7 things learned about Georgia Tech basketball

Here are seven things of interest Georgia Tech men’s basketball coach Josh Pastner said on Tuesday. Some of these items may receive a longer look in stories between now the season-opening game against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 11.

The Yellow Jackets opened practice on Monday. The team lost four key players from a squad that won 21 games and went to the third round of the NIT last year.

Because of those losses, expectations aren’t high this season. Instead, Pastner said the team should be judged on how they are playing by the end of the year.

1. He said there’s a big difference between how the players look on offense today when compared to how they looked when he took over the program.

“When I first saw them, I don’t want to say how I originally felt,” he said.

Pastner said the players are moving the ball well and executing his philosophy of pace and space, creating seams, and the go-to guy is the open guy. He said there is still work to do.

2. Though he says he’s a big believer in defense, it hasn’t been a focus because there was so much work to do on offense. More focus will be given to defense now that practices have started.

3. He thinks the non-conference schedule, which includes Penn State, Tennessee VCU and Georgia, is very tough. Most of that schedule was put together before he arrived.

“Every one of our games will be a challenge,” he said. “We can’t afford an off night, regardless of who we play.”

He said that includes Shorter, which the Yellow Jackets will play in an exhibition game on Nov. 5.

4. Pastner said he has never lost three consecutive games going back to high schools. He mentioned it because he said some preseason publications are picking the Yellow Jackets to finish last in the ACC. Some are predicting a winless conference season.

“I do know that there will be a stretch…where we will encounter some things I’ve never gone through,” he said. “This is new to me. I understand. I will have to have great patience. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Tech will open the conference season hosting North Carolina on Dec. 31, at Duke on Jan. 4 and at home against Louisville on Jan. 7.

5. Because he views rebuilding this program as if he’s starting a company, Pastner said he has had several conversations with Georgia Tech graduates who have successfully started their own companies, or who are successful in their fields. He did so because he wants to make sure that he is taking the right steps to establish the kind of culture he wants at Tech.

“I want our guys to understand, which I’m trying to teach them, the distaste of losing,” he said. “It’s not OK. You have to hurt.”

6. When recruiting, he wants players who are self-motivated. He said if the players aren’t self-motivated, he’s not the best at coddling.

7. During recruiting, Pastner said he sells the three As: Academics, athletics and Atlanta.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.