After a moral victory of sorts against Texas Tech, your Georgetown Hoyas returned to Capital One Arena as favorites to beat the South Carolina Gamecocks. But the Hoyas found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory due to a superlative second half by Gamecock-star G.G. Jackson and a late flagrant foul that sent the game to overtime. The Hoyas are now 4-5 despite a cushy nonconference schedule. With only two nonconference games left, it is time to look beyond wins and losses and ask what, if anything, can be salvaged from this season.
You can read the full recap here, but the bottom line is that the “close one” highlights significantly belie the crushing blow for another painful Ewing-era loss.
Rather than confront last season’s multitude of coaching failures, Georgetown’s administration allowed Coach Ewing to overhaul his roster and hire two new coaches. However, the on-court product has barely improved, with another gauntlet in the Big East schedule still ahead.
The Hoyas will be underdogs in every remaining game, except, possibly, for Wednesday’s fixture against Siena. As with last year, Ewing has placed much of the blame on the players. It’s still not a good look. These student athletes deserve far batter, and the case for removing Coach Ewing is stronger now that it was in February.
We have a pretty solid idea of what the rest of the season will look like if Ewing stays on: he will play Akok Akok, Jay Heath, Brandon Murray, and Primo Spears as many minutes as possible in an ostensibly vain quest to keep scoring margins respectable. These players will continue to wear down in second halves, as they have in the embarrassing losses to LMU, American, and now South Carolina. The rest of the roster will grumble privately or not-so-privately about their lack of opportunities.
The Hoyas would fare better if Ewing trusted other players, but the unprecedented player attrition has deprived him of his most experienced options. Dante Harris, who looked like a potential star after his freshman season, is the Hoyas’ latest transfer and certainly would have had a place in this year’s squad. His departure, along with those of former captain Donald Carey and underrated sixth man Collin Holloway, speak volumes about the atmosphere within the Thompson Center.
Sophomores Ryan Mutombo and Jordan Riley are the only two holdovers from the 21-22 roster and the ballyhooed 2021 recruiting class. They have demonstrated commendable loyalty to the program but now face the prospect of back-to-back winless Big East seasons. They have also had their development short-circuited by Ewing’s unpredictable rotations. Mutombo has not played since an effective 11 minutes against American while Riley featured prominently only in the Hoyas’ wins against Green Bay and La Salle and is now nursing an injury.
Freshman Denver Anglin is another highly ranked recruit who would benefit from a change of leadership. Ewing is loathe to play Anglin as the backup point guard even though the Hoyas are starved for consistent outside shooting. As with Tyler Beard last year, Ewing is apparently more focused on Anglin’s limitations than leveraging his skillset.
The Hoyas’ regulars are just as ill served by the status quo. Akok has had an injury-plagued collegiate career and should not be playing 35 minutes a game against anyone, let alone less-than-stellar competition. Qudus Wahab has underwhelmed since his return to Georgetown and is visibly frustrated by the guard-oriented offense. Spears, Heath, and Murray have all registered impressive numbers, but Ewing seems unwilling or unable to reign them in when they freelance on offense or defense.
Bryson Mozone, Wayne Bristol, and Bradley Ezewiro are called upon at random, with impactful minutes early minutes rarely leading to more playing time. With the shambolic nonconference results and Associate Coach Nickelberry already the point man for the Hoyas’ defense and recruiting, the players are likely to be nonplussed by a reset.
Georgetown basketball cannot afford another lost year. The focus for the rest of this season should be to develop and retain a core that might return in 2023-24. That process can only begin once Coach Ewing’s tenure comes to an end.