Patrick Ewing strolled into a side room of the John R. Thompson Jr. Intercollegiate Athletic Center and leaned down to shake hands with the small group of reporters who nodded to every familiar face. Last year he had made the suit-and-tie thing when first impressions were made at the annual Media Day of basketball in Georgetown, but this year the day felt like any other. He wore his normal work clothes: basketball shorts, a T-shirt, and a hoodie that could not be opened.
He was not the only one who had changed in a year. Sophomore Jamorko Pickett, who had added over £ 15 to his reeds this summer, spoke confidently as he listed goals for the Hoyas, and his voice did not tremble when he addressed a room like last year.
Upstairs, Georgetown's trophy room also showed signs of change. The sofas have been replaced with specially designed gray parts that match the Ewing measurements – the seven feet fills them perfectly. For those under 6 feet 4, good luck touching the ground with your toes.
"Everyone is more confident and comfortable," Pickett said. "Last year the team was a bit skeptical and so on. We did not know the coach's tendencies and we do not know how he acts. Well, everybody feels better. He definitely has more confidence in us. "
Welcome to Year 2 for Ewing in Georgetown, where the Hoyas have finally settled under the new regime.
Ewing is no longer the newcomer to the Great East. He has made the natural progression from a beginner trainer who relied on his assistants when it was time to work on Zone Offenses and Defense – these quirks of college play – to a man with a solid foundation that his team understands and a team in which the majority stands Players are now guys he brought with them.
Last season, Georgetown was 15-15 in the round, breaking a soft non-conference table before winning just five games in the Great East. This year, the Hoyas were selected to achieve seventh place in the nine-person conference in the preseason coach's poll. It's modest two points higher than at the beginning of last season, but apart from the numbers, the message is clear: increased expectations accompany the team's experience.
"I think they will be really good," said Villanova coach Jay Wright, naming both Georgetown and Chris Mullins St. John's squad when asked which teams will leap into the league this year. "If you look at Ed Cooleys [Providence] Team or Greg McDermott [Creighton] Team … although some guys are young, they were already with them. These people have been with Patrick and Chris for a few years. The coaches are now experienced, the teams are experienced. "
What Ewing took most of his first year in Georgetown was the kind of college job around the clock.
"I've been training for many years now, although this is my first head coaching job," said Ewing. "… college is different from the NBA. They have much more than college coaches as an NBA coach. Your responsibility is much more. "
The basketball was not a big change (aside from playing the zone), but he had to rely on longtime college assistants Robert Kirby, Louis Orr, and the rest of his staff to fill his phone with the right recruiting contacts and join him in learning help NCAA rules.
Big man Jessie Govan noticed a change in his coach in the summer – he seemed to be calmer. Govan noticed that he cried less in practice. The players give the game more comfort with the season and more confidence in the ability to control every aspect of the program flow.
Orr said, it's also because he has upper-class people who are used to Ewing now governing things. The veterans help teach the team's five newcomers and the individual transfer (7-foot center Omer Yurtseven, are eligible only in the next season), so not all coaches are in the team.
"For a coach, I would call it a natural evolution," Orr said. "But you definitely see the added comfort of the veterans. They know the pace of the game and the newcomers and the transfer who practices, it's new to them to a degree. … Our challenge is to make sure that there is a mix there, that they are intertwined, that they are all on one side when it comes to what the coach wants them to do. You have to learn together. "
All these new faces mean that there will be an adaptation of the way Ewing leads his team this season, opening Tuesday against Maryland-Eastern Shore.
They will play a more balanced relationship between the post and the perimeter as Ewing has more confident wings like Pickett, Senior Kaleb Johnson and Transfer Greg Malinowski. Freshman Guards James Akinjo and Mac McClung as well as bachelor Jagan Mosely are backing the Hoyas and will try to lower the 15.2% of sales per game they had averaged last season.
Ewing notes that these perimeter players are well connected to Govan, the linchpin of the team that scored an average of 17.9 points and 10 rebounds last season and was included in the first team of the Big East preseason has been. His main role will be even bigger this season after Georgetown unexpectedly lost striker Marcus Derrickson to the NBA.
Derrickson, the team's second-biggest scorer and rebounder, signed a two-way deal with the Golden State Warriors, putting Govan under intense pressure to resist the Big East defense without support. There will be a number of players to replace Derrickson's rebound and three-point shooting – he was the team's top team last year.
"It has to be everyone," said Ewing.
Apart from designing a more balanced relationship between post and perimeter games, Ewing did not make many adjustments in its second year. He wants the team to play even faster than last year. That's why it's more, and as a coach, he wants to focus more on fundraising now that he is under his feet.
On the whole, however, Ewing can rely well on the foundation he set up in his founding season.
"The learning process continues," he said. "… but I think I'm learning. I am getting better every day. "
Virginia Basketball is "in a really good place"
UMBC Basketball does not have to explain itself after the NCAA victory
Svrluga: Mark Turgeon likes his team and Terps fans need something they can believe in