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.

At 38, Josh Pastner starting over at Georgia Tech


On Friday afternoon, Hal Pastner was on the floor of Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion. His son Josh had just been introduced at a news conference as the Yellow Jackets’ new basketball coach. Now Josh was fielding more interviews and the Pastner clan — besides Hal, there was his mother, Marla, his wife, Kerri and their daughters, Payten, Kamryn and Harper — was soaking in a momentous day.

His father could tell that his son was flagging, having slept little the previous night, if at all. But he saw something else, too.

It was, he said, “the energy of enthusiasm of, like, ‘Wow, what I love to do’ — the recruiting, talking to players, selling a great program and teaching ’em up, coaching ’em up and taking something at the highest level — the ACC — and going against the best.”

After a sour and dispiriting end to his seven-year tenure at Memphis, one in which Tigers fans applauded his departure for Atlanta, Pastner aims to rise again. With the challenge to lift the Yellow Jackets back to national prominence, Pastner has a chance to make his own imprint. At the age of 38, having gone from coaching wunderkind at 31 to local pariah, Pastner is running to this next opportunity.

“I love the opportunity to build,” Pastner said. “Because people say, ‘Hey, it’s going to be hard next year.’ Everyone was telling me. I’m like, I’m fine with that.”

In April 2009, Pastner was 31, an assistant coach ready to follow John Calipari from Memphis to Kentucky, when he was named the next Tigers coach. Pastner was the next act after a historic success, a four-year run in which Memphis averaged 34 wins, reached the Elite Eight twice and the national championship game once.

In seven seasons, Pastner averaged 24 wins and led Memphis to four NCAA tournament appearances, but never made it past the second round. Not bad, but not Calipari. After two seasons without postseason play, and signs of dysfunction such as a flood of transfers, Pastner’s future at Memphis was very much in doubt.

Pastner is energetic, optimistic and liked by his peers. But as he fended off slings the past two seasons, his father saw a heaviness in him. Hal Pastner told his son that the troubles were blessings, and that he would someday understand.

“Life’s about learning, growing,” he said.

As he conducted his search, Tech Athletic Director Mike Bobinski saw a coach with a .696 winning percentage, a gift for recruiting, drive and a vision for success. He didn’t ignore the storm that had centered on Pastner’s team, speaking with several people for an understanding of what had happened.

“When things sort of devolve like that in a highly charged environment, it’s like an avalanche,” Bobinski said. “You can’t stop it.”

And then he offered a way out and a new start. Pastner will have a rough ride — the Jackets return 24 percent of their scoring. But he isn’t following Calipari and 33 wins per year, either. He has a chance to build and to tell his father he was right.

Said Hal Pastner, “All that took place was a blessing, which has led him to today, for a true blessing, to get this opportunity.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Brewers blank Braves as Teheran struggles again at home
Brewers blank Braves as Teheran struggles again at home

Braves right-hander Julio Teheran’s fastball velocity is down a tick, hitters don’t swing and miss it a lot and when they make contact it’s a fly ball a relatively high percentage of the time. All of those things have been true for a while with Teheran but now he’s playing home games at SunTrust Park, where pitchers with that...
Still work to do as Hawks determine direction of franchise
Still work to do as Hawks determine direction of franchise

It’s time to get back to work. Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk gave his charges in the front office the weekend off after the long days and nights leading up to and through Thursday’s NBA Draft. The pace does not slow after the brief respite. The free agency period begins this week. The Hawks also have an entry in the Las Vegas Summer...
Fox Sports Southeast to air Hawks draftees, Howard press conferences
Fox Sports Southeast to air Hawks draftees, Howard press conferences

Fox Sports Southeast will televise two live press conferences of interest to Hawks fans on Monday. The network with televise the Hawks’ introductory press conference of their three draft picks at 11 a.m. That will be followed by the Hornets’ introductory press conference for the Dwight Howard, acquired in a trade with the Hawks last week...
Guzan, Johnson called up for Gold Cup
Guzan, Johnson called up for Gold Cup

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan and Lilburn native and goalkeeper Sean Johnson were named to the U.S. men’s national team for the upcoming Gold Cup. The Gold Cup is a tournament featuring national teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean. It begins July 7 and ends July 26. The U.S. will open against Panama on July 8. It...
Matt Kemp returns to Braves lineup
Matt Kemp returns to Braves lineup

Braves left fielder Matt Kemp returned to the lineup on Sunday after missing two games because of a sore left hamstring. Kemp initially wasn’t in the lineup announced by the Braves but was added later in place of Danny Santana. Kemp left Thursday’s game because of what the Braves said was tightness in his left hamstring. Kemp sat out a...
More Stories