March 8, 2022
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Postgame Press Conference
Louisville - 84, Georgia Tech - 74
THE MODERATOR: We're now ready to begin the Georgia Tech press conference. We're joined by Coach Josh Pastner, student-athletes, Michael Devoe and Jordan Usher. We're going to ask Coach for an opening statement, and then we'll take questions from the media.
JOSH PASTNER: First of all, a couple things. One, I want to give credit to Louisville. They got a lot of good players, and a lot of those good players made some big plays today, especially early in the game. Then had a couple big shots in crunch time. That's one.
Two, I want to give a tremendous shout-out to these two young men to my left in Jordan Usher and Michael Devoe, just two phenomenal young men, along with Khalid Moore. Khalid's not up here, but he's the other senior on our team. Those three guys, these two plus Khalid, have just meant so much to the program. They're phenomenal young men. They've been part of something to win an ACC Championship. They've been part of many, many wins. And most importantly, they've done so many good things off the court.
They're on track to graduate this spring, and they're just real special young men who they've got so many great things in front of them with their life, even beyond basketball. So it's been a real honor and a blessing and a real privilege to be able to coach these guys. As I said when we recruited them, this is not a four-year decision, it's a 40-year decision, it's a lifetime decision, and they're part of our family for life.
Even though they'll be moving on to the next stage of their life, they'll always be part of Georgia Tech and the Georgia Tech family, my family, the Georgia Tech family.
Third, I thought in the locker room there, Mr. Stansbury, our athletic director, gave just an incredible talk to the team, both with the seniors and with the underclassmen. I just thought his message was just outstanding. I won't go into details what the message was, but it was an amazing message, and it really summed up -- it was a real powerful message. We're real appreciative of that from Mr. Stansbury.
And the last thing is it's been a tough season. There's been some highs, some lows. Obviously, we would like to have had a better win-loss record. I mean, that's why you play sports is there's a scoreboard and there's a winner and a loser in the outcome of the game. I do know our team has gotten better. Unfortunately, we don't have the wins maybe to show for it that we want, but our team has gotten better.
One thing about our team no matter what the situation is, these guys have always fought and competed. And as Mr. Stansbury said, you know, you had a chance to sort of lay down, and their fight and their competitive excellence allowed us to have a chance really to win the game. A shot here and a shot there late, we had a shot to win the game, and that's a credit to these young men.
So really, really proud of them. Proud of our group. We've got great young guys for a nucleus for moving forward for the following year. And that's that.
Q. Josh, you had no steals and no free-throw attempts in the first half. You were up 9-3, and they went on a run and took control of the game. It seemed like the defense looked slow or stuck in mud. Kind of what was going on? What was -- I guess, what happened after the first media time-out?
JOSH PASTNER: Yeah, they had a couple shots. Our defense wasn't as effective as it needed to be in the first half. We made some adjustments at halftime, and the adjustments we made, we switched some things, just the way we were covering in the zone, which obviously, unfortunately, we didn't do it the first half. We made the adjustment at halftime, and it worked itself out in the second half.
They got a couple offensive rebounds, and that allowed them to kick out threes. Then we had a couple good looks that we just missed too that could have maybe been a different outcome in the game in the first half. But that's just part of basketball.
But credit to our guys that we fought back and had a chance, and credit to Louisville that they made some big shots early in the game there and that stretched the lead. They got a couple of big offensive rebounds in that first half, kick-out threes that ended up hurting us in the first half.
Q. At one point down 27 with 12:19 in the game, you got it down to two possessions. Just what you can say about the fight in this team, and the two gentlemen you've spoken so highly of, just what Michael and Jordan not just in this game, but in their career at Georgia Tech to stay in this game?
JOSH PASTNER: That's one thing about this team, and these two have led it, we have always fought. It doesn't matter what the situation is. It doesn't matter the score we've been down, but we have always competed and played our butts off no matter what the situation is. That's a credit to these two young men. They're our two team captains, along with Khalid Moore. He's not sitting here right now, but these two guys.
I really believe our team and our program mirrors Georgia Tech, the student body, and I always say that. Because to be at Georgia Tech, first of all, to get a degree from Georgia Tech, to be a student at Georgia Tech -- forget being an athlete, just a student -- it's really hard, one, to get into school, and two, it's hard to even get through the four years because it's such a rigorous curriculum, maybe the toughest in all of America, and that includes the Ivy League schools and everything else.
So I really believe our program mirrors the students, meaning that you've got to be blue collar. You've got to have a grind mentality. You've got to have a toughness about you to be able to manage and be able to get through Georgia Tech academically. So we mirror that.
That's why I tell people like, even with our program, when people come to Georgia Tech, they don't instantly graduate. It punches them in the mouth, takes them a couple years, and then they graduate. And that's kind of how our program is. You get guys here kind of get punched, and you've got to develop, develop, and when they're older, then they start showing how good they are, and that's what these guys have been.
Unfortunately, in the last two years, they've had older guys next to them, a lot of older guys. This year they've had a lot of young guys, basically all freshmen and sophomores next to them. So as those freshmen and sophomores get older, they'll be better, and there will be more of it. Unfortunately for those guys, they didn't have as many older guys with them.
