Men’s Basketball Media Day Recap – VT - Techy Hunters


Monday, October 4, 2021

Men’s Basketball Media Day Recap – VT


On how different it’s been to actually have an offseason

“You take it for granted. To have them back in here for both sessions of summer school, and I think we had 10 here in June, then to have your team together in July and to see them every day. What a strange trip it’s been, but awesome. A more typical offseason. Longer time in the weight room with Coach Jackson, who did a great job with them, and we’re on the floor now and healthy and doing okay.”

On the experienced roster and the progression of guys like Nahiem Alleyne, Hunter Cattoor and John Ojiako

“Tremendously. Alleyne and Cattoor came here at a time where I had no choice but to play them. Now as third-year guys, those guys have played a lot of ball. Ojiako is healthy and is as fit as he’s been. I think [I] maybe made a bit of a mistake. I thought he was a little heavy last year and he battled through a couple injuries. John is going to help our team and is doing very well. To your point, it was painful at times going through it, but the experience and the reps that those guys had as young people and now to see them as his third-year guys, and boy, they’re doing really, really well.

“I don’t know that this is how it’s going to play out, but if we started tomorrow, we would start three fifth-year seniors: Storm Murphy, Justyn Mutts, Keve Aluma and two juniors: [Hunter] Cattoor and [Nahiem] Alleyne. Those guys have seen a lot of plays and have been a part of a lot of winning, and it beats the alternative. I can tell you that those young ones can turn your hair white.”

On the impact Associate Head Coach Mike Jones has made with the program

“He has been nothing short of exceptional, and I had a gut feeling. He’s got presence, he’s not a young person, he’s coached a lot of basketball games. There is nothing emotional or abrupt about him. He’s bright and just a great resource. I think everything that I had hoped to have from Mike, I’ve gotten that and more. Now having been around him for a little bit, and through the summer, and today was our fifth practice, I know he’s not going to be around here very long. He’ll be a head coach because he’s that good, and I am delighted to have him in Blacksburg. His wife, Stayce, and him have added a lot to this community. He is a champion through and through. He’s really good, and [I’m] excited to have him here.”

On the progress of moving Virginia Tech from a challenger to a champion brand

“We’ll try to temper those expectations. We’re going to be pretty good. We’re a long way from being very good right now, five practices in. That was the hand we were dealt when we got here. I’ve said it many times, through no one’s fault, we have lost a lot of really good players to graduation and in the NBA. I thought we hung in there, and we did the best we could, and then we’re sitting Aluma out and Mutts may have been the key to the team, just in terms of his versatility and his ability to guard multiple positions. Both those guys are brilliant basketball players and really smart basketball people. We’ve come a long way, but many more mountains to climb. I do feel good about the progress, but there is more progress to be made. Through two years, another recruiting class and our third team that is here and intact, and practicing. We’re excited about it.”

On how Keve Aluma can take the NBA feedback and improve in his final season at Virginia Tech

“He did the NBA thing. I’ve had a number of kids do it, and I’ve always thought that that feedback is so powerful coming from NBA executives. They told him you got to get in the best shape you’ve ever been in. He’s there, he looks different and is in the best shape he’s ever been in. He is shooting the ball at a very high clip. Now, he is shot faking and getting places. He and Mutts might be our best drivers and the best ability to pitch it around because of their ability to shoot and because they’re both good players. Aluma is still learning. When he came to us at Wofford, I think it was his third or fourth year of organized basketball and everything was so new to him. He’s still exploring and still expanding his game to this day. He put together a really fine year a year ago, and he’s better and ready to have an even better senior season.”

On the newcomers and their impact on the program

“I think all of them can help us. Time will tell and a bit of a log jam at the five – with [John] Ojiako, Lynn Kidd [and] Jalen Haynes is much more of a five. Certainly, it does offer the flexibility to get Aluma off the top, and we’ll mess around a little bit [with that]. I don’t know if we’ll ever see a lineup of Ojiako, Aluma and Mutts together. But we’re going to see a lineup of Aluma, Mutts and David N’Guessan. N’Guessan has maybe, arguably, been our most impressive person through five practices. There’s a long way to go. Sean Pedulla is going to play, and I can see that through five practices. Pedulla adheres to the things that we value. Now, let’s back up a little bit and let’s see when the fannies hit the bleachers out there and we’ve got a different color jersey staring at us. But Pedulla is a tough kid, he can make a shot, he doesn’t turn the ball over. Jalen Haynes is big, has lost a lot of weight, really skilled, really good with the ball and left-handed. Lynn Kidd has done it at Clemson – a very good program. “Stormer” is gonna be just fine. I got some familiarity with that boy.”

On his familiarity with Storm Murphy

“I have to pinch myself. I see the little rat walking around the corner and it’s like going back in time. Just so good to have him here. He affects a lot of things. He affects the energy of practice, he affects the winning culture and he’s been a part of a lot of winning. I’ve so thoroughly enjoyed coaching him for his first two years. He’s a star. You’ll see him coming here in a second and he’ll look like your paper boy, but I’ll tell you, he’s mean as a snake and he knows what he’s doing. He’s a terrific passer. He does some things in practice and I’m like, holy cow, I forgot that guy could do that sort of thing. Because of our time together, he knows exactly what we’re trying to get to and you don’t have to coach him a whole lot. He’s a terrific shooter, he’s a consummate point guard and doesn’t want to turn the ball over. Just thrilled to have the chance to coach him one more year. He’s bigger and stronger. He’s not a little fella anymore. He’s big, strong, played a lot of basketball and played in a lot of big games.”

On if this is the best shooting team Coach Young has had collectively

“Collectively, maybe. I don’t recall ever having a team where I was completely comfortable with all five guys shooting it. I have a lot of things bouncing through my head on how best to utilize that. That’s very uncomfortable, nobody wants to guard a team that can do that. I typically have three, maybe four on the floor at the same time, but to have 5. I saw Mutts make 82 of 100 before practice last week. Aluma shooting it at a high clip. That will certainly be a strong suit of this team. I’m really excited about the different things that we can do with them to exploit that.”

On how Coach Young defines success this year

“The goal is this, it always has been and will continue to be as long as I’m doing this, is for this team to be as good as it can possibly be. I thought through our first two years that we probably came pretty close to that. We lost two games in a row for the first time. Unfortunately, last year at the end, when we lost in the ACC tournament to North Carolina and then to Florida in the NCAA Tournament. We had a really good team and we had some unfortunate occurrences that we’re all aware of in February. I would never put a win total on that, advancing in the NCAA Tournament, not doing that. I think that’s not very smart at this point in the year. If we can become as good as we think we can be – and I think that’s pretty darn good – if we can do that, that will be a real success for me, and I’ll get back to the mountains of North Carolina and fish this spring with a big smile on my face.”

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