Damon Stoudamire overcome by emotion as he takes over at Georgia Tech

stoudamire georgia tech
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ATLANTA — Damon Stoudamire managed to get one word out – “Wow!” – before he was overcome with emotion.

The longtime NBA guard is thrilled to be back in the college game, heading a men’s basketball program that he thinks can once again be a national powerhouse.

Then again, Stoudamire is not the first coach at Georgia Tech to express such optimism.

Stoudamire was formally introduced as the Yellow Jackets’ coach, capping a whirlwind search that took only three days after Josh Pastner was fired following another losing season.

“This has been a long journey for me,” Stoudamire said, choking back tears. “I’m excited beyond belief to be here.”

Stoudamire’s only previous head coaching experience came at Pacific, a West Coast Conference school where he posted a 71-77 record over a five-year tenure. He never reached the postseason but was selected as the league’s coach of the year in 2020.

Stoudamire has been a Boston Celtics assistant since 2021, working with a team that reached last year’s NBA Finals and is among the top championship contenders this season.

He couldn’t pass up the chance to coach at Georgia Tech, even though the Yellow Jackets haven’t been much of a factor on the national scene for nearly two decades.

Stoudamire vowed to change the trajectory.

“This is a tradition-rich program, and one that aspires to get back to winning championships,” he said. “We’re going to galvanize the community, the student body, and just get this thing going in the right direction.”

Pastner said many of the same things when he arrived in 2016, calling Georgia Tech a sleeping giant even as he faced a massive rebuilding job.

He talked confidently of luring top talent to the Atlantic Coast Conference school in midtown Atlanta, saying the urban setting would be a huge appeal – especially with many of the nation’s top prospects coming out of Georgia Tech’s own backyard.

Seven years later, Pastner was out of a job, having managed only a single NCAA Tournament appearance – a one-and-done in 2021 after a surprising run to the ACC championship – while drawing scant interest from five-star recruits.

Pastner’s predecessor, Brian Gregory, lasted only five forgettable seasons before he was dumped. Even Paul Hewitt, who guided the Yellow Jackets to the national championship game in 2004, oversaw a program in decline.

Georgia Tech managed only two winning seasons and two NCAA appearances over Hewitt’s final six seasons, leading to his firing in 2011.

In total, the Yellow Jackets have managed only three NCAA appearances and one victory in the Big Dance in the past 18 seasons. Even more stunning, they’ve had just two winning records in the ACC over that span, both posted by Pastner.

It’s a far cry from the powerhouse program built by Bobby Cremins in the 1980s and ’90s.

Stoudamire said he was very familiar with that team growing up. He ripped off the names of Cremins’ top players, including Mark Price, Bruce Dalrymple, Duane Ferrell, Tom Hammond, Dennis Scott, Kenny Anderson, Brian Oliver, James Forrest and Malcolm Mackey.

Flanked by Georgia Tech President Angel Cabrera and athletic director J Batt, Stoudamire said confidently, “With the shared vision we have, I don’t think there’s nothing we can’t do.”

The new coach was short on specifics. He vaguely talked about being a program that will rely heavily on analytics, plans to beef up recruiting in both Georgia and around the nation, and can be a much bigger player on the NIL market with all the opportunities available in metro Atlanta.

Stoudamire stressed that he’s not looking to recreate the program Cremins built, but did say he might take from the former coach’s playbook. Those teams were long known for having some of the nation’s top point guards, from Price to Anderson to Stephon Marbury.

“I do feel that guards win championships,” said the 49-year-old Stoudamire, a guard who starred at Arizona and went on to a 13-year career in the NBA. “Good guards will win you many games.”

For Georgia Tech, the hiring of Stoudamire capped a six-month period of enormous change for an athletic program that has struggled in its two biggest sports.

Early last season, football coach Geoff Collins and athletic director Todd Stansbury were both fired. Batt replaced Stansbury and wound up keeping interim football coach Brent Key as the ultimate replacement.

Then, shortly after Pastner’s team completed a 15-18 season, including a 6-12 mark in the ACC, Batt decided to make another major coaching change.

“At the end of the day, the people we surround ourselves with is the most important part of our work,” Batt said. “I have extreme confidence in both of these hires we’ve made in my short time here, and I feel really great about our future.”

Stoudamire was asked if there was any hesitation to leave the Celtics, especially with the playoffs and another championship run right around the corner.

