Virginia Tech men’s basketball point guard Storm Murphy and head coach Mike Young joined Mike Burnop on Tech Talk Live on Thursday night.
On his journey to Wofford and then Virginia Tech:
It’s been a pretty crazy journey for me. Coming up from Middleton, Wisconsin, growing up there, how I got to Wofford in the first place was pretty much playing travel AAU basketball on a team out of Chicago called Mac Irvin Fire. We were a Nike Circuit team, traveled the country playing basketball and Coach Young and his staff at Wofford were the ones who noticed me and reached out.
At first, I had no clue what division Wofford was even in and what not, but as I learned about the history of making the NCAA tournament and the success they’ve had and Coach Young’s had and who he was as a coach, ended up committing there. Played for Coach Young for my first two years, that was great, awesome, won a championship, and then two years later, I get the COVID year, so couldn’t pass that up and took the opportunity to come here and play for him again. So yeah, it’s been a pretty fun journey so far.
On shifting from being a scorer to more of a facilitator at Virginia Tech:
No, definitely a different role, absolutely. Last year at Wofford, coming into my senior year, I definitely was relied on heavily to be a scorer, to take a lot of shots, and to really just create every time on offense whenever I had it, to look to get a shot up and what not. So coming here, I knew and talked to Coach Young in the recruiting process and everything about what this year would look like and kind of talked about how it would be more similar to my sophomore year at Wofford where we won a championship and I was really setting the table, running the show as our point guard and facilitating, whilst still able to score, but really getting the ball to the right guys and we had older, really good scorers.
Coming here, definitely knew this team already has a lot of experience with Keve [Aluma] and Justyn [Mutts] and Nahiem [Alleyne] and Hunter [Cattoor], guys who can really score the basketball, really shoot it, really make plays and score baskets. My first goal and kind of adjustment coming here was to really get them open looks and really just run the show as a point guard and that means making plays, running the show and scoring when that comes, but first and foremost being the point guard. It’s definitely been an adjustment, obviously it’s a new role, but something that I’ve really enjoyed and man oh man do we have such a fun team to be able to do that with.
On the loss to Virginia:
The game, it was a fun one. I thought we played hard. We were really connected on defense. Proud of our efforts in the majority of the game. What a cool place to play, honestly, for my first experience there. And then yeah, it came down to the end and wish we had those last two minutes back for sure, but we had two good looks. We definitely want Hunter shooting that three and then Justyn made a great athletic play at the rim, Keve got a great tip out and it was kind of a whirlwind.
When I saw the ball coming out to me, I sprinted to grab it, the two guys there, shot fake, get away, didn’t really know how much I had on the clock and it was like about under two seconds, rose up – I’m glad I took it in rhythm and kind of with the adrenaline rush of it all, not to just slow down and think about it, but yeah just it falling short and what not, wish it went in for sure, but it’s all good.
On experiencing the Virginia-Virginia Tech rivalry:
It was pretty cool, the anticipation coming up to the game and everything. Virginia versus Virginia Tech. Definitely a lot of anticipation with that one and it was definitely cool to be in that environment and just feel the rivalry.
On the defense from Mutts and Cattoor against Virginia:
Yeah, oh my goodness, they’re great night in and night out on defense. It helps to have them on the floor as much as we do for that purpose, for guarding the other teams’ best players and that helps a lot. They’re huge staples in our program for those reasons and they’re going to continue to help us on that end the rest of this year.
Thoughts on Notre Dame:
I’m excited for that. Another home game. That’s always a great opportunity to play in front of a comfortable place for us, a comfortable crowd. I’ve never played Notre Dame, but I know they’re a great team and they’re hot right now and it’s going to be a great ACC clash and I’m just excited to be out there in front of our home place.
On the grind of the upcoming ACC schedule:
We’ve seen, even the rescheduled game coming up with UNC and just how the flow of it all will be pretty fast-paced here, going from one game to the next, traveling quite a bit, but I think it’ll be a really really good test for us. I think it’ll really challenge us and in preparation we’re going to have to really focus in here on what it is going to take moving from one team to the next, hopefully one win to the next, and one scout to the next.
