Tech Talk Live Notes: Young On Clemson And Penn State; Fuente Talks UVA Win

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Virginia Tech
Mike Young is hoping his Virginia Tech team plays better against Clemson. (Johnnie Izquierdo)

Mike Young

On Virginia Tech football…

I want to applaud our football team and those players and that performance on Saturday. Those guys were ready to roll and were exceptionally well-coached. It was just a pleasure to watch on TV. Those are great players making big plays. That was an enormous amount of fun to watch.

On Cassell Coliseum being empty…

I went by and talked to Coach Fuente about a couple of things earlier today, and we talked about that very thing. Cassell Coliseum is loud and obnoxious, I’ve mentioned the number of other head coaches that have stopped me and talked about what a difficult place it is to come into and win. It’s one of the more difficult places in the ACC. I’m not going to make any excuses because we have to bring it and play good basketball.

We’ve played three times in there, and I’ve been dissatisfied with each of the outings that we’ve had. I’ve talked to them about it. We have to find our own juice and our own energy and play better basketball. It is different, and it is not as easy as some may think. You’re coming out of a media timeout and it’s flat. Part of that is my responsibility. We have talked about it as a staff and talked about it as a team, and we will make the necessary adjustments.

On the leadership on the team…

We have great people and really good internal leadership. We don’t have an electric wire that can jumpstart the unit, so it has to be a collective deal. Wabissa Bede and Tyrece Radford are just terrific leaders by example and are just going to play their faces off, night in and night out. It’s something that we are working through.

On the rotation…

I’m still battling a little bit. I always thought that irons itself out as we go along. We brought Jalen [Cone] back, and I thought that he brought a level of energy and raised our level of play with his pop when he came in the game. There was a bit of rust having been on the shelf for as long as he was. That will be better tomorrow and down the line. As I said, I’ve always thought that works itself out, and I believe that will be the case with this team.

I feel good about this frontline. Cordell Pemsl has given us good play, and I think David N’Guessan has given us good play. Getting those pieces or those players in the right spots and on the floor for a good run and getting those guys on the floor who can help us win and succeed is a big part of it. I’ve got no doubt that we’ll do that.

On facing Penn State’s zone…

We’re going to see it again. We have to do a better job of playing against different styles. I think we did a much better job in the second half. We had spent a ton of time going into it, but our push into the frontcourt; it seems like a minor thing, but when you’re coming into the frontcourt at 27 or 26 (on the shot clock) as opposed to 20 or 21, now you’re trying to get people deployed. If the first look or second look is down, now you have ample time to run a secondary action off a ball screen. If you get started late, that shot clock is running down and you’re hurried, which disrupts the rhythm.

We have to do a better job of handling it, and I feel confident that we will. I don’t think we’ll see that tomorrow, but they will pick us up full-court and they will get after us in the full floor. It will be different than what we’ve seen in the last couple.

On looking for the best shots…

The right shots are practice shots or rhythm shots where you have guys that you want to get it. After we get through the preseason, we don’t say much about shot selection. If Jalen Cone has one teed up, he has freedom to shoot it. I don’t want any kid to get into thinking whether it’s a good shot or a bad shot. I want you to lay your ears back and play the game. I have great trust in them.

We talk a lot about time and score. If Penn State is on a 4-0 or 6-0 run, we need a great possession here, and we need to throw the ball into different places like the post to Keve. There needs to be a two-sided or three-sided possession; by that, I mean with a ball reversal. You’re trying to outlast the defense, and all it takes is one person to come out of their stance and be late on a close out. Now, you can drive him, and positive things happen.

We talk about getting the ball to the ACC logo in the middle of the floor. We want to own that real estate offensively. Conversely, we want to keep it out of there defensively, and we didn’t do a good job of that on Tuesday against Penn State. We’ve been much better at that over the last few days in practice.

On Wabissa Bede taking blame…

Since I’ve been here, he’s given this program everything in his soul. That is typical of Wabissa Bede to look within at what he can do better. He’s going to do that, and I have a ton of trust in him. We’ve all got to play better, and I have to coach better.

On beating Clemson in his first game last year…

I was so unsure of what to expect because we had so many holes, weren’t very big and hadn’t scrimmaged very well at Richmond and at home against ETSU. To be frank, we weren’t a very good basketball team, and I was scared out of my mind. That team deserves credit collectively because they hung in there and played a great ballgame against Clemson. I think we started the season 6-0 and beat Michigan State out in Maui.

That’s a tribute to that team. I can still see Wabissa Bede with one of the most effort plays I’ve seen as a head coach when he extends his body and gets the top of his of jump to block Dawes’ shot last year. Those were great memories, but I’m not sure I expected that outcome. Our team played really hard and played a fine ballgame.

