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March 10, 2020

Mike Young

Landers Nolley

Jalen Cone

Greensboro, North Carolina

North Carolina - 78, Virginia Tech - 56

THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening statement from Coach.

MIKE YOUNG: There will be better days ahead for the Hokies; I can assure you of that. You guys go ahead.

Q. What about North Carolina's defense made it a tough shooting night for the team?
JALEN CONE: They can shoot the ball really well. Brandon Robinson, we knew coming into the game he was a great shooter, and we gave them some wide open opportunities, so next year that's just something we got to work on on the defensive end is getting to those shooters.

Q. Landers, you guys scored 56 points tonight; 45 of those were scored by freshmen. What does it say about the youth of this group and how do you think that group kind of gelled all year?
LANDERS NOLLEY: We played well together, got better as the season went on, did what we always did. That got us some success early in the season. Hit some rough patches but tried to weather the storm and get back to playing Hokies basketball and we just came up short.

Q. Jalen, you mentioned Brandon Robinson; at that point when he made those two back-to-back 3-pointers, did it feel -- did you see anything specific on that play and did it feel like that was sort of a turning point momentum wise?
JALEN CONE: When he hit those shots he definitely got the arena into it, and he gave their team a lot of energy and momentum, and I think at that moment we should have shut his water off and not let him hit any more and really got some stops. But we failed to do so, and they kept knocking down shots.

Q. Tough shooting night for your team. What about North Carolina's defense made it a tough shooting night, or was it just kind of missing good looks?
LANDERS NOLLEY: Got great looks, just missed some open shots. Shot a couple contested shots, defense was -- they play a pretty good defense. I mean, credit them, they got the win. But we had good opportunities, we just didn't capitalize.

Q. Jalen, I think the team went 5-14 on lay-ups today. Something about their size that when you go in for a lay-up that it's a little nerve-racking in there, or do you have any explanation for why it was so tough to make lay-ups tonight?
JALEN CONE: They are big down there, so when you get down there in the lane they kind of force you to get it up a little higher, but some of those were on me. I'm going to see that in the film to where I actually should have kept my dribble alive and got it out to one of my shooters because they like to crash. But we just weren't knocking down shots that we normally make tonight.

Q. Landers, how much difference, if at all, did kind of the atmosphere make in what was supposed to be a neutral site game but kind of felt like a North Carolina home game?
LANDERS NOLLEY: Great atmosphere for them, great atmosphere for us. I mean we just came to play basketball. The atmosphere was good, it contributed to their run, got them sparked. It was a good atmosphere to play in.

Q. Jalen, you committed to the Hokies a little bit after Mike took the job. What are some of your biggest takeaways from your freshman year? You had some very successful games here as a freshman.
JALEN CONE: I knew Coach Young was a great coach coming in and I liked the style of play, and I knew most importantly he was a winner. He was able to win with the team he had versus bigger teams, so that's the main thing, I wanted to play for a winner and I know we're going to look back on the season and look at our takeaways and this off-season be a different team when we come back.

Q. You guys beat these guys during the regular season. Obviously they didn't have Cole Anthony, but how different a team did they look like feel like tonight?
LANDERS NOLLEY: Different pace, kind of a different style of play, more not really running plays, just good movement, good basketball. It was just a different look.

JALEN CONE: The game was a lot faster. They play faster with Cole on the floor. On our make and miss shots, he's getting the ball at the three-point line and pushing it full speed. So it causes us to have to get back on transition. Last game they really didn't have much transition, but this game they had a lot more with him on the floor and Brandon Robinson shooting the ball well, running the lane lines.

Q. Landers, you finished with 16 wins this year, seven in the ACC. With a young team, how do you view the season and what does that mean for you guys looking ahead to next year?
LANDERS NOLLEY: Great season, great takeaways from it to help us get better for next year. I enjoyed it, playing with the guys. It was fun. I mean we're going to get better in the off-season and come back stronger.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. Take questions for Coach.

