Georgia Tech didn’t leave the Carrier Dome completely emptyhanded Saturday. After his team pounded the Yellow Jackets , Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim offered endorsements to coach Josh Pastner and center Ben Lammers for ACC awards that will be announced Sunday.
Boeheim said that Pastner should be the league’s coach of the year “without any question.” Boeheim called Tech the surprise of the league “by far” for how it has exceeded expectations. The Yellow Jackets were picked to finish 14th in the conference but pulled upsets of top-25 teams North Carolina, Florida State and Notre Dame on the way to an 8-10 finish in the league, good for 11th place. Some media predicted that Tech might not win any games in conference play.
“I think their team, they’ve done a great job,” Boeheim said. “I think they play with purpose. They know exactly what they’re doing. They’re a very difficult team to play against. This team beat North Carolina, Florida State, Notre Dame. Those are three top-20 teams, really top-15 teams. And Josh has done a great job with that team.”
Pastner would be the third Tech coach to win the conference honor, following Bobby Cremins, who won it three times, and Paul Hewitt, who won it once. In February, Louisville coach Rick Pitino also gave his vote to Pastner .
Lammers, a junior, would be the first Tech player to win the most improved player award. (The honor was introduced for the 2013-14 season. A year ago as a backup, Lammers averaged 14.8 minutes with 3.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. This season, Lammers has started every game, averaged 35.1 minutes, 14.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Going into Saturday’s games, he was 18th in the league in scoring, third in rebounding, fifth in field-goal percentage (51.7 percent), first in blocked shots (3.4 per game) and fifth in minutes per game.
Saturday, he was 5-for-9 from the field for 10 points with nine rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals.
“Lammers is a good player,” Boeheim said. “He made some really good blocks (Saturday). He’s easily, to me, the most improved player in our league. He’s really come a long ways.”
Lammers is also a candidate for defensive player of the year.
The awards, along with the All-ACC team, are scheduled to be announced Sunday at 4 p.m.