Josh Pastner’s surprising first season as Georgia Tech men’s basketball coach ended with an 88-56 loss to TCU in the championship of the NIT on Thursday, March 30, at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The Yellow Jackets, picked by many to finish at the bottom of the ACC, finished with a 21-16 record and only their second trip to the NIT finals in school history.
Pastner, who was hired in April 2016 to rebuild the Tech program, was named the 2017 ACC Coach of the Year after leading the team to eight conference wins, including victories over three Top 25 teams, with a ragtag squad inherited from fired coach Brian Gregory.
“From where we started to where we are now, these guys have been just unbelievable,” Pastner said after Tech’s NIT loss. “I promise you, if you’ve seen us in the beginning, and to be playing in this final game, it’s miraculous. And I’m so happy for these guys. Obviously, this is not the ending we wanted. But I’m not going to allow it to steal the joy in the type of season we had and the amount of overachievement we’ve had. These guys have just been crazy good.”
Georgia Tech cut its way through the NIT with victories over Indiana, Belmont, Mississippi and Cal State-Bakersfield before losing to TCU, which started on a 20-3 run and scored 19 consecutive points over 10 minutes in the second half to put the game away.
Although Tech is losing senior point guard Josh Heath and forward Quinton Stephens, the team is expected to return its top three scorers: Josh Okogie, Ben Lammers and Tadric Jackson.
After reigniting excitement in the fan base, Pastner has a successful first season to build on.
The 39-year-old Jewish coach is scheduled to be the speaker at the Jewish Business Network, Midtown Atlanta’s business breakfast May 10. The new program of Chabad Intown aims to serve the Jewish business community with networking opportunities and continuing education inspired by Jewish thought.