At the ACC Tipoff in Charlotte, N.C. on Tuesday, I asked seven of the league’s 15 coaches about their thoughts on Virginia Tech and Mike Young.
Almost every comment was very complimentary of the Hokies. Tech finished third in the ACC regular season in 2020-21, the first time the program has ever received a double-bye in the conference tournament.
Here’s what the ACC’s head coaches are saying about Young & Co. with less than a month until the season opener:
Notre Dame’s Mike Brey
“They’re really good. Really good. I’ve hired two new assistants and they asked me, ‘well, who in the league next year?’ I said Virginia Tech, and they said, ‘excuse me?’ I said, ‘Virginia Tech.’ Virginia Tech’s really good. They’re really, really good again.
“Utmost respect for Mike Young. I think it’s a great story… I’m glad we don’t play them twice this year because they thumped us twice [last year]. It was the one team where we had no answers. How they defended us and physically got after us. Last time I checked, they have a lot of guys back.”
Brey also commented on new associate head coach Mike Jones. A DeMatha Catholic alum himself, Brey was an assistant at the powerhouse from 1982 to 1987. He said Mike Young actually reached out to him about hiring Jones over the summer.
“That was a strategic hire, that man from DeMatha High School. Actually, Mike [Young] called me. We go way back. He called me and said, ‘I don’t know Mike Jones, do you think he’d be interested in a college job?’ I said, ‘I think he would, you should call him.’ Now, I tried to hire Mike Jones years ago when he had a great gig and was involved in USA Basketball and I said, ‘Mike [Young], you should make a run at him’ and make a run they did. And then I saw them on the road after he had been there a few months and he [Mike Young] said, ‘‘He’s awesome, he’s a coach.’
“I told Mike [Young], ‘Mike Jones, he’s an old school coach like us. He’s a teacher. He was there [DeMatha] as an assistant. He replaced Morgan Wooten. … He’s been thrown to the wolves a little and I’m happy for him because he was ready for a career move. And then he asked me, because Mike Jones said, ‘I don’t know Mike Young.’ I said, ‘if you’re going to go and take a college job, go and work with Mike Young. Just, trust me, you’re going to be in good hands.'”
Boston College’s Earl Grant
“I crossed paths with Mike Young at College of Charleston, but when I was at Winthrop, we would scrimmage Wofford every year at 9 a.m. and have lunch together and scrimmage again at one. We did that for three years when I was in Winthrop back in 2003. We didn’t play against them at CofC, but when I was at Clemson, we played against Wofford.
“Mike’s a great coach, I’ve known him for 20 years. They recruited me when I was at college when he was an assistant when I was at Spartanburg Methodist right next door. I’ve known him for 20 years, doing a great job, certainly his teams play good basketball.”
Pitt’s Jeff Capel
“I think they’ll be really good. They have one of the better players, maybe the preseason player of the year, in Aluma, who had an outstanding year last year. Like you mentioned, a lot of guys returning, so those guys will be even more familiar with Mike Young and his system. Mike’s a very good coach and I think they’ll be a team to contend with in the league, I think they’ll be one of the better teams in the league.”
NC State’s Kevin Keatts
“Mike is doing a tremendous job. I’m from the state of Virginia and so I’m always going to keep my eye on what Virginia and Virginia Tech are doing. He’s earned his right. He became a head coach later in life, but he’s done a tremendous job. If you just look at what he’s done at Wofford and the couple years he’s been at Virginia Tech, he’s been tremendous.”
Miami’s Jim Larrañaga
“I think Mike Young has done a fantastic job. One of the things that Mike did is he brought some kids from Wofford that have really fit in well in the ACC. They’re talented, they’re skillful and they know Mike and his approach, so they fit in very, very well and make the adjustment very, very quickly. They’ve done a great job of building internally.
“They have great fan support and our games with them last year were fantastic games, but no fans were there to watch it in person. But if you saw our game there, we had a shot at the buzzer to either tie and put it into overtime or win, I’m not sure, and they had a shot to tie and put it to overtime and then won in overtime. Had our fans been there, both at our place and their place, those games would be legendary now.”
I followed up with Larrañaga about the crowds being back in college basketball this season, and he praised Cassell Coliseum and the Hokies’ atmosphere.
“I like that environment at home. It’s a little more challenging on the road. Virginia Tech’s crowd is probably as rabid as there is in the ACC.”
Wake Forest’s Steve Forbes
“I think Mike’s done exactly what he did at Wofford. He built his team on toughness, great shooting, great execution on offense. He doesn’t have to have five-star players, he’s proven that, even though that always makes us a little bit of a better coach. He’s a ball coach. I don’t think he’s done everything there than what he did at Wofford and I’m pretty sure his team at Wofford beat some ACC teams, just like my teams did at ETSU. Last year there, we had LSU down 23 at LSU. We beat Georgia Tech, we beat Mississippi State when I was there.
“I just think he knows the blueprint and I think he’s brought that, I know he’s brought that to Blacksburg. That’s kind of what I’ve done here, and that gives me hope for this year. I had a lot of talks with Mike my first year he was going through the ACC because they were in a tough situation, and we were in the same. He gives me hope that our blueprints work.”
Georgia Tech’s Josh Pastner
“Well, I love coach Young. He is awesome, and he’s a great coach. First of all, they should put his name on the floor at Wofford. They have not, but they need to. What he’s done at Wofford is unbelievable. He should already be in the hall of fame at Wofford. He’s as good of an offensive coach, I mean, the plays that they run, it’s incredible. And then defensively, they’re as sound and as solid as can be.
“I think they’re going to be really good this year. They’ve got the Aluma kid back. They’ve got multiple guys back. They have a really good recruiting class. I’m a big fan of coach Young, and for him not to have his name on the court at Wofford, that needs to happen before the first game this year. Think of the success he had there. And he’s doing the same thing at Virginia Tech. He’s been excellent.”