But what they show is that we mirror the student body at Georgia Tech, that you have a blue collar mentality, you have a work ethic. It doesn't happen overnight. It takes time. You've got to develop. You've got to adjust to the school. And that's kind of how our team is.
Of course we want to win more. This year we'd like to have had more wins, but the guys have really mirrored what Georgia Tech stands for, and that's blue collar, tough, competitive, hard-nosed, just high character young people.
Q. Josh, you held Jordan out of the starting lineup. Hoping you could shed light on that, but also your thoughts about having to be put in that position.
JOSH PASTNER: No, these guys are phenomenal. It was just a very minor internal matter. We have our rules, whether we're playing the National Championship Game or the first exhibition game, it's all the same. It was nothing more than -- minor might even be too strong of a word. It was nothing more than that.
These guys are phenomenal young men. I've kind of always handled that in my 13 years as a head coach, hey, these are our standards. This is the deal. No matter what the situation is. Like I said, it was less than minor, but it's our standards.
Q. You guys fought back and made it a close game. How difficult was it? You see the scoreboard, you're down 27, you guys go on the 19-0 run. Just kind of what was going through your mind? Obviously now you've played your last game at Georgia Tech. Kind of what are the emotions like that as well?
MICHAEL DEVOE: We wanted to go out with a fight. Seeing we were down 27, we wanted to fight. We knew this was going to be our last game if we didn't fight back and try to compete and stuff. So we looked at each other and was like, man, we've got to fight back, and we've got to compete.
So we did a really good job. I've got to give a lot of credit to all the young guys as well. They got better over the season. I'm excited to see their future as well. I'm proud to be a Georgia Tech guy and a guy that will be able to graduate from here and do big things. So I want to give a lot of credit to the coaching staff for developing me over these four years too. It's been a great four years of my life. One of the best years of my life.
I've created brotherhoods that will last a lifetime. I've created relationships with people off the court as well that will be lifetime relationships. So I'm grateful for all those, and it's a true blessing to be here at Tech.
THE MODERATOR: Jordan, do you want to take that question as well?
JORDAN USHER: Yeah, man, I can't explain the feeling of wearing the Georgia Tech jersey. I feel like I don't want to take it off. I want to take it home and ride on the plane with it. When you're down that much, you know it's a definitive feeling. It's like I don't know if you play candy crush, but when you run out of lives, and it gives you a time limit before you can play again, that's what I feel like. On the phone, I can give $2.99 and get more hearts and play again. You can't do that in life.
When Jarrod, I felt -- like he was right there and hit the deep three, I felt like, man, I got a stab in the chest. I'm cool with taking the L, if you come back and fight the hard way. I like our attitude that we came out with. Obviously, I don't ever want to lose. I want to win every game.
These are my brothers. Coach Pastner took me in, Coach Williams, Coach -- I wish I could say everybody's name. I tweeted the other day, like I am Georgia Tech. Like I am. I wish I could turn into the actual institution, like for real. It's turned me into a man. It's been some of the most fun times of my life for real.
Q. Coach Pastner, were you a little surprised by the rebounding differential, especially on the offensive boards, compared to Louisville tonight? Were you surprised by that?
JOSH PASTNER: No. I mean, they're bigger than we are, and they got some offensive rebounds. We were playing small at some parts. Like Rodney Howard has gotten a lot better as the season progressed, but that's an area that he's got to continue to improve on, which we'll need to spend time on this off-season, to even get better as a rebounder.
They're big. There's no denying that Louisville is a big team. We talked about that in our preparation about them being a really good offensive rebounding team. And I do like to say, because this is my last time up here, and just to add on, Patrick, and to everybody else. Look, you're in this position, you really, you really -- you want to win every game. I want to win every possession. When you lose, you go home, and you don't sleep for days, and it really eats at me.
That all being said, the joy of seeing young men grow and develop is still a joy of coaching. And seeing a guy like Jordan Usher and Michael Devoe, seeing where Jordan came in, like he's so aware of not even using a curse word now, and I'm so proud of him for that. Like the discipline of not -- and I'm just proud of his development in that.
Michael Devoe, just opening up and being -- you know, he came in and was so quiet and wouldn't talk, and now he opens up and expresses himself.
I'm just proud of these two young men, and you can see their development. And that's a real joy. And the way they treat people, one of our pillars of our program is how you treat people because I'm real big about that. I don't care who it is, whether it's the President of the United States or it's the janitor, you treat everyone with respect, treat everyone the right way. These two guys embody that. That's important to me.
I've had more kids come, people come, that can do nothing for them or us, but the way they treat them and make them feel like a million bucks is really powerful for our program. And to see these two guys, how they've grown as young men, I'm really, really proud of them. Really proud of them.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Miles and his development over these last few games. He's really started to assert himself in the lineup and kind of grow up.
