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Virginia Tech Basketball: Buzz Williams Job at Virginia Tech is a Work in Progress


Buzz Williams will be entering his second year as the Head Coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies, and progress is being made with the rebirth of the Hokies Hoops program.

When Buzz Williams walked onto campus at Virginia Tech he had to know he was facing a tall order in revitalizing a Hokies’ basketball program which had fallen by the wayside.

Williams was the flashy hire Hokie hoop fans wanted. He had the track record of taking teams to the NCAA tournament, and having success once he got there.

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This was the result most Hokie fans wanted from each start of the basketball season, however those expectations usually changed rather quickly.

Last season did not end up in a trip to the NCAA tournament but it was not a total loss. I for one thought in his first season at the helm, Buzz Williams got better results than many could have ever hoped for.

Williams faced extremely tough circumstances throughout the season, but somehow managed to shape the Hokies into his image. An image that is tough, determined and hard working.

The Hokies may have only won 11 total games, but two of those where conference games and the Hokies were projected to have zero conference wins.

Many nights the Hokies were in the games late and really shouldn’t have been lost those games by the slight margins they finished in.

They even took eventual National Champion Duke to overtime in a game that by all rights they should have won. The 11 wins and two conference wins were more than fans had hoped for considering the team Williams was forced to put on the floor.

If I had any doubts about the coaching prowess of Buzz Williams it was answered just by looking at the results he got from an extremely young and severely undersized Hokies’ squad.

Feb 28, 2015; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Buzz Williams gestures from the bench against the Virginia Cavaliers in the first half at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers won 69-57. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

For the majority of the season ,the Hokies started four guards. Buzz Williams only real size was in the form of two big men, one inexperienced and one veteran.

Factor in the veteran Joey Van Zegeren being suspended early in the season, and that equation does not equal an easy coaching task.

However, with all the obstacles the Hokies improved the entire season. I am completely realistic about first season rebuilding projects and improvement is really all you want to see for most of the season.

The progress made by Williams will continue in 2015-16 even with some key components from last year’s team missing.

As I mentioned before, Williams had a veteran big man, Joey Van Zegeren, who was suspended from the Hokies early in the season. Van Zegeren was supposed to be the size Williams was going to build his tough defense around.

It was not to be as Van Zegeren left the program to transfer to Northwestern, an interesting choice as the Wildcats are the Hokies opponent in the ACC/Big Ten challenge on December 1st.

Buzz Williams also lost two other key contributors in leading scorer Adam Smith, who transferred to conference foe Georgia Tech, and Malik Muller who left to play professionally overseas.

Each one of these players were key contributors to the team last year however, I think the loss of Muller will hurt the worst. Muller is the type of player Williams usually likes, tough and a team player. Williams however has an answer for the loss of all three of these contributors.

As any Marquette fan will tell you, get used to the transfers and the JUCO players being a part of the winning strategy.

Buzz has wasted no time in implementing this philosophy in Blacksburg as two transfers and a JUCO player look to take the place of each of the players I mentioned before. How do you replace a proven scorer that led your team in that respect? ‘

Easy, you get a transfer from Maryland in PG Seth Allen. How do you replace toughness and rebounding, you get a transfer from South Florida, and a JUCO transfer as well. Zack Leday and Tyrone Outlaw look to shoulder some of the load down low. I think it is safe to say Buzz Williams is starting to craft a winning lineup.

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  • In crafting this lineup, Williams is also recruiting well in getting highly touted recruited Chris Clarke. When the winning continues in Blacksburg more recruits of this caliber will find their way to a Hokie jersey. I believe with the proper recruits Virginia Tech will climb the ACC ranks.

    There is no doubting the progress Buzz Williams has made in his short time with the Hokies. The key is to keep this progress going in the right direction.

    Williams in my opinion is on the right path to keep this momentum going. The important thing is to realize the process is going to take time. Fans need to be patient and trust the process.

    This season might not be a NCAA tournament appearance, however the win total should go up, and the Hokies should be more of a factor in the conference. I trust Buzz to get the right result, after all he likes his teams to be a group of workman type players, which has worked pretty well for another sport in Blacksburg.

    You never know, maybe Bud Foster will give Buzz Williams his very own “Lunchpail”.

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