Home / Sports / Plenty of pals on hand to watch Ewing get 1st win at Georgetown

Plenty of pals on hand to watch Ewing get 1st win at Georgetown

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Patrick Ewing apparently prefers to coach outside the box. It’s where he clearly is most comfortable. But according to the NCAA that’s a no-no, especially for a rookie.

In his very first game as Georgetown head coach, Ewing was warned repeatedly by referees for venturing outside the coach’s box, which coincidentally was extended from 28 feet to 38 feet last June by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel. Ewing never received the memo.

“I wasn’t aware of it,” Ewing said. “First of all, it’s hard to see that little line. It blends in. They put a towel there. I became conscious of it. I started looking for it.”

These are the subtle nuances of the college game that Ewing will learn over time. Otherwise, Ewing’s debut – a rousing 73-57 win over Jacksonville on Sunday – was a smashing success.

With Michael Jordan, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning, Jeff Van Gundy and Scott Brooks all in attendance, Ewing notched career victory No. 1. Afterwards, Ewing laughed when a friend told him he was only 999 wins behind Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.

“It’s always great to get a win,” Ewing added.

Ewing, who served as an NBA assistant coach for 15 years before receiving his first head coaching offer, looked completely at ease and in charge on the sidelines. He certainly has a presence, and not just because he’s 7-feet tall.

Ewing was coaching from the jump ball right until the final whistle; calling plays, admonishing his team for defensive lapses and constantly imploring them to push the pace.

Patrick Ewing walks off with a game ball after his head coaching debut on Sunday.

Patrick Ewing walks off with a game ball after his head coaching debut on Sunday.

(Nick Wass/AP)

“I told Jeff that Patrick really looks comfortable on the sidelines,” said Brooks, the Washington Wizards coach who sat next to Van Gundy. “I was really impressed.”

“There is a command and demand in his demeanor,” said Van Gundy, wearing a Georgetown sweatshirt that his brother Stan sent to him after Ewing was hired last April. “It didn’t surprise me because he’s coached maybe 100 summer league games. He already has his voice.”

On Jacksonville’s first possession, Ewing scolded Marcus Derrickson for his pick-and-roll defense. When Derrickson threw a pass away, Ewing glared at him the way one of his former bosses, Stan Van Gundy, often looks at a player.

The look didn’t say “I want to kill you.” It was more along the line of “Are you kidding me?”

“I noticed that as well,” Van Gundy said. “The translation of the body language is interesting.”

Ewing, with a small white play sheet in his hands, spends much of the game on his feet. When his sits he does so in a custom made, oversized, ergonomically designed chair made famous by Phil Jackson. It’s the one that looks more like a throne, than a chair.

Ewing’s interaction with referees tends to be cordial and professional as he dedicates most of his energy and attention on his young team that went 14-18 last season.

Patrick Ewing works the officials in his first game in charge of the rebuilding Hoyas program.

Patrick Ewing works the officials in his first game in charge of the rebuilding Hoyas program.

(Nick Wass/AP)

“He’s got them defending,” Mutombo said. “That’s good.”

Jacksonville is one of several mid-major programs Ewing intentionally scheduled to prepare Georgetown for the Big East. Ewing needs to upgrade the talent but this Hoyas team was too much for Jacksonville, which trailed 36-20 at halftime and fell behind by as many as 24 in the second half.

There were plenty of things Ewing didn’t like about the performance. His team committed 18 turnovers and gave up 15 offensive rebounds. The Hoyas attempted 26 3-pointers and when a reporter asked Ewing if he expects Georgetown to continue on that pace all season, Ewing replied: “I hope not.”

Ewing, whose coaching background is in the NBA, wants Georgetown to play at a quick pace but he wants to see more points in the paint and more free throws. Jacksonville’s 22 free throws were six more than the Hoyas.

The crowd greeted Ewing with a loud ovation and the atmosphere inside the Capital One Arena had an NBA feel to it with Jordan, Mutombo, Mourning, Van Gundy, Brooks and Otto Porter all in attendance. Afterwards, Jordan posed for photos in the Georgetown locker room while Jacksonville guard Tanner Rubio asked Mutombo for a selfie.

Ewing, the greatest player in the history of the Georgetown program, was handed the game ball at the final whistle and palmed it. Not many college coaches can do that. He then walked off the court and embraced his oldest son, Patrick Jr., who now serves as his manager. He’s also made his dad a grandfather with a third grandchild on the way.

Ewing, 55, scanned the crowd before the game and appeared to be soaking in a moment he’s waited a long time for. There was no sign of John Thompson, the Hall of Fame coach whose son was fired last spring and replaced by Ewing. The elder Thompson likely didn’t want to distract from Ewing’s day, a day that was long overdue.

“I was nervous,” Ewing said. “I was talking to Jeff before the game and I was telling him as a player I never really got nervous before a game. But as a coach I got nervous. Big difference is I’m counting on these guys. As a player I’m counting on myself.“

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