Atlantic Coast Conference Operation Basketball

Wednesday October 26, 2016

Buzz Williams

Virginia Tech Hokies

Q. Obviously the improvements you guys have made over the last two years have been huge. The expectations going into this year, I know the fan base is really excited to see what happens in year number three.
BUZZ WILLIAMS: Yeah, thank you. We're excited. We're grateful for the growth, grateful for the people that have been a part of the growth. I mentioned this earlier. I mean this in a sincere way. I think that it's hard to rebuild anything, whether that's a basketball team or a basketball program or any business, and I don't think that it's ever possible without the people that are above you.

And I think that from the very beginning, Whit Babcock and Dr. Sands have been 1,000 percent on board on the whys of what we're trying to do, and I think that that alignment as time goes on has been absolutely critical to our growth.

I hope that in year three we can continue along the same trajectory. I think we're a little ahead of where anybody could have thought, but we're thankful that we're there, and we just need to continue to be efficient and work in the same manner that brought us here, but also understand that the air we're breathing today is a little different than when we first got there, and so we need to be aware of that and make sure that we have wisdom in the decisions that we make going forward.

Q. Seth mentioned in his interview that he wasn't happy getting to the NIT. I'm sure you like hearing that as a coach. With what you guys had to work with last year and some of the early stumbles, were you happy going to the NIT and you think that was a good stepping-stone for you guys?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: Well, I wish I was a better coach. I'm not smart enough to think that far ahead, so it wasn't like we took the team picture last year and I thought, well, if we go to the second round of the NIT we've done a good job. I'm not that way today, and I wasn't that way five or ten years ago.

I think most coaches are just consumed with the process of how can we figure out how to get better today. It's always easy in hindsight to say, well, I wasn't happy with the NIT. Well, the flipside of that is you could have been happy and went home, right, and so we're grateful for all of the experiences and opportunities that come from it.

And I know Seth didn't mean it in a negative way whatsoever, but I am happy that he and I think the rest of the guys are trying to figure out, okay, well, what can we do something -- what's next, and I think that the NIT whet our appetite on what could potentially be next.

Q. It seems like you're growing into being an old team.
BUZZ WILLIAMS: Yes.

Q. And that's got to give you some great comfort heading into the preseason, heading into that first week.
BUZZ WILLIAMS: Yeah, good question. I think every ACC coach, maybe every coach in every league, but particularly at places like Virginia Tech, in order to counter some of the extreme outliers talent we have to play against, the best niche for us is how can we get older faster. And obviously there was a massive overhaul between year one and year two, so we have a lot of returning guys. But having said that, only two of the guys that significantly played are seniors. Devin Wilson, if he comes back from football, will be a senior.

We need to continue, not just this year, we need to continue to figure out how we can stay old, and I think Coach Brey, specific to the ACC, has figured that out as well as anybody.

We might need to try to spend a few days with the Irish and figure out his plan.

Q. You mentioned Devin; can you just kind of talk about what that process has been like seeing him out on the football field and whether or not you think he'll be back for basketball?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: I think it's really cool. It's only happened a few times in my career. Martellus Bennett was one, Jerrod Johnson, who was a scout team quarterback for the Bears the last couple of years, was one. But it's never happened in this order, where it was basketball that turned into football.

I talked to Devin a lot. He comes by the office relative to his football schedule when he has free time. Really happy for him. I think it's a great chapter in his life. I think he's learning a lot that will help him the rest of his life, and as I've told him and his parents, don't worry about basketball, that's the easiest part to figure out.

What I want them to know is whatever is best for your life, that's what we're going to do. If you want to redshirt nine years, we'll apply for a waiver. If you don't want to play again, we're happy for you. If you want to play football next year, we're cheering for you.

I don't think that he can answer that right now, and it's not as if through last spring, through that summer, through the individual workouts this fall, through practice thus far -- obviously he hasn't participated in any of it, so I'm not saying that Devin is not a superhero, but I think it's just really hard to take your helmet and shoulder pads off and go, okay, I'm ready for basketball, and you haven't been there in seven months.

Whatever it turns out to be we're completely for, because Devin has been an integral part of what we're trying to do.

Q. When we spoke to Seth earlier, he in the best possible way said that he doesn't see you as a coach, he sees you more of like a father figure or a mentor. How important is that part of your job to you, developing young men and being that role model for them?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: Yeah, thanks for asking. I didn't know Seth said it. I mean this in a sincere tone, not a condescending tone, for sure not in an arrogant tone. I'm kind of bored with basketball just to be real honest with you. Guys like Coach Odom and Coach Cremins, those are guys I looked up to as a kid and said, I want to be like him. Those are ball coaches. Part of it is I'm getting old. I'm not near as old as either of those guys, obviously. I don't know if I'm tough enough to be as old as they are.

But the thing is I think I've just matured to the point that maybe we're just using basketball as a microcosm for life, and that doesn't mean that I'm trying to be holier than thou, and it doesn't mean that I'm even a good figure to be an example of that, but the older I've gotten, I've just become more consumed with who the Seth Allenes of our program end up being as future husbands and future fathers and future leaders of our country, and so all that we do is predicated on that.

We practice. I can draw up an out-of-bounds play if I have to. But if I don't have to and they know it, we want to do something different, I don't fight them on that anymore. But I do fight them on knowing how to shake somebody's hand, knowing how to introduce yourself, knowing what good manners are, knowing what having a grateful heart is, how to be humble in your body language, how to treat women, how to treat people. Those things are really important because those are the things that I want to make sure that my kids learn in my house.

It's trite, but if I'm going to love my children in the same manner I love our players, then I need to be the same teacher to our players that I am to my children, and I shouldn't coach them just because they're better players than my children.

So basketball has become a descending priority not only in my job but also in my life.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #1 by #166 at 2016-10-26 21:24:00 GMT

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