Georgia Tech’s Pastner looking to solve team’s shooting woes

ATLANTA (AP) — A four-game losing streak has left Georgia Tech one spot from the bottom of the ACC standings.

Unfortunately for coach Josh Pastner, that’s familiar territory.

The Yellow Jackets finished 14th in the 15-team Atlantic Coast Conference last season. In Pastner’s six seasons, Georgia Tech has finished 10th or lower four times.

The Yellow Jackets fell to 8-10 overall and 1-7 in the ACC with Tuesday night’s 78-66 loss to North Carolina State. Georgia Tech plays another home game against Syracuse on Saturday.

Pastner needs to direct a dramatic turnaround following his team’s sixth loss in its last seven games to avoid another finish near the bottom of the league. Georgia Tech finished 12-20 overall and 5-15 in the ACC last season.

Thus far, Pastner has been unable to find a fix for his team’s dismal shooting. The Yellow Jackets suffered a perplexing 12-point loss to the Wolfpack despite holding advantages in points off turnovers, scoring in the paint and bench scoring.

“There was a lot of good we did, a lot of good, it’s just we missed a lot of open shots,” Pastner said. “We just could not score the ball.”

Georgia Tech made only 2 of 21 3-pointers and only 8 of 19 free throws. The shooting woes were only the latest example of season-long scoring frustrations. In ACC games, Georgia Tech ranks next-to-last with its averages of 64.88 points and 40.6% shooting from the field.

“I believe in our young men,” Pastner said. “We’ve got great guys. It’s a player’s game. The players, when they’re open, they’ve got to put it in.”

Former athletic director Todd Stansbury gave Pastner a three-year extension in 2021 that carries through the 2025-26 season. Stansbury and football coach Geoff Collins were fired on Sept. 26 and J Batt was hired as new athletic director on Oct. 14.

When announcing the new contract for Pastner, Stansbury gave women’s coach Nell Fortner a two-year extension through the 2026-27 season.

In Batt’s first winter on the job, the men’s and women’s coaches with new extensions have combined for one ACC win. The Georgia Tech women are 9-9 overall and last in the ACC at 0-7.

Pastner is 102-106 overall and 48-71 in ACC games in his seven seasons at Georgia Tech. He was 167-73 in seven seasons at Memphis.

Pastner won the 2021 ACC tournament before losing in the first round of his only NCAA tournament appearance with the Yellow Jackets.

In a statement released to The Associated Press on Wednesday, Batt said he continues to evaluate all Georgia Tech teams.

“Since I arrived here in October, one of my top priorities has been evaluating all of our programs and learning how we can support the success of our coaches and student-athletes across the board,” Batt said.

Pastner is having to take another look at his own evaluation of his team. He acknowledged he misjudged his shooters before the season.

“Coming into the year I thought we were one of our better shooting teams in my time here as a head coach,” Pastner said, adding “We shot the daylights out of it in the summer and the fall.”

Consistency has been lacking in actual games.

“We’ve just got to learn how to really put 40 minutes together and play 40 minutes where we can just be a team,” center Rodney Howard said. “… I feel like in the second half teams kind of just blow up on us.”

Pastner said his players shot as if “there was a lid on the hoop” against N.C. State and added “If we were standing on the pier we wouldn’t be able to shoot in the ocean tonight. Just unexplainable.”

Confidence may become an issue that can only be addressed with success.

“Nobody likes losing and it can wear on you and your confidence can get shaken,” Pastner said. “It is confidence, so much of everything is between the ears. We’ve just got to see the ball go through the hoop.”

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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