Tech Talk Live Notes: Keve Aluma And Mike Young

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Virginia Tech
Keve Aluma has played a key role for Virginia Tech. (Matt Gentry, Roanoke Times)

Keve Aluma

On his journey to Blacksburg…

I definitely never thought that I’d leave Wofford. I was happy there and we were winning, but Coach Young got the job here and I forget how it all happened, but somehow, I found out that he would have me. I snatched that up because it was too good to pass up.

On what he worked on during his year off…

A little bit of everything. I was just trying to be confident when I step on the court.

On his three-point shooting…

I don’t know if it was one specific day, but he saw that I had been working on it and he just slowly let me do it.

On the differences playing at the ACC level…

I don’t know if there’s been a huge change. I’m just trying to stay aggressive and help my team win.

On Daniel Pereira going first overall in the MLS Superdraft…

I did see that. That’s pretty crazy. I went to a few games last year, but I didn’t know that he was going to be the first pick. When I was younger, I watched a lot more soccer and was really into it, but now that I’ve played basketball, I’ve been out of it a little bit.

On his time playing soccer…

I started playing when I was young, so I just kind of always did it and always loved it. I think I have taken a lot from it when it comes to footwork.

On taking an elbow from John Ojiako in practice…

I’m doing alright. He’s apologized to me a few times, but he’s definitely stronger. He’s a big guy.

On strength coach David Jackson…

He’s been on me. He’s a great guy and a great strength coach. To have him push me to get my weight right and go harder in the weight room has been big.

On playing at a lower weight…

I just feel fresher with a few pounds off. I think I’m just fresher for longer.

On beating Villanova…

I just know that our team can play with anyone, even the best of them. I think that was good for everyone.

On how defenses have adjusted to him throughout the year…

I’ve gotten a few more eyes I think, but I don’t think they’ve changed too much with how they defend me.

On leading the ACC in free throw attempts and makes…

I didn’t even know that. That’s interesting.

On playing with Justyn Mutts…

He’s a good player, and being able to play and practice with him definitely helps me.

On his struggles against Wake Forest…

I don’t know if they were doing anything different. I was just missing some easy little things. I just need to focus on making lay-ups, I guess.

On having a game postponed…

We were a little upset, I guess. We wanted to play, but we’re just focusing on the next one and moving on.

On Ojiako and David N’Guessan…

We don’t get out of Wake with a win without Dave, so that was a big game for him. John has also definitely come a long way since he first got here. I’m looking forward to seeing both of those guys continue to grow.

On N’Guessan’s new hairstyle…

I liked it. I don’t know if Coach Young liked it, but I liked it.

On his hobbies off of the court…

I like to play video games and watch Netflix. I’m kind of lazy, I guess.

On his academics…

I’m majoring in Human Development.

On the biggest thrill for him in a game…

Making a three or getting an assist. Definitely one of those.

On what’s next for his game…

Getting better defensively. I haven’t been quite as good as I know that I can.

On his siblings…

I’m the oldest, and then it’s Gabe, who is in his first year in college at Morgan State. Then, Evan and Lily.

On facing Syracuse…

We’re just working on the zone and our coaches will have us practice against that. I watched the game last year which was a pretty crazy game.

On Tyrece Radford…

He’s definitely a special player. I haven’t seen a lot of players like him. He’s an animal on the glass.

Mike Young and his team travel to Syracuse this weekend. (Johnnie Izquierdo)

Mike Young

On Bruce Garnes…

He is one of a kind. They broke the mold on that guy. There’s nobody walking these halls that loves Virginia Tech more than Bruce. He has seen it all, some things two or three times. He’s a very valuable part of our staff. When you get him right, you can run some things by him and he has great answers. I love the guy, and I’m glad he’s with us. I hope he’ll be here a long time.