I think this 0-4 start is going to be good for us and is really kind of helping us understand the team we are, the belief we need to have and really just how close we are. I think the fast-paceness in everything coming up is going to be a good test for us.
Thoughts on the Virginia loss:
A lot of thoughts. I can’t ask any more of them in terms of effort. I can’t ask anymore of them in terms of their willingness to adhere to what we give them. We spend an inordinate amount of time on scouting and how we’re going to guard this action and how we’re going to guard this player, how we’re going to guard this out of bounds under. Bless ‘em. They do everything in the world to do on the floor what you give them. Now, that scouting report doesn’t mean a hill of beans if they don’t go out there and fly around and are responsible and do their job and help a teammate do his job.
I thought all-in-all we were very, very good defensively and stingy. Didn’t rebound very well in the first half, seven offensive rebounds, and in a low-possession game like that one, and every Virginia game is going to be a low-possession game, those offensive rebounds and extra opportunities for Virginia can really hurt you. We turned the ball over twelve times which is not like us, but it happened and that proves to be costly.
Down the stretch we come, we’re up four with the ball and mishandled a couple things. Now we go to the last possession and we had a terrific defensive stop, we had a thirty-second shot clock violation on Virginia. I want Storm to bring the ball up in front of me. They had a foul to give. I had a timeout, I was going to call timeout. They fouled Storm, now I don’t have to use the timeout. We had something going into the game that we kind of saved, not necessarily for that situation. We had something in our back pocket that we thought was going to go.
Aluma takes the ball at Hunter [Cattoor] and [Reece] Beekman, who’s a really good defensive player, gets stuck on that dribble handoff and here comes Hunter off of it, two bounces and he had a great shot at it and he missed it. I would take that shot from him any day of the week, I’d take it again on Saturday, same situation and expect it to go down, it doesn’t. Mutts makes a really hard-nosed, athletic play at the rim to keep it alive and then Aluma bats it back on to the perimeter. Storm makes the right play, shot fakes and he had a great crack at it, missed it. Needed a break, didn’t get one. I tip my hat to Virginia, they played a little bit better than we did.
On the concern of the eight-day break between the N.C. State game and the Virginia game:
Probably, you want to get going. Now, having said that, you better be careful what you wish for, as you know looking at our schedule. Notre Dame, huge game in here on Saturday. At N.C. State on Wednesday; at Boston College on Saturday; at North Carolina on Monday; at home in here against Miami. So they’re coming. We’re good.
I want more production and to be able to utilize our bench more. Darius Maddox has had a good for us in spots, as has [David] N’Guessan. I didn’t have a matchup for N’Guessan last night with [Francisco] Caffaro, [Kadin] Shedrick, and [Jayden] Gardner, we thought the only two kids he could guard were [Igor] Milicic and [Taine] Murray and they didn’t play those kids. Maybe Milicic played just a click.
John Ojiako did help our team last night in a couple of areas and [Sean] Pedulla has had a good freshman year for us. Came in, I thought he took a bad shot with no passes in a possession and had a turnover and you can’t survive at a place like Virginia in this league with that kind of turnover, but Sean’s really good and he’s tough and he’s going to be a good player around here for a long time.
On Francisco Caffaro’s performance for Virginia:
Shedrick is a better player than Caffaro. Longer shot blocker, better runner. You talk about that scouting report. You’ve seen it, football, it happens in all sports. You spend an inordinate amount of time on Kihei Clark and Reece Beekman and Jayden Gardner. Do you have Caffaro on your scouting report? Certainly you do, but that was unexpected. Did a fabulous job on Gardner who is an all-league player, limiting him to four points. I thought we did a really nice job on him. Unfortunately, Caffaro had a really good ballgame and hurt us.
On Keve Aluma’s performance against Virginia and shooting only three free throws as a team:
What an unbelievable performance. Just a really good ballplayer. I am frustrated – do not in any way, shape or form blame the officials for the outcome. It was a physical game. It was a physical game on both ends. Virginia was physical. Virginia Tech was physical. But for their bunch to shoot sixteen foul shots to our three, I just, I scratch my head a little.