JOSH PASTNER: I've always played about seven guys -- six, seven guys. This year, unfortunately, we didn't have that, maybe that separation. Obviously we had the older guys, but there's a lot of cluster with everybody else. So I didn't really get to get to the seven. Besides these two, everybody else was trying to -- we were trying to figure it out game by game.
The good news -- the bad news is doing that, we didn't have the record that we wanted to have. The good news is through that, those guys like a Miles Kelly got a lot of playing time and a lot of experience. And because of that, it will pay dividends going into next season.
The biggest jump young people make is between their freshman and sophomore year and/or their first year in a program to their second year. So the jump that those young guys will make -- and a guy like Miles, we need him to make a big jump -- all those guys, and he will. And he's finished the season really strong, and part of that is because he's been able to play. Been able to play a lot of minutes.
Unfortunately, I couldn't get a set rotation for these two because I played -- like I said, I was playing a lot of guys outside of these two trying to figure out the right combinations, so that unfortunately our record wasn't what it needed to be. That being said, it will help us next season for the experience that those young guys got.
It was sort of -- I remember when -- Mike and I have talked about that when he was a freshman, and that first year, him and Jose, when those two were together his freshman year, those guys played a lot of minutes together. And we got crushed in some games. But we talked about it. But the next two years with him and Jose together, then we won a lot of games, and we were one of the best teams in the league and one of the best back courts.
So at Georgia Tech, when you're bringing in young guys and developing, there's going to be a year or two that's going to happen where you're going to get kind of punched because you're getting through that experience to pay off as they get a little bit older. So you're better for that later on. That's just part of -- I still believe -- and I know the transfer portal and everything else, I still believe in getting old and developing, and we're in line with that for next season.
Q. You talked about the question before about rebounding is something you're going to have to improve on this off-season, and you talked about the freshmen developing into their sophomore year. What else is some important things this off-season?
JOSH PASTNER: Yeah, there's quite a few things we've got to get better at. I have a long -- notes and a list of things. I'll probably meet with Mr. Stansbury and Mr. Strickland and go through everything on just our vision of what we've got to get better at. Obviously, we'll give the guys some time off after the season here and let them make sure they finish out right academically, and then we'll get back to it.
There's some things we've got to attack and get better, and that doesn't start in September. It starts tomorrow. Even though we might not have activity tomorrow, but kind of that mentality.
So there will be some things that we need to do, and we need to get stronger, and we need to get more explosive. We need to get bigger. We need to get faster. So a lot of that starts with the weight room, so we've got to be really good in that. And we're going to obviously recruit and get in the portal and round out -- sign some guys, along with our core group that we have back.
Q. Michael, the first half, it looked like it was a really frustrating experience for you. Can you describe kind of what was going on there? But also how you were able to get things going personally as a team in the second half?
MICHAEL DEVOE: Like you said, you couldn't have said it better. It was a rough one for me, but I had to get out of that fog. My teammates helped me out, just encouraging me. Coach is also talking to me and telling me to get out of it and all those type of things. I just feel like I was in my head a little bit. Sometimes it just happens like that. For me, it was just my teammates encouraging me, just going out there and just playing my game.
Q. For Jordan and Michael, you can't teach fight, and yet you both have it and you show it all the time. Just what you can say about where your fight comes from individually.
Michael, start with you.
MICHAEL DEVOE: I would say my mom is a big person in my life that's an influence in my life. Somebody I look at. She's been fighting her whole life. She's been fighting just to be able to maintain for me and do all the things for me and the man that I am. It's because of her. So just that institute, that situation with that. That's somebody I just look at as somebody that's always competing and always fighting.
JORDAN USHER: I would say -- I mean, I'm from Canton, Georgia, like a real -- I don't want to say it's a small town because I like my town and my city, but it's not the most booming metropolis like maybe midtown or where we are in Brooklyn. It's a blue collar people. My high school when I transferred to Wheeler is a bunch of people that should not be playing basketball. The way we would win is take a bunch of charges. We had players that come in and foul hard, and in our practice we got beat up.
We never wanted to lose. Just where I have pride from being a blue collar dude. I have a lot of fight in me. I feel like I'm overlooked sometimes. I was kind of mad I didn't even get an honorable mention in the ACC award. Whatever, though. I'm just going to keep fighting. That's my spirit. I like to get to it. I feel like you can put me anywhere on earth, and I'll find my way. Give me an hour or two, and I'll find my way.
That's part of Tech. I go to class with geniuses every day, and I go to practice and get to bang heads against Mike. Come on, you couldn't ask for more. If the fight's not in you to do that, then you're in the wrong profession. You've got to get to it.
JOSH PASTNER: I want to give a great shout-out to Paul Brazeau. Don't look behind, Paul. I can't tell you how many times I've called Paul this year, not complaining, because I don't believe in complaining, but expressing my concerns on certain things. Admiration, yes. But he's always taken it and he's a good man who does a great job. The ACC is very lucky they've got Paul, and I mean that, Paul. I would tell you that here or if you weren't here.
Kevin, you did a great job filling in for Andy too that one time on the media day.
THE MODERATOR: That's a great place to end it. Thanks so much.
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