It was a rather jovial Tech Talk Live on Tuesday night, as Virginia Tech men’s basketball head coach Buzz Williams reflected on his Hokies’ upset of No. 5 Duke on Monday night in a sold-out Cassell Coliseum. Here are the highlights from Tuesday night’s show.
Lessons learned after upset of No. 5 Duke on Monday night
“Yeah, really special. Another lifetime memory, I think. Incredible coach, incredible team, incredible atmosphere, second Big Monday appearance in school history. It’s the first time, since I’ve been here, that all four corners (of Cassell Coliseum) were filled. Just think the environment has continued to improve. The game atmosphere, all of the marketing and all of those people that work so diligently to try and figure out how to be more creative, I just think it’s continued to improve.
I went recruiting this morning and as soon as I get done here, I’m going to leave to go fly out recruiting again. It’s always different when you leave campus coming off something like that, it’s a lot more fun. It’s like coming to the radio show and Ms. Hahn shows up when you win, then you go on the road and they go, ‘Hey, you guys won last night,’ that’s always better than when you lost. But really thankful and without sounding arrogant or greedy, hopefully there’s some more coming.”
Remaining emotion in “emotional gas tank” after win over Duke and a grueling February schedule
“Devin Johnson (director, player personnel) has been with us forever. He’s one of my favorite people in my life. He is the head coach of our program, in charge of time. So anything that has to do with time — my radio show, what time the plane picks me up, the time I leave today, what time we lift weights, anything, he’s the head coach of (it). Everything runs through him, specific to time. And every Sunday, throughout the year, he and I meet on what the schedule is going to be. Because I never want to make a decision emotionally, I never want to be so excited and go, ‘Ok, nevermind, we don’t have to do that,’ or so upset that I end up draining those gas tanks with very little wisdom involved.
So every Sunday we meet, and this Sunday obviously was a unique Sunday, because we had played the day before and we had played the day after, and obviously we’re playing the last game, the last road game, it’s the last game of the season, and I decided on Sunday that I wasn’t in a great mood, but I decided that regardless of what happened on Monday, that we should be completely off on Tuesday and completely off on Wednesday. We haven’t had two days off since our kids went home for Christmas. Like I told the kids last night, I don’t know if that’s right, but my decision was based off of what you just said. We need two days away. I need to be away. And they do not need to feel like I’m in the office, our assistants don’t need to feel like I’m going to ask them something, and I’ll wear myself out on the five stops I’m going to make in the next 25 hours, but in some ways, that’s a different gas tank.
Let me run on that gas tank, and then we’ll practice Thursday morning, film practice Thursday afternoon, practice Friday morning, film Friday afternoon before we leave. As I told the guys last night, I think that even though the schedule has been incredibly difficult, maybe on the back end, to close out February, to have two days off, I hope that’ll give us some new juice, right? One more road game to set a school record, etc., etc., etc., and then into the (ACC) tournament and into the (NCAA) tournament, so maybe this will re-calibrate our bodies and our brains and our souls a little bit for whatever is coming.”
Defense earning three-straight turkeys (nine consecutive defensive stops) vs. Duke
“… Three turkeys in a row, that’s never happened since we’ve been here. Mathematically, if you get seven turkeys in a 40-minute college game, the math says that you will win 97.8 percent of the time. They didn’t score the last seven minutes and 55 seconds, I believe, a field goal, and a lot of that obviously was amidst those turkeys. If you get a stop and a stop, then a basket, obviously, that prevents a turkey. I thought the last 12 minutes and 49 seconds at Duke, we began to splinter just a little bit, relative to what we had been working on defensively. And those were the clips that we showed them when we got back. At the second media timeout last night, I brought that back to their attention. And obviously we were down at that point, and we had some bordering on exhausted kids. And I said, ‘Guys, we’re going to do the opposite over the last 12-and-a-half minutes of this game than what we did at their place. We’re going to be even better, we’re going to stay more true to our principles, everyone is going to be accountable for what they’re supposed to do,’ and they were.
They shot 40 percent from the field, over 50 percent of their field goal attempts were from three, that’s happened four times since the Miami game. All of those numbers bode well for us. We did a much better job over the last 12 minutes of not giving them a second opportunity and I thought individually, they have really good players. Two of those five players on the floor will be top-10 picks come June and I thought individually, our guys played to the scouting report really, really well and those other three guys, when one of those two guys had it, were spectacular.
