There is no denying that the last four seasons have been one of the worst four-year runs in the history of Virginia Tech basketball. However, this season has allowed Buzz Williams to build a foundation that will allow the program to rise up the ACC standings very quickly especially since the talent level in Blacksburg will increase a lot next season along with Virginia Tech’s depth.
The biggest thing that Buzz Williams was able to do this season was develop these players into hard workers and build a hard-working culture that Virginia Tech basketball desperately needed. Williams was helped a lot by two seniors who didn’t have great careers statistically, but have left a hard-working, unselfish impact that will help Virginia Tech improve quickly.
Christian Beyer and Will Johnston will leave a legacy that is much greater than former Virginia Tech stars like Malcolm Delaney and Erick Green left, yet they will never receive the credit they deserve for it.
Throughout the season, Beyer and Johnston were the Hokies’ two hardest working players though Malik Muller and Ahmed Hill started pushing them at the end of the season. The Hokies became a harder-working team throughout the season because of the leadership and effort of Johnston and Beyer.
Christian Beyer might be undersized and not the most talented big man, but the high energy he showed along with his high basketball IQ forced Buzz Williams to play him. Williams wants to see his big men have the same high energy and IQ that Beyer has and Williams used Beyer to send that message to Shane Henry and Satchel Pierce.
Over the course of the season, Pierce and Henry started working harder and making smarter plays largely due to the example set by Christian Beyer and the teaching from Buzz Williams. Williams was able to rely on Beyer not only to help the Hokies be more competitive but also to give Henry and Pierce a player to look up to.
Meanwhile, Will Johnston gave the Hokies great leadership on the floor and showed the younger Virginia Tech guards what Buzz Williams wanted them to do. Throughout many early games, Johnston was a hard-working defensive player that also was consistently hustling and finding space on the offensive floor.
Johnston understood the importance of constant motion without the basketball, and that rubbed of on his teammates. In the final few games, the Hokies have seen consistent ball motion that has led to Virginia Tech going over 80 points in games against Duke and Wake Forest.
Even against Miami, the Hokies had most of their guards consistently moving without the basketball and while the shots weren’t falling, they were getting better opportunities. The Hokies have also become a tougher team on defense that can make it hard for teams to score when every player is giving their max effort as shown by their effort against in the 10-point loss to Miami.
If it wasn’t for the Hokies struggling from beyond the arc against Miami, we probably would not be talking about the impact of Will Johnston and Christian Beyer on the program. However, the Hokies wouldn’t have been in this position if it wasn’t for the heart that they played with.
Johnston and Beyer not only worked hard on the court, but also worked hard off the court and in the classroom. Both players were named to the All-ACC Academic Team for the second time in their careers this past season while Beyer has been accepted to UNC-Chapel Hill’s Medical School.
Johnston and Beyer were also leaders in the locker room and role models off the court by staying out of trouble even when the Hokies had issues with Joey van Zegeren. Beyer and Johnston were also two of the few returning players for the Hokies and provided a much-needed veteran presence to help Buzz Williams build good habits into the minds of the new players.
Buzz Williams has been the leader and teacher that the Hokies need to build a quality basketball culture. On the floor, Christian Beyer and Will Johnston led by example and showed the younger players the effort that it takes to have success in the ACC. They showed how hard work can earn you playing time over more talented players that don’t work as hard.
Johnston and Beyer will never receive any honors for their careers, but their examples will help the Hokies develop the next player that will get his number retired at Cassell Coliseum. Christian Beyer and Will Johnston were the heart of the Hokies this season, and their impact has helped build a healthy Virginia Tech basketball program that will be on the rise very quickly in the ACC.
The legacies of Johnston and Beyer will not be written this season, but by the players that they set the examples for and for that, fans will have plenty of reasons to celebrate their careers over the coming years.