“When Boston wins the championship,” he said confidently, “I’ll still get my ring. We’ve already talked about that. I’ll get my ring.”

Then he plans on winning a few more at Georgia Tech.

Josh Pastner fired after 7 seasons as Georgia Tech coach

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA – Josh Pastner was fired Friday as Georgia Tech’s basketball coach, two seasons after he guided the Yellow Jackets to a surprising Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title.

Pastner was dumped after seven seasons at the school in midtown Atlanta, his fate sealed by a second straight losing season and few signs of progress in a program that was once a national powerhouse.

The Yellow Jackets capped a 15-18 campaign Wednesday with an 89-81 loss to Pittsburgh in the second round of the ACC Tournament. They finished 12-20 last season.

“We have high expectations at Georgia Tech for all of our sports programs, and it is imperative that our storied men’s basketball program achieves a greater level of success,” athletic director J Batt said.

“Our men’s basketball program is important to our department and to our institution. We will not shy away from expecting to consistently compete for ACC championships, NCAA Tournament appearances and sustained success.”

The 45-year-old Pastner didn’t come close to reaching that standard. His record at Georgia Tech was 109-114, including a 53-78 mark in the ACC. He formerly coached at Memphis, where he spent seven seasons after replacing John Calipari.

Pastner’s lone NCAA appearance at Georgia Tech was one-and-done. The Yellow Jackets followed up their ACC title with a loss to Loyola in the Round of 64 during the pandemic-marred 2020-21 season.

Georgia Tech hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2010, a sharp drop for a program that rose to prominence in the 1980s and ’90s under Bobby Cremins and reached the 2005 national championship with Paul Hewitt as coach.

Anthony Wilkins, who has been on Georgia Tech’s staff since 2018, will serve as the interim coach while the school conducts a search for Pastner’s successor.

Early speculation has centered on Kennesaw State coach Amir Abdur-Rahim, who guided the Owls to the first NCAA Tournament berth in school history after they won a single game during his debut season in 2019-20.

Abdur-Rahim spent one year as Georgia Tech’s director of player development for former coach Brian Gregory and also worked one year at Georgia under Tom Crean, helping the Bulldogs land eventual first overall NBA draft pick Anthony Edwards.

Pastner, who came to Georgia Tech from Memphis with a reputation as a stellar recruiter, never lived up to that billing in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets were rarely in the mix for the nation’s top high school prospects, and the lack of five-star talent showed in the record.

Pastner managed only three winning seasons records during his Georgia Tech tenure, which was highlighted by a 17-9 mark and a run to the ACC title with an experienced group led by Moses Wright and Jose Alvarado.

But the Yellow Jackets failed to build on that success, dropping off sharply the last two seasons.

After his final loss, Pastner made a plea to keep his job.

“I love Georgia Tech. I love my job. I have a real passion for it, and I believe in it,” he said.

But Batt, who has only been on the job since October, decided to make the school’s second high-profile coaching change in the last six months.

Batt was hired after Georgia Tech dismissed coach Geoff Collins and athletic director Todd Stansbury early in Collins’ fourth season guiding the football program.

Collins posted a dismal 10-28 record before he was replaced on an interim basis by Brent Key, who led the Yellow Jackets to a 4-4 mark over the remainder of the 2022 season.

Key was eventually hired as the full-time coach.

Collins was entitled to a buyout of more than $11 million, which put a strain on the athletic department’s already tenuous finances.

Now, the Yellow Jackets owe Pastner some $2.5 million over the remaining three years of a contract extension he received from Stansbury after the ACC title run.

Pastner was just 31 when he took over at Memphis in 2009, after Calipari left for Kentucky.

The Tigers kept right on winning, going 130-44 with four NCAA Tournament appearances over Pastner’s first five seasons.

But the program dipped his final two years, posting a 37-29 mark while failing to make the NCAAs. After Georgia Tech fired Gregory in 2016, Pastner jumped at the chance to rebuild the program.

“Look, I would tell you that when I got the job, they told me when I came in, and I met with everybody, that it’s going to be … starting from ground zero,” Pastner said this week. “And they said you’re going to lose so much your first three or four years that you’re going to – we’ve got to have someone that’s going to be ultra-positive because you’re going to lose so much.”

Pastner always remained positive. But he didn’t win nearly enough to keep his job.