I thought Justin Bibbs was elite in what he was doing defensively. He’s always been in that realm, but I thought last night as a help defender, he was just bouncy, using his length as good as I’ve ever seen. I thought Chris (Clarke) was really good defensively with ball pressure, and (Kerry Blackshear) was arguably as good as he’s been here, even though the numbers don’t say it, on both ends of the floor.”
How 2017-2018 season will change the way Williams coaches the rest of his career
“I’ve just learned so much, not only as a coach but as a human being. Their willingness to accept, ‘This is where we’re at, and this is not good enough, and this is what I believe as the coach that we have to do, and you can either do it and play, or don’t do and don’t play,’ and not to sound old school, because I didn’t present it that way, but the only chance that we had was to change defensively.
Like if you look at our offensive numbers, minus year one, we’ve been okay. In some ways, I think we’ve been superlative. Effective field goal percentage, field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage, we’ve been really, really good. And our numbers offensively this year, we’re not going to end up being first in the league, but as of today, through 17 games, we’re second in the league in field goal percentage. We do good stuff. A lot of that has to do with our personnel. I’m not saying I’m doing the coaching of it, it’s just the personnel and how we play. The style fits. We were 14th in the league in the numbers that matter defensively, after the Miami game.
We’ve played eight games in the month of February, is that right? We played eight games this month, don’t count Miami, so it’s seven games. If you look at those seven games, the defensive numbers that matter, we’ve been third (in the ACC). And if you look at the 17 games that we’ve played in ACC, at the end of the Miami game, we were 14th. As of this morning, we’re eighth. That is hard to do. That’s like bombing your GPA in the fall of your freshman year, and trying to overcome it, and eventually graduating Summa Cum Laude. Like, that’s impossible. That’s what’s happened with us, and I think it’s been the spirit of our guys, willing to be coached, but then separate of the coaching, them taking ownership going, ‘This is the only chance we have to change where we’re at. We can’t continue to make it a scoring contest.’ I know we’ve changed the practice itinerary completely, I know how we’ve prepared has changed completely, but in essence we haven’t changed completely, because there has been one priority. And everything is to that priority.
What we talk about in the locker room before the game, it’s based on the priority. What we practice, it’s based on the priority. All of it is based on that and from top to bottom, managers included, this is what we’re doing. In 2018, to get a group, to get a team, to get an organization, to get a program and go, ‘We’re doing that.’ We’re playing Louisville amidst those six threes that they made down that stretch, and there’s a part of me as a coach that’s like, ‘Ok, let’s change this, but let’s give them a dose of something different,’ and I’m literally inside, internally, going, ‘Nope. That’s not the priority, I’m not going to do that. Our kids will look at me like I’m a clown. We’re not doing it. We’re riding it out.’ There’s so many lessons in all of that.”
Grabbing mic and telling student section inside Cassell Coliseum to “stop cussing” and to stop throwing things
“It was the really nice-looking official who looked at me like I threw the cone on the floor, who I’ve never spoken to in my life because I don’t think he agrees with how I talk to him so I just leave him alone. And he’s holding the cone looking at me like, ‘I’m standing down here man, I didn’t throw that cone. Where the hell did the cone come from?’ And then he’s pointing up at our kids. I had no idea it was going to turn into all of that. The attention should be on our kids, the attention should be on the game and the result of the game, and all that transpired in the game. It was just an instinctual reaction, and not necessarily one of sound mind and not necessarily one — I was semi being hateful towards him, like, ‘I didn’t throw the cone,’ was my reaction towards him. And after I said whatever I said, he goes, ‘Thanks coach.’ And I turned and was like, ‘Did you say that to me?’ It was the first time he’s ever spoke.”
Virginia Tech has held the Commonwealth Cup for 4840 days. #Hokies
— Commonwealth Cup (@CommonwlthCup) February 27, 2018
Virginia Tech has held the Black Diamond Trophy for 4896 days. #Hokies
— Black Diamond Trophy (@BlkDiamondTrphy) February 27, 2018