Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner got a voicemail Monday morning from a Syracuse fan complaining about the way his team was treated during the Yellow Jackets’ 71-65 win over the Orange on Sunday night at McCamish Pavilion. So Pastner called him back, fearing that his team or Yellow Jackets fans had behaved in an unbecoming manner.
It turned out that the fan didn’t like the way Tech’s student section, after Orange guard John Gillon missed the rim with a 3-pointer toward the end of the first half, chanted “Airball” at him whenever he touched the ball for the remainder of the game. (Gillon, a 42.5 percent 3-point shooter going into the game, finished the game 1-for-7 from 3-point range.) Pastner, recounting the conversation on his weekly radio show Monday night, said that the fan told him it was offensive, unclassy and wrong.
Pastner responded by telling the fan that the game was not intramurals, “nor is it the Love Boat, where everyone gets served cocktails at 4 p.m. This is men’s elite college basketball.” He added that, were a Tech player to miss the rim when the two teams meet again at the Carrier Dome on March 4, “30,000 people would be chanting ‘Airball’ for the entire game.” With that, he said they would have to agree to disagree.
Pastner said the fan responded by telling him that he made some good points. Pastner kept going by trying to arrange a deal with the fan.
“Will all the fans, when we shoot free throws at the Carrier Dome in a while, will they all be quiet and silent?” Pastner asked. “I think that would be the right thing to do. Would that be a fair tradeoff?”
Pastner used the story to encourage the student section to keep it up.
“You need to yell it even louder now, all through the game,” he said.