Listen: Josh Pastner Discusses Syracuse & Previews Kentucky
When it came to previewing their upcoming game against the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington, Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner didn't shy away from discussing the debacle that was the Syracuse game. However, he was adamant in the notion that he believes that that type of result on the floor would not happen again, going so far as to call it "an anomaly."
"They were on fire, we were coming off finals, Saturday afternoon was bizarre," Pastner said. "We wouldn't have even won vs. Syracuse even if we had LeBron James."
There's a reason why he has this stance. It's no secret that Georgia Tech has one of the most rigorous finals periods for a Division 1 athlete. He noted that while it is not an excuse, it did play a factor into their performance not only against Syracuse, but over the entire week prior to it as well.
With finals squarely behind them, the Yellow Jackets look to start fresh and look towards their next opponent. Facing the Kentucky Wildcats in Rupp Arena will certainly provide them with a challenge, but for Pastner in a way it won't be his first rodeo.
In his first year at Memphis, Pastner served as an assistant coach under then Memphis head coach John Calipari. After the 2008-09 season, Calipari left to take the job at Kentucky, and Pastner was promoted to head coach of the Tigers.
"I love Coach Cal. I wouldn't have gotten the Memphis job without Coach Calipari, which allowed me to get the Georgia Tech job," Pastner noted. "I learned a tremendous amount [from him]."
Pleasantries aside from reuniting with Calipari, Pastner knows what lies for him in Lexington, KY. "They're an elite defense team," he said. "we've gotta fight like crazy." John Calipari is undefeated when facing his former assistant coaches, sporting a 16-0 record.
While offensively the Yellow Jackets will have their hands full against Kentucky, based on what he saw this past week, Pastner is still concerned on what his team does on the defensive end of the floor. "We gotta finish on defense more importantly than offense."
On top of reflecting on the past week and discussing their upcoming opponent, Pastner took the time to discuss Kristian Sjolund and Jordan Usher. While Usher is technically now eligible to play against the Wildcats and will travel with the team to Lexington, he will not play until the Yellow Jackets' contest against Ball State next Wednesday.
As for Sjolund, Pastner cleared the air on the situation with him. Sjolund entered his name in the transfer portal earlier this week, but said it's still entirely possible for him to come back. In fact, Pastner would prefer it.
"I want him back. He's got the opportunity to come back if he elects to," he said.
Sjolund elected to redshirt this year after a summer foot injury hampered his progress. In a series of tweets, he stated that he entered his name into the transfer portal to "find the best place to continue his development", but maintains that he still has a great connection with Coach Pastner.
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