Tech Talk Live Notes: Mike Young on UNC and Boston College

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Isaiah Wilkins, Virginia Tech
Isaiah Wilkins is happy with his role at Virginia Tech. (Ivan Morozov)

Isaiah Wilkins

On Kobe Bryant’s Death…

Kobe Bryant is one of those guys who everybody grew up watching and wanting to be like him. He always had that Mamba mentality. He wanted to go after everybody and score as many points as he can to help the team win. He had that type of impact that not many people had. It wasn’t all about basketball, either. He had those speeches, and everybody looked up to him. I can say that in the locker room today, the vibe was kind of down. We all grew up looking up to Kobe. With it confirmed that he’s gone now, it’s really sad. It was hard to be Kobe Bryant. He’s different, he’s that dude.

On how things have come together for him this year…

Everything is starting to fall into place. At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t really sure of how I would fit in, but everything is starting to fall into place. I’m happy and my teammates are on my side. I’ve got their back every step of the way and we’re having a really good time right now.

On his college debut against Gardner-Webb…

At the start of the game, I was nervous like any other freshman. It was one of those games, I didn’t even know that I was going to be playing last year. You have no idea when the coach is going to call your name. He called my name and I knew that I had to do something. God was with me that night because I hit a lot of shots and from then on, I never got the big head. I never thought that it was easy because it’s never easy.

On how he’s grown at Virginia Tech…

I think I’ve grown a lot. I learned a lot from those guys last year on the Sweet 16 team. Those guys, some of them are in the NBA or overseas. They’ve taught me how to get through adversity and I’ll never forget that. Jonathan Kabongo and I sat on the bench in that first game and thought, ‘Wow, we’re really in college right now.’ There were just so many memories made that will never leave my mind.

On playing at Wake Forest, close to home…

It’s always great to go home and have my family and friends out there supporting me. Just coming out with the W meant something. Going back home, playing in front of them and being able to make them proud is amazing for me.

On the decision to stay with Coach Young…

He didn’t really have to convince me at all. He’s a good coach and he’s proven that. We’re 14-6 right now. He knows what he’s doing, and I trust him.

On his father…

He’s always been that type that instilled in me that I have to have faith no matter what I am doing. Without God nothing is possible. That’s really helped me on my journey. It wasn’t easy. Just being here is a blessing. There’s not that many people that get this opportunity. Everything is working out for my good and I’m blessed.

On what he worked on this offseason…

I really worked on my body. When I got here, I was 240-something and got down to 222 and played the season at 236. Now, I’m 219. I’ve lost a lot of body fat, and I think that’s helped elevate my game a lot.

On what he likes to do off of the court…

I like to play PlayStation and Modern Warfare just like any other college kid. I like to go out with my teammates and have a good time.\

Virginia Tech, Mike Young
Mike Young wasn’t happy with his team’s performance at Boston College. (Jon Fleming)

Mike Young

On the death of Kobe Bryant…

It’s the worst. I grew up with Jordan. He’s the same age as I am. For these guys, Kobe is older, but him and Lebron James are the best players that they’ve seen. He’s certainly one of the all-time best if not the best. That is difficult for any young people. I’m watching film and my daughter, a college-aged student, sent me a text about it. That’s awful and painful for many of us. He’s certainly a great basketball player, but a better man. I never met him, and I didn’t know him, but I certainly enjoyed watching him play.

On the reaction from the team to Bryant’s death…

It was certainly somber. I think some of that is because of how we played yesterday. Certainly, the passing of an idol and someone that they could relate to. He did so many things for the game on the floor and off of the floor. It’s hard.

On the offensive struggles against Boston College…

We didn’t play very well. Boston College had something to do with that. They were able to keep a body on a body. We let some things go and weren’t as sharp as we needed to be, and having said all of that, still frustrated about how we handled the last four minutes. We messed up some scouting report stuff. We left our feet against a guy who had two airballs. He gets to six feet and makes a little runner.

#1 had made a couple of threes going in. It wasn’t a very difficult action to defend. You’ve got to chip him, which means you have to put your body on him and then get to #1. We were a tad late and he makes two threes. You put yourself in a bind.

Here’s the bottom line. We’re 20 games in. This team has given us everything that they have. That is the one game that we dropped the ball. We didn’t play well enough in a game that we needed to win and a game that we should’ve won. It was not a lack of effort. We had one of those days. It was a bad day to have a bad day, and we had a bad day. I can’t go through all of that without crediting Boston College. They needed a win and they played a little bit better than we did.