Went back and looked at it a couple of times this morning. Looking at some things, I’m still concerned about it. But again, having said that, the outcome of the game was decided upon Virginia making a couple more basketball plays than my team made. We gotta turn the tables on those kinds of games.
On the success on defense against Jayden Gardner and Kihei Clark:
Guarded primarily by our best two defenders to this point in the season. Justyn Mutts was responsible for Gardner and did a really good job. His second foul was a mistake on Justyn’s part. Gardner’s one of those real savvy post players, if he catches you with your hands extended, he’s gonna rip through your hands to the baseline in hopes of picking up a foul, and he did. That was Justyn’s second foul. I didn’t want to sit him the entire way, but we were in good shape and John [Ojiako] was helping us and we moved Keve to Gardner, John to Shedrick and Caffaro and we were able to get to the half with two fouls on Justyn Mutts which I felt very, very good about.
Hunter Cattoor guarded Kihei Clark almost exclusively. I’m not sure they were expecting that matchup. Kihei typically is matched with the other team’s point guard. There aren’t a lot of physical point guards in this league. Hunter is a physical guard. Wouldn’t let him take the ball away from a ball screen. You’ve gotta get the ball to the ball screens, you know exactly how you’re going to guard it if it goes there, but if it’s declined. If the ball goes opposite the ball screen, now you’ve got a disaster and that’s really hard on defenses and something that all offenses are trying to get to.
Hunter wouldn’t allow him to do that. He bumped him off a number of things. He topped on some cuts which I thought frustrated Kihei. Kihei Clark and Jayden Gardner, both really good players in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Justyn and Hunter did a really nice job. And our team, all five guys involved and I thought our team did a really nice job with them.
On the “Beehive” style defense:
Just a reference to put him in a beehive. There goes Gardner, the ball on the floor, their primary defender and four of their guys with their eyes on him, ready to poke the ball away. Little bit easier. As good as Virginia is, I mean, we all know they haven’t shot the ball great to this point, they’re very capable. But to put that ball in a beehive, put it in a cocoon, and be able to dig it out of there is very important to our defense.
On Justyn Mutts needing to be more aggressive offensively:
I’m begging him to, Mike. I mean, I’m begging him to. He’s just such a good basketball player and completely unselfish. Wants to do everything he can to help the team win. He’s married himself to passing the ball and he’s elite. He’s a really good interior passer and a really good passer to the back when he’s got the ball on the lane line in a post up. I am yelling at him, screaming at him, when he’s one on one, he needs to go play.
He needs to be a scorer, to heck with that passing. Now, if they’re going to send somebody to him in a double, alright, we’ve gotta do something else. And I’ll have another conversation with him today. I think back to the Duke game, we needed a little more pop from our backcourt. Hunter and Storm, I believe I recall, had 18. We had 45 points from Mutts and Aluma. Mutts had 20, Aluma had 25.
Mutts is that kind of player, he’s that dynamic and I’d like to see him get a little bit more from the offensive glass. With all that said, that guy’s giving us everything he’s got. He’s playing really good basketball for the Hokies and doing a great job.
On the number of passes the defense deflected against Virginia:
We talk about 50-50 balls. When the ball’s between the two of us and you’ve got as much opportunity to get the ball as I do and how important those are and how important every possession is to your team. We had two up four and then again up two down the stretch.
We had two unbelievable, I mean just really remarkable hustle plays to deflect the ball and in the air it goes and unfortunately for us it bounced right to a Cavalier and that wasn’t a 50-50 ball, that was just a bad bounce for the Hokies. We talk about getting a fingertip. If we can get a fingertip on that ball and deflect it, a teammate will come up with it. We did a nice job in that area, needed to come up with a few more.
On the fluidity of the offense against Virginia:
I was quite pleased with all of that. We were in the right spots. We were getting the ball turned at opportune times. Putting the ball into the post. Aluma in the first half had the ball on a block and Mutts is like a sprinter coming to the basket, which absorbs Kihei Clark and back to the perimeter it comes. We’re close Mike. We’re close to rattling off a number of them here, just gotta stay the course and hang in there.
