You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

ACC coaches heap praise on Georgia Tech, Josh Pastner


When Georgia Tech stunned the ACC on New Year’s Eve by upsetting North Carolina 75-63, Tar Heels coach Roy Williams’ post-game comments kept returning to how disappointed he was in the way his team played. Looking back Monday, he acknowledged he’d made something of a mistake.

“I was really so frustrated about the way we played down there that day,” Williams said on the ACC teleconference. “I didn’t give them enough credit.”

There was time and opportunity to dole out credit Monday to the team that has become the surprise of the ACC. Williams was among several coaches offering their praise of the Yellow Jackets and coach Josh Pastner for their massive exceeding of expectations this season.

“They’ve had a fantastic year,” Williams said. “It’s shown. I’m hoping they make the NCAA tournament.”

After beating Syracuse Sunday, Tech is now 16-11 overall and 7-7 in the ACC, good for a tie for ninth in the conference. The Jackets, who play N.C. State Tuesday night at McCamish Pavilion, were picked to finish 14th in a preseason media poll. More dire predictions projected that Tech would go 0-18.

“I think they’re one of the really great stories, not just for the conference, but in college basketball,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

He called Tech an example of what can happen when teamwork, player development and, in his words, “really good coaching” come together.

“Josh has done a great job with his staff and it’s a great story,” Krzyzewski said.

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, whose team will play Tech Sunday in South Bend, Ind., stuck with his declaration, made first after the Jackets beat the Irish Jan. 28, that the Jackets are an NCAA tournament team.

“I think Josh has done a fabulous job,” Brey said. “He’s done some really unique things on both ends of the floor. With what they’re doing with their triangle stuff offensively is a difficult preparation. It’s very, very hard to guard. And then the changing zone defenses and then you’ve got the rim protector in (Ben) Lammers back there, they’re hard to score against. They’re just a really tough preparation and it certainly isn’t a fluke.”

Coaches were particularly enamored with Lammers, the 6-foot-10 center who’s a strong candidate to be the league’s most improved player. Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams, who recruited Lammers when he was the coach at Marquette, called him a “statistical anomaly to be his size and do the things that he’s doing,” such as ranking second nationally in blocks per game at 3.41 while averaging a mere 2.5 fouls per game.

Said Krzyzewski, “I love that kid. I love how he’s played.”

Said Clemson coach Brad Brownell, “I think more coaches understood that Ben Lammers was a good player. I don’t know if we knew that he would be a double-double guy.”

Louisville coach Rick Pitino supported Pastner as ACC coach of the year. While there are other deserving candidates, such as Buzz Williams and Roy Williams, “Josh has just taken a team that nobody expected to be even competitive, never mind get an NCAA berth, (to tournament consideration),” Pitino said. “It’s great to see because Josh is a tremendous young man and he’s doing an outstanding job.”

To some, part of the reason for the surge has been that the talent that Pastner inherited was underrated.

“It was hard to know that Josh Okogie was going to be as good as he’s been,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “And he’s been really, really good. It’s not often that you have a freshman come into the league and average 15 points a game.”

Said Buzz Williams of Okogie, “he’s the best freshman that’s not one-and-done in our league relative to production. He’s been phenomenal.”

Brownell praised point guard Josh Heath (“I think he makes a lot of winning plays”) and forward Quinton Stephens (“He’s a good player and a guy who, as a senior, has stepped up and had a good year”).

Said Brey, “I think Brian (Gregory) left that thing a little more stocked than everybody thought.”

Krzyzewski called Tech’s resurgence great for the league.

“Georgia Tech has an outstanding brand that was established by my good friend Bobby Cremins, so it’s not a program that’s not won,” he said. “It’s a program that won big but hasn’t won for a while, and they’ve locked into that and have that spirit back.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

MLB's first Lithuanian learned the game where few play
MLB's first Lithuanian learned the game where few play

The decades-long journey of a father and a son, of a game and a country, ended with a sprint.  When Dovydas Neverauskas — fresh from the airport and wearing cleats and a glove bummed from his new Pittsburgh Pirates teammates — jogged onto the mound at PNC Park on April 24 to clean up what was left a lopsided loss to the Chicago Cubs...
Francis Kallon signs deal with Pittsburgh Steelers
Francis Kallon signs deal with Pittsburgh Steelers

Former Georgia Tech defensive tackle Francis Kallon has agreed to an undrafted free-agent deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team made the announcement Saturday night following the draft. Kallon got into the Yellow Jackets’ starting lineup as a senior, starting six games and making 15 tackles. He undoubtedly impressed the Steelers with his...
P.J. Davis agrees to deal with Jacksonville Jaguars
P.J. Davis agrees to deal with Jacksonville Jaguars

Former Georgia Tech linebacker P.J. Davis has agreed to an undrafted free agent deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has one thing going for him. He knows the way. Davis finished his Tech career at the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville at EverBank Field, where he scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery. “I know that (stadium) well, especially...
Hawks host four in pre-draft workout
Hawks host four in pre-draft workout

The Hawks held a pre-draft workout on Saturday morning with Aaron Holiday, Kyle Kuzma, Jaylen Adams and Angel Delgado, according to a person familiar with situation. All four are early-entry candidates. The Hawks have begun to get a closer look at players in advance on the NBA Draft on June 22. Holiday is a 6-foot-1 guard from UCLA and is the brother...
Braves’ Cabrera set for final steps in rehab assignment
Braves’ Cabrera set for final steps in rehab assignment

MILWAUKEE – The Braves’ bullpen could welcome back a triple-digit fastball in about one week. Young flamethrower Mauricio Cabrera, who has been on the disabled list since experiencing elbow tightness late in spring training, is in what should be the final steps in his injury rehabilitation assignment. Cabrera, whose 100.2-mph average fastball...
More Stories