Tech Talk Live Notes: Hunter Cattoor and Mike Young

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Hunter Cattoor, Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech freshman Hunter Cattoor is in his first season of ACC basketball. (Ivan Morozov)

Hunter Cattoor

On following Coach Young to Virginia Tech…

It was a crazy process. I committed to Wofford early in my senior year and went almost of all my senior year thinking I was going to Wofford. Then, come April when he made the switch, he called me and said that he wanted to bring me with him. That was big for me. The reason I committed to Coach Young was because he believed in me and my game and he always thought that I could play at any level. When he first got the job here, he called me and told me, he said, “I want you to come with me. I’ve always believed in you and I think you can play here too.”

On playing at Virginia Tech…

I had no expectations. It kind of all hit me at once, and I just went through it. That’s been the biggest thing for me because we have a young team. A lot of us didn’t have expectations because we only have two older guys on the team. Everyone goes through ups and downs, so you just take it and you learn from it.

On the youth on the team…

The biggest thing for us has been our team chemistry. We’ve come in here being so young, and we love each other off of the court. You can see it in practices how our team chemistry gets better and better every day. Then, off of the court, you can see it in the locker room that there’s no bad blood and no one hates each other. We all just like hanging out with each other.

On hitting the “freshman wall” …

I hit it a little bit. Everyone comes from high school as the main piece, and now you have to take a different role in college. That’s been a big thing for us; everybody finding their role on this team. I think throughout the year I’ve hit the wall in some games, or haven’t hit a shot here and there. Coach Young brought me in and told me to just keep working hard. You don’t have to score in a game to make an impact. You can make the impact on the defensive end, too.

On his offensive role growing over the last few weeks…

Coming in, there were some times where I wasn’t confident at the beginning of the game. I told myself to not worry about anything else except coming out aggressive and trying to help this team win.

On his high school career…

I went to Bishop Moore to play football and I was on the JV team my freshman year and we went undefeated. I was supposed to be the starting quarterback that next season and around spring, I went up to the head coach and told him that I didn’t want to play football anymore. I just fell in love with basketball and wanted to stick with it. Bishop Moore wasn’t known for our basketball team. Then, throughout the four years, we changed that. The community and the school really bought into it. It was amazing to be a captain all four years. Your coach trusts you to be in charge of the team, and I always took pride in that. My mom always told me to be a leader and not a follower.

On the student section …

I see my fathead in the crowd. It’s awesome. In high school, your student section is around 30 to 40 people and then you come here, and all of the students are there supporting you.

On playing against Duke…

It was crazy. I grew up watching Duke play North Carolina in those big games and seeing the student section going crazy. It doesn’t do it justice when you get there. It’s a different type of loud. It was cool being out there. Obviously, we had a slow first half, but we were better in the second half.

On the rematch with Virginia…

I’m excited. You guys know more than I do that this is a big game around here. That makes me pumped up to get excited for a game like that. I always liked rivalries back home, so whenever we play a rival, I’m up for the task. We know we need to get them back.

On the key for the team down the stretch…

We need to finish strong. We can’t dwell on the past and what’s happened already in the season. We’re just looking forward to the next game. We have to stay connected as a team and keep fighting.

On his academics…

It’s definitely very different than high school. You travel a lot more and you have class different days with practice. It’s been exciting going through it all and just learning from it. I started off as a business major my first semester, which was kind of tough. Now, I’ve gone from business undecided to more of the human development side. It’s been good going through different majors and figuring out what I want to do.

On his family…

I have a brother and a sister. My brother and my mom come to a lot of the home games and my dad does too. Both my parents grew up playing volleyball, so I was the only one who played basketball.

On what’s next for him…

I want to improve in all areas. Shooting is my strong suit now, but I’d like to improve on that. I want to be able to create for others on the outside and the inside. Then, I want to improve defensively. Getting used to the different speed and strength of the ACC is going to be big for me.

On what he likes to do off of the court…

I honestly just like to hang out with the guys. Whatever it is, video games or hanging out in the locker room, I like to hang out with the guys.

On his favorite arena to play in this year…

Probably Cameron Indoor. It was cool to go down there and experience that. Obviously, nothing beats Cassell Coliseum, but for away games, definitely Cameron.