On the players having basketball over the break with no classes:
It’s tricky. It’s different. Blacksburg, where the two of us live, you’ve lived here a long time, I love being here, but kids want to be around other folks and there’s just not a lot of folks here during the breaks. Now, our athletes are here. Our women’s team is here. It is an all-basketball opportunity and an opportunity to have your hands on them more and watch film and get them in the weight room more.
More practice, but not a lot of contact. We’re way into this thing now. I think today is practice number 73 after starting back in September, so we’re way into this thing. There isn’t a lot of contact, certainly not coming off that headknocker last night. I’m sure our team, I’m sure our kids will enjoy getting students back and getting this place alive again and Downtown Blacksburg alive again. The Cassell Guard back in full force on Saturday, we hope. I’m sure if they had their druthers, they’d much prefer having folks around.
On rebounding better in the second half against Virginia:
We’ve gotta get better rebounding from Cattoor, Alleyne, and Storm. Mutts and Aluma have their hands full. They’re working their tails off and they are typically keeping bigger people off the glass. As big as Mutts and Aluma are, Jayden Gardner is not bigger than Mutts and Aluma, but he’s a man, I mean he’s a load. 6’6,” 245 [pounds] with long arms.
Cattoor and Alleyne got to the front of the rim and were able to get a couple off the board in the second half which is a huge, huge deal. Mutts is rebounding night in and night out. When I look at it, and Keve needs to rebound a little bit better for us. His effort is tremendous. We’ve got to do a little bit better job in that area.
On Hunter Cattoor’s performance against Virginia:
He’s a really good player. There’s a reason he fills [the stat sheet] up. He fills them up because he is a super smart, super competitive – he’s just a basketball player. He’s guarding the other team’s best player night in and night out. I don’t know that Kihei Clark is Virginia’s best player, I think he’s their most important player.
For full disclosure, I wasn’t enamored with that matchup. I thought he should’ve been on somebody else. Coach [Christian] Webster and Coach [Matt] Olinger had the scout and that was their decision, that was their choice to put Hunter on Clark and it was without question the right move.
Hunter did a really good job with Kihei, again, not allowing him to decline ball screens and wreak havoc with his passing and his ability to score around the basket if you can believe that. He’s got some really incredible finishes under the basket and that sort of thing. Great night from Hunter.
On Notre Dame and its six-game winning streak:
Playing good ball. Just watched the Clemson game from last night. [Blake] Wesley is playing really good ball for them. Local kid, South Bend kid. He’s a COVID kid. Nobody saw Blake Wesley. I wish that would happen to me one time, I typically find the trumpet player that falls into my lap. Not an NBA prospect like Blake Wesley. We couldn’t go out and see anybody so he’s not on the circuit, he’s not on the AAU circuit, because of COVID summer and we couldn’t leave our campus.
Mike [Brey] was laying in wait on that kid. He was aware of him. He gets him. He’s really talented. Man, he’s a good basketball player. I think [Paul] Atkinson in the post has helped them, the transfer from Yale. Pretty good athlete. Scores around the basket a little bit. And then the old guard Dane Goodwin, Cormac Ryan and [Nate] Laszewski are all playing better basketball. Playing faster just in their halfcourt stuff.
They thrive on your defensive mistakes. If you miss a switch, that ball’s goin down. They thrive on your long closeout. Now they’re driving you and they’re spraying that ball back onto the perimeter. They play seven guys, that’s it. They play seven guys. The only one that’s not going to shoot from the perimeter is Atkinson. They’ll play a lineup with Laszewski, Dane Goodwin at the four, Cormac Ryan, Blake Wesley, and [Prentiss] Hubb and they can really rip you to shreds.
That’s not as good a defensive team, I think Atkinson’s helped their team a lot in that area. But Mike’s got them playing good ball, we’ll have our hands full on Saturday. Clemson didn’t have a very good game. Too many threes. They’re going to play some zone against us on Saturday and you’re sitting back there on your heels and cranking three after three. I think Clemson’s got a really good team and they’re doing quite well. They weren’t quite themselves yesterday.
On the Cassell Guard returning Saturday:
It’s always rocking. I hope that doggone snow – I haven’t had one of those in my three years here, but it sounds like one’s coming. I hope the snow holds off long enough for us to get this thing in on Saturday and have a great crowd in there.