Before coaching his first game at Georgetown — indeed, his first game as a head coach at any level of basketball — Patrick Ewing recognized that his tenure would be judged on one basis: his record.
“People could call me ‘the best Hoya ever,’ but as you know, if I don’t win, there’s going to be another coach here sooner or later,” Ewing said in 2017. “Every coach knows, just . .. you dot the I’s and cross the T’s, the writing is on the wall. At some point in your career you will be let go. That’s just life in coaching.”
Ewing’s time coaching the Hoyas came to an end Thursday when he was fired after going 75-109 in six seasons at the school that led to an NCAA championship as a player in the early 1980s.
In a statement included in the news release about the change, school president Jack DeGioia called Ewing “the heart of Georgetown basketball” and described him as “tireless in his dedication to his team and the young men he coached.”
Thank you Patrick Ewing#HoyaSaxa pic.twitter.com/6BNwV4jziW
Ewing, meanwhile, thanked DeGioia “for giving me the opportunity to achieve my ambition of being a head basketball coach” and added, “I wish the program nothing but success. I will always be a Hoya.”
His last game was Wednesday night’s 80-48 loss to Villanova in the first round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, the arena where Ewing starred 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 in league history.
The tenure included only 1 winning season
The previous two seasons were particularly poor: The Hoyas won a total of 13 games while losing 50, a .206 winning percentage.
Ewing’s tenure included just one winning season, zero March Madness wins and just one NCAA Tournament appearance. It’s a far cry from the kind of success Georgetown enjoyed when the 7-foot-1 Ewing patrolled the paint as a fearsome shot-blocking force at center decades ago.
During his four years in uniform under coach John Thompson Jr., Georgetown went 121-23, won the NCAA title in 1984 and appeared in the championship game two more times. Ewing became the No. 1 overall pick after the NBA’s first draft lottery and starred as a pro, mostly 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 coach of the Hoyas after 15 years as an NBA assistant, “that’s how I want to be a coach.”
It didn’t work out that way. It’s not even close.
During Ewing’s tenure, a wave of transfers lured talent away from Georgetown, while strong defense — a hallmark of his teams when he was on the field — was rare.
The undisputed highlight of his return to the Hilltop was the 2021 conference tournament in his old stomping ground at MSG. The Hoyas amazingly reeled off four wins in four days to clinch that title and the automatic NCAA berth that came with it. bounced Colorado by 23 points in their opening game in the Big Dance.
A year later, with Georgetown slumping to 6-25 — breaking a half-century mark and setting a school record for most losses by men’s hoops in a season, repeated this season — athletic director Lee O’Reed offered a public event of support to Ewing.
In January, Reed responded to an interview request by issuing a statement to The Associated Press that called Ewing’s tenure “a challenging and frustrating time.” Reid also said Ewing “understands the imperative to get the program back on track.”
Hours later, with DeGioia in attendance, the Hoyas lost to Villanova, a record 25th straight Big East loss.
“My future is my future,” Ewing said after that loss. “I’m going to be the head coach at Georgetown until the president or the board decides to move on… You know, a friend of mine sent me a quote today: ‘It’s not how many times you get hit. it’s how many times you get up.’ We found each other, so all we’re going to do is keep getting back up.”
Another loss to the Wildcats would be Ewing’s final game at his alma mater. Less than 24 hours later, Reid announced, “We will immediately begin a national search for our next head coach.”