Tech Talk Live Notes: Buzz Williams Takes Blame for Recent Struggles

Virginia Tech Talk Live

Virginia Tech athletics are in full swing at the moment, with men’s basketball in the middle of a pivotal stretch of their schedule and football wrapping up their Class of 2017. Both head coaches were present on Monday night’s Tech Talk Live to discuss their teams. Buzz Williams addressed the Hokies’ recent struggles, while Justin Fuente praised the Hokies’ Class of 2017. Here are the highlights.

Buzz Williams

Managing off days since Virginia loss

“We were off Thursday completely, we were off Friday completely. Saturday, we went Saturday late morning in between Special Olympics, then we went again late Saturday evening. Then we went (Sunday) early afternoon, then we went this afternoon. I felt like, maybe since the Clemson game…there was probably a 10-12 day gap in there where we lost some of the fabric of what we need to be about, in regards to how hard we need to play, how together we need to play. Our record didn’t necessarily show it in a negative way, but I thought we lost some of that. We spent all day Saturday, (Sunday) and (Monday) not consumed with the opponent at all.

It’s my fault, I’ve apologized to the team. I think I’ve tried to be a little smarter than I am, relative to, ‘How can we tweak this, tweak that,’ in hopes that we could sneak a win, if that’s the appropriate language, and maybe not being as true to our convictions, relative to what we want the program to be about. Whether we win another game or not, home or on the road, whether we go to a tournament or not, I don’t want to lose what I think is most important. I think there was a 15-day window there where I don’t think I necessarily turned a blind eye to it, because I think our kids want to do what I ask them to do, but I think it was, ‘Hey, if we can manipulate this on the court, and kind of change that, then do some karaoke over here and lipsync…’ if it all worked out perfect it would be the one we needed. That’s immature as a leader and we’re not going to do that. That’s what we’ve done since Virginia, other than the first 52 hours being off, which came at a good time.”

Switching different defenses over last few games

“I don’t care what it is. Switch it around, change it up, do this, do that, don’t do this, do zone, do man, switch that, ball screen coverage this… it doesn’t matter if you don’t play with incredible energy, play with incredible toughness and play together for one another. We are weak defensively. Statistically, all of that bears that out. We are weak when it comes to getting in rotation and when we get in rotation, we’re going to get beat on the offensive glass because we’re in rotation. What is it that keeps us out of rotation, and what is it that gives us the best chance to have inside position when the shot goes up? All of these changes, obviously it started at Clemson, the changes were good, we gave them a lot of threes. Well, the threes are happening in front of us. I think the evidence bears out if you make 20 threes, you’re going to win the game. If you don’t make 20 threes, I think Clemson had made the most number of threes they had made all year… Boston College, my man sets the Cassell record, we still win. If he doesn’t set the Cassell record, it’s probably not as close of a game and we were doing the same thing defensively there that we were at Clemson.

I think as a coach, your responsibility is to put your team in the best position to be in to have success and not beat your head against the wall going, ‘Do it my way.’ It has nothing to do with ‘it’s my way.’ What I want to be our way is that we compete incredibly hard and we play very tough. At Michigan, we were doing something completely different to start the game and it went to hell in a handbasket, and we said, ‘Never mind, let’s try this,’ and this wasn’t very sound fundamentally, but it worked because of the energy and the toughness over the rest of that game. That’s what we got to get back to. Whatever this is defensively, instead of trying to be ‘Mr. Joe Coach’ like I’ve been the last 10 or 12 days, I just want to be the best cheerleader that helps guys play as hard as they can.”

Thoughts on game vs. Miami on Wednesday

“Fifty-seven percent of their shots in their last five games have been at the rim. 61 percent of our shots in the last five games have been at the rim. They get there a little differently than we do. They’re longer. I wouldn’t necessarily say they’re stronger, but they have three downhill guards, one that can really shoot, one that can shoot and one does shoot. They’re second in the league in offensive rebounding. They’re rebounding 36 percent of their misses, which is right under North Carolina and I think North Carolina had 19 (offensive rebounds) the last time we played them. We need to do better than that.”

Justin Fuente

General thoughts on Class of 2017 signees

“I’m excited about the group. I know every coach in America says that. It’s the first time since we’ve been here that we’ve had a full calendar year to develop those relationships. Recruiting keeps getting earlier and earlier in these kids’ high school careers. It’s very difficult. Those transition recruiting classes are difficult. You’re really just trying to hold onto everybody you’ve got and maybe add a couple guys. What you don’t want to do is start reaching for guys to fill out a class and we did not do that. It was really fun. It was really gratifying. We’ve got some great families coming into the Hokie Nation. Not just the kids, I’m talking about the moms, dads, brothers and sisters, grandparents, all those sorts of people joining the Hokie Nation. I know they’re excited and we’re excited to get them here.”


Earning late commitment from Zion DeBose

“It was kind of a weird deal, I had never had anybody do this before, but he actually signed on Signing Day, so we knew Zion was a part of our class. His mother’s birthday was Friday, so they had this deal and I said, ‘Whatever dude, I don’t care, as long we get the paperwork on Wednesday I’m fine.’ They kind of kept it a secret, he wanted to surprise her on her birthday. We promised we wouldn’t release anything.

Zion is a kid that we had in camp. Great example of a developmental guy that continued to get better. We had him in camp and we weren’t ready to offer him, but we told him, ‘Zion, we think you have a chance here. You need to continue to train, continue to develop and go have a great senior season.’ Sure enough, we put on his senior film and man, does he jump out with great quickness and athleticism. You go back and say, ‘Zion, here we are again, we’re ready to offer you. You did what we asked you to do. Now, let’s get this thing rolling,’ and that’s what happened.”

Recruiting momentum in the 757 area of Virginia

“It’s going really well. Zohn (Burden) is from that area, knows virtually everybody. He can’t walk down the street without bumping into somebody he knows. He’s got a great reputation, not just as a good recruiter, but as a good person. He’s done a great job dealing with all of the things you’ve got to deal with in a recruiting area that’s in-state, and communicating with those coaches and players on a consistent basis… our reception has been fantastic. This was a good year in the state of Virginia, when you look back at recruiting. I think that manifested itself, when you look at the quality we were able to get out of the state. I don’t know that it will be like that next year. This next year is not as deep and as wide as it was this past year, but our reception has been good. We’re certainly fighting, scratching and clawing our way back into that. We put some big ole dents on the board this year.”

Adding depth with Class of 2017

“We’ve created some quality depth at linebacker. We’ve just been scary thin there. When you watch Bud (Foster) in warmups in pregame, there’s only about three guys standing around him. We’ve been trying to create some depth there. I think we did. We got some really good prospects there. The wide receiver depth is something we started talking about when we first began, and we had an inkling that we may lose Bucky (Hodges) and Isaiah (Ford), but there was really nothing we could do about it, in terms of building our number. That’s still going to take us some time to get that back up. We will. I think one more cycle, we’ll be in a little bit better shape. I think we only have one senior at wideout this year in Cam. We’ll be able to stockpile some guys there to develop some guys and get some guys on the field quickly.

When you look at the defensive side of the ball and creating some depth at linebacker… we only lose one player in the secondary that played a lot with Chuck (Clark). We’ve got a couple guys listed as athletes that may end up in the defensive backfield, or may end up at wide receiver, we’ll figure that out. I like the way we’re slowly getting that back up to where it needs to be. On the defensive line, we’re a little bit thin, particularly at D-end, but we got three or four guys that can come in and add some pass rush skills. Hopefully we can add another class on top of that next year and kind of get back healthy there.

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