I already posted my main story on the Johnson-Weaver news conference. Now, here’s a second story.
BLACKSBURG — James Johnson has some recruiting to do, but not with the current Virginia Tech men’s basketball players.
The Hokies were glad to see a familiar face become their new head coach. Johnson, who was a Tech assistant coach the past five seasons, was named Seth Greenberg’s successor Tuesday.
“I really have a lot of faith and belief in this guy, and so do my teammates,” point guard Erick Green said Tuesday.
All eight current members of the team will return next season, said Green.
Green, who made the All-ACC second team as a junior this year, might have transferred if he didn’t like the person Tech hired. And he might not have been the only one.
“Now that Coach Johnson got the job, there’s no question I’ll be back, and I know my teammates will be back,” Green said. “It’s exciting. He’s the right fit.
“We’re going to carry ourselves with a different swagger because Coach Johnson, the way he carries himself, he’s confident, very confident.”
The future of the two recruits Greenberg signed last fall is less certain.
Marshall Wood of Rustburg High School has been granted his release, said Tech athletic director Jim Weaver.
Wood said after Greenberg was fired last week that he wanted his release so he could explore his options but still might opt to attend Tech.
Weaver said Tuesday that the other signee, Montrezl Harrell of Hargrave Military Academy, has not asked for his release.
But it would not be a surprise if Harrell asked for his release too. Green hopes to convince Harrell to stick with Tech.
“Hopefully I can get him up here to give this school one more chance,” Green said. “I’ve been talking to him the last couple of days. … He loves Tech, but the coaching change kind of changed his mind. And I don’t blame him. But now that we’ve got James Johnson on board, and I think Montrezl is a fan of him, … I think he’ll really consider another shot at this.”
Johnson hopes to persuade both signees to attend Tech.
The team had recommended that Tech hire Johnson, said Green.
Weaver and associate athletic director Tom Gabbard met with the squad after firing Greenberg on April 23. Green met with Gabbard later in the week.
Weaver said he considered the opinions of the players “very strongly.” One reason he hired Johnson was in hopes of keeping the players and signees on board.
“It was really important to keep the players here that we had, and we also feel it’s important to try our level best to keep the recruits,” Weaver said. “Since James was so involved in both of those processes, I think that was a factor that weighed in his favor.”
Johnson said he had “some hand” in recruiting most of the players on the team.
“Having that comfort with him, knowing this is the same Coach Johnson who recruited you, it definitely is a sigh of relief,” forward Jarell Eddie said. “It’s like a head start in a new era.”
When Johnson was in charge of practice a few times, the players liked his approach.
“Everything we did in drills had a winner and a loser, and the loser had to run,” Eddie said. “With this [hire], I think it’s just going to give us a spark of energy, a spark of competitiveness.”
Johnson said his offensive approach will be to “get up and down the floor” to get easy baskets, which was also Greenberg’s philosophy.
Like Greenberg, Johnson will also stress defense.
“If you ain’t playing defense, you’re not going to play for James Johnson because that’s one thing he takes pride in,” Green said.
The Hokies had a losing record this year, snapping a string of five straight winning seasons.
“We really believe that Coach Johnson will turn this thing around,” Green said.
Green likes the 40-year-old Johnson’s personality.
“He’s a younger guy. He understands us,” Green said. “He just knows how to have fun. It’s not all about basketball.”
Weaver was on hand when Johnson met with the team Tuesday.
“The maturity level, his communicative skills, his knowledge of the game and his relationship with our players reinforces even more that he’s our guy,” Weaver said.
Andy Bitter contributed to this report.