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ACC Roundup - Buzz Williams Set To Revitalize Virginia Tech

Don't doubt this. The guy's an incredible coach.

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Of course, his players still have to learn to listen.
Of course, his players still have to learn to listen.
Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

Before Georgia Tech's game with Virginia Tech, Yellowjacket coach Brian Gregory said that his team had been in several games which came down to a couple of possessions and that his team could easily be 6-4 instead of 1-9.

Monday Night ACC Action
Teams Times TV
Notre Dame @ Clemson 7:00 ESPN2
Schools Conf W-L Conf PCT W-L PCT
Virginia 9-1 .900 21-1 .955
Notre Dame 9-3 .750 21-4 .840
Duke 8-3 .727 21-3 .875
North Carolina 8-3 .727 18-6 .750
Louisville 7-3 .700 19-4 .826
Syracuse 6-4 .600 15-8 .652
Clemson 6-5 .545 14-9 .609
Pitt 5-5 .500 16-8 .667
Miami 5-5 .500 15-8 .652
NC State 5-6 .455 14-10 .583
Florida State 5-7 .417 13-12 .520
Wake Forest 3-8 .273 11-13 .458
Georgia Tech 2-9 .182 11-13 .458
Boston College 1-9 .100 9-13 .409
Virginia Tech 1-9 .100 10-14 .417
Monday's Results
  • Duke 73 Florida State 70
  • Virginia Tech 65 Georgia Tech 63

Furthermore, he predicted, the game at Blacksburg would probably be the same kind of game.

Prophet: Virginia Tech won because Malik Muller hit a deep three from the corner and Tech, unfortunately, bungled its last play. Marques Georges-Hunt, Tech's only reliable offensive option, was heavily guarded, and the ball ended up going out of bounds off of one of his teammates.

It's been a very tough season for Georgia Tech, but we would like to reiterate our admiration for that team's willingness to, in a Danny Manning phrase, answer the bell. They keep getting knocked down, but they're always there.

As for the other Tech? Well, that's a different story.

Both teams are struggling to get wins, but Virginia Tech is having an amazing season.

This is a team which earlier, remember, lost to Appalachian State, to Penn State, and which nearly lost to Radford.

This is a team which has just two inconsequential seniors, one reasonable returning junior, one JUCO transfer...and everyone else is a sophomore (one) or a freshman (five). The rest are at best spot players.

There is only one big man, Satchel Pierce, who is 7-0 and 255, but who plays 14 mpg with minimal impact (for instance, despite being an inside player, he's hitting just .433 from the floor).

Otherwise, Shane Henry gets some minutes but we bet you've never heard much from Christian Beyer, Zach LeDay or Greg Donlon.

Buzz Williams has cajoled this group to play incredibly hard and with amazing passion.

Not that many people care.

Tonight we saw the clip of Muller hitting his big three and almost no one was there.

And that's a shame, not just because fans should support their team, blah, blah, blah, but for a very different reason.

Virginia Tech fans have a chance to witness something pretty rare. We can almost promise you this: Williams is going to turn that program around in a damn big hurry.

Next year, he'll be able to count on Muller, Adam Smith, Justin Bibb, Jalen Hudson and Maryland transfer Seth Allen, who you may recall was pretty good in College Park.

Next year he'll also have freshmen Chris Clarke, a highly regarded small forward, point guard Justin Robinson and power forward Kerry Blackshear, who should be able to provide a reasonable fascimile of a center.

In other words, about eight pretty solid players and some others who will have different roles but still be useful.

What's happening in Blacksburg, faster than in Wake Forest or Boston College, where the ACC also has new coaches, is the birth of a program. This year it'll be nip and tuck, but by this time next year - we'll eat our keyboard if this isn't true - Virginia Tech is going to be a major pain in the ass for everyone in the ACC.

You might say that team is not that great right now, just 10-14 and 2-9 in the ACC. Fine. But that team fights.

It's still early for Coach Of The Year talk, but some guys you can rule out - Jim Boeheim, Jamie Dixon, Mark Gottfried, Leonard Hamilton, Jim Christian Gregory - but on the maybe-so list you have Tony Bennett, Mike Brey,  Mike Krzyzewski, Brad Brownell and for our money Williams.

You can point to his own diagnosis of OCD, you can notice, as we have, that he is a dead ringer for a grown-up Bobby Hill, or make fun of his kinetic sideline performances. But there is no doubt the man can coach.

Virginia Tech fans, if we were you, we'd go to every possible game and watch this program grow. So what if they lose? Something big is happening and your team is about to take off in a major way. Get on for the ride.

In Chapel Hill, Dean Smith is getting about as nice a send off as a man could possibly get. There's a tremendous outpouring of love and affection from, well, everyone. The governor ordered flags to be flown at half-mast through Wednesday, and President Obama even called in to the Dave Glenn show to praise Smith.

WRAL had an hour long celebration of Smith's life and there is a public service planned in Chapel Hill.

There are lots of stories being told, but Bobby Cremins has our favorite so far:

He said Tuesday that Smith used to always come to coaching meetings late in order to irritate his colleagues.

At a certain point, he said that he, Krzyzewski and Jim Valvano got tired of it and Valvano organized a scheme:

The three then-young coaches hid in a bathroom and paid someone at the hotel to come alert them when Smith finally showed up. The guy eventually came to get them, they waited a few minutes, and then went into the meeting and greeted Smith.

It's funny to think of Valvano plotting that and even funnier to think of three legendary coaches hiding in the bathroom to pull a prank.

On a sweet note, Cremins also said that Smith really liked Valvano because Valvano made him laugh (and then Cremins half-wondered "who didn't he make laugh?")

The other night we read an article about an American pastor who spoke German and was thus asked to minister to the Protestant Nazis who would be on trial at Nuremburg.

What a horrible thing to have to do. Yet this man managed to find the humanity left in these evil men and they grew to love and trust him (he refused Herman Goering when he asked for a final Holy Communion because, he told him, he didn't think he meant it) and he ministered to these men despite their terrible sins.

We mention it because we learned that Smith, a long-time opponent of the death penalty, used to call men who were about to be executed to tell them that they would not be forgotten.

We're sure the families of their victims might disagree, but it was a humane impulse and must have meant a great deal.

In a touching note, King Rice, now coaching at Monmouth, was probably one of UNC's least popular players around the ACC.

After Monmouth's win over Canisius, Rice broke down and wept and said this: “They should’ve sent me home 20 times and they never did because of Dean Smith. I’m just thankful, I’m blessed, I’m humbled.”

We'll leave off with Coach K's thoughts on his old rival turned friend (we had forgotten that they vacationed next to each other at the beach for a time - what a lovely thought):

"The thing that Dean did the best is that he made men of the boys that came to him. And all those men revere him. They don’t love him, they revere him. That’s his biggest accomplishment. And he has done that better than anybody. I’m proud to be able to say that I was his friend. And I love him, and I love what he built and how he did it. It’s second to none. It’s really second to none. That’s why I don’t like to compare wins, championships and all that. No one could do it any better than him. Linnea and the kids have been incredible while he fought this horrible disease. So God bless him, God bless him, God bless him. We lost a great, great man in him."