October 12, 2021
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Q. Coach, coming off of winning the ACC Tournament, and I know that for us in the media who had to deal with Zoom as you have for the past 18 months, how excited you were and you answered everybody's questions past midnight. What you can say about bringing that energy into this season and how strong have you gotten in your Zoom game at this point?
JOSH PASTNER: Yeah, well, first of all, it was just thrilling, awesome, exciting, just -- not enough words to describe the feeling to be able to win the ACC Championship, something that you're able to do.
That's the first time for Georgia Tech to have done that in 28 years. Obviously that doesn't happen without great players that we had, just like with the two guys to my left.
That being said, it's exciting now going into next season or this upcoming season. As I've said before, we're not defending anything because that was -- we were the 2021 ACC champions, and now we're moving into next season and this upcoming season, so it's a brand new year.
We've got to do a great job of turning the page and knowing that that was last year and this is a new year. Got to go out on the floor and produce and make shots, win games.
But it's going to be nice having people back in some normalcy, in person and having people in the stands.
For us at Georgia Tech, it's opened full capacity. We have a 9,000-seat arena, so all 9,000 can be filled if people choose to come. It'll be good to have the media back in place.
Through all this we learned a lot in Zoom, and just like with us doing the postgame press conference and stuff like that, what you learn is there's some different ways where you can be efficient and still be able to get the job done.
Q. 14 letter winners returning this year, six newcomers. Given that you're sort of in that second full four-year recruiting cycle and the advent of the transfer portal, is the makeup of your roster right now what you're striving for?
JOSH PASTNER: Yeah, I mean, well, you're constantly recruiting. That's part of the program. That's part of your job because you've got to continue to get good players and develop and all the things that go with that.
But as I've said, the most important part of the program is the current players. You've got to do a great job with your current guys. You've got to get them better because that's the way to take care of business on the floor, and that's the best way to sell the program is how the current players feel, and do they feel they got better in the experience that they had.
I believe we do a great job in that area, and two key guys, Michael Devoe and Jordan Usher, are examples of that from where they started to where they are now, how much better they've gotten. They're really good players. Both going to graduate in the spring with a Georgia Tech degree, and for us to be successful this season, both those young men to my left are going to have to play at a high level.
They know it, and we're excited for the opportunities.
Q. Michael and Jordan, just coming off of that success from last year, Coach said you take that and you have to leave that in last year and focus on this year. Just the building blocks that it took to get there, what can you say about what you're going to take from last season into this season to make sure that it's not just a one-time deal for Georgia Tech?
MICHAEL DEVOE: I would say the adversity we went through last year, whether it was being a high or being a low. Last year we started off 0-2 and we felt like the world was ending. For us we've got to maintain what we do here at Georgia Tech and we've got to stay together as a unit. That's the biggest thing, whether we're having a high or whether we're having a low.
I would say that's probably our biggest thing.
JORDAN USHER: I think just keeping that same stride that we seem to have found the past two seasons like around January or maybe late December where our team really starts to click and just put that at the beginning of our season.
Coach has preached that to us all summer, no slow starts, no anything. We had our little announcement at the football game to celebrate our rings from last year, but that's all over with. We're on a brand new slate right now and we're only focused on beating Miami, Ohio our first game, and after that we'll see what's next.
Q. We know what the term super senior means, but what does it mean to you being a product of the Atlanta area?
JORDAN USHER: I look at this last year as like a super blessing after transferring and having to sit out and miss some games. But being able to be in Atlanta where I'm from and have great guys like Mike and the rest of my teammates and knowing the system and having a coach that trusts me and shows me nothing but love and just pure just -- I can't even explain what Coach Pastner does for me before I get choked up.
But having this last year to be with this team and to be a leader and just to pour out my heart for these guys is something I hold very dear.
Q. Mike, tell us about your teammate, Jordan Usher.
MICHAEL DEVOE: Amazing guy. He's came a long way since he's transferred from USC, but I couldn't have asked for a better friend than he's become of mine. He's one of my best friends that I have, and what he brings on the floor is just surreal, his energy that he brings on the defensive end and on the offensive end.
