Patrick Ewing fired by Georgetown after latest losing season

Patrick Ewing was fired as men’s basketball coach at Georgetown on Thursday after the latest in a series of rough seasons at the school he led to a national championship as a player in the 1980s.

The school announced that it “has begun a national search for new leadership.”

Ewing was never a head coach at any level of the sport until getting the job with the Hoyas in 2017, and he leaves after a half-dozen years with a record of 75-109. His last game was an 80-48 loss to Villanova on Wednesday night in the first round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, the arena where Ewing was a star for the NBA’s New York Knicks for so many years.

Georgetown went 7-25 this season, including 2-18 in regular-season conference play, a schedule capped by a 40-point loss to Creighton. Ewing presided over a 29-game Big East losing streak that began in March 2021 and ended this January, the most consecutive defeats in league history.

The past two seasons were particularly poor: The Hoyas won a combined total of 13 games while losing 50, a winning percentage of .206.

Ewing’s tenure included only one winning season, zero victories in the NCAA Tournament and just one appearance in the Big Dance. It’s a far cry from the sort of success the program enjoyed when the 7-foot-tall Ewing was patrolling the paint as an intimidating, shot-blocking force at center decades ago.

During Ewing’s four years in uniform under coach John Thompson Jr., Georgetown went 121-23, won the 1984 NCAA title and appeared in the championship game two other times. Ewing went on to become the No. 1 overall pick following the NBA’s first draft lottery and starred as a pro, mainly for the Knicks.

“As successful as I was as a player,” Ewing said when he was hired to succeed Thompson’s son, John III, as the coach of the Hoyas after 15 years as an assistant in the NBA, “that’s how successful I want to be as a coach.”

Did not work out that way. Not even close.

His head coaching days began, promisingly enough, with an 8-0 start. But what followed was a harbinger of what was to come: Georgetown faded to a 15-15 record that season, a first-round loss in the Big East tournament and no postseason invitation.

During Ewing’s time in charge, a wave of transfers would carry talent away from Georgetown, while strong defense – a hallmark of his teams when he was on the court – was often missing.

The unquestioned highlight of his return to the Hilltop was the 2021 conference tournament at his old stomping grounds of MSG. The Hoyas surprisingly reeled off four victories in a four-day span to earn that title and the automatic NCAA berth that came with it; they were bounced by Colorado by 23 points in their opening game of March Madness.

A year later, with Georgetown on the way to sinking to 6-25 – breaking a mark that had stood for a half-century and setting a school record for most men’s hoops losses in a season, which was replicated this season – athletic director Lee Reed offered a public show of support for Ewing.

During last offseason, all three of Ewing’s assistant coaches were replaced and several new players were brought in, but that did not help matters. And speculation about Ewing’s future that already was whirring only grew louder as this season fell apart.

This January, Reed responded to a request for an interview by issuing a statement to The Associated Press that called Ewing’s stint at his alma mater a “challenging and frustrating time.” Reed also said then that Ewing “understands that it is imperative to get the program back on track.”

Hours later, with Georgetown President Jack DeGioia in attendance, the Hoyas lost to Villanova, their record-setting 25th Big East setback in a row.

“My future is my future,” Ewing said after that defeat. “I’ll be the head coach at Georgetown until the president or the board decides for me to move on. … You know, a friend of mine sent me a quote today: ‘It’s not how many times you get knocked down; it’s how many times you get up.’ We got knocked down, so all we’re going to do is keep on getting up.”

Another loss to the Wildcats would become Ewing’s last game at his alma mater.


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