If you were to judge new Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing and his first season at the helm of his alma mater, you might say that this team has a long way to go in the competitive Big East Conference.
And you would be right.
Yet, despite a dearth of top-level Division 1 talent on their 2017-18 roster, the Hoyas have actually been pretty competitive against teams with significantly better talent.
The Hoyas (11-4 overall, 1-3 Big East) enjoyed the easiest non-conference schedule in the country to start the season, which buoyed the team’s confidence going into conference play. Georgetown lost three bitterly close games to Syracuse, Marquette and Butler, and were blown out by Creighton, but the team is playing with a spark rarely seen in the last few years under former coach John Thompson III.
Casual fans may have developed a false sense of hope during the impressive start to the season, but those who really understand the sport know exactly what Ewing was doing with the scheduling choices. He placed low-caliber competition on the plate first, allowing his squad to win some games while developing team camaraderie and confidence. That way, when the Big East schedule did arrive, his team was better prepared to deliver the type of effort it takes to win against tougher competition.
A matchup against DePaul on Jan. 2 turned out to be Ewing’s first Big East win, but also brought a moment caught by TV cameras when Ewing spoke to his team in a huddle and laid into star junior Marcus Derrickson about his shot selection. The exchange was caught by the cameras and microphones, and the video clip soon went viral. Fans far and wide applauded Ewing with his approach towards Derrickson, but most importantly, how Derrickson responded. The junior finished with 24 points in the 90-81 road win.
The Hoyas have maintained a steady effort in each game. Yes, the team really needs a true point guard and desperately misses their former recruit turned LSU star point guard Tremont Waters. Waters would have sped up the Hoyas’ process to truly compete in the conference, but it’s a slow walk. It takes time.
Hoyas Nation would love to see the team return to its glory days. But to be frank, the talent cupboard is bare and has been bare for quite some time. The days of kids wanting to spend their formative years at Georgetown “just because” are over. Ewing and his staff will have to use this season to aggressively recruit young stars. Then, and only then, will we see results that we all can be proud of at the hilltop.