Patrick Ewing, who led Georgetown to the 1984 NCAA title, is returning to his alma mater, this time as head coach. He will replace John Thompson III, who was fired after 13 seasons.
Ewing, 54, dominated college basketball as a player. He was national player of the year, ranks second in Hoyas history in points (2,184) and is first in both rebounds (1,316) and blocks (493). But coaching, as we all know, is a different animal.
“First and foremost, I think he better hire a good staff,” Westwood One and Big Ten Network analyst Jon Crispin said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “The recruiting part is more the work. It’s not just about having the right connections and being someone that can attract recruits. It’s about doing the work. Will they be able to work hard enough to do this job? It’s not a six-to-eight-month-out-of-the-year job; this is 12 months. And it’s not just that 12 months. It’s how you turn 12 into 24, 24 into 36 and continue and keep something in a good way (perpetually).”
Ewing, an 11-time All-Star, had been an NBA assistant since 2002. He spent time with Washington, Houston, Orlando and Charlotte but was never a head coach. Now he’ll finally get a chance.
But please, Crispin said, don’t pretend you know what’s going to happen.
“How nonsensical are some of the arguments for or against (Ewing)?” Crispin said. “It’s just absolute nonsense, and you hear it coming from people that have never coached, who have never played, who have no clue what it really takes. They just write about this game, and they say, ‘Oh, this is a great hire,’ or ‘I’m going to hold back on whether this is a good hire or not because I want to see what he can do.’ You don’t know either way. You don’t know what it takes. And truth be told, we have an idea because of what we do. Look, we are tied to this game. But it is hard to imagine someone making that transition from an NBA bench as an assistant to a high-level program with the expectations that they’re going to have at Georgetown, not to mention the pressure coming from above. There’s certainly going to be pressure there.”
Thompson went 278-151 with eight NCAA Tournament at Georgetown. The Hoyas, however, finished 14-18 this season, including 5-13 in the Big East.
They have just one Final Four appearance since Ewing’s senior year. That came in 2007, when Georgetown – led by Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert – advanced to national semifinals before losing to Greg Oden and Ohio State.