Joseph still suspended as Georgia Tech clings to NCAA hopes

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph’s suspension has carried over into the postseason, and the fallout adds more doubt to the team’s fading NCAA Tournament hopes.

The Yellow Jackets will carry a three-game losing streak into their ACC women’s tournament opener against North Carolina on Thursday. The losing streak includes two losses since Joseph was placed on leave for what the school described as “a pending personnel matter.”

Kierra Fletcher and Francesca Pan, two of Georgia Tech’s top four scorers, left the team at the same time Joseph was forced out.

Assistant coach Mark Simons, serving as acting head coach, told The Associated Press on Tuesday Fletcher and Pan made the decisions to leave the team.

“We’ve had no contact with them,” Simons said when asked about Fletcher and Pan. “We’re told that they’re fine. It was a personal decision on their part and that’s about it.”

Trending:
Pilot Hid Note in Cockpit of Plane as Fleet Was Grounded in March 2020, Now We Know the 'Very Chilling' Sight He Was Greeted With

Simons would not say if he has had any communication with Joseph.

“I’m not allowed to comment on that,” he said. “That was a personnel decision but I’m really not allowed to comment on anything to do with it. I apologize.”

Joseph’s lawyer, Lisa Banks, said Thursday that Georgia Tech “failed to provide any explanation” for the suspension. Banks did not reply to requests from the AP on Tuesday for an update on Joseph’s status.

Simons and the players have been placed in a difficult dilemma. The Yellow Jackets (17-12, 7-9 Atlantic Coast Conference) need to beat North Carolina to keep alive their NCAA hopes.

The must-win situation comes at a time Simons has had to reconstruct Georgia Tech’s lineup.

“It makes for an interesting game,” Simons said.

Simons said he’ll start three freshmen, including point guard Lotta-Maj Lahtinen, who is from Finland. Lahtinen started only four regular-season games.

“We’ve got great kids,” Simons said. “I think they’ve done a great job of staying focused on what their goals are, and that’s to get into the NCAA Tournament.”

Simons said the game plan “got a little fractured” late in a 64-55 home loss to Florida State on Sunday to end the regular season. “But for the most part the blinders are on, moving forward,” he said.

Related:
North Korean Defector Compares Her Ivy League School to the Country She Fled

No blinders could protect the players from the disruptive effects of the sudden exits of their coach, two teammates and an additional staffer. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Sunday that graduate assistant Antonia Peresson, a former Georgia Tech player, was fired on Friday for having private talks with players, contrary to instructions given staff members following Joseph being placed on leave.

With Joseph still coaching the team and a full roster available, Georgia Tech lost at North Carolina 91-90 on Jan. 31. It won’t be easy for a short-handed team to avenge the loss.

“I really and truly believe our kids are ready for it,” Simons said, noting the loss to the Tar Heels came on last-second free throws.

“I think our kids are pretty confident going into the game.”

___

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



loading

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




loading

Conversation