Tech Talk Live Notes: Mike Young Talks Maui and Duke

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Mike Young, Virginia Tech
Mike Young was Monday night’s guest on Tech Talk Live. (Jon Fleming)

On the trip to Maui…

I’m still considering everything that came about. Going over there, I thought to myself that I will never do this ever again. This trip is too much. The team and keeping them focused. Coming out of it, I’d like to do it again next year. We can only do it every four years, so we’ll do it again at some point. I just thought that the time together brought about so many great experiences and opportunities when you take a team away like that; in the airports, in the hotel, in the film room, and competing against the likes of Michigan State, a really good Dayton team in probably the most well-known holiday tournament.

You guys experienced it just like I did, and the class with which they go about it. It’s remarkable. I wish we could have won a couple more games, but I know our team grew. I know our team had an opportunity to come together. They had some time on Thursday to do some things that weren’t basketball related that they enjoyed a lot. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun for all of us.

On Landers Nolley…

I’m not trying to, in any way, shape, or form, speak negatively about his play. That kid is playing his tail off and just playing great basketball for us. He gets that shot out of there so quickly and can take a smaller person into the post where he can turn around and play. He’s got a really nice offensive game. He has to get better defensively, as we all do. We are not where we need to be defensively.

We’re playing him out of position, and I recognize that. We have no choice, and he understands that. He’s a terrific passer, and he attracts so much attention because of his ability to score. He had a couple of terrific passes in the Michigan State game, one in the first half and two in the second half. Average players don’t make those plays, but he’s a really good player and he did make that play.

He has to come on defensively, and we need him to rebound better. He’s got five [per game] and that’s not bad, but with his skillset and his nose for the ball, we’d like to see him with six, seven, or eight if that’s not too much to ask. I’m proud of his work, and he’s becoming an even better practice player. That’s showing up when the lights come on and people hit the stands.

On Nolley’s shot that sealed the win over MSU…

We ran the same play at the ten-minute mark of the first half and liked it. It didn’t turn out the way I expected it to, but I liked how they handled it. There was a switch in there, so we had a different player guarding him. At the end of the day, that’s a good player rising up, making a shot, and getting you out of a situation like that against a terrific program in Michigan State. The play is all fine and dandy, but at some point, a really good player has to rise up and make a shot and he did it. That put us up four and that was the shot that got us over the hump and got us the big win.

On P.J. Horne’s shooting…

He’s fourth in the country in three-point field goal percentage. We’re laughing as a staff today in our office. We get here in April and we’re going through our roster and we’ve got so many balls in the air, but here’s P.J. coming back, thank goodness he’s with us. I love that guy. Here we are, December 2nd, and we are designing plays to get him shots from three. I looked at my staff and said, ‘Would anybody have ever guessed in May when we start putting all of this together that we would be designing plays for P.J. to shoot the ball from three?’

That’s where we are. You run special plays for special players. He’s got a knack for it. Every time he shoots the ball, I think it’s going in the basket. He’s playing with great confidence and I love him. He’s the best guy to coach.

On managing Horne’s minutes…

I think John Ojiako is coming on. He’s finding his way around the floor a little bit better. There are still some growing pains going on, but his practices have been better, and his ball screen coverages have been a lot better. We’re getting him on the floor some, but P.J. has the ability to do so many things. He can step out, reverse the ball, make the three, and defend the post exactly the way you want it defended.

P.J. has made it hard to take him off of the floor, but John is giving us that opportunity. We’d like to play P.J. around 28-30 minutes, but there might be games where we have to go with him out there for 32-34. Friday may be one of those games. That may be excessive, but we’ll see how it all works out.

On the Dayton Flyers…

They really jacked us up. Dayton was quick to the ball and fluid. Defensively, we were pretty good. I think Michigan State only shot 40% from the field. I told them today that this isn’t football, we don’t have a week between games. We’ve got plenty of time to get them dialed in and they know exactly how we’re going to guard things. In basketball, you’re playing twice a week and in a tournament format, you’re playing back-to-back.

I thought we were heavy-legged and didn’t move very well, and they are very good. It’s a three-point game with four to play in the first half and then the wheels came off. That’s just another opportunity to grow. When that lead gets to 10 or 11, you’re not going to get it back in one shot. You have to chip away and stay in there. You have to make that next defensive possession a masterpiece and get good shots and rebound the ball.

I thought we showed our youth and our lack of maturity for the first time. We didn’t respond very well, but again, Dayton is a top-10, top-15 team. The Toppin kid, it’s a three-point game at the four-minute mark in the first half and he steps out and makes three 3’s. He’s a 6’10” man who’s played a lot of basketball and will be a lottery pick in this year’s draft. We got beat by a better team on that particular day. Hats off to them, they out played us, but we’ll get better.


My mom said, ‘Son, those guys really shot the ball well.’ I said, ‘Well, mom, we need to guard better.’ They shot the ball well because we didn’t contest their shots. It’s amazing what happens when shots are contested. Those field goal percentages go down markedly. I didn’t think they were very good defensively. I did watch them several times in preparation for Wednesday’s game. I saw them beat Houston in Houston and I thought, that’s pretty impressive.

They’re very unique offensively. They have a number of guys that can rip the nets off of it. We didn’t handle something very well on the first possession of the game, and #5 is a really good player and he gets a shot down. It’s a two- or three-point game at the half and we’re up. We’re in good shape, but when you’re not at your best defensively and good players are getting good shots, things snowball on you. It snowballed on us Wednesday afternoon.

