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March 15, 2017

Buzz Williams

Zach Leday

Seth Allen

Buffalo, New York

THE MODERATOR: Okay, now, joined the Virginia Tech student-athletes, Seth Allen, Zach LeDay, gentlemen, welcome to Buffalo. Glad to have you here, we'll open for questions at this time. Please raise your hand, we'll get a microphone you to. If you please give your name and affiliation.

Q. Guys, obviously, Wisconsin has got a lot of size. How worried are you about having to deal with those guys in the paint, especially when you got a team that's trying to avoid foul trouble?
ZACH LEDAY: Just going to go out there and play as hard as possible. Every team is bigger than us. It's not nothing new, we're going to play as hard as possible, try to box out and get the rebound.


SETH ALLEN: I agree with Zach. That's kind of been our Achilles heel all season, so we're used to it. We just got to fight hard for rebounds and position, and limit them to one shot.

Q. Guys, what have you been doing since you got to Buffalo, with this being your one and only NCAA Tournament experience of your career, how much are you trying to soak everything in this week in Buffalo?
SETH ALLEN: We've just been -- we practiced. We go and lift in the morning. We eat, we watch a lot of film, we do homework. We chill together. I mean, it's all snow outside, so we're not leaving the hotel for walks or golfing or nothing, but we do a lot of things in the hotel, a lot of like team stuff.

ZACH LEDAY: Yeah. We just chill. We don't really do nothing that much.

THE MODERATOR: No golf trip.

ZACH LEDAY: No golfing in the snow. They have some snow -- snow people.


ZACH LEDAY: Yeah. Whatever.

SETH ALLEN: Oh, we went to the Buffalo Bills facility.

ZACH LEDAY: Oh, yeah, that was cool. Forgot about that.

Q. Two of the last three games you blew second-half leads. What do you take away from that and what are you going to change from the Wisconsin game?
SETH ALLEN: Would you say that again?

Q. Two of the last three games you blew second half leads, Wake Forest and Florida State. What do you take away from that going into the Wisconsin game?
SETH ALLEN: I think that we just got to just play our game, take it one possession at a time. We can't get ahead of ourself, if we're up or down. We got to just play by media time-outs, and try to win media time-outs. I think that when we look ahead like for a whole game, we look ahead for a whole game it's hard for us. So if we just break it down in little bits, it's easier for us.

Q. This is for both of you guys. What is it like as a former starter coming off the bench and what do you think it has brought to your team having you two come off the bench with all of the scores that you do?
ZACH LEDAY: I say that it helps our team, because anybody can take any role, and no one's entitled to start or anything like that. So just by playing that, and seeing how hard you've got to work, it doesn't matter who starts, it's whoever plays the hardest. And I feel like we give a big amount of energy coming off the bench, and it gets other people's confidence up. I guess people like starting, it doesn't really matter to us. We just want to come and play as long as possible, and be in the game, affecting the game.

SETH ALLEN: I think Coach Buzz always tells us to embrace whatever's in front of us, whether it be a game, a role, anything. I think me and Zach did a great job of just embracing our role coming off the bench. It's hard sometimes. Guys are already getting past their first win, and we come in on our first win trying to keep up with them. They're already loose. It's been tough sometimes, but you just got to fight through it and keep going. We just try to play hard off the bench and just bring energy and excitement to the game.

Our teammates, they know all of us can start like any of us. We play seven, eight guys, so, I mean, anybody, you could start -- we play a lot of guard, so you could really just put anybody in there. So it doesn't really matter who starts. It's about who finishes and who is on top at the end of the game. Each team.

Q. Seth, you said win the media time-outs. That sounds like a Buzz thing, what do you mean by that?
SETH ALLEN: Each game has ten media time-outs. Each four minutes, we just try to win the four minutes. We call them like ATOs, like after time-outs. So, when we come out of the time-outs, we try to win those possessions. There's one possession for them and there's one possession for us, and that's what counts towards an ATO.

So when we talk about winning media time-outs -- so, if it's 16 minutes, and me and Zach are coming in off the bench, when it hits 12 minutes, we want to do better, get more stops before it gets 12 minutes, than the other team. So, instead of it being like, before halftime, let's win, we try to break it into media time-outs. Let's win this media time-out. Let's see good we can do this media time-out.

