Patrick Ewing needs another moment of backyard glory

After his Georgetown team lost to Xavier on Saturday night to set a Big East Conference futility record, a solemn Patrick Ewing crossed ...


After his Georgetown team lost to Xavier on Saturday night to set a Big East Conference futility record, a solemn Patrick Ewing crossed the handshake line and shook hands with Xavier coach Travis Steele, of his team and players from the Musketeers.

Ewing retired to the visitors’ locker room for his postgame press conference and again answered questions about a loss – in this case, the basketball program’s 20th straight and 24th of the season. masculine – and if his players were still “hanging on the rope”. and “always in the fight”.

“Yeah, they’re still in the fight, you know, I believe that,” Ewing said. “We are definitely disappointed with the result of our season. It’s not where I expected us to be, or the band as a whole expected us to be. But it’s like that.”

Ewing, the Basketball Hall of Fame center who was the face of the Knicks in the 1980s and 90s, had his share of spectacular wins and losses, but he’s never endured such a long period of frustration and failure. .

Georgetown (6-24) became the first team in Big East history — which began in the 1979-80 season — to finish an 0-19 conference season. Two other teams have finished 0-18, most recently DePaul in the 2008-9 season.

As the end of his fifth season nears, there are questions about Ewing’s future at Georgetown. Ewing, 59, is 68-83 and has only one winning season, in 2018-19. The Hoyas will be the No. 11 seed and face No. 6 Seton Hall when the Big East tournament begins Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, the site of many of Ewing’s greatest professional moments.

On Friday, Ewing took to Twitter to say he has no plans to quit after this season.

“Any announcement regarding my future will come from me or Georgetown University,” he wrote.

He reiterated that sentiment after Saturday’s loss.

Georgetown athletic director Lee Reed gave Ewing a vote of confidence last week, saying the school is “committed to” Ewing and has “confidence that he can strengthen our program in the future.”

“As a university with high standards and expectations for academic and athletic excellence, we all share the disappointment of a difficult season,” Reed said.

He added, “I want to thank all of our supporters and season ticket holders for their continued commitment and express my gratitude to our team members for their hard work.”

Only a year ago, a joyful and victorious Ewing walked into the Georgetown locker room at the Garden singing Drake’s lyrics.

After being chosen to finish last in the conference’s preseason coaches’ poll, the Hoyas had just beaten Creighton in the Big East Tournament Championship Game, winning an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament – the program’s top spot. since the 2014-15 season.

“Started from the bottom, now we’re here,” Ewing sang to his players, who quickly doused him with water and joined him in celebration.

It quickly became a feel-good story in college basketball, with Iona Coach Rick Pitino, Ewing’s former coach with the Knicks in the mid-1980s, tweeting a photo of the two of them and congratulating them.

Now Pitino has a different message for Ewing amid his struggles.

“I love Patrick, I loved coaching him, I love him as a person, I love him as a player, I support him all the time,” Pitino said. “I don’t know what to say about the script except that I’m a huge Patrick fan.”

Not too long ago, there was optimism for long-suffering Georgetown fans who haven’t seen a championship since Ewing’s playing days.

As well as winning the Big East Tournament last season, Ewing was also a top 20 scout, according to 247Sports ranking, highlighted by five-star winger Aminu Mohammed.

But the Hoyas lost their top four scorers from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, including big man Qudus Wahab, who moved to Maryland, where he averaged 7.9 points and 5 .7 rebounds through Sunday.

As a team, Georgetown ranks last in the Big East in field goal percentage and points against per game and near the bottom in scoring.

“It’s just tough when you don’t have a lot of returning players who played last year,” said Donald Carey, a graduate student guard who is the team’s second-leading scorer this year after being his fifth leading scorer last season.

He continued, “The chemistry wasn’t there exactly; the same chemistry and momentum wasn’t there because it was just me and Dante playing heavy minutes coming back,” referring to second-year point guard Dante Harris, who is averaging 12.3 points, 4.2 assists and 2.6 turnovers per game.

Carey scored 17 points when the Hoyas lost to Colorado in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, but unless Georgetown pulls off a miracle and wins the Big East Tournament, he won’t get a taste of March Madness again.

“It’s been tough, it’s been tough,” Carey said. “Losing is never easy, but the only way out is to have forward thinking, so just look at the next day, the next game, what we can do to improve. What can we do to win?”

Rich Chvotkin, who is in his 48th year as the radio voice of Georgetown basketball and has covered Ewing’s 143 college games, said he’s never seen anything like it this season.

“At the end of the day, it’s a very young team,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s a work in progress that they’re just struggling to finish games. All those things they struggled with at the end of the game resulted in losses and they’re just struggling to play 40 minutes. They’re playing 32, they play well 36 and they don’t finish late in the game.

Ewing also struggled to retain players during his tenure, losing 11 players to transfers from June 2021. Some of these players are now playing elsewhere. James Akinjo, who started his career at Georgetown, is now on his third college stoppage and is averaging 13.1 points and 5.8 assists for Baylor, who won a share of the Big League regular season title 12 with Kansas.

Prior to the start of the season, Tre King, a 6-7 forward who had spent three seasons in Eastern Kentucky, left Georgetown without ever playing a game due to an off-field incident.

King averaged 14.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game and earned All-Ohio Valley Conference first-team honors during the 2020-21 season. He probably would have been a key player for Georgetown, but he was traded to Iowa State in December.

Ewing also lost first-year guard Jordan Riley to shoulder surgery during the season. Junior guard Wayne Bristol Jr., who was traded from Howard in January, was ineligible to play this semester.

“Of course that makes it difficult,” Ewing said. “Guys that you thought wouldn’t get a lot of minutes or wouldn’t have the opportunity to grow, they didn’t get that opportunity. I had to throw them in the fire.

The region known as DMV – DC, Maryland and Virginia – is known for its high-level basketball talent, from Adrian Dantley to Kevin Durant to Michael Beasley and current college players like the premier guard year of Duke Trevor Keels, a projected NBA draft pick.

Harris, Mohammed (born in Nigeria) and Carey are among the Georgetown players in the area, but the school hasn’t signed a DC Gatorade Player of the Year since Chris Wright in 2007.

Angelo Hernandez, a home base and former high school coach, believes the Hoyas need to do a better job of taking on home stars quickly.

“I don’t know what it is, I just feel like Georgetown can’t get out of the funk of bringing the kids to our area,” he said in a phone interview. “I just think they need to take a different approach and not be afraid to recruit these kids hard. They recruit kids hard from out of town, but they don’t recruit kids hard from here.

As the dominant college big man in the early 1980s, Ewing ruled the Big East with St. John’s star Chris Mullin. Ewing helped lead the Hoyas to three national championship games in his four seasons, guiding the program to the 1984 title under the Hall of Fame coach. John Thompson.

Like Ewing, Mullin returned to his alma mater to coach. He faltered during his four-year tenure, going 59-73 and 20-52 in the Big East with one NCAA Tournament appearance before retiring in 2019.

Ewing is now in a similar position.

With the Big East Tournament set to begin on Wednesday, there’s always hope that Georgetown can somehow pull off another miraculous run, one that ends with Ewing once again chanting Drake in the locker room.

“It’s a new season, anything is possible,” Ewing said.

Carey added, “The Big East Tournament is only four games long, so if we win four games, we’re back in the NCAA Tournament.”

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