my everyday routine. I’m trying to work every day and just listen to what coach says and take it the right way. He’s on me a lot, he’s on us a lot, particularly because we’re seniors and this is our last year. We try and take it the right way and just work everyday.”
Holding off Boston College down the stretch for big home win
“The day before, Coach (Williams) was on us. We have a scout team, called the D-League team, cause we have like seven guys redshirting, they were beating us in practice the other day and Coach was like, ‘Who’s going to respond?’ He stopped practice and yelled at us for like 20 minutes. In my mind, I was really just thinking about that moment. Just staying even keeled. We’ve been in that situation so many times, as far as close, one-possession games and stuff like that. I don’t feel like anybody on our team gets worried or anything like that. We just try to stay together and do what we have to do and take care of business.”
Benefits of going against “D-League” team in practice
“It helps us a lot. We’ve got (Kerry Blackshear), he’s a completely different player than when he came on his visit on campus. My brother (Seth LeDay), he’s a great athlete, a shot-blocker, a defender. (Tyrie Jackson) is a good scorer and natural, so when you’ve got to guard scorers at point, we just give the ball to (Jackson) and he mimics them perfectly. Devin (Wilson) is good, he runs the team…and plays defense. He’s perfect and Matt (Galloway) is a shooter. Every ACC team has a shooter so anytime there’s a shooter, you have to guard Matt and he never gets tired. He’s constantly running around, trying to get rebounds and running off of screens. It helps us out a lot.”
Developing hesitation in jump hook to get shot off against bigger defenders
“I don’t really know. In high school, I used to do it a little bit. In high school, I was only allowed to play the five. My coach would get so mad at me because coming from AAU, I played the wing in AAU and when I would come back to school, I could only play the five. ‘If you shoot anything outside the paint, I’m taking you out, blah, blah.’ I was like, ‘Dang, how am I going to score?’ So, I just developed a hook somehow and my hands got bigger and bigger over the years, and I’ve just been able to palm the ball and just being able to hesitate and just hold it. I can hold it like an orange. It helps me out on all of my hooks and all of my shots, to be honest.”
Thoughts after earning 200th career win against Boston College
“One thing I should’ve said last night, everyone has a different way to define success. I’m not saying that 200 wins is not important, but I think you have to be careful when your identity is tied completely to what you do. I believe a portion of the definition of success should be that those closest to you respect you the most. In order for that to happen, relative to me, I want to be famous in my house, whether I win 200 games or I lose 2,000 games. If I’m doing right to be the husband and father God called me to be, then I hope that I’m famous in my house. I think another thing I’ve thought about, and I wrote it in my journal earlier this morning, all of it is bigger and larger and more comprehensive than I ever would have believed it to be. There’s many more layers to this process than I could have imagined it to be. I think part of it is, part of my definition of success would be being a steward and being a steward of what you’ve been blessed with, whether that’s your skill, your time, your treasure, whatever that is. I think when you’re a good steward of what you’ve been blessed with, you’re striving to be the best person of yourself. I think included in that should be that you are giving of yourself. The better steward you are, it seems like no matter what category it is… more is coming your way. The guys gave me a cake today as a surprise. I had never mentioned it to them so I think it caught them off guard after the fact. They were texting me last night, they were bringing pies and cakes to the office today and a lot of texts and emails, it was all really cool. I think being a steward of what I’ve been blessed with, long before I ever became a head coach, is part of what’s led to this moment in time.”
Thoughts about playing non-conference team during open date in ACC schedule, similar to Virginia vs. Villanova
“You don’t want to turn down a national TV exposure game like what Virginia and Villanova had, those types of games that you’re going to see in January and February on national TV, they were made for TV events. The reason why Virginia’s bye week was this past weekend was because of that game. That took place a long time ago because TV orchestrated it all. If and when our program gets to that level, I’m not opposed to that type of deal, but I think you have to be really careful. I asked (Khadim Sy), I asked him if he knew what a bye week meant, because he thinks bye is the opposite of hello. I was telling him that bye can be spelled b-y in English and it can also be spelled b-y-e and it has two different meanings. I think our bye week is coming at the right time. Late December, the kids are ready to go. They’re ready to play real games and you can kind of run that out to about this time. When you get to going five weeks, nonstop, with in essence one day off per week in that 30-40 day span, when you can change their routine for two, two-and-a-half days, you hope that it’s good and you hope that change of pace gives them a change of perspective. Then, when they come back in, they’re ready to finish it up. Some of those teams, with a league as big as ours, I don’t think you necessarily get the bye that you want. Some of those teams, most of those teams have already taken their bye. I don’t want a bye the first week of January. We’re ready to go. Hopefully we can catch our breath in a good way on Thursday, maybe change up the pace a bit on Friday. I haven’t solved what’s right in my heart on Saturday and then we’ll get back going Sunday, Monday and Tuesday we leave.”
