The Yellow Jackets fell in a heartbreaker to Pittsburgh in the ACC Tournament’s first round, and likely saw their big dance hopes crumble, but that shouldn’t matter one bit.
Georgia Tech (17-14, 8-10 ACC) was considered a solid bubble team for the last several weeks of the regular season, but lost a few “shoulda won” games down the stretch, then fell 61-59 in a heartbreaker to Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament‘s first round.
Sure it hurt. The last loss hurt bad, but it only felt so painful because Pastner and his scrappy, underdog Yellow Jackets gave fans hope that never should have existed in the first place.
It’s always frustrating when the bar is raised by a team that supposedly had no business being anywhere near the NCAA Tournament for several years, and then falls short so doggone close in the end. Often in those situations, success becomes a detriment, and whitewashes the short term memories of fans and pundits.
When he was hired, Tech administrators told Josh Pastner that he should be okay with not winning an ACC game in his first season, and that they were okay with it too.
Truth be told, Fans would have been happy with 17 scrappy losses, and a few respectably close ACC failures, but nobody had to settle for that this season, getting the exact opposite.
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Back in April of 2016, I wrote a column calling the Pastner hire a “good one,” because it just felt like a fit. The past season proved this blind squirrel right, and the found nut kept feeding all season. It was quite tasty at that, especially as more prominent experts seemed baffled.
Instead of moral victories in 2016-17, Josh Pastner and his left for dead, lame duck squad gave the Georgia Tech family as quality a season as any other team outside the top-25.
The truth is, Georgia Tech is at least two years ahead of schedule in the rebuild process under first-year head coach Josh Pastner and Jackets fans, players, and athletics administrators should have been more than satisfied enough over a month ago to last the rest of the season and beyond.
Fans shouldn’t let Georgia Tech’s overachievement, and eventual shortfall break their hearts. Instead, everyone should savour the fact that their rebuild won’t be painful or embarrassing.
One of the youngest, most inexperienced teams in all the NCAA just won eight games in the ACC, and almost made the NCAA Tournament.
Moving on from the sting of defeat, and the thought of what almost was, realize that Tech will likely get an NIT bid, and be one of the most dangerous teams in that tournament. 20 wins is still a possibility for this Tech team, and just the thought of that should give fans chills.
If Josh Pastner does what he did at Memphis, and this time with a better program in his pocket, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets should be a contender in the ACC, and beyond, for years to come.