Friday Q&A, March 14, 2014

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1) What program resembles Virginia Tech’s basketball program and how were they able to build a perennial powerhouse?

Chris Coleman: I’m not old enough to remember how true powerhouses like Kansas and Arizona were built or what they looked like before they became powerhouses.  Outside of hiring outstanding basketball coaches, I don’t know what they did to help themselves achieve success at the highest level.  There aren’t many new kids on the block when it comes to being basketball powers.  In general it’s about the level of support for the program and hiring the right coaches.  Location can hurt recruiting, but the right coach in the right situation can certainly overcome that.

Virginia Tech can be a good basketball program by following the model set forth by a few other schools in their own league, namely Clemson, Florida State and UVA.  Let’s start with the Seminoles…

FSU has never been known for basketball.  However, they hired Leonard Hamilton who had had a lot of success at Miami and coached in the NBA.  He has his own defensive system that relies on length and tough man-to-man defense, and he recruits to that system.  It took a little while for Hamilton’s program to get started at FSU, but the ‘Noles are on their way to their ninth consecutive postseason appearance.  That includes four straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2009 through 2012.  They are on the bubble this year, though they are most likely headed to the NIT.

Clemson hired Oliver Purnell in 2003.  He brought in a full-court pressing style of defense that pressured offenses into mistakes and relied on turnovers to create easy baskets.  After taking a couple of years to rebuild, he took Clemson to two NITs before advancing to the NCAA Tournament for three consecutive seasons.  After Purnell departed, Brad Brownell came in and got Clemson to the Big Dance in his first season, giving the Tigers four straight NCAA appearances.  Things stagnated under Brownell for two years, as he is recruiting a different type of player.  However, this year Clemson is back up to 20 wins and they are postseason bound again.  Brownell had taken Wright State and UNC Wilmington to the NCAA Tournament before taking the Clemson job.

Virginia couldn’t have made a better hire than the one they made with Tony Bennett.  He has installed his tough packline defense and his teams always seem to player over their own talent level.  They are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three