Odds stacked against Ewing at Georgetown

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - THOM LOVERRO

Pa­trick Ewing’s ten­ure as head bas­ket­ball coach at Georgetown Univer­sity will be likely be con­sid­ered suc­cess­ful if he has this re­sume — a 278-151 record over 13 sea­sons, eight NCAA ap­pear­ances, three Big East ti­tles and a Fi­nal Four.

For a guy who has never been a head coach any­where, and has zero col­lege coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, that would be pretty good.

That was the re­sume of the coach Ewing re­placed at Georgetown — John Thomp­son III.

Does any­one re­ally think that Ewing — the le­gendary Hoya who went to three Fi­nal Fours un­der the fa­ther, John Thomp­son Jr. from 1981 to 1985 — is a bet­ter coach than JT3?

Why? Based on what?

There was this nar­ra­tive that Ewing, af­ter years as an as­sis­tant coach in the NBA, some­how was a vic­tim in his quest to be a head coach in the league, af­ter be­ing passed over nu­mer­ous times. He was in­ter­viewed for head coach­ing jobs in Detroit and Char­lotte, so at least two dif­fer­ent front of­fices didn’t be­lieve was the right fit to be their head coach.

Iron­i­cally, it was John Thomp­son Jr. who sup­ported that no­tion in a Fe­bru­ary 2015 in­ter­view with the Wash­ing­ton Post.

“He’s a smart player,” JT2 said. “He’s a great leader. But you very sel­dom hear in­tel­li­gence as­so­ci­ated

with height in the NBA or in col­lege. There­fore, they think that the peo­ple who are think­ing on the floor all the time are guards. Pa­trick is suf­fer­ing from that.

“You know what I re­spect most of all about him? He didn’t just ex­pect you to just bring him in,” JT2 said. “He de­serves an op­por­tu­nity to coach. It wasn’t like he took the lazy ap­proach, be­cause my name is so-and-so.”

I doubt if the fa­ther ever thought that glow­ing praise would wind up be­ing for the re­place­ment for his son at Georgetown.

But ESPN NBA re­porter Brian Wind­horst, ap­pear­ing on “Mike and Mike,” had this to say last year when asked why Ewing couldn’t get an NBA head coach­ing job: “The peo­ple I’ve talked to aren’t sure that he com­pletely is the head coach­ing ma­te­rial that peo­ple are look­ing for.

“Other peo­ple who’ve worked with Pa­trick say he should’ve been a head coach years ago. But there’s a stigma out there that he is not quite the great­est fit for a head coach­ing job. I’m try­ing to say that diplo­mat­i­cally, from what peo­ple have told me. He has got­ten some in­ter­est be­fore, but I don’t think he’s even in the top five for the Sacra­mento job.”

He may have been in the top five for the Georgetown job, but he re­port­edly wasn’t the first, sec­ond or third choice. You don’t need to hire a search firm to de­cide on hir­ing a legacy like Pa­trick Ewing at Georgetown. Var­i­ous re­ports said that Texas coach Shaka Smart, Xavier’s Chris Mack and Notre Dame coach Mike Brey all turned down chances to in­ter­view for the job, while other tar­gets were luke­warm at best at the prospect of be­ing the Georgetown head bas­ket­ball coach.

They did this de­spite the rich alumni, who forced JT3 out, putting the word out that money would not be a prob­lem for the next Hoyas head coach.

Why?

Maybe be­cause those coaches were smart enough to see that un­less a Thomp­son is coach­ing at Georgetown, the Georgetown job is not re­ally that great — a school with strict aca­demic stan­dards and no on cam­pus arena.

Those are not sell­ing points to young high school play­ers with big dreams.

The Thomp­son name, in fact, may have been the best sales pitch for Georgetown.

If that lost its lus­tre, how will Ewing’s name — tied so close to the Thomp­son era of suc­cess more than three decades ago — be a stronger sell­ing point?

If Pa­trick Ewing turns out to be a good head coach who can over­come the things that hurt re­cruit­ing at Georgetown, then the pro­gram may re­turn to its once glo­ri­ous heights. But if Ewing fails — and by fail­ure I mean per­form­ing far worse than the coach he re­placed — Georgetown bas­ket­ball will dis­ap­pear. Then the Hoya rich will re­al­ize it was not their pro­gram af­ter all.

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