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A Chip Off The Block?
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about whether Patrick Ewing Jr. committed a goaltending violation in the final second of Georgetown’s 58-57 victory at West Virginia on Saturday night.
But Coach John Thompson III — who, for the record, thinks the officials made the correct decision in not blowing the whistle on Ewing’s soaring block of Da’Sean Butler’s layup attempt — prefers to focus on the effort displayed by the senior forward, rather than the result.
“Just the way he got to that basket, I don’t know that there are too many people that would’ve put themselves in a position to make a play,” Thompson said. “Forget all the discussions about whether it was a good block or bad block. Just the effort to help his team — that epitomizes what he’s done here.”
That blocked shot might end up as the defining play in the Georgetown career of Ewing, who has carved out a role as the sixth-ranked Hoyas’ top reserve. Last week he helped Georgetown (16-2, 6-1) win two close games with his aggressiveness and effort, particularly on defense.
Wednesday night, he played at Madison Square Garden, where his famous father, Patrick Ewing Sr., had so many dominating performances as both a Hoya and a New York Knick.
The younger Ewing should get some significant time against St. John’s, if sophomore forward DaJuan Summers, who suffered a high-ankle sprain in the final minutes of Saturday’s game, can’t play. Summers, Georgetown’s second-leading scorer, did not practice Tuesday and is “day-to-day,” according to Thompson.
Ewing started the first 10 games of the season, until he was replaced in the lineup by freshman Austin Freeman. Thompson said he made the move in part to solidify the Hoyas’ second unit.
Ewing said he didn’t mind because he thinks he brings more to the team coming off the bench. His minutes have not dropped significantly, nor has his production; he’s averaging more rebounds and shooting a higher percentage from three-point range as a reserve.
“I just get a feel for the game more after watching it for a few minutes,” said Ewing, who averages 6.2 points and 4.1 rebounds. “I feel that I have an ability to set a tone, and I’m better at setting it when I’ve had a chance to view what’s going on while sitting on the bench. I’m able to evaluate the game, see which ones of my teammates are hot at the time, see which defenders are boxing out, see where I can get the rebounds.”
Thompson has often praised Ewing’s basketball acumen, and Ewing says if a professional playing career doesn’t pan out, he could see himself going into coaching like his father, who is currently an assistant with the Orlando Magic.
During his two years at Indiana University, prior to transferring to Georgetown, Ewing occasionally coached his friends’ intramural basketball teams. He claims: “I’m undefeated. I’m the Pat Riley of intramural basketball.”
“The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree,” Thompson said. “That pride that Big Pat has, you see in Little Pat. That determination, that effort — you see that in Little Pat, and that’s what is talked about most of the time with him. But at the same time, he is a very smart basketball player. Particularly as of late, he’s been the guy on our team throwing a lot of the passes. He is much more than just an effort player, but at the same time, he is that.”
The Hoyas count on that effort, and they feed off his passion. Ewing is the team’s most outwardly emotional player, and it sometimes gets the best of him.
Over the past two seasons, he’s been called for more technical fouls (three) than any other Georgetown player; his most recent one came at DePaul on Jan. 8, and the play can be seen on YouTube under the heading “Patrick Ewing Jr. Gets Technical, Yells at Fans.”
He readily admits to being the most hated Georgetown player — at West Virginia, for instance, the student section shouted an obscenity at him nearly every time he touched the ball — but he relishes that role.
For one thing, he says it takes some of the pressure off of his teammates; for another, “it always helps me play better, it helps me get more focused and get in a zone, and do more things to prove to them I’m a better player than they think I am,” he said.
But Ewing likes interacting with the crowd, too. At Rutgers, he chatted with a young fan who was sitting in a courtside seat at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
Early in the second half, Ewing told the boy, “I’m going to get a dunk for you right here.” The Hoyas had just come out of a timeout during which Thompson had called for a play that usually results in a layup or dunk off a backdoor cut.
“But we ran the play to the other side, and didn’t get a dunk. When the ball came to my side, I remember J.R. Inman slacking off me, and I made a three,” Ewing recalled. “I said to [the boy]: ‘Is that better? I couldn’t get the dunk, so I got the three for you.’ I gave him a high-five later on.”
The only high-fives that Ewing got Saturday in Morgantown were from his teammates; his father, who has yet to attend one of his son’s games this season, watched on television and later praised his son for the way he stayed with the play.
As Butler took the pass in the corner and started driving along the baseline, Ewing drifted down and then leapt high into the air to swat the shot. Butler later said that he never saw Ewing.
“If I don’t go for the block, maybe [Butler] makes it, maybe he misses it,” Ewing said. “I’d rather not have it come down to him making or missing it. I’d rather make the play myself or have a teammate make the play. Make the refs make a decision, because nine times out of 10, they’re not going to make a call that late in the game.”
And if the officials did make the call, and the Hoyas lost the game as a result?
“I can live with that,” Thompson said. “History has shown, you’re going to get that call and sometimes you’re not. But just the effort to help your team out is what’s important.”