Georgia Tech slumped last season, going 5-15 in the ACC, and got off to dismal start in conference play this season, dropping 12 of its first 13 league contests – including a nine-game losing streak.

Pastner’s team rallied late in the year. The Yellow Jackets won six of their final eight regular-season games, though that was only good enough for a 6-14 mark in the ACC.

Then, they knocked off Florida State 61-60 in the opening round of the conference tournament.

In the end, Pastner couldn’t overcome a significant drop in attendance and a tenure that was marred by NCAA sanctions linked to a former friend who was accused of recruiting violations.

Georgia Tech accepted a postseason ban in 2020, when the season shut down anyway because of COVID-19, and some of its sanctions were overturned on appeal.

“We’ve really finished really well this year,” Pastner said. “I wish we started better.”

N.C. State beats Georgia Tech 78-66 for fourth straight win

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ATLANTA – Terquavion Smith scored 25 points, Jarkel Joiner added 19 and North Carolina State beat Georgia Tech 78-66 on Tuesday night for its fourth straight win.

Georgia Tech trailed 59-47 but cut the deficit to 63-57 with 6:16 to play. N.C. State answered with a 12-2 run for a 75-59 lead with 2:42 remaining. Smith hit a pair of 3-pointers and Joiner made four free throws during the stretch.

Smith was 9 of 17 from the floor and made four 3-pointers to go with five assists and two blocks. Joiner was 5-of-11 shooting and made all nine of his free throws.

Casey Morsell added 12 points and D.J. Burns Jr. had 10 for N.C. State (15-4, 5-3 ACC). Morsell also blocked three shots, including one that lead to a Joiner dunk.

Jalon Moore had 17 points and eight rebounds to lead Georgia Tech (8-10, 1-7). Four others added nine points apiece for the Yellow Jackets.

Georgia Tech built a 10-point lead five minutes into the game before an 8-2 surge gave N.C. State the lead for good with 1:29 remaining in the first half.

N.C. State is on the road against North Carolina on Saturday. Georgia Tech hosts Syracuse on Saturday.

No. 13 Virginia beats Georgia Tech, Bennett ties school wins mark

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA – A 25-0 run removed any suspense from Tony Bennett’s pursuit of a Virginia coaching milestone.

The No. 13 Cavaliers blew away Georgia Tech with the spurt, which began in the closing minutes of the first half and carried over after the break to give Virginia a 74-56 victory Saturday.

For Bennett, it was win No. 326 as the Cavaliers’ coach, pushing him into a tie with Terry Holland for the most in school history.

“Just the way he has represented basketball and this program, what he’s built, it’s just tremendous to be able to talk about him,” Bennett said. “I never got into coaching to break records. I just wanted to win because I love the game.”

Bennett improved to 326-119 in 14 years leading the Virginia men’s basketball program. Holland went 326-173 over a 16-season tenure that ended in 1990.

Virginia (10-2, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) scored the final nine points of the first half – all on 3-pointers off Georgia Tech turnovers – to take a 36-25 lead into halftime.

It would get worse for the Yellow Jackets (7-6, 0-3) when the teams returned to the court, as the Cavaliers ripped off another 16 points to make it 52-25 before the home team finally made a basket.

“For the most part defensively, we didn’t give them anything easy,” Bennett said. “Then we got a few turnovers and made 3s. When you’re not exchanging baskets, that’s when stuff like that can happen.”

Kihei Clark had 15 points and eight assists to lead Virginia, which kept up its domination of Georgia Tech with a 10th straight victory in the series. Jayden Gardner added 14 points, while Armaan Franklin and Kadin Shedrick added 11 apiece.

Looking to bounce back from an ugly 13-point home loss to Clemson before the 10-day Christmas break, Georgia Tech shook up its lineup by bringing top scorer Miles Kelly off the bench. It did no good.

The Yellow Jackets have lost their first three ACC games by an average margin of nearly 16 points and appear headed for another dismal season. They went 12-20 a year ago.

Kelly scored 20 points but none of his teammates reached double figures. The Yellow Jackets turned it over 23 times, leading to 30 points for the Cavaliers.

“Virginia was knocking down a lot of shots,” Kelly said. “That was really the game. We couldn’t get any stops on the defensive end.”


Former Virginia star De’Andre Hunter was at McCamish Pavilion to cheer on his alma mater and stopped by the locker room afterward.