On the freshmen showing their youth…

We were out of whack on both ends. I go back and review that thing and look. We’re up 10 and they are waiting on us to powder them. We miss a great shot and they came back and hit a three. They hit eight threes, even though they’re only averaging five or six coming in. We’ve done a really nice job of guarding the arc. We can’t give up eight to them. Our team, we’re accustomed to making 10, 11 or 12. I think we made 15 against North Carolina. We only made seven yesterday. Not our best day, and I take a great deal of responsibility with that.

On turning the page to Miami…

In any sport, you can’t let that one affect winning the next one. That can happen. My son had a good thought last night. The windshield is bigger than the one in the back. You better be looking ahead and not in the rear-view mirror. We asked our team to turn the page after a big win against North Carolina to focus on Boston College. I know we did that, but we simply didn’t play well enough. We asked them to do it again today to Miami, a game that is every bit as important as last night’s game and the North Carolina game. Let’s go and win that game.

On the win against North Carolina…

It was one of those games with so many wrinkles that it was hard to keep track of. We fell behind by five in the first overtime period. I’ve always thought that the team that makes the first hit in overtime has the advantage. We came back and banged a three. We had that level of resolve and toughness and got enough good play from a number of people. Those plays weren’t just on the offensive end, but we also got some big plays defensively. A deflection and a great work on the glass.

When I think of North Carolina, I think of transition offense. We didn’t give up any transition baskets. Also, I think of an offensive rebounding team that is ferocious. It’s year in and year out. Garrison Brooks and Bacot are both good in that regard. We caught a break not having to play against Brandon Robinson. He does a good job on the boards, as does Platek. They outrebounded us, too, and I think they had only two points off of an offensive rebound. I think that was late too in overtime.

So, a great night for our team, and I’m really proud of everything that went into it and the support that we have from this community. Having the students back is everything. That place was nuts. Roy Williams told me this summer, and I’ll never forget. Of course, I knew it already, he said, ‘Michael, Cassell Coliseum is one of the hardest places for a visiting team to come in and win.’ I agree with that.

On how many guys stepped up to get the win…

It was a team win. I said it in the locker room afterwards. I thought that every player who was on the floor helped the Hokies. Cattoor helped the Hokies and Nahiem [Alleyne] was really good. Jalen Cone was sharp as he could be. We put him on Leaky Black because we thought that was the best matchup. Here’s little, tiny Jalen out here guarding a 6’7” forward and he competed and fought. It was a team win and a great win to say the very least.

On Isaiah Wilkins…

Insider information, I’m still battling as much as I’ve battled in 18 years of coaching. He’s helping our team. We’ve got a nice rotation in the backcourt with Jalen playing more off the ball than on the ball. With Tyrece Radford, Nahiem, Cattoor and Isaiah with Landers. His minutes right now are in the 6-9 range. I’d like them to be in the 9-12 range.

He can make a shot. He’s very responsible defensively and doing a good job for us on both ends. I always thought that was the easiest part of coaching. You play the guys that give you the best opportunity to win. I will always do that; this isn’t upward basketball. I don’t care about feelings; I care about winning the game. He comes to practice every day and is helping our team. He is a really fine human being. I’m still working on it and plugging away at it.

On Wabissa Bede…

There was a time where he was first in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio. I don’t think we were selfish as much as they were able to keep a body on a body and we didn’t handle it very well. It was the same story with Duke. North Carolina wanted to guard us in a similar way and so did NC State. There has to be movement and screening action and the ball has to hit two sides of the floor if not three sides of the floor. Then, the world opens up and you can drive it. We stood around too much and we were stagnant. That creates bad offensive basketball.

On preparing for Miami with Chris Lykes’ injury…

He’s awesome. I saw four or five games today. We’ll prepare like he’s playing. I believe he and McGusty are both day-to-day with injuries. Lykes is nursing a groin injury. I think he hurt that against Clemson. I watched that game from Dec. 31st. I saw him hold it and he was trying to stretch it. That’s one of those things that can be reaggravated and hard to get well playing twice a week. The only thing that takes care of that is rest. That’s difficult to come by this time of year.

McGusty has back spasms. I’m sure that’s a very painful injury, but I think he could be back on Tuesday. We expect both of them to play. They’re Miami’s best two players. You take the best two players off of any team, they’re going to have a hard time winning. We’ll prepare as if they’re playing, and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if one or both aren’t playing. I’m not serious when I say that. I hope they do play; it bothers me when young people get hurt and don’t play.