Q. So it's the time in between not necessarily being on the sideline?
SETH ALLEN: Oh, yeah.

Q. We talked about what it meant to get to the tournament and you said how hungry you are for more. Kind of a silly question, other than advancing, what would a win mean just in terms of direction of the program and for you guys in validation as well?
ZACH LEDAY: I think it would be huge, just for everybody just to keep this run going. It's been a special story. We don't play that many guys. We're small. All of this stuff that's been rumored about us. It's really special, and we just want to keep it going. We just want to play together as long as possible and play as hard as possible for each other, and just be there for one another. So, it would be really special to get wins in this tournament and just keep on going, but we got to start off with this one.

Q. You guys watched film of Wisconsin. What stands out about Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes, is this one of the better post games, two of the better inside players you're going to be facing this year?
ZACH LEDAY: I say they have very unique games. Happ likes to back you down and get you under the basket. He's really good as pivoting and going different ways. He's a good defender as well. Gets a lot of steals. He leads the team in a lot of categories. Hayes is very versatile. He likes to do a lot. Bring the ball up. He can rebound, shoot the mid range to three-pointers. He can get on the glass. I say what's big for us is just keeping them off the glass, contesting our shots, not falling for the moves, and just keeping them off the glass. I think that we'll be fine if we do that.

Q. When you watched the Wisconsin on film, do they remind you of anybody you played with? Is it like playing Virginia, maybe or anybody you dealt with before?
SETH ALLEN: They're similar to Virginia. They're like a Big Ten version of Virginia, kind of. Being that they play slower than most teams, they kind of want to control and play at their own pace. Part of that is how they play. Part of it is, like, the style of play they have. And they have, like, two really good post men, so throwing it in and playing off the post takes patience, and they want to guard you for long, so you can't take quick shots against them.

They're a really tough team, kind of similar to Virginia, except they play a little bit more one-on-one ball than Virginia does. They throw it in in just space and let him go to work whereas Virginia coming off down screens and just try to lull you to sleep a lot.

Q. Is this a -- because of their size and all that, is this a tough match-up. You say oh, I think we'll shoot threes against these guys, it's not going to be too bad? What is your assessment how tough a game this might be for you or not?
SETH ALLEN: I think we just got to go into it playing our game. Part of it, you want to know what the other team does. You want to know how they play, but you can't bend towards their style. You got to just enforce how we play. And we play fast, we play hard, we play against each other, we play smart. So, I think that's really what's most important going into tomorrow night. Are we going to play like Virginia Tech or is Wisconsin going to control the pace, and we're going to play it their style?

Q. Everyone is obviously very excited on Sunday, when you guys got in. What's been the mood of the team like since we last saw you on Sunday? What's it been like at the hotel the last few days?
THE MODERATOR: Everybody is looking at you, Zach.

ZACH LEDAY: You know, we've just been going, going crazy, running up and down the halls -- no, I'm playing. But everybody was very happy when we got in. We wanted to see where we were going. We saw we was going to Buffalo and it was snowing and stuff. That was cool. I'm from Texas, so I don't really see no snow like that.

After we found out where we got in, everybody was all business then. Everybody's been watching film. Even the young boys been watching film, just watching how Wisconsin plays. I think I watched six or seven other games. I watched the Michigan game, like, three times in, like, the past two days. So, I mean everybody is just watching film and just getting ready for the match-up and just trying to get used to tendencies and stuff like that and trying to get an advantage. That's important, trying to get an advantage on your opponent in a short amount of time in a tournament like this. That's what everybody has been doing. That's what I think, so --

THE MODERATOR: Zach, Seth, thanks for your time. Good luck tomorrow.

Joined now by Virginia Tech head coach, Buzz Williams. Coach, welcome to Buffalo. Great to have your team here. Go ahead and open up with questions. If you please raise your hand, we'll get a microphone you to. Please give your name and affiliation before you ask the first question.

Q. Hello, Buzz. I know you've had some days to look at Wisconsin. How do you go about defending big guys like Happ and Hayes, especially for a team that wants to avoid getting in foul trouble?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: Yeah. It will be a constant stress for us. I don't know that we have a simple answer, and I don't know if one answer is sufficient. I think we'll have to do multiple things. Both of those guys are better than our guys. Both of them can get you in foul trouble. Both of them are very good one-on-one scorers. They have three really good one-on-one scorers, but within 15, 16 feet, both of those two guys are really good.

