In the moments after his Georgetown team beat Villanova Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, Patrick Ewing walked across the line to shake hands.
Dressed in a black tracksuit, Ewing greeted one player after another, then turned and walked himself off the field and towards the locker room. It was an outing he’d made hundreds of times, first as a college player at Georgetown, and then as an NBA star with the Knicks. On Wednesday, it was different: The Hoyas’ 80-48 defeat of the Wildcats in the first round of the Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament, another loss in another losing season, was his last game as Georgetown’s coach.
The university announced Thursday that it will be looking for a new coach after Ewing posted just one winning season in a six-year span. In the last two seasons, the Hoyas have gone 6-25 and 7-25, leaving Ewing himself to admit that his last Georgetown run may be coming to an end as a post-game press conference on Wednesday.
“My future is in the hands of our president, LLD and the board of directors,” he said on Wednesday.
President John J. DeGioia declined an interview request with Ewing earlier this week, and athletic director Lee Reed declined to comment on Ewing’s future Wednesday night. But by Thursday, their decision was clear. Reed said in a statement that the national search for a replacement for Ewing would begin immediately.
“I am deeply grateful to Coach Ewing for his vision and determination and for all that he has enabled Georgetown to achieve,” DeGioia said in a statement. “For the past six years, he has been tireless in his dedication to his team and the youth he has coached and we will be forever grateful to Patrick for his courage and leadership in the Georgetown community.”
In their statements, DeGioia called Ewing “the heart of Georgetown basketball,” and Reid said it was a “privilege” to work with him. But the program with Ewing as coach had vastly different results than it did with Ewing as its star center in the 1980s.
On his watch, the Hoyas went 75-109 with just one NCAA Tournament appearance, in 2021. Last season, the Hoyas finished the regular season 0-19 in conference play. This year, they are 2-18 in the league.
It was just two years ago when a jubilant, triumphant Ewing walked the Georgetown locker room on the lawn singing Drake’s lyrics. After being selected to finish last in the conference preseason poll, the Hoyas had just upset Creighton in the Big East tournament final, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament—the program’s first berth since the 2014-15 season.
But this optimism did not last long. The Hoyas lost to Colorado in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and went on a 29-game losing streak into the Big East regular season in late January of this season.
“It’s the same things Ewing talks about all the time — we couldn’t close the games,” Rich Chfutkin, the voice of Georgetown University’s basketball radio for 49 seasons, said in a phone interview Tuesday. “And in the Big East, if you can’t close the games, you’re in trouble.”
Ewing also struggled with player retention: 17 players were transferred from the program during his tenure, including Mac McClung, who left for Texas Tech and won this year’s NBA dunk contest, and Dante Harris, a Washington native and the nation’s top player. 2021 Big East Championship. Harris moved to Virginia in January.
This season’s team, with nine new players, generally played an uninspired type of basketball.
“I feel like our roster has the most talent to compete with everyone in this conference, everyone in the Power 5,” said Primo Spears, the 6-foot-3 sophomore guard who transferred from Duquesne. “But it’s a new group. We’ve got a new group of youngsters. The top seven have never played together.
“When you play with other teams in Power 5, it’s hard to get along quickly in such a short time. So I think everyone just needs to get used to each other’s game, and by the time we get used to each other, I feel like it’s too late.”
Ewing was also unable to take advantage of the fertile recruiting ground near the university either. The DMV—the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia—is known for its top-level basketball talent, but Georgetown hasn’t signed a DC Gatorade Player of the Year since Chris Wright in 2007. He’s been in the NBA since 2013.
Fans’ dissatisfaction with the team’s struggles has made its way into the arena. In the final moments of Georgetown’s 66-51 loss to Seton Hall on January 10, the 27th of what would become their 29th consecutive loss in the Big East, the Hoyas student section blared the “Fire Ewing” chant.
“Obviously, when you don’t win, the fan base isn’t very happy,” said Chfutkin, adding, “But you know Patrick, he’s a warrior. He’s trying his best. It’s a shame they don’t get it done. That’s the problem. They just don’t get it done.” .
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