On trying to come back after a tough first half…

You’re not going to get back by the first media timeout. I watched it live and I watched it on tape. Two nights before, Penn State had Seton Hall and was up 19 in the second half. Seton Hall handled it well and chipped away to get it under ten by the under-12 media timeout. That momentum shifts and Seton Hall gets some wind under their sails and they get out of there with a win in overtime. 

I thought we did some much better things in the second half. Defensively, we didn’t do nearly as good a job of contesting shots and getting after the ball that we needed to do. Obviously, Penn State learned from that Seton Hall game and were much more desperate than we were and put a good 40 minutes together.

On Clemson’s defense…

They’re playing well. They are connected on that end of the floor. They have some really good one-on-one defenders. Aamir Sims, who has been there forever, is kind of the quarterback of the whole thing at the five. They’ve added some length at some spots, and they’ve been around. This team has been together for quite some time with Dawes and Honor, their point guard who sat out, but has been in the program. He’s just a bowling ball point guard who is shooting the ball well, but he is ratty on the ball defensively.

They’re doing a really good job. I’ve seen every game they’ve played with the exception of one. They are getting it done on the defensive end. I think we can guard them; we did a year ago, but we have to generate enough points to get out of there with a huge win.

On Aamir Sims…

I think we match-up better with him this year. We did some different things with him last year that threw him out of sync. What’s impressive is that I watched the Mississippi State game and he had two quick fouls which disrupted his game. He didn’t play great. I saw him play on Saturday against Alabama and he had two quick fouls and that threw him out of whack, but Clemson continued to play good basketball and win both games. As good as he is, and he is a bona fide first-team All-ACC guy, they are doing it with a number of guys.

They’ll come in tomorrow and play 10 or 11 guys. I think that Tyson kid will play for them. He got hit in the face by a knee on a drive to the basket and is suffering from a little concussion. He’ll be back soon, and I hope he plays tomorrow because I can’t stand seeing kids get hurt. They are playing quite well in the early going.

On using size against Sims this year…

Aluma has taken great pride in those matchups. He wanted to guard Robinson-Earl and did a great job on him. He wants to take Sims tomorrow, and he’s a really good defender. He has great feet and has gotten bigger and stronger with David Jackson. He takes a lot of pride in it. This is his fourth year as a college basketball player, so he’s seen a lot of plays. He sniffs out a lot of things and has helped us greatly on that end of the floor. I look forward to seeing how that matchup plays out.

On Hunter Cattoor…

He’s ready to go. He was sick as a dog with strep throat. We’ve talked about it, if you have some congestion or a sore throat, holy cow. They’re throwing swabs and everything else up your nose to ensure that you’re healthy. It was simply strep that lingered a little bit. He was cleared and ready to go and said to me, ‘Coach, I can give you some, but I’m not sure how much I have.’ We got down a little bit which threw me off, but he’s healthy now and he’s practiced well over the last week. He’s good to go, and I look forward to seeing him on the floor.

On the upcoming schedule…

It’s been a struggle. There’s nothing easy. Everything has to be considered; those guys have been here since July 6th and haven’t been home in that time. I’m reluctant to send them home, but for their well-being and their mental health, they need to get off of campus for a few days to see family. Never in my career have I not sent our team home and they didn’t come home recharged and energized, ready for league play and ready to get going. I’m certain that will be the case with this team as well.

Virginia Tech
Justin Fuente was very happy with his team’s win over UVA. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP, Pool)

Justin Fuente

On returning in 2021…

We had player meetings, and I talked to Whit, and I have player meetings tomorrow and Signing Day on Wednesday. We’re rolling.

On beating UVA…

The kids have played 11 games with all of the things and ups and downs, but mostly the COVID part. That’s the part that is just continuous strain on everybody. This isn’t something that just affects the coaches and players; I’m talking about all of the student managers and trainers and everybody that is in our bubble. They’re all under the same protocols with the same responsibilities.

It was pretty stressful. It was great to win the ballgame, but in addition to that, to get to take a deep breath was awfully nice. Obviously, we wanted to go win the ballgame and get the Cup back, but that coupled with it being the last regular season game of the year helped with the relief.

On Braxton Burmeister…

He really played efficient and did a great job. On that long drive with those third down conversions, moving in the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield, I thought that a few of them were right at the sticks too. They were really close, tight plays, and he snuck the ball in there to keep that drive going. Those types of drives can give you momentum when they’re hard-earned long drives.

Then to hit the two big plays in the second quarter, but I was really pleased with Braxton. He started early in the year and played really well, then he unfortunately broke his toes. You could see that he wanted to get back and get going, but every time he cut, it was excruciating pain. For him to stick with it and get healthy to come back was really impressive.

