With all the success the Georgetown Hoyas have had over their history and most recently the John Thompson III era, some would say it would seem illogical to suggest firing coach John Thompson III. I’m not going to spit out stats and games the Hoyas should have won seeing that they do play in the Big East and anything is plausible on any given night. What I am going to prove is the recent slide the Hoyas have taken in losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament and NIT is no coincidence that it’s because of their coaching.
Rewind to 2004-2005, Georgetown announces the hiring of John Thompson the third. Most Hoya fans at this point had enough of the Craig Esherick era and were ready to move on. This was a good step in getting this once proud program back to respectability. Thompson had just came off a 20 win season of his own at Princeton while taking them to the NCAA tournament. Let me say a pretty good accomplishment taking an IVY league school the tournament. Never the less, he would still bow out in the first round. Pardon the foreshadowing but this would become more of a trend than aberration.
Inserting the Princeton offense would keep the Big East teams on its heels the first few seasons becoming the favorite words out any color commentator’s mouth. With players like Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert, the Hoyas excelled in the art of the backdoor pass for the usual uncontested lay-up. In fact, in Thompsons first season, the Hoyas would jump out to a 16-6 start surprising many observers who had Georgetown picked to finish 11th in the big east. Another foreshadowing alert: the Hoyas would proceed to finish 1-6 down the stretch and end up in the NIT.
Thompson’s cast of players have included Jeff Green, DaJuan Summers, Greg Monroe, and Roy Hibbert all of whom have reached the NBA. After early success with the Princeton offense, Big East teams have caught on over the last few years and the backdoor passes that usually resulted in lay-ups are now being defended well. Moving forward with the cast of athletes Georgetown brings in every year you have to ask yourself, “With recruits like this, why on earth would I ever want to slow the game down to a methodical pace in which the opposing teams many times inferior gets to stay in the game with less possessions from both teams?” I, like many other Hoya fans, haven’t understood this offense at Georgetown because of this argument. This isn’t Princeton! Georgetown gets athletes here. Yet with all of this talent to work with, only once has JT III managed to get past the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Back to John Thompson’s resume. The hiring seemed at the time like a step in the right direction, however one would see now that if you looked at his post-season record and compared it to where he is currently, there is an ugly trend of first round exits and season killing losing streaks. In his 11 seasons combined as coach of the Princeton Tigers and Georgetown Hoyas he has a total of six, SIX post season first-round exits! Any Hoya fan will also tell you about the back-breaking losing streaks his teams have endured during his tenure.
John Thompson’s overall record of 228-113 is very impressive, but outside of two seasons from 2006-2008 in which the Hoyas would go 58-11 Thompson hasn’t done much with the talented recruits he has brought in. In fact, he has won only three more games in the next three seasons combined than he did during the aforementioned 58-11 stretch, going 60-37. Accumulating 26 more losses mixed in with some embarrassing losses too much inferior teams. For all of the John Thompson supporters that bring up his final four appearance, I would like to say that was slightly tainted as well. Don’t forget the botched traveling call the officials missed on Jeff Green during their sweet 16 game against Vanderbilt. I was rooting like no other during the crazy UNC elite 8 game that followed, but UNC would go on to miss 22 of their final 23 fg attempts factored in with an amazing deep three-point bucket by Jon Wallace that forced O.T. In other words the Hoyas could have and probably should have lost that game.
Now comes in Patrick Ewing. The roots are obviously there as he was a legend at Georgetown, and he has been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2007. Dwight Howard’s career has blossomed since the arrival of Ewing and the Magic have made some deep runs so he certainly has experienced some success as well as tasted what it’s like to be in heated situations along the way.
Ewing may not have any prior head coaching experience, but I would argue that with the experience he has gained over a career of big game after big game, Ewing certainly knows what it takes to prepare his team for big games. Throw in that he would be able to get big name recruits, Georgetown wouldn’t miss a beat. I’m sure he would have to surround himself with some good assistants, but Ewing has proved his worth.
A Patrick Ewing hiring would take some sting out of a John Thompson the third firing as well. I’m not suggesting this should happen as of right now, but one would think JT III doesn’t have very many first round exits left in him before a firing would come to fruition.
At worst Georgetown immediately dumps the Princeton offense and instantly becomes a team of interest with Ewing leading the way. There are other coaching prospects Georgetown could go with, but why not stick with your roots and hire an old legend?