Tech Talk Live Notes: Buzz Williams Laments Hokies’ Effort in Loss to Miami

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Virginia Tech Talk Live

Tech Talk Live returned on Monday night, with Virginia Tech basketball head coach Buzz Williams and guard Justin Robinson appearing as guests. Each recapped Virginia Tech’s loss at Miami, and how the team can rebound from the defeat. Here are the highlights.

Justin Robinson

How Robinson can try to re-energize his team when they’re sluggish

“After the game, I was talking to my teammates and I was saying we had to stop playing ‘catch-up ball.’ We like to play good on defense when we’re down. We don’t want to get embarrassed, so we play the right principles and make runs, and after, regret it because we’re thinking to ourselves, ‘Why don’t we just start that way?’”

Thoughts at halftime vs. Miami, facing a double-digit deficit

“We kind of felt as if we were in a good spot, even though we were down 12. We settled a lot in the first half. We had 10 three-point attempts and we thought if we put pressure on the rim, and made them start fouling and getting to the free throw line, we’d have a chance to come back and win.”

Personal improvements since Tech’s loss vs. Louisville

“Our turnover rate was really bad, with me at the front of the line. I was turning the ball over way too much. That night, I told you, I couldn’t sleep so I would constantly call Coach Buzz and ask what I was doing wrong, and what he thought could help me get better at that aspect. And I think I’ve improved. Kind of shocked to myself that I had two turnovers in the first half, but I think I bounced back in the second half. Overall, just feeding off of my teammates and trying to keep us in the right mindset of off and sensitive, and just playing defense the whole game so we can have a good stretch of wins.”

Relationship with Buzz Williams

“It’s big. He’s never changed since the day he started recruiting me. The relationship he’s made with me and my family is huge. And when he was recruiting me, he told me I would have to work for everything, compared to every other coach who told me they would get me the ball as soon as I got to school. I think our relationship of him being able to be hard on me, and tell me when I’m right and when I’m wrong, is what makes me into a better player and he’s kind of like a father figure away from home.”

Buzz Williams

What team must “control” for the rest of the season

“How hard we play. We can’t control who we play or where we play, and what’s left and all those things. But multiple times, we have been able to control how hard we’ve played, and in a negative way, I think that’s why we’re in the position that we’re in. So, I have to find a way to help them do a better job of being more consistent in our effort and our energy. This is new territory for me, to be in February and talking about energy and effort. I haven’t been as sound in trying to help that be as consistent as it needs to be at this level, with the margins that are involved. Really disappointed in how we played on Saturday. I thought it was very reminiscent of our effort against Florida State. But maybe if it is, maybe the results after Florida State, maybe that’s what is coming our way. We would be okay with that.”

Virginia Tech basketball
Virginia Tech basketball head coach Buzz Williams was not pleased with his team’s effort in the Hokies’ loss to Miami last Saturday. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

How coaches handle players who are struggling, not playing with high energy

“I think it’s a little bit of all of that stuff. I don’t really holler at our guys about missing shots, I holler at them about the types of shots that they shoot, if they’re bad shots. Our problem has not been offensive. We’re second in the league in field goal percentage. All of our numbers are pretty good offensively. I think we’re second in the league in assists, third in the league in assist to turnover ratio. Outside of that stretch where we were turning it over too much, we are arguably No. 1 in assists to turnovers. Our issue is not, ‘Can we score enough to win?’ Our issue is, ‘Can we get enough stops to win?’ For me, so much of how we play defensively is not 1-on-1, it’s more team-specific. Everybody is connected to one another, and we haven’t had the cohesiveness or the synergy, or the chemistry, or the connectedness that’s required in order to get enough consecutive stops. I think (Miami) scored 46 points in the first half, shot over 50 percent. We were better in the second half, but again, you’re playing with such a negative margin at that moment. That’s hard. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it and in some respects, we put ourselves in position to do it. But we’re going to need everybody to be much better defensively over the next eight games.”

How PJ Horne fits with the team

“He’s very unassuming. We didn’t sign him in November (of 2016). I said no, and he passed on every other scholarship opportunity and said, “Well, I’ll wait until the spring (of 2017), because I want to come to Tech.’ In this day and age, you don’t see that much. You don’t see that in society much. I just had great respect for that. I have great respect for how his family handled that. They dropped him off and said, ‘Coach, what an unbelievable blessing, thank you, do whatever you need to do so that he helps.’ I haven’t heard from them. His mom sent me a text a couple of weeks ago and said, ‘Is there any possible way we can take a picture with you at Georgia Tech?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, yes ma’am. You can. We’ll take a picture with whoever you want to take a picture with.’ And that’s kind of how PJ plays. Holler and scream at him, and I’m just saying the same thing, over and over, and he just looks at you with both pupils and says, ‘Yes sir.’ That’s how he practices. His minutes were monumental, and very convicting to me that I probably should have given him more minutes along the way, but have given too much grace too other guys on our team based on their resume, not on their production, and again, that’s a default of mine. Really happy for (Horne), and hope that he can build from that and grow from that over the next eight games. Maybe that’s a spark, maybe that’s an energy reserve that we need.

I didn’t say it to you guys, I thought (Wabissa) Bede was really good. And I think that he’s had a little bit more of an opportunity as time has transpired on possessions at a time. He’s a little bit more comfortable maybe than PJ is, relative to reps, but I thought both of those guys were really good. Bede made multiple efforts within the same possession defensively. Just played incredibly hard, and he needs to play more. Does that mean that they’re going to play 25 minutes? Probably not, but maybe it does. Maybe that accountability will help everybody else.”

How Virginia Tech’s personnel matches up vs. NC State’s personnel

“I think all of our stuff from now on will be — when we’ve played with energy, when we’ve played with great effort, we’ve been okay. We did not have that against Florida State, that was a loss. We didn’t have it against Miami, that was a loss. We didn’t have it at home against Virginia, that was a loss. I thought we had good energy at Louisville, that was a loss. We were okay vs. Syracuse. It’s hard to ever get in a great flow because of how they play, in addition to playing at the (Carrier) Dome. But those are our losses. And when you think about our wins, incredible energy against (North) Carolina. I thought we played pretty good at Notre Dame, except the last six or eight minutes when they were beating us on the glass. I thought we showed great tenacity, considering how the last minute-and-a-half went at Boston College. We played okay against Pitt. I thought we played great at Wake. We’ve won more games on the road than since we’ve been here. And we’ve lost more games at home, minus year one, since we’ve been here. So it’s not as if we don’t have it, it’s if we can get it all going in the right direction. If we get it going in the right direction, then we’re okay. If we don’t, then we’re not. I wish it was more complicated than that, but thus far, through 10 games, that’s why we’re 5-5. I think the evidence bears that out.”

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3 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. No need to man up from 25 feet out if he blows by you for an uncontested layup. Seen that too many times this year. Either get help from a teammate or back off. Then you have to hope they are not good shooters.
    Also learn how to get the long rebounds. That’s coaching.

  2. Buzz does a great job of analyzing the issues of why we have struggled in our losses. Curiously, it’s been lack of effort and cohesiveness in some of our home games, especially on defense. A good example was in the 1st half against Miami. Vasiljevic who is strictly an outside shooter and moves like a turtle easily blew past Bibbs and Hill on drives to the basket. That is purely an effort issue in defense. Only way to combat that is to take away minutes which we saw in the Miami game.
    Just wish we had some depth in our bigs, even if it was a couple of PF or a 5 who were solely defenders with size.

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