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March 22, 2019

Buzz Williams

Kerry Blackshear Jr.

Ahmed Hill

San Jose, California

Virginia Tech - 66, Saint Louis - 52

MODERATOR: We have Ahmed Hill and Kerry Blackshear, Jr., joining us along with Coach Williams.

Q. For the guys, congratulations after the losses the last couple of years in the first round. What does it mean to you guys to taste victory tonight?
AHMED HILL: It felt amazing. We know there's still more work to do on our end, but getting the first one out of the way feels very good.

KERRY BLACKSHEAR, JR.: Winning in this tournament is like very hard, no matter what team you're playing, no matter what seed you are, all that's thrown out the window. We've known that for the past two years, and this one didn't change my mind about that. And it was a battle from start to finish.

Q. For both of you guys, having Justin back out there, what kind of lift does that give you?
KERRY BLACKSHEAR, JR.: 5 is a great member of this team on and off the floor. He's been our engine for the past four years. That's my roommate; so I was glad to see him out there with me having a chance to play in March the last season. Just his poise I think was a great presence on both ends of the floor tonight, and that was big for us.

AHMED HILL: I would say the same. The way he handled the pressure, took a lot of pressure off us guys that don't normally handle the ball. It was great having him out there. He sparked us with energy and everything. So it was great.

Q. Guys, in terms of your defense, what did you think you guys did to make it a pretty tough shooting night for Saint Louis?
AHMED HILL: We just came out there and wanted them to shoot long contested threes, not let them get paint touches. I think we did a good job of it. The second half we could have cleaned up a little bit more, tried to stop them on the offensive boards more.

But I think we did a pretty good job. We need to tighten it up, though.

KERRY BLACKSHEAR, JR.: Our defense is predicated on preventing paint touches. I think we did a good job overall of that. I think that's what helped us a bit in that area. Just staying locked in with energy, about having each others' back, being in gaps, being able to take charges when we have the opportunity. That was big for us to prevent some of those drives and easy layups.

Q. How aware were you guys of the fact that three double-digit seeds had won earlier in the day, and did that heighten awareness at all for you guys about upset chances?
KERRY BLACKSHEAR, JR.: I think seeing all those games we got like a feel for the environment of the tournament. We definitely didn't want to be one of those teams, but we definitely were locked into our game. We knew what we needed to do. Our coaches did a really good job of preparing us all throughout this week. So we just wanted to stay locked into the moment.

Q. Offensively what got you guys clicking in the first half, and then what happened in the second half when you guys only had the four baskets?
AHMED HILL: First half, I think we did an excellent job of carrying the ball, getting a lot of paint touches. We drove, played for one another.

Second half, they put a lot of pressure on us. And we need to stick to that more, just getting the ball and being more poised. But the first half I thought we did a great job of sharing the ball and just getting to the paint and taking our kind of shots.

KERRY BLACKSHEAR, JR.: Like he said, the poise was a big factor, everybody playing for one another, the pace, being able to get rebounds and run. I think that's what started a lot of the layups we got in the first half, being able to get rebounds, turnovers and push the ball. Second half we didn't do that as well.

MODERATOR: Anything else for the players? We'll let those guys go and open it up for Coach.

Q. Buzz, congratulations. You've accomplished a lot in your five years at Tech. Do you feel like getting an NCAA Tournament win is kind of the final piece, the final brick of accomplishments there, what you were trying to do here at Tech?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: I don't think that I was -- upon arrival that I was smart enough to have a plan other than to just be better the next day than I was the previous day. I don't think that the collective thought of the culture of our program is to have a PowerPoint presentation on what our plan would be.

I think what we've done speaks to the character of the parents of these kids. I think what we've done speaks to the character of our staff and their work ability, work ethic ability.

But I also think that it's not just this group, I think it's all of the staff members and all of the players that have been a part of the program from the very beginning. I don't think in any organization, whether it's athletics or not, that you lose because of one reason or you win because of one person. I think it's everybody pulling in the same direction. The support of our administration, the support of our community, all of those things are big pieces to the puzzle.

But I don't think that five years and one day ago today that I was like, yeah, on this day we're going to win our first NCAA Tournament game. I'm not -- I'm not smart enough to think like that. But I like to work and I like to wake up early, and for whatever reason, people that are of the same ilk I'm attracted to and they're attracted to me. And I think that helps.

Q. Buzz, what did you think of Justin's play tonight, and to get 27 minutes out of him his first game back, how important is that for him to build on?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: It's hard for me to quantify the peace that I have when 5's on the floor. Statistically I thought he was okay. But when the ball is in his hand, I feel like he's going to make the right decision for Virginia Tech.

I didn't go into the game, like I said yesterday, having, you know, at this moment in time he'll play and he can play this long. We wanted to do whatever we could to win the game, and how was it that he could help us win the game, and I think he was a big part of that.

Paul, what's up? Thanks for coming. Did you say hello to my wife?

Q. Buzz, it looked like you were maybe making some notes in the box score or circling stuff, and I wonder if you could share some of your thoughts.
BUZZ WILLIAMS: Yeah. Eclectic, weird, whatever adjectives you would have. We don't study much on the box score. We call them white board stats. It's nine different categories that we study, nine different things that we emphasize to our team. Maybe it's a by-product of some of the numbers that are on the box score, but I don't like to have too much of an opinion in post game because I'm so emotionally bankrupt, I like to have facts. So I just like to study that stuff before all the smart people ask me questions.

Q. Can you share some of the facts that you got there?
BUZZ WILLIAMS: Yeah, so K mentioned it. We referred to -- if we're only talking about offense when the ball gets to the paint off the pass or the bounce, that's a paint touch. And then, you know, the NBA lane is one foot wider on both sides. And in our practice facility, that's painted on the floor.

And defensively is what I'm talking about now, we call that a box touch. So if the opponent gets it to the box off the pass or the bounce, that is a box touch. And so it's just stuff that I studied when I was young, what the field goal percentage is offensively when the ball touches the paint prior to a shot, and then defensively, what is your defensive field goal percentage when the ball touches the box prior to a shot.

So everything else kind of is a derivative of that. If the ball doesn't touch the box, then you weren't in rotation. If the ball does touch the box, obviously you are in rotation. And so the next layer to that fact that we study is the contested three percentage. We changed how we play defensively last year with nine regular-season games to go, and we've just kind of built from that. So box touch percentage is really important, contested three percentage is really important, and then defensive rebound percentage is really important.

And I think maybe ironic is not the right word, but those three categories were the difference for us tonight specific to the roster of Saint Louis. If you look at what they had success with this season, they're the fifth best offensive rebounding team in the country. Well, most of the time, if you get an offensive rebound, it's because rotation was forced, and so now they have inside position.

And how they were scoring so much in the second half was I think they had eight offensive rebounds. So the ball got to the box. Virginia Tech is in rotation. The shot goes up. And because of the complexion of our roster, we're going to be in a bind.

And so maybe that answers some of your questions. I could talk for a long time, but I don't want it to come across in a condescending way.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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