Q. You're not only the youngest team in the league but you're the smallest team. Given those circumstances, how would you assess your first season?
MIKE YOUNG: You know what, pretty damned good. Considering what I found on April 8th with good players graduating, 7-13 is never going to be good enough in Blacksburg nor should it be. 16-16 is never going to be good enough in Blacksburg, nor should it be. But to cobble that together and do so with some really quality people and scrap and claw and some great moments, some not-so-great moments, but we're off and running now, if you will. Things are in place. The foundation is in place.

We start back with our spring workouts and it's not new. We have done it. We know what we're looking at now. We know how things are going to operate and how we're going to run. And I am looking forward to that. I'll be honest with you now, there were times I thought I was hanging on for dear life trying to get a little bit more and we did. We had a tough stretch late January, February. This isn't the best league to be young and small in. As many of you that have covered this league for many years, I'm not sure that there's a league in America that's good to be young and small. We're going to look a lot different a year from now, I can assure you of that.

Q. What about North Carolina was a tougher matchup today than when you beat them in January at your place?
MIKE YOUNG: Well, obviously not being in the Castle. It was like being in the Smith Center in there tonight. Bacot and Garrison are just big physical presence type of people, and Cole gives them the opportunity to push the ball at a different pace than what we encountered in our first meeting with Black and Francis playing the point. That's just a different game. And that's not a knock on Leaky; I think Leaky is a terrific player, but that's not his natural spot and he doesn't move as briskly up after a made shot, after a missed shot, what have you.

And I think Brandon Robinson has had really a nice year for them. I thought going into our first meeting he was their best perimeter shooter. I certainly feel that way coming out. That's difficult for any of us to lose two front-line guys like that, to have them on the shelf as they were in the first meeting, so there were a lot of things that went into it.

Q. You heard me say 45 of your 56 points come from freshmen. You mentioned the crowd, the Smith Center atmosphere. How do you think your young guys handled the ACC Tournament this week?
MIKE YOUNG: You know what, you know, fine. We're still, we're hanging on, we just can't put a couple of stops together, we can't get a couple of shots down and we're trying like crazy to get Cone and others behind some things. All of those experiences, I go back to Maui, Michigan State and playing that terrific Dayton team and all of these experiences that we have had throughout the year will benefit us greatly. That can be overwhelming, that can be intimidating for young people. I thought they acquitted themselves quite nicely throughout the year, I really did.

Q. You had some momentum going into halftime.
MIKE YOUNG: Yeah, we did.

Q. You started the second half with seven straight empty possessions, and I think you only scored on two of your first 12.
MIKE YOUNG: I recall. I recall.

Q. Just your thoughts about what happened to the offense?
MIKE YOUNG: Well you've got to score. I mean, you've got to score the basketball. I can remember three of the first seven, four of the first seven. There was a quick shot in there, I'll go back and look at it tonight, tomorrow morning and I'm going to -- I know I'll say that was a kid that we want shooting the basketball, and it was a rhythm shot, it was a practice shot, he just missed it. Certainly North Carolina's defense had something to do with it, but as I said earlier, you put so much pressure on your defense -- I haven't that a lot in my career. You put so much pressure on your defense when you don't score it. At some point the levy breaks and you got a problem against, you know, I think a more explosive North Carolina team here in the last two, three weeks than we have seen to this point.

Q. When you go into game that on paper is a neutral site but in reality is a home game for North Carolina, how does that impact your preparation? Did it affect the execution at all?
MIKE YOUNG: You know, somebody does those probabilities, you know, and I think going into Saturday's game I think our probability to play North Carolina down here was not very good. That's my luck this year. We get that, but, you know, certainly special to be here, Tobacco Road, Greensboro and to play the Tar Heels and see Coach Smith compete against, pardon me, Coach Williams, and compete against Coach Williams again, we'll look forward to wherever we go next year. This is a special event and it was a treat to be a part of it.

Q. 29 percent from the field; was that a lot of bad looks because of their defense, good looks that just weren't falling?
MIKE YOUNG: Let me go back and look at it. I thought we had great shots. Now we had a couple, the environment, we haven't had very much of that at all through out the year. We had a couple of -- we had a terrible turnover. We weren't aware of the shot clock. The awareness of the shot clock offensively is every bit as important as the defensive end, and we had a couple of cracks at it and we were looking for something a little bit better. I would say when it's all said and done, go back and watch it, a combination of the two.

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