On how much the team has taken from playing in close games…

It’s definitely big for this young group to go through that this early. It’s one of those things that you can’t really experience until you go through it. Going through that stuff, good or bad, you learn from it and you’ll do better the next time.

Mike Young, Virginia Tech
Mike Young sees a big offseason of development ahead. (Jon Fleming)

Mike Young

On Hunter Cattoor…

I saw him play a lot the summer before his senior year. He played for Jim Yarbrough who is a friend of mine. He was an assistant at the College of Charleston and the head coach at Louisiana-Monroe, and then went to Bishop Moore in Orlando. We had a lot of intel on Hunter, and I loved how he played. He could play the point and off of the ball. He was physical and a good athlete.

I said to my staff the last time that I saw him play that summer, ‘Fellas, not ony is he good enough for us, he could play anywhere.’ I still feel that way, and I get the Virginia Tech job and so many things are in the air, but he was one of my first calls. I called him the night before I was announced and told him what was going on and that I wanted him to come. I’m certainly thankful that it worked out.

On playing against Duke…

They were geared up and ready to go. They got us. They were engaged and boy, did they have a good look about them. Their quickness to the ball was impressive as any that I’ve seen all year. You have a couple of guys that have not shot the ball particularly well that are banging down shots. That thing is going in from all over. When the opponent has a massive man like Vernon Carey, very few people can guard him one-on-one. You have to constrict that lane and put him in a beehive, as I refer to it. You have to surround him with three, sometimes four or even five people. Now, he has seen a lot of different defenses.

We had the same approach going into game one, and it worked out very well for us. We eliminated Vernon with P.J. [Horne]’s ability to run away from the basket and shoot. To his credit, he’s worked at it and he’s seen a lot of different schemes and he does a remarkable job on the right block of turning over his shoulder and throwing with his dominant hand. He reminded me of myself and some friends throwing darts back in college. Now, you’re in a long close and in rotation. To Duke’s credit, they made shots and made it awfully hard on us.

On the Miami loss…

It’s very valuable. I wish we would have handled some of it better, but with young people, sometimes being there and being exposed to all of those situations is important. You can practice them, but you can’t simulate that feeling and that level of intensity that you get in real time. I think often of all of the experiences that this team has had; all of these guys and the games that they will be a part of and the dividends that those will pay moving ahead.

There’s one situation there where we’re up three with 12 seconds to play and they’re going 94 feet. I just didn’t think they would go after a two. They can, but they were out of timeouts. I didn’t think there was any way they would go after a two. Lykes, the tiny guard attacks the rim. We do a good job with him and get him to dump it off to the other guy who drives the ball and unfortunately, we fouled him. I have to do a better job with that, and our team will do a better job with that as we move along.

The ball went through the basket with five seconds. If he goes to the rim and we don’t foul, we can skip out really quick. Again, they’re out of timeouts, so we’ll go to Jalen Cone who is a great foul shooter and then we get out of there with a huge win. It didn’t work out and that one lingers, but we have more to look forward to. 

On Tyrece Radford…

We have a lot left to accomplish with this team. We have a lot left to achieve and grow. I do find myself thinking about spring, summer and Tyrece Radford. Tyrece Radford is a very good foul shooter. He has proven to be very effective from about 16 feet and in. It’s a good-looking shot too. There’s a little too much in it in terms of the motion, but if you can do that, you can certainly step back with rep after rep after rep. That can be accomplished during the summer months. That guy’s game is going to continue to develop and get better. Now, you take a guy like him that is a threat from three and can drive the ball. That’s a disastrous matchup for an opponent.

Nahiem [Alleyne], Hunter, Jalen Cone and John [Ojiako], who is growing up right before our eyes. He’s playing more and giving our team a presence. This is a hard thing to go through with freshmen. The old adage is to get old and stay old. We didn’t have that luxury, but as I tell people all of the time, brighter days are ahead for Hokie basketball. These foundational pieces will have a lot to do with that.

On Isaiah Wilkins…

He played well for us. He hit open shots. He played within himself and made the easy plays, which is easier said than done. He helped our team and was responsible defensively. We put him at a disadvantage. Isaiah is more of a three, but he’s having to guard the likes of Matthew Hurt and DeLaurier. Those are hard matchups for a young man who is 6’4” or 6’5”. He continues to hang in there with it and give us everything he has in his tank.

