Villanova, Pa. — Almost everything you needed to know about Georgetown’s annual trip to play at No. 10 Villanova could have probably be summed up by how Vegas weighed in on the matter.
In a Big East game between the longtime rivals that will be forever linked in history through the 1985 title game, Patrick Ewing’s Hoyas opened up as 20 point dogs. Like most lines, it’s basically just what KenPom had to say on the meeting and it told a story of two very different programs at the moment.
But still, TWENTY POINTS?
I guess that’s what happens when you go on the road as losers of 15 straight and planted at the bottom of the league standings, winless at 0-14 and just 6-19 overall while your conference peer has realistic goals of making another Final Four.
The Hoyas, who last won on Dec. 15 against Howard, were given just a 2 % win probability by KenPom - you can see I like that site - against an opponent they edged past in last season’s Big East quarterfinal on the way to Ewing’s greatest accomplishment as coach.
So with rumors swirling from source to source and even with this blog’s call for Ewing to step down from coaching his alma mater before his original contract and possibly extension that may-or-may-not-have been given last April expire, I wanted to see if there was anything noticeably different in the Hall of Famer’s in-game sideline demeanor.
Word on the street in college basketball circles is that Tommy Amaker is the current clubhouse leader to be the next head coach at Georgetown should the job open.— Casual Hoya (@CasualHoya) February 19, 2022
This was basically, by any metric site out there, a game that seemed completely out of reach well before even the first jump ball.
I mean after all I think it’s pretty natural for most people to act differently on the job if you know the end is right around the corner. Today would have been that day.
Well, spoiler alert: there wasn’t any vibe that matched a forthcoming concession speech. Ewing was Ewing and we all know what that means. He and his team competed. They could even leave feeling a bit unlucky not to finally get that first Big East W.
He’s decades removed from donning the signature look of a t-shirt under his famous 33 jersey and right now it also feels like his program is also somehow decades removed from the triumphs of last March in a near empty Madison Square Garden that put the Hoyas in first place all-time with an 8th Big East Championship. All that being said he was up and down the sidelines for all 40 minutes on Saturday coaching like his team needed another signature victory for a postseason resume. Instead they just need a win, any win, to stop the bleeding of a slide that seems unfathomable and quite honestly, made up.
Less than a minute into the game he called over for big man Timothy Ighoefe to come and listen to him after the Hoyas starting center picked up an early foul.
Moments later he was near the Wildcats ‘V’ mid court logo to help the officials gather a loose ball.
Down 12-5 at the U12 media time out and shooting under 20 %, Ewing had his troops switch to a full court press while he yelled out instructions. At times it felt like Ewing was the sixth defender as he tried to get his team into a different look that could maybe solve the problem of the day.
We are all used to hearing Ewing’s booming voice from just about anywhere at cavernous Capital One Arena but one could easily hear him from the second level at the Pavilion on a sold out senior night for Villanova. I was surprised. And impressed.
Look if this is the end it isn’t how the end of the Chris Mullin era played out at St. John’s just a few seasons ago.
I remember what Mullin looked like on the sideline at the end.— Bobby Bancroft (@BobbyBancroft) February 19, 2022
This ain't that.
Lot of sources don't seem to line up to me.
Ewing is totally engaged and believes he can get the program back. Maybe to a default but he’s the same confident man that he was when he showed up to Georgetown both times.
I’ll spare everyone of the play by play of everything Ewing did tonight but even at the end with a win out of grasp he was there. Still coaching. There was Ewing, standing at the edge of the coach’s box barking out instructions as Donald Carey (career-high 24 points) got the ball to Aminu Mohammed for the game’s last score in a 74-66 loss that, if they were being honest, made the entire home crowd feel far less comfortable late than they were expecting. And he acknowledged post game that there are no moral victories. I mean this is Georgetown and it’s high major basketball. Ewing gets paid like a Top 25 major coach. There’s no doubt about it.
Probably annoyed at seeing another winnable game slip away, he cracked a smile like he was being pranked before asking multiple times in the zoom if my post game question about how he can get his Hoyas program up to Villanova’s current lofty - I actually used gold - standard was actually 'real'.
Eventually he acknowledged it was real and then gave us this:
“They are Villanova and we are Georgetown,” Ewing explained after saying what a great job Jay Wright has been doing.
“Even though things are not going well for us right now I still believe in Georgetown and I still believe in the Georgetown brand. I still believe that our day is coming.”
And that’s going to be the question, right?
Are Georgetown and the Georgetown brand something that can only exist under the Thompsons or a Thompson disciple like Ewing? Or at some point - whenever that may be - can an outsider come in and take the Hoyas rich past and mix in their own way of doing things to get the program back up on top?
Time will tell but right now even after falling to 6-20 and 0-15, it doesn’t seem like Ewing is close to going anywhere on his own accord.
And if he is, I wouldn't suggest playing poker with him.
Also, Hoyas covered for those interested in such things.