Hunter was a key player on the Cavaliers’ national championship team in 2019. He now plays for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, who were off Saturday after losing to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers the night before.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had one of those kind of runs,” Bennett said. “Maybe it was because De’Andre was sitting behind the bench.”


Virginia: The Cavaliers set the tone with their accuracy beyond the arc. Eight of their 13 first-half baskets were 3-pointers, many coming in transition off Virginia’s smothering defense. Bennett’s team looked more like the team that rose to No. 2 in the rankings before consecutive losses to Houston and Miami.

Georgia Tech: Coach Josh Pastner has given little indication in his seven-year tenure that he can transform the Yellow Jackets into a perennial conference contender. Other than a surprising run to the ACC tournament title during the pandemic-marred 2020-21 season, the Yellow Jackets are 36-60 in league play under Pastner.

“This was no fun for anybody,” the coach said. “But there’s a lot of basketball to be played.”


Virginia: Bennett will look to break the tie with Holland when the Cavaliers travel to Pittsburgh for an ACC game Tuesday night.

Georgia Tech: Hosts another ranked ACC team, No. 14 Miami, to wrap up a four-game homestand Wednesday night.

Miles Kelly leads Georgia Tech to 79-77 win over rival Georgia

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 02 Northeastern at Georgia Tech
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ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s Miles Kelly hit another winning shot against a state rival.

Terry Roberts endured a nightmarish final minute for Georgia.

Kelly hit a long 3-pointer and then a drove for the game-winning floater with 23 seconds remaining as the Yellow Jackets rallied to beat Georgia 79-77 on Tuesday night.

Kelly hit the winning shot in similar fashion against Georgia State on Nov. 12. He did it again to beat the Bulldogs, finishing with a team-high 17 points after failing to score in the first half.

“I’m going to continue to keep shooting, no matter how many times I miss,” Kelly said.

Roberts missed a 3-pointer, turned the ball over twice with bad passes, and was called for an offensive foul as he was trying to drive for the basket that would’ve sent the game to overtime.

“A tough finish for us,” Georgia first-year coach Mike White said. “We were in position to steal one on the road.”

A pair of second-chance buckets seemingly put Georgia (7-3) in control with a 77-73 lead.

The Bulldogs wouldn’t score again as Kelly led the comeback for the Yellow Jackets (6-3) – with a big assist from Roberts.

He had a chance to essentially seal it for the Bulldogs, but his jumper beyond the arc clanked off the rim.

Georgia Tech grabbed the rebound and raced down the court, where Kelly swished a 3 from well behind the stripe that brought Georgia Tech within a point with about a minute left.

Trying to work the ball inside, Roberts made an ill-advised entry pass that was deflected and stolen by Deivon Smith, setting up Kelly’s drive for the basket that put the Yellow Jackets back ahead,

Roberts tried a drive of his own, only to have it blocked by Jalon Moore. Georgia retained possession, but Roberts’ inbounds pass was stolen by Moore, who was fouled and made one of two free throws.

Roberts took the ball again and hurriedly dribbled toward the basket, only to be called for an offensive foul when he sent Smith flying.

“Just sacrificing my body for the team,” Smith said.

Georgia stole an inbounds pass around midcourt, giving Karlo Oquendo one last shot to launch a 3 that still would’ve won it for the Bulldogs. It bounced off the rim.

The game was tight throughout. Neither team led by more than eight, and a sequence in the second half showed just how tightly these rivals were matched.

With both squads playing at a frenetic pace and showing little regard for defense, the lead changed hands on eight straight possessions as the teams traded baskets.

Stunningly, they combined to score on 19 straight possessions before Georgia’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe missed a pair of free throws with 5:17 remaining.


Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night came when Georgia Tech football coach Brent Key addressed the crowd at halftime.

Key, who served as interim coach for the last eight games of the season, was introduced Monday as the full-time choice for job.

He fired up the fans by getting them to chant “To hell with Georgia” over and over again. When a smattering of Bulldogs fans responded with barks, Key smiled and egged on the Yellow Jackets crowd to drown them out.

He also declared Georgia Tech to be the “greatest school in the entire state, the entire country,” following up his vow the previous day to not back down from the defending national champion and top-ranked Bulldogs.


