Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett on getting back into the game …
I think how scrappy Virginia Tech was and how inspired they played, even without one of their good players Justin Bibbs, is a credit to them. Those guys battles. I knew that, it’s a rivalry game and we talk about those things. They were aggressive and presented some match-up problems for us. I kept telling our guys, there are a lot of possessions left, and it’s going to come down to can you get a good look, get a stop.
We finally, against their zone, and even their man-to-man, which they did do a good job with, you have to crack the seal a little bit and bang a couple threes just to get it going. We were struggling, but once we hit a three around the 4-minute media timeout I said “just keep your composure, keep your composure. Try to get it to a two-possession game, three-possession game. There’s lots of play left.” And they did that. It didn’t look promising and I know that. With college basketball and young guys, you just keep hanging and you never know. I think the experience of our guys helped. Being an upperclassman, being in those spots before. Whereas if you’re a first year in that spot, it can be a little daunting. We have stuff to work on and I told our guys that, but I’m proud that they did stay steady enough and made some big shots. Justin [Anderson] and Anthony [Gill]’s put-back.
Dunk after the timeout
I told Corey Alexander on TV after the game, Justin [Anderson] has been begging me for three years, when are you gonna put in a lob for me, coach? When are you gonna put in a lob? So I said, there you go, Justin. I’m glad we put it in because it was well timed. It’s a simple play, they were jamming the lane, we weren’t making shots. Even when we got to the lane we were struggling, it was the perfect pass, great screens to set it up and it was just something against a zone that we needed. We haven’t seen a ton of zone this year and they mixed it up. When we were struggling to shoot, the way that we were, that makes the zone that much more effective.
16-0 run at the beginning of the half.
We were struggling to score, obviously. We only had that one field goal for that long stretch. One-of-12 at one point, I think we were. I actually went with a four guard lineup. They had hard matchups for us and they were running good stuff. So I went with Marial [Shayok] for a while and said we would switch on ball screens. I wanted to be al ittle more mobile and see if we could close on those shooters and still block out. They were so spread out they weren’t offensive rebounding that much but their spacing was good and obviously that was their game plan, to shoot a lot of threes. I think Marial gave us a good lift and the guys held in there enough defensively, because we had to, it wasn’t there to start, for sure.
Virginia Tech Head Coach Buzz Williams on the atmosphere in Cassell …
I’m really thankful for the people that came on Thursday, for the students that came. I’m really thankful for the people that came today and spent their Sunday afternoon arranging all the things that you have to arrange in order to attend. We really appreciate it. I thought it was great. Hopefully we can get it to the point where it’s this way in early November and it’s that way in late December. Hopefully we can get it that way whether it’s the rivalry game or not. At some point fans are just like everybody else. You want to see your team win. I’m thankful for everyone that have been a part over the last two games. I thought our effort was better today than Thursday, but I’m thankful for everyone that came, both days.
Coach Williams on playing hard…
If you don’t work hard in your job, at some point, they fire you. That has nothing to do with your skill set. We played hard, but I think if you’re going to compete, you have to play hard. Virginia played incredibly hard as well. That’s just a prerequisite. That just gets you a ticket to the game. It doesn’t ensure anything.
Tony said they hadn’t seen much zone this year. Was that something you saw on film? “We don’t have enough guys to play man for 40 minutes. Frankly, we’re not good enough to play man for 40 minutes. We’ve got to change the rhythm and change the pace. So we try to do that as best we can. I think they probably shot it a little better against the zone than against the man.”
Does a game like this show that you’re close to breaking through and getting a win?
Not trying to be sarcastic. I’m trying to handle my emotion the right way. And not trying to be arrogant at all and not trying to be Herm Edwards (“You play to win the game.”), but you don’t play for all that. That’s the truth. I’m not trying to be silly. If we’re supposed to be applauded for playing hard, I think you can do that over at the Blacksburg Rec [Recreation Center]. It has to be more than that.
Coach Williams on the final shot …
We knew they were going to foul. But the possession before, they didn’t foul. So I told the team, ‘I think he will foul, but I don’t know that. So we’re going to run this play, and we won’t get through all the action because they’re going to foul before we get through all of it. If they don’t foul, we’re going to run it. If they foul somewhere in the middle, we’re going to run it again.’ So obviously they’re going to sit on top of Adam. Most of you probably thought Adam was going to shoot, and I think they probably did, too.