On Jalen Cone’s struggles against BYU…

He had a bad stretch in the second half. That’s an opportunity for a young guy to come in and see, that was a shot that was good for you a year ago, but it’s not good for us right now. You botch a coverage here defensively that leads to a three. As good as he’s been for us in a number of games, we all took a bit of step back in that one.

We came back in practice very well yesterday. We didn’t do a lot today. We have three rugged days of preparation coming up here for Duke. I thought we looked a little tired physically and mentally, and anytime Wabissa Bede says something to that effect, I listen. We backed off of them today, just stretched and had a yoga session, and we’ll come back tomorrow and get after it.

On the growth of the chemistry with the team…

I’m thankful and feel very blessed to have brought this group together. It doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes some time for guys to find their place. Those assistants, Chester Frazier, Christian Webster, Antwon Jackson, and Kevin Giltner, we had some luck, but we got it right. It’s a big group, but I’m proud of what each person brings to the program and I’m proud of the organization. We have a long way to go and we’re still figuring things out, but I’m proud of what we have developing here.

On Duke…

Full disclosure, earlier in my career – I haven’t watched a lot of film on them yet – I got to a point where I had paralysis by analysis. I just get to a point where I’ve watched too much of it. We’ll start tomorrow and have full preparation, three days and a shootaround on Friday is plenty. We’ll have them ready to go and they’re excited for it. We’ll know exactly how we’re going to go about it and have them ready to go.

On Duke playing Michigan State on Tuesday…

We’re thinking about everything. They’re getting back early Wednesday morning, but it’s Duke. That’s a great tradition and program. We know that we’re going to have to play better than we have to date, but we know that we’re capable of that and couldn’t be more excited about it.

On moving back into conference play…

We’ve got so much film now and we’ve seen more plays. This is different, this is the Cassell and it’s going to be rolling. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the Cassell when it’s rolling, so I’m excited for that. They understand what’s at stake, but you treat them all like little battles and this is the next one. The most important game on our schedule is the next one. It’s Duke, and I know they’ll be fired up as will their coach.

On not shooting many free throws…

We’re not going to shoot a lot of free throws. We just don’t have that dynamic driver off of the bounce, and we don’t have that load in the post like Blackshear. We don’t have that guy. That’s where you get fouled. We’ll get better with that. Landers will get fouled more, and Wabissa should get fouled more. Nahiem Alleyne with his elusiveness and ability to step back, should get fouled more, and Hunter Cattoor will get fouled more.

I’ve told you before, I’m not comfortable with it where it is right now. We are a jump-shooting team, and jump-shooting teams don’t get fouled enough. I would love for us to get up there 18-22 times, but we’re probably getting up there 8-10. That makes me sick to my stomach, but that’s what we’ve got.

On John Ojiako…

I said to a great friend of mine thirty years ago, obviously not referencing John, when talking about a post player, ‘Boy, pull up a lawn chair, grab a drink, and watch him grow.’ There will be days when you scratch your head and days when you see a flicker of that light for him. He has good hands and he has big eyes. You can see that he really wants to improve. He works hard before and after practice.

Don’t give up on big teams and we’re certainly not going to give up on one as talented as John. He is ahead of where I thought he would be, to be frank. He’s doing some things right now that I hoped that we might see by the end of the year. He’s ahead of schedule in my book, and he’s going to continue to get better and grow. We’re about ready to throw the ball to him in the post more. We’re trying right now to iron out more of the things, but when you can throw the ball to the post and expect something positive to happen, that frees up everything else. It’s like the world opens up for you and with the shooters we have on the team, that would do a lot for us.

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18 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Agreed with all of the comments. Mike Young is the right coach for Virginia Tech. This may be a tough year with glimmers of hope that will materialize fully next year.

  2. The future is bright! The players must really like how direct and honest he is with them and recruits (and the parents of recruits) probably can recognize in the first five minutes that they talk with him that there is no BS to filter out. Buzz could have had this same news conference and we would have gotten a lot of his half-baked philosophy but we would not have learned very much about the team. By the way, in a tournament in Orlando this past weekend A&M lost to three non-P5 teams – Harvard, Temple and Fairfield.

  3. It’s called “straight talk” and the fans appreciate it. Doesn’t take fifteen minutes to make his point. A fresh breath of air!!!! A great hire!!!!!

  4. I think the way Coach MY speaks in these type scenarios REALLY plays well (and will continue) on the recruiting trail. He’s such a straight shooter but it’s not in a mouthy way. He seems like a guy you’d want your kid playing for and around for 3-4 years.

    It’s not surprising that Whit hired him because you KNOW he would kick butt in an interview.

  5. Much better communicator than the last coach. Bla, bla, bla, Buzz next job posturing. Bla, bla, bla, Buzz next job posturing. Repeat…. Go Hokies! Good start Coach Mike Young.

  6. The previous coach may have been more entertaining but often was rambling and convoluted in his interviews. This, of course, is his style. I prefer Coach Young: Plain and simple speak.

  7. WOW just WOW! I’ve never heard truth like that coming from a coach in a press conference. So transparent, so positive while telling what individuals and the team weaknesses are. He could be a great manager in the business world.

    1. Yeah, I mean… we’re going to see us throw to John in the post, what could be more direct than that and something to look forward to. Easy to keep our own scorecards on where we’re at with that kind of direct information.

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