It’s a good day on North Ave.
It’s a good day not just because Georgia Tech’s football team punctuated a 9-4 season with a strong finishing kick that included wins at Virginia Tech, at Georgia and over Kentucky in the Gator Bowl Saturday, but because there’s a pulse in the basketball program.
Georgia Tech upset North Carolina. In basketball.
Josh Pastner, welcome to your second Bar Mitzvah.
Late December wins in college basketball don’t necessarily foretell the future for the winner or the loser. So if your mental picture of the NCAA tournament bracket in your head just blew up, you may want to wait at least a month.
But it’s a credit to Pastner’s enthusiasm and coaching ability that he can take a significantly undermanned team, which was expected to be waxed its home court Saturday in the shadow of the college football playoffs, and stun the ninth ranked Tar Heels 75-63 at McCamish Pavilion.
Won’t hurt his recruiting efforts, either.
North Carolina won 12 of its first 14 games, with the two losses coming to No. 13 Indiana and No. 6 Kentucky. When the Tar Heels opened their ACC schedule at Tech, it didn’t figure they would lose to the No. 209 (via RPI) Jackets.
Pastner took over for Brian Gregory this season. When former athletic director Mike Bobinski hired him, he told the former Memphis coach that the Jackets might not win a game in the ACC this season. (And if they did, it certainly wouldn’t come over North Carolina.)
In a recent interview on the “We Never Played The Game” podcast, I told Pastner that Tech was listed as 300-1 to win the national championship and jokingly asked him if it was worth a $10 bet.
“Because of the job I’m in, I will stay away from that,” he said. “But I will say this: I was speaking before the started at a clinic and a guy started talking about the Georgia game and I stopped him in the middle of the conversation and took the mic and I said, “Look — I just hope we beat Shorter.”
The Jackets beat Shorter in an exhibition. And lost to Georgia. But they’re now 9-4 overall and, even more impressive, 1-0 in the ACC. (First place!)
What does this mean? It means that even if Tech’s program is in the very early stages of development under Pastner, it’s capable of winning some games and scaring some teams. It’s capable of getting people excited.
That’s a big step forward for college basketball on campus and in a state that is craves a winner.
Subscribe to the, “We Never Played The Game” podcast with Jeff Schultz and WSB’s Zach Klein on iTunes. All episodes can be downloaded and heard on iTunes or via WSBRadio.com. New episodes every Monday and Thursday.
Recent blogs, columns, soup recipes
- Georgia finishes season on a needed high note
- Eason’s struggles should have been expected but he’ll be better next season
- Kirby Smart hopes to end this season’s learning curve with a win
- Quinn a coach of year candidate (and looking back at Rex Ryan)
- This could be Falcons’ window in NFC South
- Why this will be my final Hall of Fame vote
- Strong finish could push Matt Ryan to MVP award
- Freeney’s value to Falcons measured by more than sacks
- If Julio Jones plays, Falcons will lose a great coach
- Dogs beat Jackets in battle of Georgia but have a lot more to prove
- Players aren’t wrong for valuing careers over bowl games
- McCaffrey, Fournette shouldn’t be criticized for skipping bowl games
- Morning blog: Falcons close to clinching NFC South, suddenly have shot at bye
- Falcons are a different team since bye, just as Dan Quinn wanted
- Vic Beasley’s strength goes beyond that of a pass rusher
- Chubb, Michel returning, and Smart’s second season just got better
- It turns out Petrino isn’t biggest pig in college sports — it’s his boss
- Podcast blog: Mark Fox sounds off on Dogs, expectations, recruiting
- Mark Fox’s rebuild may be close to paying off at Georgia
- Falcons get a rare laugher — so the panic stops for a week
- Vic Beasley (13.5 sacks) proving Falcons made right call
- John Schuerholz on Hall, Braves’ struggles and future
- No reason to believe Matt Ryan won’t rebound from misery
- Have Braves done enough to fix their starting rotation?
- It’s time to expand college football playoffs, shorten regular season
- Nothing was going to stop Alabama, especially in its home Dome
- Weekend Predictions: Welcome to the annual Alabama crush festival
- Paul Johnson was never Tech’s problem, but new AD has other things to fix
- Falcons bucking odds but poor defensive teams have won Super Bowls before
- After Alabama, SEC has been left in dust by Big Ten
- Reader poll: Has Georgia’s 7-5 season caused you to lose faith in Kirby Smart?
- Georgia blows a game, and that’s on Kirby Smart
- Bar might’ve been too high but Kirby Smart has a ways to go
- Weekend Predictions: Dogs over Jackets, NCAA over Notre Dame
- Giving thanks on this day, at least to those who deserve it
- Brian VanGorder’s return to Georgia makes a lot of sense
- Will Falcons be ready this time for season’s finishing kick?
- Credit to Georgia for trying to make something of this season
- Chubb, McKenzie, among factors in Georgia’s favor vs. Georgia Tech
- Podcast blog: Pastner says Tech will be ‘championship level program,’ recalls tough times