On keeping the team focused playing the last-place team in the ACC…

We had that game yesterday. We can’t punt that game. We didn’t play our best and we got beat. What are we now? 5-4 in the league? This will mark the halfway point of our league schedule. We’re getting down the road here. February is fast approaching. You get to the Super Bowl and they start revving those engines in Daytona, the end of the season is fast-approaching. These games are to be coveted and treated with great care.

We have to prepare, and it can get long. We play on Saturday and then Tuesday. We’ll get back early on Wednesday morning and have to turn around and play Florida State on Saturday. It’s fast and furious. No rest for the weary. That’s what we signed up for. There’s better basketball to be played and we have to get going here.

On how he’s managing players’ rest…

It’s very similar to what I’ve done in the past. Don’t think less of me when I say this, but you see us practice a lot. Once we get past Christmas, there is very little contact. We’re not taking a beaten horse into the race. We want to be as healthy as possible, and I’m not going to run the risk of getting somebody dinged up in practice. Our contact periods in practice are about 20 minutes. We’re out there an hour and a half. There’s a lot of shooting and technique and conversations about how we’re going to guard different things. We’re way down the line. We get them off of one another when we’re on the glass because I think that’s where a lot of injuries occur. I’ve done this for a while, and it’s worked out for me.

On playing offensively without Landers Nolley on the floor…

We’ve had that conversation for a couple of weeks now. We seem to just want to stand around and watch. The lineup with Isaiah, Wabissa, Jalen, Hunter and Nahiem, the ball can at times move better. The offense is better, but we can have a more difficult time finding a shot. There are a lot of things that go through Landers, and that’s something that we continue to work on.

On the team embracing being in the hunt…

It’s great fun. I spend so much time on our team. You can’t really concern yourself with others. A couple of guys came in today and UVA and Wake Forest are going to overtime. Now, you’ve got a bit of an eye on others. I’ve always thought that if we take care of ourselves, everything will work out. This size of league, 15 teams, is new to me. The top four get a double bye and the top eight get a single bye.

It’s a little too early to look at that. We’ve got 11 games left and there’s so many more things that need to be determined before we head to Greensboro in March for the ACC Tournament. Let’s continue to get better and play better basketball on Tuesday and those things will take care of themselves.

On Landers Nolley’s recent shooting struggles…

Just hang in there. There’s a little dip, but you continue to get in the gym before and after practice and continue to bang away at it. They know they have my full support to not turn the next one down. That next one is going to go in the basket. I’m proud of Nahiem because that can be debilitating. You think the world is caving in and it’s a frightening time for some of them. He handled himself well and did other things to help us win off of the ball and defensively.

He’s really doing a nice job for us as a secondary defender. He’ll be the second guy we put on Lykes on Tuesday. Basketball players hang in there. Good basketball players put it behind them and keep moving forward and continue to play great basketball. If the first few shots don’t go down, you can help us win in other ways.

On Hunter Cattoor bouncing back…

He banged a big one against North Carolina. I think we were down 12, and he banged a big one. He had one in the first half against Boston College. He’s a very talented player and a very athletic player. Don’t try to be too fine. Lay your ears back and go play. He had a bad turnover yesterday. He wanted to drive it and he lost the ball and was trying to get it to Wabissa. I would prefer Wabissa just run the floor and then get it to him across mid-court.

I’m pleased and really proud of that kid. He’s the best guy to coach and he’s going to be a great player around here for a long time. He’s got a great athletic body, we haven’t seen a lot of that yet, but we will. He’s a great player.

On how tough the Tuesday/Saturday schedule is…

It’s hard. They all are carrying full loads. They were heading off to study hall at 6, and they’re back in there before we leave for Miami tomorrow. Being a college athlete is hard. That is a big part of it. There are no corners cut in that regard. They’re expected to be in class and have their work done. It’s part of being an adult. You have to handle your business and do your best work. That’s what they’re doing.

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6 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I certainly appreciate Coach Young and how he talks about his players. I think we’re too young to make the NCAA’s, but would love to make it and Buzz not. Wonder if Blacksheer regrets his decision ??

      1. He also left for a program that was expected to be a top 10 program, close to home , maybe. But why did he look at kentucky as well, not to close to orlando.

      2. Blackshear also because he thought Florida had the pieces to be really good and give him a better shot of making the NBA. Little did he know that Mike Young would also get the pieces and run an offense perfectly suited to his game. We’d be much better and he’d be much closer to his NBA dream had he stayed.

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