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October 25, 2017

Buzz Williams

Charlotte, North Carolina

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams.

Q. You always have such good, I don't know, phrases, sayings, Wednesday wisdoms you call them. I always enjoy them. What are some of the mantras that you go back with this team that have really stuck with your guys, just curious?
COACH WILLIAMS: It's still a little early but inevitably we always go back to a lot of the core things.

I think what we're trying to figure out now is what the identity of our team is going to be, the core values of what we want our program to be, et cetera, et cetera. Those things never change. But the complexion of our team is way different than it was a year ago at this time.

I think it's important specific to how we coach our guys, that we allow them to blossom and grow before we start critiquing and/or changing and/or give them some country sayings to move them in the right direction.

I think we're getting close to that. Our calendar is a little different probably than most coaches that have stood here and how we go about things in September and October.

We're not in a very good rhythm yet. We normally don't hit our stride until later than most. But I also think, without being arrogant, I think that's why we've always finished strong, because of how we handle the fall. So hopefully we'll continue to grow and mature. But we've got a long way to go.

Q. Last season you had two big wins at home against UVA and Duke. How will you continue to succeed going into this season in such tight-knit conference games that will make or break your season?
COACH WILLIAMS: Those two were important. But the other 13 were really important at home, too. I think the margin, every coach would tell you in this league, is razor thin. And I think one thing that we're very grateful for is the groundswell of support that's within our community and within our institution.

There's 229 season tickets left in Cassell as of this morning when I woke up. That's distinctly earlier than when you woke up. So it may be less.

That's 378 percent increase since we got there. So I think, in order to have a chance to be sustainable as a program, you have to have a presence at home. I think we're trending in that direction, and a lot of that has very little to do with our players as much as it does the support of our institution and our community, because playing in Cassell is completely different now than it was upon arrival.

So I think we were 15-2 last year. At some point we need to get to the point where we don't lose at home. And when we're doing that, then we probably have a chance to advance in March.

Q. I know you guys want Chris to come back sooner rather than later, but what does he bring to the team that you guys are able to do differently on the floor night in, night out?
COACH WILLIAMS: We'll have to be really cautious on when he gets back. It's 237 days since he had surgery. I think when God made him, he made him a little different than he made you and I just from looking at you.

His motor is what he does best. And he allows us to play fast in transition. He's arguably the best passer on our team. He's been the best rebounder on our team in the games that he's played.

Both years that he's been there, he hasn't been healthy. And so the most important thing in October, in November, in December is that we continue the rehab and the protection of Chris so that the last half of his career he's healthy in comparison to being (lost audio) --

Q. -- at times during the games, what about you as a head coach?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think when I was young I fed off the energy in the building. I'm getting so old now what it does is we play so late it wakes me up.

I'll tell you what's happened, and our kids don't necessarily have the thought process to articulate it, but the support of their peers has really changed the ambiance in Cassell. That doesn't mean that we're not grateful for the season ticketholders and those that have bought season tickets.

But Cassell Guard is the student section, and I think that as the season ticket base has changed, so has the support of the peers of our players. And kids want to be around kids. Kids want to be supported by kids and that's been monumental in the change within our program.

Q. Justin and Devin earlier said that your team is the group that has said don't shave. We'll be able to understand the 2017-18 highlights comparatively because it will be the year that Coach has hair.
COACH WILLIAMS: That's a good point.

Q. Why the change?
COACH WILLIAMS: It was a bet. It started as a bet. Obviously I won the bet. There were some people that didn't think I could -- or that I had hair or that I could grow hair. And then what transpired as I was growing hair is I realized that of our four children, none of them, the oldest of which is 15, had ever seen me with hair. So I think my children are in favor of me keeping my hair as well, too. We'll just have to see how that transpires.

Q. We've asked several student-athletes this and one or two head coaches. To be successful this year, do you have to raise a trophy? Do you have to have hardware?
COACH WILLIAMS: I don't. That's not the validation that I seek or the validation that I need.

I'm not saying that that's wrong of the coaches or kids that feel like that's important. But the things that I look at on the figurative scorecard of what's important, getting a trophy is not even on that.

Q. So team unity is a very important thing. What do your guys do off the court to help them be unified on the court?
COACH WILLIAMS: I would say we probably spend more time together off the floor than we do on the floor. There's some new rules in the NCAA Power Five leagues that are very restrictive, more restrictive than ever before. You may have heard of those.

But relative to our program, the time that we spend together off the floor, I think, translates in a much more genuine way on the floor. And so as many ways creatively, some of which are not creative, it's just the standard, let's spend time together, but we're constantly trying to think of ways that our guys can spend time together.

And it's not necessarily always as a big unit. Sometimes it's a few assistants and a few players and sometimes it's a few players just with me.

But I think that that chemistry, that symmetry is really important with any team.


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