Q. Buzz, you mentioned Sunday night that your job is kind of to get these guys not to be satisfied with the participation trophy and want to hang around a little while. Have you been satisfied with the level of focus that they've had between having a little bit of fun and enjoying the experience and dealing with the task at hand, or will you really have that answer until 9:40 tomorrow night?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: Well, I think the only way to judge it, Norm, is daily. I think their concentration level has been superb. I don't want to be a task master as a coach, relative to not being satisfied, while at the same time, this is a memory of a lifetime for them. So, I hope that what I said didn't come across in a negative way. But I also think that it is part of my job, part of my role, to push them to be their absolute best. And that doesn't mean that we're going to win every game.

But since Sunday night, we had to abort our original travel plan because of the weather. I thought they handled that well. We've become the most diverse program ever, relative to altered travel plans, so they kind of thought it was normal. But our two practices here, and our three film sessions thus far have been outstanding. And I think that things change when you're playing games after spring break, because guys understand the magnitude of what it is, even if they haven't done it. As best they can, they understand that something about this is different, and I think our guys have been really good.

Q. I was just curious as to why you brought Zach and Seth off the bench, what went into that decision, and, more importantly, what has it given you, because us it must have given you something because you stuck with it?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: Well, it started in the right way. We scrimmaged South Carolina on the last Saturday of October, and in the first ten minutes, as you would expect playing a team coached by Frank, Seth got hurt. So we then -- that was on a Saturday. The Thursday before our second scrimmage, which was at George Mason, Zach got an offensive rebound which is rare, and got hit in the head and obviously, they're making movies about concussions now, and so he was out for the next 14 days.

Our first game was the second Friday in November. Seth was healthy by then. Zach wasn't healthy by then. But both had missed a lot of practice, and so it just started, as it would for anybody else. And I think what's happened is Khadim, our freshman center, who starts, was forced into that role, and I think he's handled it fairly well. And it's probably kept Zach out of more foul trouble than we would have anticipated.

For Seth, because he's a ball guard, he can play any position, so it -- we've only suited up eight guys all year long, but the last eight games we've suited up seven, so, there wasn't ever a lot of maneuverability, but over the last eight games there's been zero maneuverability. And as it transpired, Tom, what I mentioned to our team was, I think it was best for our team and it was right in how it started, but as it evolved and morphed into something else, I thought it was a great example of what I want our program to be and that's to be selfless.

So two red-shirt seniors, the two oldest kids on the team, you can argue the two most productive players on the team, the only guys that would be considered in some sort of stretch to get an All Conference vote of some sort, and they're both coming off the bench. And in an unspoken way -- and you're the only one that's ever had the sense to ask -- -I kind of like that I get to answer it on this stage, because I think it speaks to the fabric of what we want to be about.

Q. On a lighter note, we had Coach Huggins in here earlier, and he was talking about the origin of his game-day dress is he was sweating a lot in a suit at halftime and decided I'm going to do what I'm going to do. Your battles with this have been well-documented, and I was wondering if you ever considered going that route?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: Coach is a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. He'll be the next guy that's in the Hall of Fame that's still employed as a coach. There's only three of those left in our world, in college basketball, and he's one of them. Coach can wear wherever he wants to wear. Where I'm from, the way I was brought up, you should always tuck your shirt in, and you should always tie your shoes, and if for some reason you ever get a job that requires a college degree, it's the most respectful thing to start out in a tie. And so it's partly, mostly, just because of how I was raised. And if I had as much equity, and I never will, as Coach Hugs, I might get that company that sponsors him with the pullover, I might do the same thing.

Q. Buzz, you're dealing with a bunch of guys on your team that haven't been in the NCAA Tournament, don't know what it's like. Wisconsin has two guys in Koenig and Hayes that have played in 14 NCAA tournament games and 11 wins. Is that a legitimate concern, or do you think that experience is overblown?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: No. I don't think it's overblown at all. Four of five starters in some capacity or another, have played in a Final Four, played in a National Championship game, played in a Sweet 16. We have a roster full of guys who, tomorrow night, that will be their first time ever playing on a court that has an NCAA blue sticker on it. We can't compare to the job that Coach Ryan and Coach Gar have done, nor the experience that their rosters has.

