Josh Pastner hopes to return after Georgia Tech’s 15-19 season

ATLANTA – After another losing season and few signs of progress in the ACC program, Josh Pastner faces an uncertain future as the Georgia Tech men’s basketball coach.

The Yellow Jackets ended a 15-19 campaign on Wednesday with an 89-81 loss to Pittsburgh in the second round of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Pastner was asked if he would stay at the Atlanta school for an eighth season.

“I hope to be at Georgia Tech,” he said. “I love Georgia Tech. I love my job. I have a real passion for it and I believe in it.”

Eventually, Georgia Tech president Angel Cabrera and athletic director Jay Butt, who has been on the job since October, will call.

“They’re in charge, so whatever they say, they’re in charge,” Pastner said. “I hope I can continue to be at Georgia Tech.”

His best season was a stunning run to the ACC Tournament championship in the pandemic-hit 2020-21 season, which also marked Georgia Tech’s only NCAA appearance in the last 13 seasons. The Yellow Jackets were knocked out by Loyola in their first game.

Georgia Tech, once one of the top programs in the ACC, has not won an NCAA postseason game since 2010.

Pastner left Memphis in 2016 to lead Georgia Tech after Brian Gregory’s memorable five-year tenure.

Pastner’s reputation as a high-level recruiter should have boosted the Yellow Jackets’ talent level, but he’s rarely seen a recruit shine during his time in Atlanta.

His record at Georgia Tech is 109-113, including a 51-77 mark in the ACC.

“Here’s what I would tell you, when I came in, they told me when I came in, I met everybody, it’s … starting from scratch,” Pastner, 45, said. “They said you lose so much your first three or four years that we have to have someone who is very positive because you lose a lot. “

Pastner was 31 when he took over Memphis for John Calipari in 2009. The Tigers made four NCAA Tournament appearances in Pastner’s first five seasons, going 130-44.

But the program was cut short his final two years, going 37-29 while failing to make the NCAA Tournament. When Georgia Tech came looking for Gregory’s successor, Pastner jumped at the chance.

“At first they said they didn’t know if I could make it because we won a lot of games in Memphis,” Pastner recalled. I said, ‘No, I’m happy to rebuild.'”

There were signs of improvement in his fifth season, with the Yellow Jackets making just one NCAA appearance. But they fell to 12-20 last season, including a 5-15 mark in conference play.

Georgia Tech is off to a poor start in the ACC this season, dropping 12 of its first 13 league contests, including a nine-game losing streak.

Pastner’s team came together at the end of the season. The Yellow Jackets won six of their last eight postseason games, but that was good enough for a 6-14 mark in the ACC. They then defeated Florida State 61-60 in the opening round of the conference tournament.

Will a strong finish be enough for Pastner to keep his job? Especially when attendance at the McCamish Pavilion has been down over the last couple of years?

Pastner’s tenure was also marred by NCAA sanctions against a former friend for alleged misconduct. Georgia Tech received a postseason ban in 2020, when the season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and some of its sanctions were overturned on appeal.

Could work in Pastner’s favor: The athletic program has struggled financially and is paying big money to Jeff Collins, who was fired early last season in his fourth year as Georgia Tech’s football coach.

Then again, Cabrera has shown he’s willing to dump a coach who isn’t up to the task.

Pastner hopes to have another year to match last month’s success.

“We finished this year very well,” he said. “I wish we had a better start.”

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