On Landers Nolley’s struggles…

We’re trying to encourage him. It’s not fire and brimstone. That’s not the right approach for any athlete. He knows he’s not playing well, and he knows how important he is to our team. The game is very important to him. We’ve seen him throughout the course of the year play very well. He helps us out greatly when he’s on a roll and scoring 18 or 20 or 22 points. He had a couple of 30’s against Clemson and NC State, maybe. His intentions are sound. There’s no one who feels worse about not playing as well as he expects himself to play than Landers. Let’s hope he can pop out of it on Wednesday.

On John Ojiako “fouling out” …

We were getting our ears pinned back and there was about a minute and half left. I told the official, who is a friend of mine, that we weren’t going to make a big issue of it, so let’s move it along. The official scorer, who was not a very pleasant person, in this raspy voice of his said, ‘That’s five fouls.’ I said, ‘Sir, we have on our bench that it’s four.’ I just wanted to make sure that it’s correct. There are three other Duke attendants on the table and they’re all pointing their fingers at me showing four fouls. I told him, ‘We’re convinced that this young man only has four fouls.’ He would not budge and at the end of the day, the official scorebook is just that.

They had given a foul to Isaiah, and he recorded it wrong, he recorded it to John. It wasn’t a big deal. It would have been a big deal if it was a two-point game. We’re going to reap the benefits of the minutes that kid is getting. He is now coming close, hopefully without fouls, to playing 18 to 22 minutes. I’m not sure that he won’t be in there closer to 23 or 24. He needs to see more plays. He needs that experience, and all of those experiences are going to be very helpful for him and our team in the years to come.

He was very good against Miami. He scooped one up on the baseline, and I’m sure it’s going out of bounds. He reaches that big claw out there and grabs it and then goes right backwards and dunks it. I never had the ability to do that sort of thing, so that impressed me. You see other teams being able to throw the ball in the air and a kid like John will jump up and grab it. We are getting to that. I can’t say that we’re working on that a great deal right now, but we will. You see Kansas do it a lot with the post players that they have. We’ll be able to, and that’s very difficult to guard.

On playing Virginia…

I’m very excited. The Cassell has been unbelievable place to spend several evenings over the course of the year. To have Virginia in town in a big game will be a lot of fun for all of us.

On Radford shooting over the backboard…

It’s an illegal shot. That’s not supposed to count. I kept waiting for that whistle. You knew it was going to come, you’re just frozen expecting the whistle. I looked at all three officials and they all have this look about them like, ‘I’m not sure what just happened there.’ Larranaga is going crazy, as he should have been.

The only other time I remember that play being made was Larry Bird in an NBA game back a long time ago. The ball cannot come from behind the cylinder and go in, but what an unbelievable shot. It was like a HORSE shot. He’s defended when he shot it too. They didn’t blow it and Miami went down and shot, so that was it. It’s not a correctable error. We caught a break on that one. I’ll take it now and then.

On Kihei Clark…

He’s super smart and he has a great motor. He was turning the ball over a lot early on, but I think he’s corrected that. They had a lot on his plate. He had a really good year for them last year. He settled into his role with this team as a leader. He’s really explosive coming out of ball screens despite his lack of size.

Then, you have Woldetensae. I can’t even pronounce his name, but that kid is playing really well for them. He is their leading scorer over their last five and is over 50% from three. He’s cutting hard and searching for shots. You better be there on the catch for him or he’s going to make you pay. You certainly have to mention Diakite, and Jay Huff is playing well for them. Braxton Key is as well. We’re going to have to play very well. We practiced well today, and we hope it carries over to Wednesday.

On Casey Morsell…

He was good on Saturday. He’s more of a midrange guy, but he can make you pay from deep. He’s going to be a very good defender; he’s pretty good now. He’s got a big, strong body that can keep the ball in front of him. He’s playing well for them.

On the pack line defense…

They do not make mistakes in terms of technique. They’re where they’re supposed to be. They’re there all of the time. There are some things that we tried to exploit down there, and we had some pretty good shots. We couldn’t get them down. We were guarding them very well in the early stages of that one. We mishandled a situation at the end when they got a guy behind us to take it from 10 to 12. That’s not ideal. They were as good on both ends that night as they have been. They’ve got it tuned up now and are playing very well. Their Louisville game was one of the best college basketball games I’ve seen this year. We’ll be fired up and ready to roll.