Georgia: This will be a tough one to swallow for Roberts, who led his team with 16 points and seven assists. The Bulldogs lost despite shooting 53.4% from the field.

Georgia Tech: Four players scored in double figures, and two others players finished with eight points. But it was Kelly, as usual, who had the ball in his hands at the end of a tight game.


Georgia: After a nearly two-week break, the Bulldogs return to Atlanta on Dec. 18 to face Notre Dame at State Farm Arena in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event.

Georgia Tech: Head to North Carolina on Saturday for the Atlantic Coast Conference opener against the struggling Tar Heels.

ACC Commisioner Jim Phillips: Time to expand NCAA’s Big Dance

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Plenty of people have called for NCAA Tournament expansion. Count ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips among them.

Phillips said at the ACC Tipoff that “it’s time to look at” expanding the field beyond the 68 teams currently invited to the Big Dance each March.

Phillips believes the NCAA’s best tournaments are the ones that feature the most schools. That’s part of why he’s hopeful of eventual expansion, not just for the men’s event but for all NCAA championships.

Increasing the field also brings rewards for those “schools that are spending a tremendous amount of resources in sports and not having a chance to access those championships,” he said.

Currently, just 68 of 358 men’s basketball programs qualify for the men’s NCAAs – 32 conference champions and 36 at-large teams picked by the selection committee. Phillips said the logistics of staging a bigger tournament need to be worked out.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has advocated for more teams in the field the past 30 years. “I’ve been knocked down every year I’ve brought it up,” said the 77-year-old Boeheim. “I stopped bringing it up. Everybody thought I was an idiot.”

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey projects adding three more First Four pods – one for each region – could work and take the field up to 80.

“Let’s throw three more Daytons in, regionalize it up and play it out, let some more kids get in there,” Brey said.

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton wants to double the field – and double the experience for athletes who work hard all year for their moment in March. “Do you realize how it would be an opportunity for all these youngsters to participate in the NCAA Tournament?” he said. “It’s the greatest games in history.”


North Carolina’s Armando Bacot could’ve easily jumped to the NBA, especially after leading the Tar Heels to the NCAA championship game last season. Instead, the 6-foot-11 senior wanted another run to finish the job.

Bacot, a likely pick for ACC preseason player of the year, was among four Tar Heels who held off going pro in the wake of their 72-69 title-game loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament in April. North Carolina was up 40-25 at halftime before the Jayhawks’ rallied.

For Bacot, it was a difficult outcome that fueled his decision to return. He doesn’t spend much time thinking about the NBA, concentrating on improving his game and helping the Tar Heels win.

“Going through last year with our ups and downs,” Bacot said. “Our ups were really high and a lot of fun. Just being able to experience that for a full year was a no-brainer.”


Virginia Tech coach Mike Young led his Hokies to a surprise ACC Tournament title last March, defeating second-seeded Notre Dame in the quarterfinals, third-seeded North Carolina in the semis and top-seeded Duke, 82-67, for the school’s first-ever tournament crown.

That improved Young’s record to 6-0 in tournament finals. Young, beginning his fourth season at Virginia Tech, won all five Southern Conference championship games he reached during 16 seasons leading Wofford.

The secret? Don’t change anything. “We all know what’s at stake,” Young said. “Let’s go have a good time, lay our ears back and let it rip.”


Blue Devils coach Jon Scheyer said prize freshman Dariq Whitehead is progressing well about six weeks into recovery from a foot injury.

Whitehead is a 6-foot-7 forward from Newark, New Jersey, who was rated the country’s No. 2 prospect this past recruiting season.

Whitehead is entering the next phase of his recovery where he’s able to get out on the court more, Scheyer said. The first-year coach can’t yet say when Whitehead will be ready to play, “but he’s progressing in a great way and he’s working hard, and I know he’s anxious to be out here with these guys practicing every day.”


Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner is excited about – well, everything.

He thinks the ACC is deep and great. His players are smart and hardworking. And his school is a leader in the space industry.

“They found water on Mars from Georgia Tech,” said Pastner, bragging on 14 Tech grads who’ve been to space. “That’s what’s amazing about this school. It’s incredible.”

Pastner gushed that he thinks North Carolina should be ranked No. 1 nationally to start the season. He also would pick Virginia as the league’s best team. “I know it sounds crazy when I say this,” said Pastner, opening his seventh year with the Yellow Jackets.