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Coach’s Corner: GT 65 BC 54 - Jackets’ Culture The Difference

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This one really makes you stop and think

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

After most games, we take an Xs and Os look at key factors in the game. In this case, let’s dispense with that in one paragraph.

The key point to focus on was how much trouble the Eagles had defending the high post screening action and subsequent post duck ins of non standard post players. Georgia Tech made a living in the second half of ducking in stronger guards and BC had issues both covering the post and understanding how to properly communicate and switch to take away those sets.

You want to make more of it? Fine. But to me, with this team now losers of nine straight, we need to back WAY up.

The pre-season ACC polls were extremely consistent. Virtually everyone who made a pick had the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Boston College Eagles pulling up the rear of the conference. Most had Tech 14th and the Eagles 15th, although there were times when those picks flip flopped, but it was pretty much conceded that neither was going anywhere in the 2016-17 season.

39 year old Josh Pastner, a former walk on player under Lute Olson at the University of Arizona, who took over the Memphis job when John Calipari left for Kentucky was hired to replace Brian Gregory at GT. Many thought Pastner, despite a very solid 167-73 record at Memphis, was in over his head and were surprised Tech went this route.

Many around the Atlanta campus, including the athletic department itself, expected nothing this season.

The Jackets had lost the top four scorers off a 21-15 team that had advanced to the NIT quarterfinals and the incoming recruiting class was decent, but ranked 10th in the ACC and 69th in the country.

Better times were ahead...just not right now.

Well following last night’s horrifically ugly 65-54 come from behind win over BC at McCamish Pavilion, where Tech trailed by as many as 15 with 7:03 remaining in the first half, the Jackets find themselves looking at the NCAA tournament bubble up close and personal.

Tech is now 15-10 and 6-6 in the ACC, right in the middle of the pack. The Eagles on the other hand suffered their 9th consecutive loss to drop to 9-17.

So what gives?

Maybe we’ve been a bit sedated by the whole thing. Not much was expected, the season started rocky, improved slightly in the middle and now has begun to take on the look we figured it would all along.

Then you look at Tech.

The game Saturday night was not a case where the Eagles were woefully over matched talent wise. Tech had a strength advantage and an advantage in the paint, BC had an edge on the perimeter. No, this wasn’t about skill...this was all about will and the culture that in just a few months that Josh Pastner has built in the Tech program.

When you build a house, the first physical piece that goes in is the foundation. It supports all of the structure above it. You may have a mansion, you may have a shack, but it all starts with that foundation. It is the least common denominator.

Pastner decided his foundation was to be their level of effort. I couldn’t agree more.

Playing with ultimate passion should be the foundation that any program is built on. It takes zero talent to accomplish, just a will to do so and the accountability to make sure that level of effort is maintained.

I can list all sorts of areas where Tech failed last night, but they won the game almost solely based on the fact that they played harder than BC and literally crushed their spirit in the second half of that game.

Just look at the body language, the frustration of Jerome Robinson when he fouled out, or the way the game ended, with the Jackets going on a 10-0 run over a two minute span, very late in the second half, just pounding BC down or when asked what Pastner should say to his team after the game, color analyst Jason Capel said the exact same thing I did sitting in my living room, “I am so proud of you”.

This had virtually nothing to do with Xs and Os, this was all about the Jimmies and the Joes and about those who lead them.

Jim Christian has an experienced and talented staff, but it is time, even at this late point in the season to re-evaluate the charter of this team and begin with the foundation. I’ve alluded to it a few times during the season as has Coach Christian in his post game comments, but nowhere did it show itself more than last night, this team does not play hard enough, they are not competitive enough and with the talent disparity they face most nights in the ACC, that is the least they can ask of themselves.

If the Eagles do not win another game this season, but they play with the same passion we saw from Georgia Tech last night, this season will end a success, because the foundation will be laid, the culture will be established.

  1. Truly love and play for the people you share your basketball life with
  2. Play with ultimate passion every second you are on the court

The rest of it is really about how you go about it between the lines, but it requires a place to start...a culture.

I know this article was a lot more about Georgia Tech than about Boston College, but last night left a lot to think about beyond the norm...last night was about the mental which translated into the physical, it was about relationships that players and coaches with no history between each other created, it was about holding true to what you were trying to establish when there were doubts early on.

The better culture won last night.