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May 2, 2012

Johnson The Right Hire For Weaver, VT

The former Virginia Tech men's basketball coach, Seth Greenberg, was fired April 24 because athletic director Jim Weaver didn't like a few characteristics of the program.

But Weaver's new man has the right mix in the eyes of the boss.

During yesterday's press conference welcoming James Johnson as the Hokies' new coach, Weaver spoke about a few differences that make Johnson the right man for the job.

During the press conference announcing Greenberg's firing, Weaver said the decision wasn't about wins and losses and just one NCAA Tournament appearance in nine seasons.

"I want to change the leadership such that the person at the top of the program has the same kind of family environment our other programs have," Weaver said last week. "It became crystal clear to me last week we didn't have that."

But yesterday, Weaver said Johnson has the right mix of what was missing.

"I believe you hire the right person at the right moment in time," Weaver said. "I felt the best person for the job at the moment in time is James. One of the primary reasons we felt that was because he was actively involved in the recruiting process in some way, shape or form."

Johnson's involvement landed the Hokies four-star forward Montrezl Harrell, No. 82 in the Rivals150 and three-star forward Marshall Wood.

But since Greenberg's departure, both have expressed the desire to look around. Johnson's first objective will be to get both to stay with the Hokies, which won't be easy.

Harrell seems to have the better possibility to stay, but Wood's camp has said Wood is interested in attending prep school should he decide Virginia Tech isn't the best option.

Johnson did say that he wants players committed to the program. That said, it's unclear how much persuasion he'll do with Harrell and Wood if they aren't fully committed.

"We feel like they're part of our basketball family now," Johnson said. "We're definitely gonna sit down and address the situation, but also, we want guys who are excited about being at Virginia Tech, just like the guys in the program now and any of the other recruits I intend to recruit."

At the same time, Johnson will also have to make sure the current players on the roster stay committed.

Early indications are that the majority are in favor of Johnson's hire, based on a number of social media posts on Facebook and Twitter, such as forward Cadarian Raines' tweet Monday after news of Johnson's hire broke: "Throwing a party tonight. It's a great day to be a #hokie."

Though Johnson has been a proven assistant since 1995, this is his first opportunity as a coach. He did joke in yesterday's press conference that he coached one game because the head coach of the team he was with was ejected from the game.

It's also unclear what will change, if anything, with the Hokies on the court. Johnson has a defensive background, extending to his playing days at Division III Ferrum College, when he was a three-time defensive player of the year.

But Weaver says he's confident Johnson is the right person. He might not have been any time before, but at this moment in time, he is.

"In order to play, you have to have players," Weaver said. "We felt like it was really important to keep the players here that we had. We also feel it's important to try our very best to keep the recruits or the new signees coming to Virginia Tech. Since James was involved in both of those processes, I think that was a factor that weighed in his favor."



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