Dec 22, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Buzz Williams instructs guard Justin Bibbs (10) during a time out in the second half against the Virginia Military Keydets at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
The Virginia Tech basketball season is only 16 games old but it is apparent that Whit Babcock made the correct decision in hiring Buzz Williams as the Hokies head coach. The Hokies record may not be exactly what fans or the team wants, but the team has shown a significant improvement under Williams.
Fans can see that the team is different than the Hokie teams of the last few years. That is not the only change under Williams. The community around Blacksburg also got a stellar citizen as well.
The Buzz Williams era started off with a major project in rebuilding a program that was near the top, and fell towards the bottom of the conference. Williams had to take an under achieving team, and mold it to a contender. At a record of 8-8, the Hokies are not the powerhouse they were, but the team has definitely taken on the persona of their first year coach.
At Marquette, Williams was known for teams that were tough as nails and played as hard as possible for the entire 40 minutes of a game. This year’s Virginia Tech team may not be as tough as Williams would like yet, but they are making strides in that direction. One thing is for sure, Williams has gotten to the Hokies to play from the opening tip to the last buzzer.
This was on full display as recently as the Syracuse game. The Hokies were down big at halftime, but came out in the second half and played extremely hard. Even though the outcome was not in the Hokies’ favor, the team played like they were capable of playing.
Even being undersized, as they will be most of the season, the Hokies kept pushing forward and used their speed to get back in the game. Most seasons, there are no such thing as moral victories. However, there are going to be some moral victories this season.
Jan 13, 2015; Louisville, KY, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies guard Justin Bibbs (10) shoots against Louisville Cardinals guard/forward Wayne Blackshear (25) during the first half at KFC Yum! Center. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
The Hokies were predicted last in the conference, mostly because of their youth and lack of height. However, I would not be surprised if the Hokies somehow won a couple of conference games and upset some of the bigger names in the conference.
The Hokies are young, but extremely talented which is a result of Buzz Williams’s recruiting prowess. The next order of business on the recruiting front would be for the Hokies to get some size to go along with the talent on the outside.
Williams’s best recruiting job so far was to convince Justin Bibbs to stay in Blacksburg. Bibbs is arguably the best player on the young squad. Williams’s next challenge is to get a big man to complement Bibbs’s playing style. I have no doubt that this task will be accomplished.
Being the right coach for the job goes beyond just being able to recruit, and get the best out of your players. The coach needs to be a pillar of the community, as well as demand the upmost respect of his players.
Williams has shown he is a no nonsense coach with players. He is not afraid to bench good players or suspend them altogether as is the case with Joey van Zegeren.
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Even though it would cost his team a “Big” presence on the court, something the Hokies are definitely short on, Williams put his morals and his beliefs of what the team should be over winning.
Williams is also an excellent role model in the community with his Buzz’s Bunch project. Williams knows the community needs to be behind the team and the first step is having a coach and a program people can be proud of.
Hokie fans might have to wait and suffer through a disappointing season this year but the pain will be worth it. To steal a baseball reference, Whit Babcock hit a homerun with the Buzz Williams hire. Williams said in his opening press conference he wanted to be as successful as Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech.
It is apparent he is on his way to completing this goal. This season might not end with the Hokies cutting down the nets after an NCAA tournament win, but the future is definitely bright and one day, they might just be cutting those nets down.
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