On the Wake Forest game…

Where do I start? I can remember going out to the Pulaski County Fair when I was a kid, and part of the fair was a tractor pull. That reminded me of watching the tractor pull at the county fair. It wasn’t very pretty, and we didn’t play our best basketball, but we got another league win on the road. That is significant, so for that, I am proud.

We had some guys play really good ballgames. Tyrece Radford was outstanding and a deserving winner of this week’s ACC Player of the Week. Hunter Cattoor bailed us out, and David N’Guessan continues to make strides.

I become more and more comfortable with David. That guy can guard anything. He had two and-one baskets in the first half for six points and 13 in total. He had a shot that really bailed us out with a late shot clock. He flipped one up from eight feet opposite our bench and got it in the basket. He practices well. I am not a big fan of his hairstyle. I think he’s got an eye on a young lady on campus; with all of the students coming back, something motivated that guy. I don’t know what it was, but he’s got something going on that I’m not really familiar with. If he keeps playing like he did the other night, I couldn’t care less how he wears his hair.

On the Boston College game being postponed…

I don’t think we can look at it as a disappointment. It’s disappointing for the kids because they want to play, but where we are with the virus still rolling around and no one has been vaccinated, I’m driving to the office on Tuesday morning and our basketball commissioner called at 8:30. I said, ‘I don’t like hearing from you at 8:30.’ He said, ‘I don’t like calling you at 8:30 in the morning.’

So, you reshuffle the deck, and the next two hours we’re wondering if there’s someone else we could play. We could’ve played Virginia and made that game up and I was all for that, but talking to Coach Bennett, they have somebody on Saturday and Syracuse on Monday. That is not fair to their team to expect them to play three games in six days. I wouldn’t want to do that with our team, nor would I expect anyone else to make that choice and run the risk of a number of things happening.

So, we set our sights on Syracuse at about 11 o’clock on Tuesday morning. We had a good practice Tuesday, and I gave them Wednesday off. I thought we needed a little more time to get our wheels under us. We had a really good practice today with good energy. We’ll wrap things up tomorrow. It’s a noon game on Saturday, so we won’t have a structured walk-through on gameday as we typically do. We have a number of things to get to tomorrow and then we’ll have a lengthy film session up there tomorrow night. They say Syracuse is absolutely gorgeous this time of year, so I can’t wait to get there.

On when games will be made up…

I do not know. We have a week between games on the last Saturday and the Saturday before that. We have a window in there where we could play Tuesday or Wednesday. We’re not going to play 20 league games, that’s just not going to happen. That probably won’t be our last postponement either. We’ll be as lucky as all get out if we could get 16 or 17. We’ll do everything possible to play the UVA game, but we’re not talking about potential make-up dates.

We’re backended with the league tournament, so we have no wiggle room there. We have no wiggle room between now and the end of the year unless there’s a Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday. Then, we get back to playing three games in six days which is a big deal with everything that you’ve got on these guys. We’d like to make them up, but we’ll see.

On Tyrece Radford…

He was the best player on the floor against Duke, and there’s nobody who could argue that point. He’s so disruptive on both ends, and it’s not just scoring or defense. His rebounding and the pressure he put on opposing defenses after he gets a rebound, that’s so impressive. It’s like a video game when he grabs a defensive rebound, and off he goes. It’s like he runs by 17 people which causes a lot of pressure. Now, here comes Cattoor and Alleyne and Aluma running the floor and you’re trying to get matched up on those guys. You guys know how we all feel about Tyrece Radford; he’s a special individual and he is the best guy to coach. We’re lucky that he’s in a Hokies uniform.

On Keve Aluma…

He’s a godsend. I knew when I brought him here that he would be a real piece to the puzzle. He’s high-character and a terrific defender. He’s not defending at the level that I expect him to defend at. He is defending well, but he’s an elite defender and elite rebounder. His rebounding numbers are improving. You either get better or you stay the same with the sit-out year. That’s hard because you’re working your rear-end off at practice every day and working out and when the ball goes in the air, you’re sitting over on the bench. That’s not as easy as one would think, but he made the most of it and got better.