I think when you look at how Wisconsin has played, what were they, 7-5 when Greg took over? And then it went -- that was December 15th after Corpus Christi, they were 7-5 and they ran it to 9-9, and then they end up in the Sweet 16 and coach Alvarez has to hire him and they go to the Sweet 16. And then they beat Syracuse, they beat Oklahoma, two Final Four teams from last year, in nonconference play. They beat Georgetown. They beat Carolina, didn't they? Played Carolina but lost, right. And then started 10-1 in nonconference play.

I mean, obviously, I've loved Coach Ryan forever and I've known Coach Gard since 15 years ago, but I think the consistency of the program and what they've meant, the Hokies, we're not even in that same sphere.

Q. Buzz, we know you love your football coach?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: You have to introduce yourself, please. When I get fired, I'm going to do that.

Q. You have to wear a suit for that anyway?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: I can wear a pullover.

Q. Was it special for you to meet with Sean McDermott? We saw you got to go to the Bills' facility and what did he tell you that particularly captured your attention?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: Yeah. I have way more football coaching friends than I do basketball coaching friends, and for whatever reason, because of kind of how those relationships started, I've been able to develop really sound relationship us with multiple NFL guys. I love Coach McDermott's story, right? He's 42 and he started in the lowest position you can in Philly for Andy Reid, who's a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, and I thought it would be cool for our guys to see an NFL facility. But the way that it all started, because I don't have a personal relationship with Coach McDermott is, as a former manager, I've always taken great pride in the managers that we have had within our programs, and a former manager from Marquette is the assistant to the head coach. It was the first person that Coach McDermott hired.

And so we now have two guys in the NBA that are former managers, one guy in Major League Baseball and one guy in the NFL, and all of them were awful as managers, but I'm proud of what they've become as adults. So, that's how it all started. It was really cool. I did not expect Coach McDermott to spend time with our team but he said what you think he would have said with more power and gusto because he's an NFL -- he's one of 32 guys in the world that does what he does.

Q. Buzz, having played Wisconsin when you were at Marquette all those years, in preparing for this game, did that help, I guess? Are they pretty much running the same stuff than they did under Beau?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: These two guys can probably answer that better. I do think that it's helped. It was like the Cowboys and Redskins on Thanksgiving day every time Marquette played Wisconsin. There are similarities in what they do, and how they do it. I would say that their practice itineraries are somewhat similar. There are also unique differences. Part of it is because of their personnel. Part of it is probably what Greg is infusing into the program, that is his own beliefs. Not that that would be negative to Coach Ryan, but there's for sure similarities.

Going back and looking at all of my notes and practice plans and all of that stuff in the six times we've played them, I didn't do that at the start because I didn't want that infiltrating my brain as I was studying them for this year. But I looked at it all yesterday, and there are -- I showed our players our practice plans, and see, I've already told you this, and, look, I was saying that in 2012, too. So, there are for sure similarities.

Q. Buzz, I don't need to tell you that you surprised a lot of people when you left Marquette to take on this challenging rebuild. Here you are years three, you're in the NCAA Tournament. Is that time line about what you expected? Are you ahead of schedule?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: Yeah. I don't know. I've never been smart enough to answer that question. Obviously it's been asked a lot. The first thing I would say, Marquette completely changed my children's lives and forever I will be grateful. They hired me -- I don't know many A.D.s and presidents that will hire a head coach with a losing record, particularly a losing record after only one season, particularly when they hire him, and it's eight months removed from him resigning from that one-year losing record.

So, I know it's been maybe said and described in different ways. I've -- in the right way, I want to process it all, because I don't think that it's all me. But all of the things that were written in both of your papers in the Journal Sentinel, I have zero negative to say about anybody, or any day that I was employed at Marquette, incredibly grateful.

The next thing I would say specific to the time line, the time line as of today is 1,090 days, if you were counting at home, and there's no way that you can be an agent of change as a single person in an organization and think that it will ever change. Dr. Sands had been there three months before I was hired, Whit Babcock, our A.D. has been there two months before I was hired. Selfishly, I liked that I was the first major sports hire because they want that to work. But I think that in order to get to this point, in this league that we've competed in -- we finished in last place in year one. That was the fourth consecutive year that they had finished in last place, and multiple media outlets said I committed career suicide.

The thing was, I had a history of people saying that, because that's what had happened when I resigned at New Orleans, and it's always -- not gratifying. It's always another lesson for me that maybe what's written is not completely always the truth. But what can be quantified, other than words, are the hearts of people that care, and what's happened at Virginia Tech is just a lot of people care. That's it.

