Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04:  Justin Jackson #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts after being defeated by the Villanova Wildcats 77-74 in the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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No. 9 North Carolina loses ACC opener at Georgia Tech

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Josh Pastner’s tenure at Georgia Tech is young enough that the majority people outside the city of Memphis, including the numerous fans that didn’t actually make it to their the seats McCammish Pavilion on Saturday afternoon, probably didn’t realize he was the new Yellow Jacket head coach.

In the immortal words of comedic philosopher Kevin Hart, “You gon’ learn today.”

The Yellow Jackets opened up ACC play on Saturday afternoon with a 75-63 win over No. 9 North Carolina in Atlanta. Josh Okogie led the way for Georgia Tech with 26 points, five boards and three assists while Josh Heath chipped in with 15 points off the bench, a terrific performance and a terrific win that will be the feather in the cap of Pastner’s inaugural season regardless of how it ends.

So good for him. Pastner is a good man that had an ugly split with Memphis which gave him a reputation nationally that would make Scott Drew blush.

But the real story on Saturday was North Carolina, who started the day as 18-point favorites but will head home with a 12-point loss and an 0-1 record in ACC play. The issue was that the Tar Heels couldn’t figure out the zone that Georgia Tech was running. As a team, North Carolina shot just 33.3 percent from the floor and 5-for-26 (19.2%) from three and committed 20 turnovers.

But it was worse than that for North Carolina’s stars. Josh Jackson and Joel Berry II, two guys that are in contention for All-American honors, finished a combined 9-for-30 from the floor and 2-for-14 from three. They turned the ball over nine times. Throw in Kenny Williams’ 0-for-6 performance from three and, well, you get the point.

North Carolina couldn’t do anything on the offensive end of the floor, and that’s what the concern for this team has been and will be all season long. Their bigs were kept in check in part because Ben Lammers is one of the best rim protectors in the sport and in part because Tech could collapse defenders into the paint; if UNC is going to shoot like they shot from three, you let them shoot. The zone took away Berry’s ability to operate in isolation and eliminated the ball-screen and down-screen actions UNC had used against Kentucky to such effect.

The concern for Tar Geel fans now has to be whether or not Pastner just provided the ACC with a blueprint for how to beat them.

My guess?

Probably not.

Jackson and Berry are too good to play like this consistently, and Roy Williams is too good not to adjust what he does against a zone. He made the switch to a four-guard lineup with Jackson at the four in the second half, but it was too late to have any real impact.

More than anything, this is a loss that will end up being a drag on UNC’s seed and their chance to win the ACC regular season title. If the Tar Heels end up as a No. 3 seed on Selection Sunday, note this loss on their profile. If they finish a game behind the regular season champs, remember that they gave one away to one of the teams from the bottom of the conference.

Georgia Tech adds two grad transfers

Josh Pastner
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Josh Pastner is bringing in immediate reinforcements for his first season at Georgia Tech.

Jodan Price and Kellen McCormick, both graduate transfers, have committed to the Yellow Jackets, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The additions are a much-needed boost for a program with just 10 scholarship players and a dearth of experience. Both players averaged double-digit minutes for the last two seasons at their previous stops.

Price comes to Atlanta from Eastern Michigan, where he played 16.4 minutes per game and averaged 4.4 points per contest while shooting 30.2 percent from 3-point range. McCormick, formerly of Western Michigan, put up 6 points and 1.9 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game.

Neither player will likely move the needle significantly for Georgia Tech next season, but adding experienced graduate transfers is usually a solid path for short-term stability, which is certainly welcome as Pastner begins his tenure in the ACC.

Georgia Tech lands Class of 2016 guard

Brian Gregory
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Georgia Tech picked up its third Class of 2016 commitment on Tuesday as the Yellow Jackets landed a pledged from three-star guard Josh Okogie.

The 6-foot-4 guard is considered the No. 143 overall prospect in the national Class of 2016 rankings and Okogie played with a very talented Team CP3 in the Nike EYBL. In 22 games this spring and summer, Okogie averaged 10.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 45 percent from the field.

Okogie joins three-star wing Christian Matthews and four-star big man Romello White in head coach Brian Gregory’s Class of 2016 at Georgia Tech. The group is definitely a solid influx of talent with some coming from successful grassroots programs.

Coaches on the Hot Seat

of the Indiana Hoosiers during the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Assembly Hall on March 3, 2015 in Bloomington, Indiana.
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As we get closer to the start of the 2015-16 college basketball season, let’s take a look at the head coaches who need to have a good season in order to feel safe. While the list of coaches on CBT’s “hot seat” have had poor seasons and lost their jobs before, keep in mind that the last two No. 1 selections for this list kept their jobs the following season, including Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, who is currently thriving in College Park. 

1. Tom Crean, Indiana: Indiana enters the 2015-16 season with top-25 talent and high expectations, but Crean finds himself atop the hot seat list for failing to meet expectations at Indiana. Crean’s now entering his eighth season as the Indiana head coach, and only once in the previous seven seasons — the 2012-13 season — have the Hoosiers been good enough to be considered a true title contender. That’s not enough, but not only is Crean struggling to find the success the Hoosier fan base craves on the floor, but the dismissal of three more players this offseason hasn’t made life any easier off the floor. Indiana’s president isn’t pleased with the off-the-court developments and many prominent Indiana alums have been vocal about the Hoosiers falling below expectations. A big season would go a long way towards quieting Crean’s doubters.

