It wasn’t supposed to be a productive season at all for Josh Pastner is his first year with the Yellow Jackets, at least not in the win-loss column. Things turned out a little differently.
As it usually goes with preseason predictions, lists and rankings, once the games are played all of that goes out the window.
When Georgia Tech hired Josh Pastner away from Memphis last April, Yahoo’s Pat Forde called the hire “confusing.” The AJC’s Mark Bradley basically tagged Pastner as the next Paul Hewitt, but did leave room to be proven wrong.
In a bit of a blind squirrel moment, I felt rather at ease with the hire and said as much in a column I wrote entitled “Georgia Tech’s Pastner hire a good one, plain and simple.” That’s because it did appear “plain and simple.” Not to brag, but being right has been a point of joy this entire season.
When the Yellow Jackets needed overtime to beat NCAA Division II Shorter University out of Rome, it looked like the predictions that Tech wouldn’t win a single ACC game would pan out.
More from Yellow Jacked Up
- Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball: Yellow Jackets find out opponent for Big Ten-ACC Challenge
- Georgia Tech Football: What the new ACC scheduling format means for the Yellow Jackets
- Georgia Tech gets six new commits to 2023 class after official visits
- Georgia Tech hosts a plethora of 2023 recruits this weekend
- Dontae Smith slated for big season in 2022
A look back at the season, however, reveals that Shorter had senior Phil Taylor, who led all NCAA players in points-per-game for a good while this season, and racked up more postseason DII honors than we have room to list. It also reveals the coaching skill of Josh Pastner.
The 2016-17 season did more than remind us that Josh Pastner is a great basketball coach. It showed us the talent that was laying dormant at Georgia Tech, just waiting for an energetic coach to reveal it.
Josh Okogie was named a member of the ACC All-Freshman team, and for his efforts coaching up one of the most inexperienced teams in college basketball to a record 17 home wins, Josh Pastner was named ACC Coach of the Year.
Georgia Tech beat VCU on the road in overtime, then took down No. 9 North Carolina, an eventual Final Four team. Tech didn’t stop there, however, taking down No. 6 Florida State and No 14 Notre Dame in consecutive games. Both of those teams won at least one NCAA Tournament game.
Near the end of the season, the Yellow Jackets looked tired, and gave us some games they should have won. The mini-skid cost Tech their long-held spot as a bubble team, but then the NIT came calling. It turned out to be a near-perfect gig.
The Wreck rambled through blue blood Indiana, hot-shooting Belmont and a very talented Ole Miss squad to make the NIT quarterfinals in New York. Next the Jackets took down a red-hot Cal State Bakersfield team at Madison Square Garden to make their first NIT final since 1971.
On Thursday night, Georgia Tech’s magic finally ran out in an ugly 88-56 loss to TCU, but finished 21-16 and picked up eight ACC wins on the season. That’s exactly eight more conference wins than even Tech administrators told Josh Pastner he was expected to have this year.
Georgia Tech’s season was an absolute success, and the NIT run could only be counted as a positive for recruiting. It was likely even better for the program than a play-in or first round NCAA Tournament loss due to all the extra TV exposure and practice time.
Things are definitely looking up on the Flats in terms of basketball, and the energy Josh Pastner and his scrappy, inexperienced bunch of “no names” brought the fans in Atlanta this season was undeniable. The next few years at McCamish Pavilion should be interesting to watch.