Tech Talk Live Notes: Landers Nolley and Mike Young

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Landers Nolley, Virginia Tech
Landers Nolley has been big for Virginia Tech this season. (Jon Fleming)

Landers Nolley

On the win against Pitt…

We needed a win. We practiced hard all week for it. We were very desperate, and we were really happy to get back on the right track.

On his high school career…

I went from Georgia to Illinois back to Georgia, where I finished my career at Langston Hughes High School. It was just a long four years. I was recruited by a lot of schools and found a great home. Now, I’m here.

On deciding to stay at Virginia Tech…

It felt like being back in high school again. It was the whole recruiting process of listening to what Coach Young had to say and how he was going to use my abilities. I just liked what he told my family. He’s a great guy, he has a great coaching staff, and I love it here.

On sitting out last year…

It was a struggle, but I had fun in practice competing against the guys. It was also fun sitting on the bench and supporting, especially because we were winning a lot of games. That was extremely fun. I got to travel on the road and go to a couple of road games, so it was just a different experience.

On his family…

My family is very supportive. We’re very close. I only got trained by my dad through my entire life. Nobody else has trained me or helped in that aspect of my life. I just look up to him because he’s been where I want to go. He traveled all around the world playing basketball. I just take notes out of his book.

On his debut against Clemson…

It was a great experience. Once I got the news that I set the freshman record for the school, I was happy. It was a great feeling especially since we won the game on the road against Clemson. It was a well-fought game and it was fun.

On the physicality of his game against Pitt…

It started in the weight room. It just puts you in a different mindset. I lifted right before the game, so I was in a different mindset and I was just ready to go. My preparation was better. I struggled with my shot, but I tried to find other ways to help out the team. That’s what I just stuck with.

On his game against Boston College…

I felt good in that game. I got a few shots to go down early and a few free throws to go down early. Once I see a few shots go in, it’s a beautiful feeling and I just try to keep it going.

On Tyrece Radford’s dunk against Wake Forest…

I was in shock. I was standing under the basket and I just saw the ball come out of his hand, still go through the net and they called the foul. It was unreal. I had to watch the replay like everybody else. I was in shock.

On ‘The Nolley Trolley’…

It’s different. They do it a lot, especially after we win on the other team’s Twitter. It’s just different. I’m starting to like it a little more now that I’ve heard it more. I’m just going to roll with it.

On the environment in Cassell…

It’s an unbelievable experience. The fans are fantastic every night whether we’re winning or losing. Of course, it’s always better when we’re winning, but they’re very supportive no matter what. I see them every game and I’m starting to see some more familiar faces as we go along. We’re just enjoying the ride.

On Wabissa Bede’s dunk…

Nobody in Virginia Tech or the Blacksburg/Christiansburg area knew that Wabissa was going to dunk the ball. When he did, I think we all had the same reaction. Wow. In three years of him being here, I think that’s the first time that everybody has seen him dunk. It’s amazing, he got us going. It definitely set the tone, for sure.

On becoming the main scorer for the Hokies…

When your guys trust in you and see you do it, night in and night out, and have faith in you, you have no choice but to come through. Getting those opportunities and capitalizing on them is kind of fun. When they look for me, I do what I do best; I put it in the hole and get the crowd on their feet.

On his academic life…

We just have fun and study hard. We do our work first and then we have fun. There’s not a ton of pressure on you and no strict expectations. It’s just fun. I’m a public health major, but I switched from communications.

On what he’s working on in his game…

I’m trying to guard quicker guards. At my position, I want to be able to guard players who are a little bit quicker than me and smaller than me and make quicker moves. I’m working on moving my feet and getting better laterally.

