What could be better than embarking upon a program seeking away to return to prominence than coming in with a new face and new blood than to start out with 5 home games in a row? Gives you time to find the restroom, know where the kitchen is, learn the lay of the land. Or get to know your players in familiar surroundings. That’s exactly what Georgia Tech Men’s new Head Basketball coach stumbled into. This tonight is the second game in the homeland of McCamish Pavilion. This foe, Southern University known as the Jaguars is the defending SWAC Champions who played in the NCAA Tournament last year. The last time they played Southern Stunned Tech by taking them out in the 1993 NCAA West Regional Tournament 93-78. Surely coach Pastner has reminded his team of that fact using his high energy personality to make sure they don’t overlook or play down to their level.
I don’t know if that fact has as much significance in Basketball as it does in football, all it takes is one guy to get hot it could be lights out. In football ball it takes so many elements coming together the line has to block, the receiver has to run the correct route, the running back has to stay in and block or release out and run a check down pattern. And of course, if all of that happens according to design the quarterback has to read the defense and throw it to the right guy at the right time. All of these moving parts can come together then the defensive guy can blow up the play with a hard hit.
Unfortunately, Tech doesn’t feature 5 starting blue chippers formerly high school All Americans like a DUKE Blue Devils or UNC Tar heels in any given year. According to ESPN.com’s John Gasaway, Tech is the least experienced team in Division I, returning only 25 percent of its possession-minutes from 2015-16. Pastner, 38, is the second winningest active coach under the age of 40 in NCAA Division I. Despite his young age, Pastner has been involved in basketball at the Division I level for 20 years, as a player and an assistant coach at Arizona, and as an assistant coach and the head coach at Memphis. He has been a part of teams that have won 490 games, played in 17 NCAA Tournaments and 18 total post-season events. Teams he has been involved with have won 12 conference tournament or regular-season championships, advanced to seven Sweet Sixteen’s, five Elite Eights, two Final Fours and two NCAA championship games.
A lot of youth on the team coupled with a young energetic confident coach could be the ingredients for success. The same starter started the game and again the opening tap went to Big Ben. The team started more aggressive the pace seemed to have increased. Southern was keeping pace until the sixth man appeared (1) Tadric Jackson from the injury list. His energy and activity changed the pace of the game. I guess he was a little rusty missing his first two layup attempts but he stayed active like he was just happy to be back out there on the floor. At the 9.33 mark, his legs came back allowing him to make his first jump shot. From there it was on, in a three-minute span he scored on 3 layups, that 2 point jumper and he nailed a 3 pointer for a total of 11 points before he went out for a breather. He returned to hit 2 more free throws before the half giving him a total of 13 points. He went on to finish the game with 20 points and 5 rebounds to lead the way for the Swarm. His performance drew a positive comment from Southern’ Head Coach Roman Banks.
“They are a capable ball club, and I think [Tadric] Jackson makes them a lot better. His 20 points tonight were the difference. His energy, his know-how and his experience ignited them when he came into the game.” His Coach Pastner echoed “Tadric is a fine, young man and he’s got a chance to be a really good player. He just has to stay aggressive; he’s got to stay in attack mentality “People ask about Tadric. I know he got 20 points but let me tell you the things that I’m proud of. It’s not the points. It’s that he had five rebounds, four of them defensively and I thought he defended well. He played defense. The best teams [have] their guards stick their nose in and find ways to get defensive rebounds, always. The best teams find a way; their guards rebound the ball defensively. More than Tadric’s scoring ability, it was his ability to rebound and defend. That’s what triggered our team and triggered his offense. I was proud of him in those areas.”
(44) Ben Lammers-the REAL HAMMER was simply intimidating swatting 9 shots back. “That is not a typo.” The team set a new team record blocking a total of 16 shots surpassing their previous best mark of 15 established in 1982. Ben was aggressive on both ends of the floor setting his tone early, at one point he had a follow-up slam dunk on the offensive end with no major celebration, as some players do. Instead, he hustled back down the floor on the other end to block a shot. That’s what they mean when they say “he played end to end”. His performance came close to achieving a triple-double scoring 13 points, a career best 15 rebounds and the aforementioned 9 blocked shots. “Tonight, in my time, I haven’t seen a guy save us in terms of the 50/50 ball wins and the multiple effort plays that Ben Lammers did. I told him in the locker room, ‘if I could give you a big kiss on the cheek right now I would but you’re too sweaty.’ Of all the years, it’s about as good of a save job in terms of just his multiple effort plays that don’t even show up in the box score, just by his second and third effort defensively and everything else … Really proud of Ben on his effort plays and just saving us in many ways,” said Coach Pastner.
Continuing with blocked shots, Quinton Stephens added 3 in the first half as well as 12 points and 4 assists for the game. Josh Okogie played focused seemingly with the idea being more aggressive he finished the game with 18 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, perhaps more impressive no turnovers in 34 minutes for a freshman who’s being coached to play fast. Tech started the game with the full court press again. They changed to man to man, but when they went to the 1-3-1 zone defense it through Southern off their rhythm allowing Tech to extend the lead to as many as 18 points in the second half. Southern made a run for it getting within 7 points at the 6:57 mark behind Trelun Banks who led Southern with 19 points. His guard-mate Shawn Prudhomme complimented with 15 points. Notice their top scores were away from the paint or the lane in which the HAMMER is laying claim to that precious piece of real estate as it his house.
Unfortunately, when a team burns so much energy to get up the hill it tends to run out of gas. The Yellow Jackets woke up with a spurt of their own to win it by 15 with a final score of 77-62.