IPPOLITO: Welcome to the Hoya Family

To the incoming coach of the Georgetown men’s basketball team:

First, welcome to the Georgetown family. Above all else, that is what we aspire to be on the Hilltop and what connects all Hoyas, past, present and future. We are all excited that you are now a part of this family because we share the same goal: returning Georgetown to its rightful place of national basketball prominence in a manner consistent with the values all Hoyas share.

That said, we can understand some trepidation on your part because you are involved in the first real coaching search for Georgetown since the late Nixon administration. We also know that you are probably aware of how the last era ended: the commentary, the petition and whatnot. Believe me, this is not our nature. We do have high expectations and are not afraid to hold power accountable, but we also possess high levels of understanding and patience. Going forward, you have the full faith and confidence of all Hoyas — it is our job to help you become the most successful coach possible.

One of the easiest and most important things you can do is talk to us, the students. We understand that we are neither the current boosters cutting five-figure checks, nor are we ultra-powerful alumni who can command some sort of insider-access. We know athletics does not need our money, but just because we are students does not mean we are not important. We just want to be acknowledged by more than a generic 45-second speech at Hoya Madness.

Being part of our family also implies that we are part of yours. We do not expect a Christmas card or an invite to your Thanksgiving dinner, but any small gesture of your time would be greatly appreciated. Personally, we do not think this is radical. John Calipari does this at Kentucky. Mike Brey does this at Notre Dame. The interaction does not even have to be about basketball. You are more than a coach — you are a leader on our campus. Talk to us about management or leadership or perseverance or, really, anything you want. If you speak, we will listen. We want to feel accounted for.

Do it for your self-interest. This is Georgetown, so everything is political. This is the easiest thing you can do to build immediate goodwill and political capital. We know bringing Georgetown back will not be easy, and it will not happen overnight.

The short-term hiccups will come, but being able to personally identify with the man serving as the coach or recollecting that one positive interaction, however brief, will reaffirm our commitment to you. I have no doubt that you are an upstanding citizen with integrity, but the difference between hearing about who you are and experiencing who you are is night and day.

We have no doubt that you are aware of some of our biggest problems as a team. We foul and turn the ball over too much, we cede far too many offensive rebounds and perhaps most importantly, we have lost the expectation to win. This speaks to the heart of our discontent. The disappearance of the team’s unwavering pride and identity is what disappoints so many Hoyas.

College basketball is not what it was in 1984 when Georgetown could bully and intimidate its way to victory before tipoff, but that is okay. What we seek and what we need is something to commit to. If we want to go the Anthony Solomon offensive route of pace-and-space with lights out shooters, so be it. If we want to retain our traditional defense-first mindset but simply improve fundamentally and on execution, we are all game — just let us know who we are and what we can become.

Finally, the last piece of advice I suggest is to acknowledge your imperfections. Fans are going to constantly hyper-analyze your lineup choices, second guess your play calls and probably get too emotional about a Wednesday night game against Seton Hall. But it is what we do, and it comes from love. Granted, we are going to be wrong vastly more often than we are right, and you will be right far more often than you are wrong, but there will be cases in which you are wrong. No coach is always right and if the Pope is not infallible, then neither are you.

If you make a mistake, just say so. We will forgive you because that is what families do. We want the same thing, and we are committed to helping you get there. It will not be easy, but adversity makes success all the sweeter. Welcome to Georgetown, coach.

Sincerely,

Hoyas everywhere

MichaelIppolito_SketchMichael Ippolito is a senior in the College. The Water Cooler appears every other Friday.

 

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