Mike Young, Virginia Tech
Mike Young is 15-10 so far this year. (Jon Fleming)

Mike Young

On the crowd in Cassell on Saturday…

It meant a lot to me, and it meant a lot to our team. It’s not taken for granted. I watch basketball, my wife says I watch too much basketball, and I see across the country, programs that are starved for what’s been created here. We have student support and the support of the community. We were going through a turbulent time having lost a few in a row, and to walk into that building on Saturday in a huge game that we needed to win and see the Hokie faithful there once again, was gratifying and appreciated. This is a special group of people and a special place. Our team is appreciative, and I’m certainly so appreciative and thankful for our loyal fan base.

On having more energy out of the gate…

Landers was a big part of that. We talked about it in film this morning; he didn’t have his best offensive game, but he helped our team win. Good players help their team in other ways when they’re not ringing the bell. His shot selection was good, but he missed some shots that he typically gets down. Landers Nolley had 12 rebounds and had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio.

We were going to have a match with Tyrece and Landers with Champagnie and #5, their three-man. I thought that if we were going to win the game, we had to do a good job on the glass. Those two kids could really hurt us. Tyrece and Landers did a fantastic job in that regard. Landers came up with a few 50/50 balls that were critical to our success. Tyrece Radford is the master of that ball as well. Those our crucial for our team.

On how the bye week impacted the team…

Here we are mid-February and still wrestling with the rotation. I think John [Ojiako] is ready. He’s ready to play 10-12 minutes or 13 minutes a night. He had nine rebounds in 13 minutes the other night. He had a good look about him. The week off helped P.J. Horne and it helped our team. We had a little better spring in our step and the ball moved a little bit better.

I thought we were exceptional defensively, we limited them to 35% from the field. They were in the twenties and only made five three-point field goals. Those are all great Virginia Tech numbers. We had 21 assists and ten turnovers. I still think our turnovers need to be in seven or eight range. The week off helped immensely. We had an opportunity to practice and shore some things up as we go along here.

On P.J. Horne…

He was terrific and had those two threes in the corner. Landers had a nice pass to him down there and he got those two down helped us get some separation. Playing John 10-15 minutes, let’s say 15 minutes, gets him off of the floor for a few extra clicks and that certainly has benefitted P.J. and benefitted our team.

On Jalen Cone…

He’s competing and he’s come a long way. He missed the summer, and that’s a big chunk of time, because he was finishing his high school requirements. We get him back in the fall and we start practice three weeks after the fall semester begins. He’s come a long way. He’s come as far as anyone we have in keeping the ball in front of him and competing. The guy is a dynamite shooter. He gets that thing in the air and every time he shoots it; I think it’s going in the basket.

We need that from him on a night when Landers isn’t scoring. There was a time that if Landers was held under ten points, I didn’t think we could win. Now, we’ve proven that we can. I hope that doesn’t happen many more times, but Jalen Cone was good and his production on both ends helped us win that game.

On the improvements with transition offense…

I think it’s the hardest thing in basketball to guard. The teams that can space the floor and shoot it and then have one guy who can run rim to rim, and you can throw it into him, are very difficult to guard. We spent an inordinate amount of time on transitioning from the offensive end to the defensive end. I think that is a big part of the game. We have sputtered at times.

Boston College had seven transition points in their first nine points. It’s not easy. The ball is coming at you fast. We want to try and corral the ball with the person that is guarding the trail big that is rebounding and throwing the outlet pass, so we can get back and get matched up. We talk about wanting ten eyes, our team should have all ten eyes on the ball and trying to shrink the floor. We have the luxury of Wabissa, who typically stops the ball. His physicality and his toughness help him do a very nice job there. Everybody has good guard play. Now, back up to the Pittsburgh game on Saturday, we did a much better job with that. Consequently, we end up on the big end of the score, and it’s a huge part of the game.

On the ball movement on Saturday…

We talk about it, and it doesn’t mean anything if your team doesn’t go out and turn down a good shot for a great shot. The teams that are close and have good camaraderie don’t worry about who scores, but the Hokies scored. We had a number of those plays, and I certainly applaud all of those guys for passing up a good one for a teammate who has a better one. A lot of times, the extra pass is to a guy who’s shot preparation is even better because he’s expecting that ball.