On Divine Deablo…

He played fantastic. That’s the fifth time that he’s worn 25. He’s just dialed in and was physical and was communicating and disguising coverages. I thought we played really well as a whole defensively.

He and Chamarri Connor were around the ball all of the time being physical. We had several tackles where we were hitting the guy backwards. We were in position, and not just getting the guy on the ground, but delivering a physical blow. I was really proud of the speed with which we played, because Virginia will give you a ton of different formations and personnel groups with two quarterbacks and those sorts of things. We handled that really well. The guys put a really good game plan together and the kids went out and executed it.

On getting stops after tough plays…

Those were two great sudden-change responses. I’ve been really proud of our body language and how we’ve taken the field after sudden changes. Sometimes, we’ve executed really well and sometimes we haven’t, but I’ve liked our mental approach to that. The guys were dialed in and ready to go. They wanted to pick James [Mitchell] up. They went out there and got a stop with the missed field goal. Then, after the missed punt, they trotted back out there and got us the ball back.

On talking to the team about a bowl game…

They were tired. I think they had been up late the night before, so I don’t know if they were operating on a lot of sleep. I met with everybody and then the seniors and we talked about all of that and what it may look like. I tried to connect the dots for them on what it would look like. I told them to take a few days to think about it. We’re going to get together tomorrow. I’m going to meet with all of the players tomorrow individually, they’ve been meeting with their position coaches today. We’ll have a team meeting tomorrow, and hash all of that stuff out.

On the offensive line…

All of them are handling the [NFL] process the right way, but we have a lot of guys that are going to get evaluations. We can help them make good decisions and make sure that we’re loyal to them and their families so they can make good decisions. We’ve had as much competition at that spot as we’ve ever had, and that breeds really good players. We’ll figure all of that out as we go forward and make sure we get everybody the correct information, so everybody can make the decisions that are best for them.

On the game getting chippy on Saturday…

I haven’t been a part of any of them that haven’t been chippy. Every one has been like that. I’m a firm believer that you should be able to go compete your tail off and shake hands and walk off the field afterwards. That’s what competition is supposed to be like. Coaches are supposed to set the example, and that’s what Bronco [Mendenhall] and I have tried to do. There’s an element of not hurting your football team and getting carried away that you have to make sure you’re aware of and talk about going into the week.

On Khalil Herbert…

I haven’t looked at the statistics and seen what type of run he’s gotten the most yards on, but I would venture to guess that almost all of those big long runs were off of the stretch play. He just has a really good feel for that. Sometimes it hits front-side and sometimes it hits back-side. The big plays have hit back-side this season, where he splits the safeties and runs right down the middle of the field. He’s got enough speed to finish it off. You get one guy reached out of their gap, and he seems to have the vision to find it and get the play from going sideways to going north and south. He’s had some absolute home runs on that stuff.

Jalen [Holston] deserves credit, too. His yards were almost all between the tackles. It’s just tough, hard-nosed, physical running. Jalen deserves credit for how he came into camp after COVID and all of the time at home, he was in great shape. He immediately contributed on special teams, and to be honest with you, we were trying to figure out who we had and where we were. He continued to stay with it and plug away. You saw as the season went on; he began to play a bigger role on the offensive side of the ball.

On Signing Day…

I think there will be another guy or two that is added to the class that we all should be excited about. It’s the oddest thing ever. There are several guys that will sign with Virginia Tech this week that I have never been in the same room as. There are a bunch of them that we’ve known for years, but there are a few that I have never been in the same room as. To say that it is odd is an understatement, but we’re going to do right by Virginia Tech on Wednesday. We’re going to continue to get better and add some quality young players to our program.

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7 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Jake – Well done remembering to add back the Commonwealth Cup count. May it get as high as it did the last time we had it.

  2. Sorry, coach Young. You should have fans in the stands, but leadership is lacking, and fear is prevalent in the state right now.

      1. 300,000 is fake news … two things. The total number of deaths in the US from medical problems is slightly higher than 2019. The CDC states that only 8% of the deaths is from COVID-19 alone. So 300,000 becomes 24,000. In the 2017-18 flue season the CDC estimated that the Swine flu infected 44 Million people, 800,000 were hospitalized, and 61,000 died. Much much worse than COVID-19. Yet, no masks, no social distancing, no lockdowns. Notice how the MSM and Democrat states publish the latest infection numbers but not the number of people hospitalized, or deaths. Plan-demic not pandemic.

    1. There was never an announcement that he had broken toes and could not play. I guess we did not want the other team to know.

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