Thirty-six years ago, an 18-year-old Patrick Ewing raised a Georgetown pennant above his head, affirming his commitment to play basketball at the nation’s oldest Jesuit university. Immediately after Ewing’s announcement, the disgruntled Bostonians at the Satch Sanders restaurant filed out, resentful that the seven-footer chose Georgetown over nearby rival Boston College.
On April 5, Ewing recreated his famed pennant photo in the Thompson Athletic Center and marked his return to Georgetown, this time with much greater applause.
On Wednesday morning, University President John J. DeGioia and Director of Athletics Lee Reed introduced Patrick Ewing as the head coach of the Georgetown men’s basketball team. Ewing became the 18th man to take the job, replacing John Thompson III, whose contract was terminated March 23.
“We wanted someone who embraced the values of Georgetown University, that believed as deeply as we believe in the balance between student and athlete,” Reed said. “We wanted someone who understood and was passionate about doing things the right way, the only way, the Georgetown way as it relates to building a nationally competitive program.”
Ewing, who had publicly expressed his interest and desire for an NBA head coaching job, decided to accept the Georgetown position due to his personal connections to the university.
“If it was any other university, I wouldn’t be doing this,” Ewing said. “But it’s my alma mater, it’s Georgetown. I’m a Hoya. I just thought it was a great opportunity to come back and try to help to rebuild the program. Any other university and the answer would be ‘no, I’m going to stay in the NBA.’ But I just thought it was something that I needed to do.”
Ewing is the most decorated player in Hoyas’ history with three final four appearances, the 1985 national player of the year and the 1984 National Championship — Georgetown’s sole NCAA title.
Ewing returns to Georgetown after 15 years as an assistant coach in the NBA, which included stints with the Washington Wizards, Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets. Credited for helping the development of big men such as Yao Ming and Dwight Howard, Ewing’s teams excelled in rebounding, interior defense, fouling and perimeter shooting.
Throughout his tenures as an assistant, Ewing’s teams averaged top-eight rankings for the past 14 years in defensive rebounding, three-pointers made and personal fouls, as well as opposing team’s field goal percentage, free throws and points per game. Ewing’s style of coaching has the potential to revamp the Hoyas’ style of play on both ends of the floor.
“It’s my vision to try to play a style of ball that is going to be conducive and similar to the style of play we play in the NBA. I want to be up-tempo, push the ball, shoot threes when you have them — similar to the way we play in Charlotte. But we’re also going to have to get the guys who will have the ability to do these things,” Ewing said.
Ewing also alluded to bringing back Georgetown’s vaunted “Hoya Paranoia” defense, an intimidating and intensity-filled defense the Hoyas have lacked significantly in recent years.
“We need to get back to the way it was,” Ewing said. “You know, when no one liked us — ‘Hoya Paranoia’ — smacking people down. Just get back to the old Big East when it was the rough rumbling and tumbling Big East.”
With no college head coaching experience, Ewing’s ability to recruit high school prospects is crucial to the future of the program. Ewing put an emphasis on regaining the school’s share of D.C.-area recruits.
“I’m going to surround myself with good enough people to not only teach me but can also reach out into the community and get these guys,” Ewing said. “The D.C. area, Baltimore, Virginia area is the hotbed of great talent, and I remember when we had things rolling here, none of the great players in this area were able to get out of D.C.”
Ewing, who raised Georgetown into national relevance in the 1980s, knows it will not be easy to do it a second time.
“The tradition is still here,” Ewing said. “This was some of the best years of my life. I came to college a boy and left a man. I’m going to be counting on everyone for their support and also all of the Georgetown alumni for their support to help rebuild this program.”
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