Josh Pastner feels ‘awful,’ but ‘we’re going to get there’

Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner speaks with media February 8, 2019 at the Zelnak Basketball Center.

Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner speaks with media February 8, 2019 at the Zelnak Basketball Center.

After his team's 69-59 loss to Notre Dame on Sunday, Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner acknowledged the building frustration with the Yellow Jackets having lost five games in a row and ranking last in the ACC in scoring, 3-point shooting and turnovers.

But he also expressed confidence that better days are ahead.

“The goal is to get to the NCAA tournament and to have a championship-level program, not just a one-year (appearance), but where it’s continuous,” Pastner told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And I still believe in getting old and staying old, and it’s going to happen, and I’m not wavering one bit that we’re going to get there.”

Pastner has repeatedly said that his plan is for Tech to be in the NCAA tournament by his fifth season. In year three, the Jackets are 11-13 overall and 3-8 in the ACC. A second sub-.500 record in a row seems quite plausible.

His “get old and stay old” plan centers around developing players such as sophomore point guard Jose Alvarado and freshman guard Michael Devoe and then winning with them when they’re juniors and seniors. Sunday against Notre Dame, 127 of the 200 minutes were played by freshmen or sophomores.

In losing five in a row, the Jackets have shot 19-for-72 from 3-point range and averaged 15.8 turnovers per game.

“I want to win worse than anything,” Pastner said. “I want to win for (athletic director) Todd Stansbury, I want to win for President (G.P. “Bud”) Peterson, I want to win for Georgia Tech, I want to win for Yellow Jacket nation, I want to win for our players and I feel awful and I feel like I’ve let ’em all down that we haven’t been able to win.”

However, Pastner said he believed the team will turn around and pointed to the team’s defensive play. While the Jackets are 283rd in Division I in offensive efficiency (KenPom), they’re also 12th in defensive efficiency. Pastner said that the Jackets’ defensive play is its foundation, as defense is more effort-based and can be effective even without elite players.

“We are a great defensive team,” he said. “The numbers say it. We defend, we give ourselves a chance every game, and defense is about effort and toughness. Offense is going to come through talent and athleticism and skill, and we’re going to continue to get better in that and player development and through recruiting. But it’s going to happen.”