On the environment in Cassell…

It’s very unique and a marvelous college atmosphere. I’ve told you before that I came here in 2002 in my first year as a head coach and there was nothing. To come back and see how that has evolved and the participation of the Cassell Guard has been incredible. I see those kids out in the community and they’re all so kind and supportive. There are a lot of schools that are dying to create what we have here. Our students take a great deal of pride in the Cassell Guard, and they’re there every night. That’s so much fun, and it adds such a great dimension to our program. I’m very appreciative of their participation.

On transition from 30-5 last year at Wofford to the struggles the Hokies have had this year…

I’m about to die. That was a magic carpet ride. We were old and we started two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore. We stayed healthy and had a great team. We went into the NCAA Tournament having lost four games. We lost to North Carolina at home, which we could have won. We lost at Mississippi State, who was really good, and at Kansas. Then, there was one other. That was a great deal of fun, but as you know, the opportunity to come back home to Blacksburg and Southwest Virginia to coach the Hokies is and has been and always will be a lifelong dream. I’d like to get back to that point at some point, and I’ll work like crazy to do it.

On what is important for the team over the final month of the season…

We need to maintain the competitive spirit. We did not play very good basketball. I think back, with four to play and the ACC Tournament to look forward to, we were 5-2 at one point and had won three on the road. We had the near misses against Boston College and Miami, and there have been others. This team has experienced some cool things, and we have others to look forward to. We’re going to fight and compete and play the game the right way. We’re going to get this young bunch into the spring and get bigger and stronger to build something that our fanbase will be very proud of, and a sustainable program for years to come.

On points of emphasis down the stretch…

We’ve got to get fouled more. We don’t have a natural head-down driver other than Tyrece. We need to develop. You’re more difficult to guard when you can catch and shoot it and also put it on the floor. Now, you’re drawing another defender and have them in a long close. We’re continuing to get better at that, and to be honest, it may be into next year before we get to that point. I see those kids from Duke, and they’re high-level players. They look like NFL players, and we look like young people. That will even itself out as we move along with it.

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14 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Great coaches hire great staff. Just as a team, not individuals, win at basketball, a great staff develops a great team.

  2. I haven’t followed VT basketball much over the last few years until this year. Coach Young’s vision of where this program is headed and how to get there is right on. I am looking forward to the improvement in this young team over the next years and showing the ACC that VT can and will be a team to be feared.

  3. MY’s a straight up guy, forthcoming on VT’s struggles, get a good, believable roadmap on where the team’s headed, everything makes sense. We all know we need a pg who can drive to the basket but he warns us though that’s going to be well into next season so Bede on day one but … a little hint that Radford might try out for that during the season? one of the new guys?

    Liked Katoor’s comment about “How everybody’s the ‘main piece’ in high school” I mean, nothing new there about transitions to higher levels, just like how he put it.

  4. To me, this is the key exchange:
    “On the Miami loss…
    It’s very valuable.”

    We want to win, this team is going to try to win, but the main goal is developing for the future. From that perspective, three overtimes just means fifteen more minutes of real game action and that much more experience for these guys.

    1. And you believe him when he says it, he’s not claiming a moral victory especially considering how forthcoming and honest he is on other aspects of the game.

  5. We’ve got to get fouled more. We don’t have a natural head-down driver other than Tyrece.

    Oh yes we do, he just doesn’t shoot. I wonder if he could start – then he would need to make his foul shots, which is iffy at this point.

    1. Who? Bede? Alleyne? Those are the only two who can somewhat put the ball on the floor. Bede then gets stuck at the block-charge line looking to kick it out because he can’t finish or consistently make a pull up jumper. He’s a 55% FT shooter so that’s not a great way to score. Alleyne will fill out in the offseason and add to his pullup 15 footer than he has made somewhat consistently.

      1. My assumption is it’s Bede, and I agree with him. It’s not the scoring, it’s the threat of scoring that would cause the defense to collapse and open up a shot from the outside.

        1. It’s Bede, and I feel he should look to put it on the rim more often – might go in, might get a foul, might get a put back – better than a last second shot. Thanks,

  6. We’re not in good hands with Allstate……………but we are in good hands with Mike Young!!!! The right hire and coach for VT!!!!!

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