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October 25, 2017

Josh Pastner

Charlotte, North Carolina

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner.

Q. Your first trip through the league, what did you learn about yourself maybe more than anything else?
COACH PASTNER: First, the league is amazing. There's great people in the league, from the commissioner all the way on down, and it's just a first-class league, first-class organization. It's a blessing and I'm lucky, fortunate to be able to be a head coach in the ACC, which is the best basketball league in the country.

The league is outstanding with coaches and players and recognizing how hard it is to win games in this league, it's awfully hard to do, especially on the road.

So it's a great challenge and a fun opportunity at the same time. And that's what makes coaching in the ACC special, is the challenge of trying to find ways to win games against the competition that you're playing against.

Q. Josh Okogie mentioned that your energy is contagious. How do you make your energy contagious?
COACH PASTNER: I believe you're either an energy giver or you're an energy taker. Either you're a Positive Paul or you're a Negative Nelly. I prefer to stay with the energy givers and try to have as many Positive Pauls around and stay away from the Negative Nellys or the energy takers.

And I believe in energy. I look at the glass as overflowing. I want our teams to be full of energy. I believe you have a better chance of success on the court with energy.

And it's much easier said than done because we all get hit with different things in our life. But I just think it's important for me. And I've tried to do it ever since I've been a head coach, try to coach every possession and practice in the games with the energy that I feel is needed for us to have success.

Q. Last year coming into year one you guys handled the low expectations extremely well, to say the least. Coming into year two, with higher expectations, how have you guys handled that this offseason?
COACH PASTNER: When I got the job they told me I wasn't going to win a game in the ACC. My bosses told me that, and they said over my first two years we're going to win a total of 20 games. So obviously we overachieved last year. We had a great year, kind of maybe a perfect storm.

I still think we're in a rebuilding process. We could be better this year and not win as much. I mean, we've got fortunate on some games. We got a little lucky here and there. And for us to have success this year, we're going to have to get a little lucky along the way, and we'll have to stay healthy.

We're really relying on some freshmen to have to produce for us and that's not going to be easy. So our main three guys returning in Josh Okogie, Ben Lammers and Tadric Jackson, they'll have to be good. And they'll have to remain healthy. Because we don't have that margin after them, margin for error after those guys.

But, hey, it is what it is. And once the ball's tipped you've got to try to find a way to get it done and we'll just keep working and try to keep getting better.

Q. What do you expect from Tadric Jackson this year? Seems like last year you didn't know what you would get?
COACH PASTNER: Tadric last year was kind of high and low. And playing against Boston College with Coach Christian back there, like Tadric Jackson, we were fortunate, we got lucky in the game at home versus BC, part of it because Tadric Jackson was really good the second half. The game before he was not good and the game after that he wasn't good, but against BC he was really good.

Other games he hasn't been, he's been up and down. We need him to be consistently tough. And being consistently tough, being mentally tough, meaning he's just going to be good night in night out.

And this league is really good. There's a lot of good guards in this league. I've said it in multiple interviews and I'm not saying it just because Coach Christian is back there. I think Boston College is going to be really good this year. They've got as good a guard play as anyone in this league, and the stuff they ran last year was really, really good.

When you're looking at teams like that or everyone's just in a complete dogfight in the league trying to find ways to win games. It's hard. It's a very, very hard league to find ways to win. And being in Conference USA or the American, I always felt like I had an opportunities to circle some games, probably get a win here or there.

Just in this league there's nowhere to do that. And you just don't know. Maybe the upper elite teams, a few of them, can say they're going to win a certain amount of games, but everyone else, you're in a complete dogfight. And for us to have a chance to win, Tadric Jackson is going to have to be good for us every night.

He just can't have on and off. He's been really good this preseason consistently, offensively, he's been very good offensively. But he's going to have to do it when the lights go off as well.

Q. With Ben Lammers coming off winning the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award, what expectations do you have from him in terms of mentoring the younger players? And how has his play developed over the past three to four years?
COACH PASTNER: Ben Lammers doesn't talk a lot. So he's not going to be mentoring anybody. Because he rarely talks. He's a mechanical engineer. Everything he does is -- he's very introverted in that way.

Ben Lammers can have a great year this year, doesn't mean he's going to get ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He could still be really good and not get that award. But he's got to continue to prove -- the biggest thing about him, he's got to score better for us around the basket.

He shot the ball well. He can pass it. He can block shots. But he's got to score better around the basket for us. That's got to be a big thing.

And mentoring, like I said, he doesn't really talk a lot. So his mentoring is just going to have to be through his play and his ability. And he does such a nice job in practice, like, he just does what we tell him to do.

He's zero maintenance, really, which is a player at that level to have zero maintenance, you rarely find that. He's not low maintenance; he's zero maintenance, zero.

Q. Coaches talk about freshmen hitting a wall along about January or so, just not being used to the pace. But no offense to other conferences you were part of, did you find that you were holding up well in your first run through the league?
COACH PASTNER: The reason I felt we held up in the first year of the league, in a decent way, was just because we were really playing six and a half guys and everyone knew their roles.

And I think it's easier when you play less guys. Now, for me, now maybe this year I have to play more. But I've always been a better coach when I can play less guys.

I think playing more guys is hard. And I've been in that position where you have ten guys and you're trying to find minutes for everybody and it's hard. But I thought last year just made it so simple because you had about six and a half guys we were playing, and everyone could just, they knew what they were doing, and they knew their roles. And it just kept things very simple.

And we were fortunate we stayed healthy, our main guys stayed healthy. And that's got to be the same thing this year, got to get a little lucky and guys have to stay healthy, knock on wood.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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