For­mer Ge­orge­town great Ewing hired as next coach.

Hall of Famer in­flu­enced Hoyas might

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY PETER SANTO AND TODD DYBAS

There’s a pic­ture of 7-foot Pa­trick Ewing, the “Hoya De­stroya,” with his arms ex­tended to the sides and palms turned up­ward.

Ewing is wear­ing that Ge­orge­town gray. It’s on the wrist­bands that creep up his fore­arms, his sweat-laden T-shirt and most of his uni­form. Five of the most rec­og­niz­able let­ters in Ge­orge­town bas­ket­ball history are stitched above the No. 33: E-W-I-N-G. It may as well be short­hand for Hoyas hoops.

Af­ter a Hall of Fame ca­reer and 15 sea­sons as an over­looked as­sis­tant coach in the NBA, Ewing is re­turn­ing to the Hill­top. On Mon­day, he was named the pro­gram’s fourth coach since John Thomp­son Jr. res­ur­rected the school from the bas­ket­ball waste­lands in 1972. This coach is not a for­mer Thomp­son as­sis­tant or a Thomp­son family mem­ber. In­stead, it’s a for­mer player, one that had as much in­flu­ence in es­tab­lish­ing the pro­gram’s might in the 1980s as any other.

“My four years at Ge­orge­town were the best of my life,” Ewing said in a state­ment. “It is a great honor for me to re­turn to my alma mater and serve as the next head coach. I have been pre­par­ing to be a head coach for many years and can’t wait to re­turn to the Hill­top.”

Ewing’s hir­ing came to­gether quickly, with the 11time NBA All-Star ar­riv­ing in Washington on Sun­day and in­ter­view­ing for the po­si­tion Mon­day. Ewing, 54, is ex­pected to leave his po­si­tion as as­so­ciate head coach of the Char­lotte Hor­nets im­me­di­ately to be­gin build­ing his staff. He also ben­e­fited from the NBA sched­ule. Char­lotte plays the Washington Wizards at Ver­i­zon Cen­ter on Tues­day night.

Ewing has no col­lege coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. In fact, Ewing has never been in charge of a bas­ket­ball team. His name was at­tached to a va­ri­ety of open­ings at the NBA level dur­ing his time as an as­sis­tant in the league. None of the hearsay or in­ter­views re­sulted in a job.

That changed af­ter Ge­orge­town parted ways with John Thomp­son III, wrest­ing the job away from a man with the last name “Thomp­son” for the first time in 13 years and just the sec­ond time in 45 years.

The move comes a day af­ter the an­niver­sary of the school’s lone na­tional ti­tle, won in 1984 by a team led by Ewing. Ge­orge­town reached the Fi­nal Four three times from 1981-85 when Ewing and “Big John” were an­chor­ing the pro­gram.

Univer­sity Pres­i­dent John J. DeGioia and Athletics Di­rec­tor Lee Reed both praised Ewing Mon­day as they wel­comed him back to Ge­orge­town.

“Pa­trick’s com­mit­ment to Ge­orge­town and to fur­ther an­i­mat­ing our legacy of ex­cel­lence is in­spir­ing,” DeGioia said in a state­ment. “He is a vi­sion­ary leader with a deep con­nec­tion to our com­mu­nity. His ex­pe­ri­ence as a coach over the last 15 years with some of the best bas­ket­ball minds in the coun­try has pre­pared him to lead our pro­gram. We very much look for­ward to wel­com­ing him back to our Hill­top as the head coach of our men’s bas­ket­ball team.”

“Af­ter a very thor­ough na­tional search, Pa­trick Ewing emerged as the tal­ented leader best pre­pared to coach the Hoyas in this new era of highly com­pet­i­tive col­lege bas­ket­ball,” Reed said. “To hire a head coach with this depth of coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and per­sonal achievements is tremen­dous. It is a thrill to have him come back to his alma mater and con­tinue the legacy of tra­di­tion and suc­cess he had as a stu­dent-ath­lete on the Hill­top.”

Un­der the younger Thomp­son, the Hoyas reached the Sweet 16 in 2006 and the Fi­nal Four in 2007, but have failed to make it past the sec­ond round of the NCAA Tour­na­ment since, los­ing to mid­ma­jors Ohio, Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth, and Florida Gulf Coast in that time.

Ge­orge­town went 15-18 with 7-11 in the Big East in 2016. Their eighth-place fin­ish in the con­fer­ence meant the Hoyas missed the post­sea­son for the first time un­der Thomp­son.

Ge­orge­town fin­ished 14-18 — ninth in the Big East — last sea­son.

Al­though Ewing’s hir­ing means a Thomp­son will no longer be run­ning the show at Ge­orge­town, the family’s legacy still looms large.

Last fall, the univer­sity opened the John R. Thomp­son Jr. In­ter­col­le­giate Ath­letic Cen­ter. The state-of-theart fa­cil­ity in­cluded new prac­tice courts, lock­ers, and several nods to Ge­orge­town’s past glo­ries. A statue of Ewing’s old coach was also un­veiled.

Ewing will be­gin the process of re­build­ing a Ge­orge­town team that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tour­na­ment since 2015, and he will need to do so with­out his top 2017 re­cruit.

Point guard Tre­mont Wa­ters re­opened his re­cruit­ment prior to Thomp­son’s fir­ing. The New Haven, Con­necti­cut, na­tive was ranked 33rd in the 2017 ESPN 100 re­cruit­ing rank­ings. In ad­di­tion, ju­nior shoot­ing guard L.J. Peak de­clared early for the NBA draft.

As much as Ewing’s in-game strat­egy will be key, how he re­lates to 16 year olds will also be para­mount. Ewing will need to pop­u­late his staff with what­ever mar­quee re­cruiters he can con­vince to join him at Ge­orge­town. His name will res­onate with par­ents, but the top play­ers in up­com­ing classes won’t have any mem­ory of Ewing play­ing in the NBA, let alone at Ge­orge­town.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Af­ter his Hall of Fame ca­reer, Pa­trick Ewing spent 15 sea­sons as an over­looked NBA as­sis­tant coach. On Mon­day, he re­turned to his alma mater as Ge­orge­town’s new coach.

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