Virginia Tech men’s basketball is on the road in Brooklyn, preparing for the ACC Tournament. Tech Talk Live hit the road as well, hosting head coach Buzz Williams on Monday night. The show skipped over Virginia Tech’s 69-68 loss to Miami on Sat., March 3.
Instead, Monday night’s show focused on the Hokies’ path in the ACC Tournament, which begins on Wednesday night when Tech faces either No. 15 seed Pittsburgh or No. 10 seed Notre Dame. Here are the highlights from Monday night’s show.
Things team needs to carry over from regular season to ACC Tournament
“I think any time you start something new, there’s some level of excitement. There’s some level of, ‘We learned a lot from what we just came through, let’s apply it to what’s about to happen now.’ Coming to New York is always fun. It’s a good change of pace. I’ve always believed personally that change of place and change of pace equals change in perspective. In all of the postseasons that I’ve been fortunate to be a part of, when your pace changes and your place changes, your perspective changes. You can see that in how we practice. You’ll see that, I think, probably in how we warm up and how we play, and I hope that we play even better.”
Challenge of preparing for ACC Tournament
“It’s hard knowing how much to give the guys. You don’t want to overcoach in your preparation. They know we’ll play Notre Dame or we’ll play Pitt, and the law of averages says we know which one. But then that’s not really right and you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. You have some eggs and you need to disperse them accordingly, and I think we’ve done that in the right manner. And going forward, first of all, I hope we get to go forward. I think we’ve went 1-1 every year, no matter where this tournament has been held. It happens fast, like you said, and how much do you give them mentally to absorb?
The good thing is that I think our coaches have been superb in ACC play, as far as their prep and how much they give them. I think there’s been some, because of the returning kids and the growth they’ve had, some of those kids, they could do the scouting report on personnel and some of the things teams do on their own, which is good, and we try to let them have maybe a little bit more involvement. Devin (Wilson) does for sure. (Justin) Bibbs does. (Justin Robinson) has gotten to the point where he does, and I think that’s good. So whoever we play going forward, they’ll at least have a vibe, but it is a quick turn for sure.”
How improved defense gives team more confidence
“When your defense can determine the outcome of a game, you know that your defense is at the level that you want it to be. That has never been the case in our tenure here, but it began to be that throughout the month of February. The first 10 games, any defensive number that you would look at, we would have been ranked 14th. Whether that’s field goal percentage defense, anything. Any number that a smart person would look at, we would be ranked 14th out of 15th. In the eight games since, any number you would look at, whether that’s field goal percentage defense, whether that’s points per possession defensively, we’re fourth. That change, I’ve never seen anything like it. As I mentioned in pregame, prior to Miami, that’s a credit to the work, and that is where the confidence is derived from.
We watched tape yesterday of the same thing we’ve been doing, actually, over the last eight games, watch defensive possessions to learn from and to grow from. We did that of our game against Miami on Saturday, we watched it (Sunday). There is a level of angst, of ‘we’re mad because we know the things we have to do and we did not do as consistently as we should have.’ The 15 turnovers was an aberration relative to what we’ve been doing. But I do believe, I’ve always believed, that true confidence can only come from your work. Whether that’s as a team, whether that’s as an individual, in your personal life, whatever. That’s how I was raised, that’s just what I believe. I think that happened for sure, today’s March 5, so from Feb. 5 to March 5, I for sure believe that happened within our program.”
How different Notre Dame is with Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson healthy
“Arguably, they would have won the league. Bonzie was ACC Preseason Player of the Year. Matt Farrell’s arguably had as good a college career at the point as anybody in the league at the point other than Joel Berry. We didn’t play that Notre Dame. That’s not our fault. We played who they had. But it’ll be a completely different team. A team that won Maui (Invitational), a team that arguably, in my opinion, could have won this league. They would not be playing us for an at-large bid, for sure, if those kids had been healthy all year. DJ Harvey was a top-50 player out of high school, I think he’s a very good player as well. None of those guys played against us, and we struggled in some respects, that was prior to playing Miami, that was a huge win for us. But who we play, if that ends up being who we play, that will be a completely different team. That will be a team that I believe will be in the NCAA Tournament if they beat us. Not that we want the ACC to do good, but we want to do good before we want the ACC to do good.
They put their last two games on my iPad for me to study while we travel, because those are the only two games those kids have played. Yeah, they’re completely different.”
How freshmen (PJ Horne, Wabissa Bede, Nickeil Alexander-Walker) have improved throughout the season
“The play that you were mentioning was exactly what you were talking about in the previous segment. The kid that went backdoor was not PJ’s kid. It was because of what that kid was doing, he was doing what he was supposed to do. (Horne) was so high on the floor because he was protecting the shot from the guy who gave it to the kid on the backdoor. So your help, the rotation is going to come from behind in that situation, PJ was that guy. Made a great play.
Without trying to sound like a dad, or I’m proud, I don’t like using the word proud, because then it seems like I’m involved in it. I’m excited for PJ. I’m excited for (Tyrie Jackson). I’m excited for (Wabissa) Bede. I’m excited for them because of their growth. I’m excited for them because they’re playing meaningful minutes in games that they’ve always wanted to be a part of. I’m excited for them because in the last eight games, those guys have been an integral part of what we’re doing, even though not necessarily do their minutes show, but the minutes they’ve played have been really important. I hope that those minutes will help us over the next two, I hope it turns into three, weeks. Maybe four, if we have favor, but those guys are continuing to grow and those guys are continuing to improve.
They don’t necessarily understand it the way we do, because they’re 18 years old. I thought (Jackson) played the best (Jackson) had played all year long at Miami. And that’s great. I think Bede is more and more comfortable when I call his name. Not only is it good for them, I think it’s good for the guys that are getting an opportunity to get a drink of water. And the togetherness that all of them have had… there’s been four times this year in ACC play that (Justin Robinson) has asked me not to put him back in to let Bede play a couple more possessions. You can’t buy that. So really excited for those guys.”
Thoughts on having ACC Tournament in Brooklyn
“Yeah, I don’t know what the right answer is on that. All the smart people in the league office, whatever they think is best. Yeah, I guess that’s how I would answer it. It wouldn’t be my first choice, if I had a choice. But I don’t have a choice. I’m not going to participate in all of that. Whatever they say it is, we’re thankful to be a part of it and excited to hopefully have a chance to win a few games.”
Virginia Tech has held the Commonwealth Cup for 4846 days. #Hokies
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