Jose Alvarado calls for Josh Pastner in braids for tournament

If Georgia Tech guard Jose Alvarado has anything to do with it, his coach’s hair will be arrayed in braids for the team’s first-round NCAA Tournament game against Loyola on Friday.

Coach Josh Pastner had told his players that they could do “whatever they want to do” to his hair if they won the ACC championship. After the Jackets upset then-No. 15 Florida State Saturday night for their first conference title since 1993, Pastner said he would be a “man of his word” and live up to his deal, although he hoped that the team would wait until the tournament was over before commissioning a new look.

Speaking Sunday after his team had received the No. 9 seed in the tournament opposite No. 8 seed Loyola, Alvarado, no stranger to competing in braided hair, had other ideas.

“Hopefully they’ve got somebody to braid hair, because we need to get his hair braided,” said Alvarado, whose team is the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010. “We need to get it for the tournament. We need to get it for the first game. It’d be awesome to see it and it’d be better when we win and he has it on.”

Alvarado is one among a number of Yellow Jackets players on the team who have worn their hair in braids during the season.

A possible obstacle is the availability of hair dressers for players and coaches at the tournament. In an effort to protect participants from COVID-19, the NCAA has established a number of protocols, including giving each team its own hotel floor and restricting them from practicing until they had passed two tests.

But, if an appointment with a stylist can be arranged, there’s a strong chance that Pastner would be a focal point of the tournament’s first weekend, particularly if the Jackets defeat the Ramblers on Friday. Pastner became a hot topic on Twitter on Saturday night, first after ESPN played audio of the lengthy outgoing voicemail message on his phone that he uses to try to encourage and lift callers, and later for his effusive thank you’s to ESPN talent in a post-game interview.

A coach in a face shield wearing braids has some potential.