He’s got great hands now and great feet. What he’s done to his game offensively is pretty remarkable. Happiness is having a post player that you can throw the ball to and expect positive things to happen. I didn’t realize that he had taken more free throws than anybody in our league. Talk about putting pressure on people when you can throw the ball into the post and surround that guy with people that can ring the ball from deep, that creates a great deal of difficulty for opponents, and it’s just so much fun thinking about what we can do with Keve. We can spin off of that and do something for Cone, Alleyne and those other guys. They make it a lot of fun.

On Wake’s defensive performance…

They did as good of a job against Cone as you can. We’re switching some things, and we’ll be better against that next time around. Football is no different than basketball; Aluma didn’t have his best stuff, Cone didn’t have his best stuff, Alleyne didn’t have his best game. They helped us win, but a true team is having guys that step to the plate and swing as David did and Hunter did. Those two kids had 13 points, then Tyrece was Tyrece and had a great ballgame. I take from that game that we didn’t play great and the guys that you expect to score didn’t, but we still won. That is a mark of a really good team, and I think we are knocking on that door.

On Daniel Pereira going first in the MLS Superdraft…

What an honor for Briz and his staff to have the number one overall pick. I have not seen them play, but I will. I hope like crazy that we can have the vaccine distributed a little better so we can go see John [Sfezc]’s baseball team play. I want to see our softball team, too. I’d love to stand at the plate, I was a baseball player. I’d love to stand at the plate and have one of those young ladies pitch to me. I don’t think I could hit that thing in a million years. I’m very proud of all of our athletes around here and admire greatly what they do to put themselves in position to compete in the ACC.

On Syracuse…

They can really score. I think all five starters, Guerrier, Buddy Boeheim, Girard, Dolezaj and Griffin, they can really ring the bell. It’s all zone and they’re really good at it. I don’t think it’s been as good as it has been, they’re not as big and physical, but still formidable and still will turn you inside-out if you’re not prepared. Moving the ball and putting the ball in the proper spots is crucial. We worked on it some today and we’ll work on it more tomorrow. It’s just such a factor anytime you play Syracuse.

Can you imagine being in the Carrier Dome with no fans? I was like a kid when we went in there last year. To look in the rafters and there’s Larry Csonka and Jim Brown and all of the great basketball players that have come through there. There’s a lot of history in that building, so we look forward to getting up there and going at it on Saturday.

On what adjustments Coach Boeheim will make for the Hokies…

I’ve watched it for years and have been so intrigued as a coach. You’re watching it more as a fan, but when you play them as a league member, the subtle tweaks that he makes from timeout to timeout are pretty fascinating. It’s all they do. If he’s up 20 or down 20, he’s still playing that zone. That’s what they do and who they are and they’re good at it.

It’s like playing the single wing in football; it’s so different and so foreign. You have two days, more than that for us because of the postponement, but you still don’t feel like you have enough time to get everything to your team. The other thing is, it takes a little bit of time to get your feet under you and figure out what you’re looking at. He does change it from timeout to timeout, but we’ll be ready for it.

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3 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I *think* they’re fudging the story a bit, thought I read in the Athletic that Aluma wasn’t originally coming to VT, but wrote MY a letter saying he wanted to follow him to VT. Not sure how to parse that, MY respecting Wofford in not whispering in player’s ears to portal over but once Keve made a move on his own then sure, (I would argue it would be different for players like Cattoor who hadn’t stepped on campus yet) or whether MY was on the fence about wanting him here – VT certainly needed his height – and the letter made the difference. Here, it just sounds like it was a foregone conclusion.

  2. Love this guy. Besides a great basketball mind and players’ coach he is Hokie thru and thru. Not to mention an awesome statesman and ambassador for the university and NRV. Pretty sure the single wing comment was from his years playing ball against Giles.

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