What Tech must do in order to beat Virginia on Wednesday
“You have to be able to execute, you have to have a low turnover rate and you have to be more physical than they are and you can’t fall into the trap of, ‘Well, they’re playing the packline, there’s nothing for us to do, we’re just going to shoot a bad shot. You’re not going to get a paint touch on the first side. For the most part, you may struggle to get one on the second side. The ability to have the right type of patience on both ends of the floor, because you’re not going to score as quickly as you want and then defensively, you’re going to have to guard them a while. They’re not going to be in a rush doing anything.”
Would you take current record heading into season?
“Yes sir. I didn’t know that (Jackson) wasn’t going to be able to play. I didn’t know that the right thing for (Blackshear)’s career would be for him to redshirt. Those two guys would change our team today. I was very concerned about the 10-day road trip to California with Michigan on the backend. I would have asked, we’re 5-4, does that mean we lost one at home or did we lose everything on the road? For us to be 16-5, 5-4, to have been ranked in the top-25 a thousand days into our tenure here, obviously this stretch we’re about to undertake in February is brutal, to say the least. Twenty-eight days in February, five of those seven games are on the road so that means 10 out of 27 days we’ll be traveling. Two of the remaining 17 days will be gamedays at home. I wish it maybe had been dispersed a little different, but I don’t want to complain because everybody has a stretch. It just seems like our stretch is really long. One of our home games, we’re going to have to leave as soon as the game is over and go to Pitt. Not complaining, but yes, if you had said this to me in October at Media Day or anytime before, ‘This is where you’ll be, are you ok with that?’ I would have been grateful for that.”
How ACC has changed throughout his tenure at Virginia Tech
“Everybody wants to text me and ask me about 2011 in the Big East. UConn won the national championship that year, UConn finished 10th in the Big East. We went 9-9 and we were the last at-large bid. UConn went 9-9 and we beat them at UConn. What I would say, there were 15 teams in that league, the bottom four teams in an 18-game schedule, that’s 72 total games, had zero wins over the top 11 teams. The top 11 teams in an 18-game schedule, so that’s 198 games, had zero losses to the bottom four teams. When all of that stuff goes on about, ‘Well it’s the Big East of 2011,’ I completely disagree. I’m not trying to say I have all of the answers. There were really good players in that league, just like this league. There were Hall of Fame coaches in that league, that’s when Coach (Jim) Calhoun was coaching, Coach (Rick) Pitino, Coach (Jim) Boeheim, so there was still that aura of coaching but this year, Pitt has won one game and that was over Virginia, who’s a top-10 team in the country. Pitt has won at Maryland, who’s in first place in the Big Ten and has lost two total games on the year. I don’t think Pitt will finish in the bottom of the league, but what I’m saying is the disparity or the margin between No. 1 and No. 15… one of the guys was texting me late last night or early this morning, I text him the field goal percentage offense of all 15 teams and the field goal percentage defense of all 15 teams. The top 14 teams in field goal percentage, the difference is five tenths of a point. They’re all shooting above 40 percent except one. Field goal percentage defense, No. 2 through No. 15, the separation is five tenths of a point.
That’s why I said what I said last night to you guys when I went to the print media. The line of thinness is almost invisible between winning and losing in this league, because numerically, if you look at our stuff, you could almost say, ‘I don’t know how you guys are 5-4.’ We’re No. 1 in the league in field goal percentage and we’re playing 6-foot-6 and under, other than the 8-10 minutes (Sy) plays. How do you do that? That’s why I think it will go down as the best single season of any conference ever. I think the NCAA Tournament will bear that out, just like it did last year, but I think there will be more teams from this league this year, which I think will end up being more wins in the NCAA Tournament this year than ever before.”
Virginia Tech has held the Commonwealth Cup for 4447 days. #Hokies
— Commonwealth Cup (@CommonwlthCup) January 30, 2017