Though tonight’s NIT berth is nothing short of a pleasant surprise for a Georgia Tech team which came into the season with virtually no expectations, making an appearance in the consolation tournament brings with it a much heavier feeling for Georgia fans, coaches, and players. In fact, the whole state of Georgia swung and missed at the NCAA Tournament this season; not a single team from the Peach State will be playing postseason basketball above the NIT level. Of course, the pain is the realest of all in Athens, home of a perennially underachieving basketball team which, much like its football team, has been “on the cusp of a breakout” for decades.
Winning Coach of the Year in the best basketball conference on earth in year one should give Tech head coach Josh Pastner plenty to brag about, but the former Memphis head man recently declined to revel in the suffering of his former employer and decided instead to take the high road. The Memphis Tigers suffered a tremendous late-season explosion under first-year head coach Tubby Smith, dropping six of their final eight games in hideous fashion after a strong start to the season, and eventually missing both the NCAA Tournament and the NIT. Being an all-around good guy is something that we’ve seen a lot from coach Pastner during his brief tenure at Georgia Tech, as we’ll see once again momentarily.
He has shown a genuine interest in making the program better, corroborating his desire to fix the basketball culture by spending his own money on more than one occasion. The most recent instance of this selflessness comes in the form of tonight’s NIT game, the tab for which Pastner has decided to pick up for all Georgia Tech students. We won’t know how many students will take advantage of the offer until tonight, but the fact is that Josh Pastner has shown a singular dedication to his program that few other schools (hey, Indiana), much less coaches, ever attempt to undertake. Mike Bobinski didn’t do a whole lot during his time at Tech, but his signature hire looks like a homerun.
All aboard the hype train! He says he will go broke if he has to, so let’s hurry up and enroll each of the 107,000 students that would need to show up in order for the cost of tickets to effectively cancel out his paycheck for the year. No take-sies back-sies, coach.