November 14, 2014
Tech notches win in Buzz Williams debut as head coach
By Jimmy Robertson
12F
Maryland-Eastern Shore (0-1) 202646
Virginia Tech (1-0) 304171
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 6,191
  • High Points: 15 - Malik Muller, Justin Bibbs
  • High Rebounds: 8 - Shane Henry

BLACKSBURG – The Buzz Williams Era at Virginia Tech tipped off on a positive note, as the Hokies got 15 points each from freshman Justin Bibbs and redshirt freshman Malik Muller en route to a 71-46 non-conference victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Friday night at Cassell Coliseum.

The game marked the season opener for both squads. Tech moved to 10-1 in home openers since joining the ACC and 49-3 overall in home openers at Cassell Coliseum.

It was a near-perfect debut for Williams and the Hokies, whose roster features just five players who played last season. Tech shot better than 50 percent (52.2), forced the Hawks into a wretched shooting night (27.7 percent), and perhaps most impressively, protected the ball judiciously, committing just six turnovers.

In fact, the Hokies went 32 minutes and 15 seconds before committing their first turnover, one that came when freshman Satchel Pierce was whistling for traveling underneath the basket.

Outside of some subpar free-throw shooting (17-of-29) and getting edged on the boards (35-33), there was little for Williams to complain about in this opener.

“I’m thankful to be here,” Williams said when asked what it was like to win his debut as Tech’s coach. “I’m not dodging it at all, but there is a lot of emotion and a lot of decisions and a lot of people moving across the world. Not me, but parents who trusted the previous staff. Those kids signed here and those coaches did an unbelievable job. You look at Justin Bibbs and Jalen Hudson [who signed under James Johnson], two really good players, and then Satchel [Pierce] and Med [Ahmed Hill] signed without visiting here. Shane Henry signed late, late. Seth, I had never met. There were a lot of decisions, a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of emotion that lead up to Nov. 14.

“When it’s your first one, it means a lot to a lot of different people.”

Tech never trailed, jumping out to a 7-0 lead and never looking back. Bibbs, a freshman from Dayton, Ohio, scored nine of the Hokies’ first 18 points, and Tech went on to lead 30-20 at halftime.

Bibbs then scored six of the Hokies’ first eight points of the second half, enabling Tech to open a 39-22 lead – its biggest of the game at the time. The Hokies would go on to lead by as many as 28 points.

Bibbs was the only one of the four true freshmen to start, and he hit 6-of-10 from the floor, including 1-of-2 from beyond the 3-point arc. He also hit both of his free-throw attempts.

“I didn’t know I was going to be starting,” Bibbs said. “In practices, I just go hard every single time. I just want to play hard whenever I get a chance.

“Devin [Wilson] and my teammates helped me a lot. They kept going to the paint, and they dish it out to me when I’m open. They make it easier for me.”

“This is his third year of living away from home,” Williams said. “He lived in a prep school [in Florida] for two years a long way from where he grew up [in Ohio]. His mom and dad are very quiet leaders, very good, wholesome people. Bibbs is not emotional. He’s not caught up in a lot of hype. He’s going to do exactly what you tell him to do, and then, he’s going to come back tomorrow and do exactly what you tell him to do. I think he lives like that. He’s that was as a student and as a person.

“I don’t know if I would be strong enough as a dad to let any of my children leave home at the conclusion of their sophomore year. That’s really hard. But in some ways, I think there is some residual effect to that, and I think it was evident tonight. That’s not to say he’s going to play this way every night, but you have to be really mature to start as a freshman.”

Williams played all four true freshmen and redshirt freshman Malik Müller, who scored 15 points in his Tech debut. Müller hit all five of his shot attempts, including two 3-pointers and both free-throw attempts.

Müller sat out last season after not meeting NCAA eligibility requirements. He went to every Tech home game, which made it hard.

“Oh my goodness, I was crazy nervous,” Müller said of his debut. “Especially since I sat the whole year, and then knowing so many people who were coming to the game. You’re just thinking about how you want to play good or at least not play bad. Every time, I thought about it, my heart started racing.

“I wasn’t afraid of playing, though. I was out the whole year, and this is what I worked for the whole year. So I was pretty confident.”

The Hokies return to action next Wednesday when they face the Liberty Flames at Cassell Coliseum. The game tips off at 7 p.m.

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