2. Josh Pastner, Memphis: Much like Crean at Indiana, Pastner has achieved success but faltered compared to a passionate fan base’s expectations. Memphis missed the postseason altogether for the first time in 15 years with last season’s 18-14 record and the team’s best returning player, Austin Nichols, transferred to Virginia, following Nick King and Pookie Powell out the door. Pastner is going to rely heavily on the freshman Lawson brothers to make a postseason appearance immediately, but in a city that became accustomed to the success of John Calipari’s Tigers, will they be satisfied if we’ve already seen Peak Pastner?

3. Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech: After a 12-19 season and 14th place finish, Gregory is back for his fifth season at Georgia Tech. He’s never finished above ninth in the ACC. Gregory has coached one team to the NCAA tournament in his last 11 seasons and that came at Dayton in 2010. The local recruiting momentum is also limited for Georgia Tech under Gregory. The Yellow Jackets went 0-for-7 recruiting prospects from Georgia in the Rivals150 in the Class of 2015. In the Class of 2016, that number is 1-for-11.

4. Kevin Willard, Seton Hall: Entering his sixth season at Seton Hall, Willard has finished above .500 twice and owns a 30-60 mark in the Big East. Having never made the NCAA tournament as a head coach, the pressure is on Willard to produce even though experienced guards Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina both transferred out of the program.

5. John Groce, Illinois: Illinois missed the NCAA tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1992 and that isn’t sitting well with Illini fans. Groce has never finished above seventh in the Big Ten and he hasn’t been able to reel in a lot of big-named recruits that Illinois finds itself a finalist for. Transfers like Darius Paul and Aaron Cosby haven’t lasted and proved to be harmful as replacements for those missed recruits. Illinois fans expect results and Groce needs to make the NCAAs again.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

Illinois head coach John Groce (Getty Images)
Illinois head coach John Groce (Getty Images)

6. Barry Hinson, Southern Illinois: The once proud Southern Illinois program has had to endure Hinson’s three-year tenure. He’s thrown his own players under the bus during a postgame press conference and publicly remarked about his job security this spring. The Salukis own a 40-57 record and 19-35 mark in conference play under Hinson and he lost five transfers this offseason, three of them freshmen.

7. Donnie Jones, UCF: UCF was successful in Conference USA, but its been a rough back-to-back stretch for the program. Jones has never made the NCAA tournament and his 2010-11 wins were vacated for using ineligible players. Jones was also suspended three CUSA games and the program put on probation. Now he’s 25-36 overall and 9-27 in the American the last two seasons.

8. Travis Ford, Oklahoma State: It’s never a good sign when the team’s athletic director and biggest public booster, T. Boone Pickens, publicly have to back Travis Ford, which is precisely what happened in Stillwater this offseason. It’s a far worse sign that Ford owns no NCAA tournament wins since 2009 despite recruiting McDonald’s All-Americans like LeBryan Nash and Marcus Smart, who both played for multiple seasons.

9. Dave Rice, UNLV: Rice has proven to be a formidable force on the recruiting trail, but that success has yet to translate on the Thomas and Mack Center court, as the Rebs have missed the last two NCAA tournaments. Rice was feeling the heat a little bit this offseason when rumors of Ben Howland looking at UNLV began swirling, but Howland is now at Mississippi State and Rice landed hometown McDonald’s All-American Stephen Zimmerman. Rice still doesn’t own any NCAA tournament wins, and with yet another talented recruiting class, he needs a strong season.

10. Kim Anderson, Missouri: Anderson’s first season at Mizzou was a disaster as the team went 9-23 and 3-15 in the SEC. It’s not looking much better in the future as the Tigers lost some key pieces — namely Jonathan Williams III and Teki Gill-Cesear — to transfer.

Four-star guard to decide on Monday

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One of July’s better shooting guards was four-star Georgia native Brandon Robinson, who came on strong with the Georgia Stars and Team Loaded North Carolina.

The 6-foot-5 Robinson had some big scoring games during the live period and it led to scholarship offers from schools from all over the country. The No. 76 overall prospect in the Class of 2016 cut his list to Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisville and North Carolina in August and he’s announcing his decision on Monday at a ceremony at his school, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

During the recruiting process, Robinson took official visits to Georgia Tech, Louisville and North Carolina and he made the decision to commit to one of his five finalists after a recent trip to Chapel Hill. But don’t count out Florida State and Georgia just yet. Robinson has seen both campuses on unofficial visits, so he is familiar with both programs.

Many perceive the Tar Heels to be in strong shape here, thanks in-part to the quick decision after the official visit, but there are a lot of good options for Robinson here.

Four-star shooting guard sets decision date

LAS VEGAS, NV - July 26, 2015: The adidas Uprising Summer Championships showcase game between Team Loaded NC and Indiana Elite at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nevada.(Photo by Kelly Kline/adidas)
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One of the top shooters in the Class of 2016 has decided to end the recruiting process next week.

Four-star wing Brandon Robinson, who rebounded from a tough spring with a good month of July, will announce his college choice on Monday. Robinson, who’s taken two of his five available official visits, cut his list to five schools in mid-August. Those schools are Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, North Carolina and Maryland, with Maryland being the lone non-ACC program on Robinson’s list.

The Douglasville, Georgia native has taken official visits to Georgia Tech and North Carolina, with the latter being completed just this past weekend. Many recruiting analysts see North Carolina, which will have some holes to fill on its perimeter after the 2015-16 season, as the favorite to land Robinson.

Robinson also has an official visit to Florida State scheduled for October 9, but given the timeline of his announcement he’ll have made his college choice before then.