ATLANTA – When Josh Pastner took over the Georgia Tech basketball program, he knew he was jumping into a massive rebuild project. How much of a task… well, that was the big question. Early onlookers projected a long road back to credibility.
“I had people see our workouts in April and in the summer, and obviously in the preseason, and they were like ‘Coach, you may not win three, you may not win five games the whole entire year,’ Pastner told John Fricke and Hugh Douglas on “The Morning Show” on 92-9 The Game Tuesday.
Pastner’s Jackets have exceeded early expectations, winning triple the notion from those prognostications, and at 15-10 are firmly sitting on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
“Here’s what I would tell you,” Pastner said about Georgia Tech’s run toward the field of 68. “It’s Feb. 14. For everybody to be talking about Georgia Tech, even talking about the NCAA Tournament on Feb. 14 of 2017; Year 1 of a major rebuild job, especially where we started back in April.
“After I saw our first workout and came on your show… I was sweating. To even be talking about that now, it’s a modern miracle, it could be Eighth Wonder of the World. It’s really surreal to even be discussing that. That’s a credit to our young men, that’s a credit to our guys, that’s a credit to having them buy in and understanding about team and team and team.”
Team was a recurring theme during Pastner’s discussion with Fricke and Douglas. The Yellow Jackets’ front man preached assists (Georgia Tech currently ranks fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 15.5 assists per game) and field goal percentage defense (the Jackets rank second in the ACC and 17 in the country with a 39.2-percent opponents field-goal percentage) and a number of aspects that focused on the team aspect of winning games, not the individual player.
“We don’t have any guys that can run isolation plays, or clear-outs,” said Pastner. “We’ve got to do everything through a team. We’ve become a good team through team unity, the bond of team. However, for us to keep moving forward we’re going to have to go from a good team to a great team, and that’s to be determined. We’ll see.”
According to CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm, Georgia Tech is one of the last four teams in the tournament and would play as an 11-seed in the South if the bracket was set today. That’s not the case though.
Tech still has six games left on its regular-season slate – road trips to Miami, 25th-ranked Notre Dame and Syracuse and home contests against Syracuse, N.C. State and Pitt. Combine those six games with the ACC Tournament – where the Yellow Jackets are likely going to have to make a decent run – and an NCAA Tournament berth is far from a lock.
LISTEN to Pastner’s entire conversation with “The Morning Show” here: