Georgetown basketball coach Patrick Ewing knows what it takes to win it all.
April 2nd was the 26th anniversary of the Hoyas’ first national championship, an 84-75 victory over Houston. Ewing was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.
“You always think about it, especially now that I am back here working at Georgetown,” Ewing told NBC Sports Washington the day of the anniversary.
This season was anything but celebratory for the Hoyas. They dealt with injuries and players transferring mid-season, but the banner hanging in the rafters at their practice facility serves as a reminder of what the program was and can be again. Georgetown has 11 Big East regular-season conference titles and seven conference tournament championships, but 1984 was their only NCAA title. Ewing went to the championship game three times during his career only to lose in 1982 to Michael Jordan and North Carolina and 1985 to Villanova. But he will always have that day in Seattle against Houston.
“It was a great experience, a great day, and we worked really hard to achieve that and to win that title,” Ewing said.
As Ewing reflects, it comes with a certain amount of sadness. The 1983-84 Hoyas endured their share of suffering. Ewing, coach John Thompson, David Wingate and Ralph Dalton all lost their mothers that year. It’s a testament to what a team can overcome in the midst of adversity and was the foundation for relationships that have lasted a lifetime. Now as head coach, Ewing looks to continue building the basketball program – but, for now, must do so from home. Covid-19 is teaching us all the importance of leadership and communication. Ewing says just because the team can’t meet on the court doesn’t mean they can’t meet at all and he makes sure that happens regularly.
“We’re talking to them, we’re Zooming them, Face-Timing them. We’re trying to do it all,” Ewing said.
And they have to. The Hoyas have yet to make the Big Dance in three seasons under Ewing, finishing tied for 8th in the Big East this year thanks to a stretch of brutal injuries and those personnel losses early on. You don’t need me to tell you how critical recruiting is — and how challenging — when a Hall-of-Fame legend like Ewing can’t make house calls. But he is determined to find that next generation of Hoyas who can help push the program forward.
“We still have to try to recruit,” Ewing said. “While we can’t go out and sit in living rooms, we try to do it out other ways to get the job done...By any means necessary”
Some of that has included giving virtual tours of the facility. In hopes of protecting recruits, the NCAA has extended the recruiting dead period until May 31st. It was originally April 15th. That timeframe could still be extended further. But what Ewing is looking forward to more than anything is being reunited with his players on the hard wood.
“I can’t wait. We take things for granted,” Ewing said. “Getting up, going to work or going to the gym, going to the supermarket. Things you normally would do on a regular basis and are not able to do. It’s rough.”
While coach and I are conducting this interview through Zoom from our couches, dreaming of basketball returning, it’s not lost on either of us the magnitude of the coronavirus.
“This is bigger than basketball, it’s about life,” Ewing said. “There are a lot of people who are losing their life over it at this time. So even though we want to get back on the floor, we want to get back to business as usual.”
The only way that happens, is if we all listen to what doctors and the government is asking of us. Stay home, practice social distancing, wash your hands, and disinfect.
“Be safe,” Ewing said. “Not only think of yourself, but others.”
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