You have to get the ball in the basket, and our team has done a good job of that. I’m very proud of all of them for that.  It’s a play that has to be made. That can erode the team stuff when guys aren’t making that play. We miss some, but it’s not some egregious error, we just don’t see them. That’s something that is very important to us, that unselfish play. Our team continues to do it each night.

On Pitt playing in a zone in the second half… 

I knew it was coming. I was a little surprised that he didn’t throw it at us at the end of the first half. I thought we attacked it well and got some good shots out of it. I thought our movement was better. I’ve never liked zone, but we’re improving and we’re getting better with it.

On Chris Lykes returning for Miami…

It changes the matchup a lot. He’s ball-dominant, tiny, gets to places, and is disruptive. He’s not as disruptive defensively as most people that size. Muggsy Bogues and Spud Webb come to mind, who just wreak havoc across the board. Chris is a dynamic scorer. He gets to places and really elevates on his jump shot. I never want young people to miss a game, but I thought there was a little bit of psychology in play when our guys walked into Coral Gables and he’s not dressed. I felt it.

One of them came in 40 minutes before game time and said, ‘Lykes isn’t playing.’ I said, ‘If he doesn’t play, he doesn’t play. They’ve got other really good players.’ He will make them different, but they lost McGusty for a period of time, who is a good small forward. In losing them for ten days to two weeks, we’ve seen the emergence of the Wong kid, who is averaging 17 points over his last five. He was really good against us, too. He’s playing awfully well.

Now, you have Lykes and McGusty healthy and you have Wong coming to the plate and they’re dangerous. I think Vasiljevic is one of the best players in our league. He’s got a great feel and he’s been around. Miller is a load in the post, as well. They’ve played very well in their last two at home. They have only won one on the road, and that was against Clemson in December. They are good and have good players, and Jim Larranaga is as good as they come. We’re going to have our hands full.

On how Miami will adjust to Radford…

I don’t know how you guard him. He was all over the place on the offensive glass and did a great job in transition. Tyrece will come ready to play each and every night. We’re not going to see anything different. They’re going to play us man and try to keep a body on a body. They did a pretty good job of it down there. We’ve seen some things on film that we hope that we can exploit. Time will tell.

On getting off to a good start…

We’re so far into it now and our team understands how it has to play out. Our margin for error is not great. Our starts have been much better as of late. Those first four minutes are so important, and we have to get off to a good start on both ends. We’ve done quite well with that as of late, and we’ll look to continue that on Wednesday.

On the late start on Wednesday…

Those 9 o’clock starts are different for me. I asked Coach Boeheim and some other coaches how they’ve been able to do all of these late starts. They all say the same thing, ‘They’re the worst.’ It’s for TV and that’s pretty important, so we could play at 11 o’clock and we’ll be out there.

On having extra time to prepare due to this long homestand…

It’s been important for us. I still go back to the Boston College game. We need to win at home. I thought we played well enough to do that. They made a couple more plays than we did, but we came back with a good effort against Pittsburgh. We need to replicate that again on Wednesday. It’s different personnel and a different scheme, but we’ll be prepared and excited to play as we always are. It’s certainly been nice to be home, though. We had an opportunity to go out last week and see some kids which is important. I think we’ve used our time quite wisely.

On the players having some time to rest…

When you think of the culture that you’re trying to cultivate, you’re looking for kids that want to be in the gym. I’ve always thought that the telltale sign of a team that’s tired is if they’re high tailing it out of there to get somewhere else. This team has gotten progressively better, and I came back tonight and Jalen Cone, Nahiem Alleyne and John Ojiako are working on their games. That’s an important part of what we’re doing. Jalen Cone may get six shots in our time together tomorrow. That’s not enough to stay sharp. You have to be here before practice or after practice or get in here on your own. They’re doing a great job of that, and I’m proud of that.

