After many long years, Patrick Ewing is finally getting his shot to be a head basketball coach. Ewing has had his name mentioned with damn near every vacant head coaching job in the NBA over the last several years, yet has always been the bridesmaid. In that time, Ewing has been an assistant coach for many different teams, including the Rockets, Magic and Bobcats (now the Hornets). This is Ewing’s first head coaching gig at any level (not counting an interim gig in 2013) and seems to be the shot he has been waiting for all his post-playing life. What he does with this shot, and how short of a leash Georgetown gives him remains to be seen.
Luckily, the Hoyas seem to give their coaches a bit of time to sink or swim. We just saw with the previous Hoya regime under John Thompson III that they were willing to let him flounder, first through a few sad NCAA tournament appearances where his team was bounced in the first weekend, to eventually missing the tournament altogether, and not even playing that well in-season. Finally, enough was enough, and Thompson was let go. Does Ewing have a similar leash given what he means to the university? I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but the prevailing wisdom is that he will be given every opportunity to make this his own as just seeing the former Hoya patrolling the sideline should be enough to sell tickets for the first year or so.
On a personal level, growing up with Patrick Ewing as my favorite basketball player by a large margin (I even had an officially licensed Patrick Ewing basketball), I think it’s awesome that he has finally got this chance to show his talents in on the bench. It’s no big surprise that Ewing had a hand in crafting early Dwight Howard into a force for the Orlando Magic, and seeing what he could do with control of a whole team, especially in college basketball, where the big man is not as marginalized as they are in the pros nowadays. I am very excited to see what Ewing can do as a head coach in the Big East Conference and look forward to paying closer attention to Hoya basketball for the foreseeable future.