And the 13 NCAA Tournament games we played at Marquette before I was 40 years old, that happened not because of me, not because of Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder, it's not that. It was a lot of people that cared. That's it. And I've never looked at the job as, well, by this day, we'll be successful, or by this day we'll be successful. This time last year, we were playing in the N.I.T., and I can't tell you how humbled I was by that. It was only the third time in the history of the ACC that there had been an eight game improvement. In the history of, in my opinion, one of the best leagues ever, that there had been an eight game improvement. But it was the first time that that had happened from the last-place team and we did it in our second year.

This year's team we'll only suit up seven and we've made multiple decisions to red-shirt guys because I believe it was right for their life not because we were making a push to go to the NCAA Tournament. So, to be in this position, I've never looked at it on a day basis. I've looked at it on, today, did we do what was right to be sustainable for their lives in the long term? That's it. And it's not me. It's not Seth Allen. He's average at best. He's not received an All Conference vote. Zach LeDay, he's below average at best. He has received one All Conference vote in two years.

So there's 14 other head coaches, so that's 28 opportunities for a vote. He's got one out of 28. So, you -- then how did it work? That's just a lot of people doing a lot of work for the right reasons in the intent of their heart is right.

Q. Hey, Buzz. It's documented that you and Frank Beamer have a great relationship. Have you talked to him since Sunday and has he given new any advice going into this game?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: I love coaches in general, particularly old coaches. Old people seem to think I'm kind of like one of those wind-up toys. You just wind him up and there he goes. Coach has been great to me from the very beginning. I met Coach before my press conference at Virginia Tech, and since he's retired, I would say our relationship has increased by 100 percent and that's because he has nothing to do other than watch "Ellen" every day.

So, I think that he just -- he's more aware of what's going on, and I've been overly kind to him on purpose, because I want somebody to do that to me. If I ever am able to get to that point -- what most people that are retired say, is make sure that you spend more time with your family and love them the way they're deserving of it. And the next thing is, enjoy the moment so because it's so hard to get.

Q. Do you have a second-half outfit in case you sweat through your suit tomorrow?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: I always do. I did it in year one and year two. What I tried to do is incorporate vests, so that the sweating -- I mean this in the right way. It's the silliest thing ever, right? When you get your car fixed, does the mechanic sweat? You know, the guy that builds your house, the carpenter, I think he sweats.

And I know it's funny, and I know I'm not the best looking guy in the world, but I'm just working real hard. That's it, you know? And I know it's turned into such a -- it's beyond silly to me, to be honest. Semi-offensive, right? All I want to do is help our guys as much as I can. If that means I sweat, who cares. That's kind of the way I feel, so I just wear a vest so it doesn't become viral on Twitter.

Q. Buzz, you mentioned Sunday that playing Wisconsin is kind of like playing Virginia. How has that maybe been beneficial to you guys this week maybe in preparation?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: Well, they would be the only team that we've played that's similar in philosophy, relative to pace of play, relative to their defensive thoughts. This Wisconsin team throws it inside much more than this Virginia team, but that's personnel-specific. Last year, Virginia's team threw it inside much more. This will be -- Wisconsin's played 34 games, and three of their 34 games, they've had 70 possessions, three. This will be our 30 -- we played 32 games, and we've had 15 games that have had 70 or more possessions. The three games for Wisconsin that have had 70 possessions in it were all in overtime. And so just that in and of itself is very UVA like.

You know, when we played Virginia the second time, they were -- pace-of-play relative-wise -- I don't say any of this to be negative -- they were the second slowest team in the country. Well, we're not fast, but we're for sure, not comfortable, let's play it real slow and walk it up. And so I think that will be a lot of the game. At UVA they just destroyed us on the offensive glass. When you're playing a team that's as slow as they are, when they get a second opportunity, well you're just going to guard them for 30 more seconds. And their offense helps their defense, right? A team that plays as slow as they do, their defense is always going to be good, because on offense, they hold the ball, sort of, if that's the right way of saying it.

And so I just told our guys, it's -- UVA, they just happen to wear red, and they have really good players that have experience this time of the year in winning.

Q. Bill Dyer is here from the athletic communications office of Virginia Tech. He can assist you --
BUZZ WILLIAMS: Why don't we bring Dyer up and let them ask questions of Dyer. You sweat too, Dyer.

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