Like Coach said, he's going to be the best cutter this year in the country, so he's going to have a really good year this year, and I'm looking forward to seeing it.
Q. Coach, hearing what Jordan said about you, I kind of saw your face light up. What does it mean to have players that feel that way about you?
JOSH PASTNER: Well, I love our guys. We have great group of young men. I mean, these guys know I'm just beyond proud of them. I mean, to be able to come here and to see them continue to mature and grow and then they're in a position to be able to get a degree from Georgia Tech, I mean, it's just -- I'm just so happy for them.
They're obviously great basketball players, but they're phenomenal young men. To see their development as people is outstanding on where -- from where they started, and that's what's great about college and to continue to see their development and their maturation.
The other thing I would tell you about both young men is they're extremely trustworthy. You can trust them. You might say, well, what -- it's not about being trustworthy on the basketball floor, it's just you can trust them as human beings. They're really good people.
They're going to be successful in life because I really believe good people find a way to be successful, and both these young men are good people who have good hearts, and they do things the right way, and they're going to be successful with whatever journey in their life it takes them.
I've loved being around them. I trust both young men as much as you could trust somebody.
Q. You talked about being an Atlanta kid, Jordan. But also Georgia Tech has a rich history and heritage in basketball and just in sports in general. How does that feel to now be a part of this and to be able to be a part of that history now and maybe repeat as ACC champions and possibly bring a National Championship to Georgia Tech?
JORDAN USHER: Yeah, it's super cool. Given the crazy year we had, we had a lot of time just us as a team together where we got to really reflect, and when we're praying and talking about each other and really just living in the moment, we got to just sit there and realize that we're doing something that hasn't been done in a while for Georgia Tech. We actually have one of our coaches and trainers, BJ Elder, who was a part of the old Georgia Tech teams when they went to the Final Four and he was even -- being able to see his face light up knowing that we're making him and his comrades proud, that Georgia Tech isn't -- I don't want to say soy bottom of the totem pole, but we've been grinding this thing back up, and I plan on keeping it there, keeping it somewhere special. That just makes us feel good to make guys like that proud.
Q. Coach, you talked about good people just finding a way to be successful, JosÃ© Alvarado, what he meant to this team until last season, what each of you think about his impact and how his spirit lives on with Georgia Tech.
JOSH PASTNER: Yeah, JosÃ© was awesome for us and a phenomenal young man and just played so hard and gave us great energy. He was a great part and a big part of us being able to be successful and having the success that we've had.
What's great is the transition for a guy like Michael Devoe and Jordan Usher. They can be that same guy and even in different avenues. JosÃ© had his way and Michael has his way, Jordan has his way, but the result can be the same.
One of the great things within our program is we've had really good people, just good players and good student-athletes and good guys. These two to my left are as outstanding as you get.
I'm excited for this upcoming season, and these two know that -- they're excited, and all you can ask for is the opportunities in front of us.
MICHAEL DEVOE: Absolutely. I would say something about JosÃ©. He showed all of us really that passion for the game. Whether he was missing shots or doing anything, he always brought that passion to the game. Whether it was anything going on in his life he always brought that, and he showed me how to be a true leader, how to lead by example and all those type of things.
Again, like what Coach said, we're excited for this new up and coming year. He's going to have an outstanding year playing in the NBA, and I know he's ready for us to be an outstanding year, too.
JORDAN USHER: Yeah, we had such a tight-knit group last year, like we do this year, but we're all just a little bit older and now we have some younger players on our team, which is great, and we get to bring them along.
But me, Mike, JosÃ© and Moses, we've cried together, we've laughed together, we've been happy together. To have that culmination last year to win was great. JosÃ© and Moses left a huge stain on the program in the best way possible, and them departing almost makes it even more of a motivation or a push factor, because they text us all the time saying, kind of a joke, like, Hey, let us still be able to wear our GT gear. Let us still be able to rock for Georgia Tech.
It's more of a motivator because it's our turn to keep the torch burning, and I take that with a lot of pride. I'm not going to let them down, I'm not going to let Mike down, and I know he feels the same way.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports