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COMMUNICATION: Not Much Changed Since Ewing Put Everyone ‘On Notice’

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Not much to show in two rough losses, and the Georgetown staff remains quiet

Butler v Georgetown Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

While the on-court product of recent Georgetown Hoyas basketball games has been far from inspiring, a bigger issue may be that there has been no indication of change of course for the Hoyas and very few glimmers of hope. The last thing the Hoya faithful had heard from Ewing was “everyone’s on notice”—which is a far cry from his November motto: “patience is a virtue.” Fans would love to hear something more from the staff.

With two lackluster performances since Ewing’s remarks, in two winnable conference games, his implied promise of increased energy and effort by the team remains unfulfilled. If a legend and current leader of the program invokes images of John Thompson Jr. rolling in his grave, a midseason sea change must follow pretty immediately. So, when is it going to happen? How will it happen?

Granted, Ewing has not been available on the sidelines for games, per recent university statements alluding to COVID-based issues. Team leaders in Donald Carey and Dante Harris have missed time, too. But a significant change in the program’s direction is desperately needed, as soon as reasonably possible. The problem is, without Ewing as a mouthpiece, Georgetown’s notorious dearth of outward communications has failed to help with establishing confidence and optimism outside the program. Fans are spiraling, and no one can say for sure if this is “rock bottom.”

After Sunday’s performance, Assistant Coach Louis Orr said, according to GUHoyas.com, “I thought we played pretty well … Offensively, the turnovers - we had 21, they scored 29 points - for any team, but especially St. John’s, you put yourself at a disadvantage.”

There are at least two big issues with this statement: (1) saying a 19-point loss is playing “pretty well” is an insult to the intelligence of anyone following the team and (2) turnovers have been an issue since Patrick Ewing employed his high-paced offense. Is everyone still “on notice?”

This humble blog contributor is a huge fan of pushing the ball and believes that emulating an NBA pace is the key to program success in the modern NCAA—but it has to be done right, and the limited time for practice and games in college make it tough to perfect. Ewing’s offense—at its best—is attractive to recruits, takes advantage of transition offense, features sets to get good looks inside and from the perimeter, promotes ball movement, and increases the number of possessions. A lot of that disappears with more than 10 turnovers.

Georgetown (6-8) Table
Basi Basi Basi Basi Basi Basi Basi Basi Basi Basi Basi Basi Basi Basi Basi Basi Basi Basi Basi
Starters MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
Kaiden Rice 39 7 22 .318 5 14 .357 0 0 2 3 5 0 0 0 1 1 19
Aminu Mohammed 38 5 7 .714 0 1 .000 3 4 .750 5 7 12 2 1 1 4 3 13
Dante Harris 33 5 11 .455 3 6 .500 0 0 1 0 1 4 1 0 4 3 13
Timothy Ighoefe 27 3 7 .429 0 0 0 4 .000 4 4 8 0 2 0 0 3 6
Collin Holloway 18 2 5 .400 1 3 .333 2 2 1.000 0 1 1 0 0 0 6 4 7
Reserves MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
Tyler Beard 24 1 5 .200 0 2 .000 1 1 1.000 0 2 2 1 0 0 3 3 3
Jalin Billingsley 11 0 2 .000 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 3 0
Ryan Mutombo 8 1 2 .500 0 0 5 5 1.000 2 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 7
Malcolm Wilson 2 0 0 0 0 1 2 .500 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 1
School Totals 200 24 61 .393 9 26 .346 12 18 .667 16 18 34 8 4 1 20 21 69
Provided by CBB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 1/18/2022.

Collin Holloway had 6 turnovers in 18 minutes, Aminu Mohammed and Dante Harris each had 4 turnovers, and Tyler Beard had three in 24 minutes. Georgetown looked like they had not seen a press this year, even when it was only 9 days after Shaka Smart’s Marquette-version of HAVOC wore the Hoyas out. One might say that Georgetown was underprepared for Mike Anderson and St. John’s well-known press.

With Georgetown proving their issues with pressing—be it full-court or off-ball, half-court pressure—the Hoyas can expect to see plenty more pressing this season. Ewing and the Hoyas have to find a way to either (i) beat the pressure and score easy points or (ii) run a half-court set with 15 seconds left on the shot-clock. Can it all be blamed on player execution or can the staff shoulder some of the blame? Don’t even get me started on transition defense or guarding screens.

Perhaps there is some intra-program communication about rectifying the direction and turning the tables, but we’re not hearing it. We’re left to speculate and bicker amongst ourselves. The Georgetown Hoyas are at a low point and the worry is that, without staff acknowledgement, they could trend even lower.

Going back to Ewing’s post-game comments, there has been nothing that since then a Georgetown fan can hang his or her hat on as an inflection point. Perhaps Louis Orr is not in a proper place to make a comment on the state of the program, but someone has to say “we’re better than this, we’re working on this” or it looks like they’re welcoming mediocrity.

This is truly an awful year to have a young roster with at least six new faces. Cohesion and consistency don’t magically come when not playing and practicing together. Missing on-court leadership year-to-year, game-to-game certainly doesn’t help. But there’s also little sympathy for coaches who are responsible for building a competitive roster. If COVID is more culpable for the players’ reduced energy capacities, then Ewing probably shouldn’t have made those post-game comments.

Step one is getting everyone—including your head coach—healthy. Step two is winning one game at a time, or maybe just winning one play at a time.

Having the head coach back should hopefully right the ship a little bit, but maybe another COVID issue this year could mean another step backwards. Based on Villanova’s SB Nation blog, it appears there is no room for Georgetown to reschedule any future games including the Xavier game and any others that may be canceled.

So, the Hoyas have 16 games to completely turn it around before the BIG EAST Tournament and fans want to see some indication of promise well before then, some reason to be optimistic in the coach and the current roster. Some may call it culture, others may call it discipline, still others may believe it’s just a matter of confidence. Getting back to even the level they played against Syracuse could be a matter of several games or it could be the flick of a switch. Hell, we’d even take an ugly win as a show of some fight left in the tank.

Maybe there’s a chance to capitalize on an opportunity this Thursday. With Providence coming back from their own COVID issues, and having a limited bench, perhaps a Ewing-led Hoyas can find some inspiration in Rhode Island on Thursday. But you know Ed Cooley’s guys are going to play tough for him at home.

The Hoya faithful want to see a measurable leap in energy and effort soon. They want a defense that’s not always in “scramble” mode and running out towards an open perimeter look. They want to see a consistent rebounding effort. They want to eliminate the bad turnovers on offense and minimize the pace-based giveaways. They’d like to see multiple passes on each trip down. They want to see the effects of better communication on both ends.

And we want a coaching staff and program that—if not fixing these issues outright—at least acknowledges that these problems exist for the team and that steps are being taken to improve both strategy and execution.