Patrick Ewing had several climactic achievements at Madison Square Garden as a player. Now, he has one as a coach who can rival any of them.
Georgetown seemed to have carried over to the 1980s. Only instead of John Thompson patrolling the sideline, his best player was in place, the old No. 33.
After four years of disappointing losses, player transfers and questions about the direction of the program, Ewing engineered a historic run at the Garden for four nights. The Hall of Fame player guided his eighth-seeded Hoyas to a Big East Tournament title with outright dominance of second-seeded Creighton, 73-48, on Saturday night.
“He’s up there,” Ewing said, when asked how the title compares to the feeling of winning as a player, first with the Hoyas and then the Knicks. “It was a different chapter in my life. As a player, I am the one who is trying to score, block shots, bounce. And as a coach, I’m here where a lot of people thought I didn’t have the ability to [be]. And I’m proving everyone wrong. “
The impressive one-sided victory gave Georgetown (13-12) the automatic, and highly unlikely, spot to the NCAA Tournament. The Hoyas last went out dancing in 2015. They last won the Big East Tournament title in 2007. They became the first team to win four games in as many nights since the creation of the new Big East in 2013.
Georgetown’s victory came on the 49th anniversary of the college’s hiring of Thompson, who died last August at age 78. Together, Thompson and Ewing won three Big East titles and a national championship in the early 1980s. Ewing said he felt like Thompson was watching him become the first person in history to win a Big East championship as a player. and coach, in the building where his Knicks jersey hangs in the rafters.
The Hoyas’ incredible streak, the first time a team that was chosen to finish last in the Big East won the conference tournament, will likely do so all four teams in the league at the field of 68. Creighton is expected to, Connecticut and Villanova receive general offers Sunday night.
“I keep talking about that Drake song,” said Ewing, 58. “Drake, you’ll probably get some more money now because I’ve been saying it a lot: we started at the bottom; Now we’re here. We start from the bottom; now we are number one. “
Creighton (20-8) was an 8 ¹ / ₂ favorite and had all the power of the stars. A selection from the All-Big East first team, Marcus Zegarowski. One of the best shooters in the nation, Mitch Ballock. An attack that ranked 11th in the nation in offensive efficiency.
Georgetown did not have a single honored player on either the first or second team. Point guard Dante Harris, so impressive all week, was not named to the All-Freshman team. Chudier Bile was playing low-major in the Southland Conference last year. They all looked like superstars in the last four games, a bunch of guys fired by so many experts.
The same could be said for Ewing, whom many identified as another NBA guy who couldn’t hack into college training. It lost its three most talented players last year to transfers and this season’s team started 3-8.
“Many people disrespected us. He spoke ill of us, ”Ewing said. “We believed in ourselves”
Bile led four Hoyas in double figures with 19 points and eight rebounds. Qudus Wahab, who has emerged as a difference marker at the pivot, had 11 points and 12 rebounds. Jahvon Blair had 18 points and Harris, an unranked pick, had 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists en route to the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player honors.
Zegarowski scored 17 points for the Bluejays, who were limited to a minimum of points on the season.
The game felt over at halftime, following a 30-5 run at Georgetown that put the Hoyas up by 18. It gave Ewing plenty of time to savor his greatest coaching achievement in the same spot he had. so many good memories as a gamer.
“It means the world,” said Blair, a senior, of being part of Ewing’s first championship game. “This is your first time. It’s my first time, jamorko [Pickett’s] first time. We start with the [from] day one. Just seeing how happy she is makes me happy. Everybody is happy “.