Patrick Ewing’s long-awaited debut as Georgetown men’s basketball coach did not disappoint, as the Hoyas (1-0, Big East) beat the Jacksonville Dolphins (0-1, Atlantic Sun) 73-57 Sunday afternoon at the Capital One Arena. Junior forward Marcus Derrickson and junior center Jessie Govan scored twenty apiece and combined for 23 rebounds, five steals, and four blocks as well. Senior guard Jonathan Mulmore dished out seven assists and provided some tough perimeter defense for the Hoyas, who asserted their size advantage over the smaller Dolphins on both ends and led wire-to-wire.
Ewing’s arrival was well-attended by numerous Georgetown basketball alumni, family, and friends of the hall-of-fame center, including Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning, Jeff Van Gundy, and Michael Jordan. The fanfare and warmth did not go unnoticed by Ewing, who commented on the comfort he felt from those in the stands.
“It was a great win. Every win is a great win,” Ewing said. “It’s great that I had Georgetown friends, Alonzo, Dikembe…Michael Jordan came, you know Jeff [Van Gundy], Scott [Brooks]. I had a lot of friends here. It meant a lot to me because they showed up to support me.”
Following a raucous pregame introduction for Ewing, the Hoyas delivered a spirited effort in the first half to ring in a new era of Georgetown basketball. Freshman forward Jamorko Pickett opened up the scoring with a three pointer off a Mulmore assist on the Hoyas’ second possession. In the initial stages, however, Georgetown struggled with its ball security, as a combination of ambitious look-aheads and struggles with passing out of the post contributed to nine first half turnovers.
“I’m very concerned [about the turnovers],” Ewing said. “We turn the ball over in practice, we’ve turned the ball over in our first two scrimmages. That’s something I’ve been talking to the team about, and it’s something we need to do a better job about.”
On the defensive end, the Hoyas were able to pressure the Dolphins into committing 12 first half turnovers of their own, using aggressive ball-hawking and defensive rotations to harass the Jacksonville players. Georgetown closed the period on a 9-4 stretch, highlighted by back-to-back forced shot-clock violations and a Derrickson three at the buzzer off a slick pocket pass from Mulmore. For the half, the Hoyas shot 43 percent from the field, including 7-14 from three, while holding the Dolphins to just 23 percent shooting. Georgetown ceded 11 offensive rebounds to the smaller Dolphins, prompting a halftime adjustment from Ewing and the Hoya bigs.
“He [Ewing] told us to put a body on everybody and go pursue the ball,” Govan said. “The defensive possession doesn’t end until we get the rebound, so we can start our break.”
The second half featured continued positive production from Govan and Derrickson, who helped the Hoyas solve the Dolphins’ active matchup zone. Both bigs played an integral role in the dismantling of the scheme, creating space in the defense to take high-percentage shots or kick it back out to open teammates. Ewing was pleased by his star players’ performances, and was frank about their importance to his team’s success.
“Jessie and Marcus, like I’ve told everybody…in order for us to be successful those guys are going to have to be our mainstays, which they were,” Ewing said. ”As a player, I never got nervous. But as a coach, I got nervous. The biggest difference is, I’m counting on these guys,” Ewing said, chuckling while motioning to Govan and Derrickson.
Besides stellar play from the Georgetown bigs, another bright spot for the Hoyas was the sustained defensive intensity and attention to detail. There was perhaps no bigger purveyor of this than sophomore guard Jagan Mosely, who drew three charges against the Dolphins and presented a tenacious defensive challenge in tandem with Mulmore. Mosely also brought the crowd to his feet with a monster dunk attempt with just 2:43 left, taking a hard foul from a Dolphin big man.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the day was a transition dunk by Jessie Govan off a look-ahead pass by graduate student guard Trey Dickerson. With 12:50 left in the second half, Dickerson pitched the ball ahead to the junior forward, who took one dribble and threw down a two-handed stuff to extend the Hoya lead to 47-29. On display were the aspects of high-quality basketball that Georgetown fans have been missing over the last few years: hustle, intensity, and selflessness. If Sunday’s result is any indication of the direction of Ewing’s program, Georgetown basketball fans have a lot to be excited about.
The Hoyas return to the court on Wednesday night against Mount St. Mary’s (0-1, Northeast). Tipoff is slated for 7:00 pm at Capital One Arena.