On the bacon promotion with missed free throws…

In the North Carolina game, there’s this roar and I had no idea. I thought, ‘I’ve coached a lot of games in here now, if they get that excited about a missed foul shot, good for them.’ I had no idea, that everyone won a pack of bacon. I was aware of it in the Pitt game and I found myself thinking, ‘With everything going on, I’m thinking about this kid missing the front end, so our kids can get really excited if he misses.’ He shanks it and the crowd goes crazy. What a great marketing idea. That building erupts and there’s a different level of energy. Our kids feel that, and it’s pretty cool.

On the Mike Young Fathead in the stands…

It’s a bit startling, to be honest with you. When I acknowledge our awesome Cassell Guard, I see that ugly mug of mine in the stands. Those guys are wonderful, and they make that building special.

On how a few of his players could still be high school seniors…

I think about that a lot. They could be playing their senior year in high school, and they’re competing against the folks in the ACC night in and night out. They’ve done a really great job. We’re on the right course. I’m excited about tomorrow, the Miami game, next year and what lies ahead.

On the young players on this team gaining confidence…

We had no choice. It’s trial by fire with those guys. That’s just the way it had to be. Each of those guys have had typical freshman moments when those things haven’t gone very well. To their credit, they’ve battled back, and they’ve been in the gym working at it. Hunter [Cattoor] was in there early on Sunday morning. We had two guys visiting officially.

They want to be great players for Virginia Tech, and we have the right people on board. I never want our players to leave the ground thinking about whether I think it is a good shot or a bad shot. I tell them that I trust them, and they should go lay their ears back and play. We may adjust something in film the next day, but I have a tremendous amount of faith in them to be themselves and be a basketball player. I can live with mistakes.

On the team pulling away late…

That’s been a process. We have wilted a couple of times. I think I called timeout when they cut it to nine or eight. I wanted to reassure them that we were okay. We have a nine-point lead with five minutes to play. We’re in the driver’s seat, hang on. We have to continue to play. I thought they responded well and have done so at other times throughout the last month.

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8 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I agree. Nolley’s comment: “I lifted right before the game, so I was in a different mindset and I was just ready to go. My preparation was better. I struggled with my shot, but I tried to find other ways to help out the team.” made me instantly think there was a correlation between his lifting and struggling with his shot. Very strange if that was the case.

  2. Not that there aren’t a lot of other things going on, but Ojiako’s minutes are my meter for how the team is progressing, basically because MY said it himself, he needs that post guy to run his system so pretty happy to see 14 effective minutes from him. Probably looking at next fall but hey, if he’s “ready” we’ve still got a few more games this season to win.

    Have to laugh at the bacon promotion comments, I was at that UNC game and what a boost, at a point in the game when the fan base was willing the team on and that actually bumped things up a notch. Not trivial either, that stuff runs from $6/pack and up (coupon for up to $8)

  3. “It started in the weight room. It just puts you in a different mindset. I [Landers] lifted right before the game.”

    “His shot selection was good, but he missed some shots that he typically gets down.”

    Landers was 3 for 21! 14% shooting!

    If you lift properly and aggressively, it fatigues the muscles and temporarily affects coordination. I hope that’s what happened to Nolley.

    1. Yeah, I found that odd, lift before the game? maybe for practice if you want to make it harder on yourself so you push harder. I hope dad isn’t prepping him for the NBA at the cost of being a more effective player for VT

    2. Yeah this makes no sense and hopefully a coach or trainer puts a stop to it. I’ve been on basketball courts and around basketball players my whole life, and every player knows your shot goes to crap if you try playing immediately after lifting. Absolute no-no!

    3. Maybe he lifts just enough to feel a good pump, then takes that energy to the game? But yea, I agree, not a good idea. There must be other ways to trigger that aggressive mindset…

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