The Yellow Jackets will play Cal State-Bakersfield next week for a shot at the NIT finals, and on Friday coach Josh Pastner discussed the significance of the tournament run to the program’s rebuild.
Georgia Tech (20-15) will tip off against California State-Bakersfield (27-9) at Madison Square Garden in New York on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. and coach Josh Pastner had high praise for the Roadrunners in his Friday press conference.
“I think they’re really good. Coach Barnes does a great job with them,” Pastner said Friday. “They play hard, they play with great energy, they’re an attack first mentality type of team, they’re a hit first type of team, they play really good defense.”
Even with some high profile wins under their belt, Pastner thinks the Jackets shouldn’t look past Bakersfield. “We’ll have to play the best we’ve probably played all year to have a chance to win the game.”
Considered a strong NCAA Tournament bubble team for most of the end of the regular season, Tech fell to the NIT after a few losses down the stretch. Even so the Georgia Tech coach is happy to still be playing this far into March.
“The NIT is a very good positive,” Pastner said. “Obviously the goal is to play in the NCAA Tournament, there’s no denying that, but this is good for us trying to continue to develop. You’re playing on center stage and on national television and the exposure that we’re getting, you can’t put a price tag on it.”
Projected by most major outlets and pundits to finish dead last and winless in the ACC, Pastner detailed how far ahead of schedule the program’s rebuild is, according to the vision of the administration when he was hired.
“In a major rebuild situation, being able to play in the postseason is positive.” Pastner said Georgia Tech’s administration wanted his team to be on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, and in the NIT by his fourth season, and in the tournament by his fifth year.
To get where he wants to be, Pastner talked Friday about recruiting goals down the road to build depth in Atlanta.
“We’re still going to need to have great recruiting classes, multiple recruiting classes,” Pastner said. “The imprint will be in the ‘18 recruiting class. For us to continue to build and really compete night in and night out, and continue to move the needle and be a championship-level program, we’re going to need multiple recruiting classes.”
Pastner said the team’s postseason awards, and exposure during NIT play has already helped open doors in the recruiting process. “We’ve been able to get some phone calls answered that maybe would not have been answered at the beginning of the year.”
Listen to coach Pastner’s full press conference below: