Georgetown Offspring Do It Their Way

He doesn’t patrol the sidelines with the fury of his father, and his calm, tailored look is in sharp contrast to the disheveled mass which was Big John Thompson, Jr. But he may get as much from coach diplomacy as Big John did by instilling fear.

In the last two weeks, John Thompson III has piloted the Hoyas to improbable late-game comebacks against three tough teams led by coaching legends – Jim Calhoun of UConn, Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, and on Saturday, at West Virginia against Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers, when the Hoyas snapped WVU’s 15-game consecutive home winning sreak and took over first place in the Big East.

JTIII was assisted mightily in this endeavour by the all-round play of Patrick Ewing, Junior, a fifth-year senior , who does not start and until recently, scrambled for playing time. Ewing, of course, is the son of Patrick Ewing, Georgetown’s greatest player ever and an NBA Hall of Famer. In two years at Indiana and a season and a half at Georgetown since transferring after the 2004-2005 season, Ewing has averaged fifteen minutes of playing time and 4.1 pts per game.

In Ewing’s final season, Coach Thompson is not calling upon him to fill the scoring void caused by Jeff Green’s early departure to the NBA. That task must fall to DaJuan Summers and Austin Freeman. As a shooter, Ewing Jr. is more likely to throw up a brick than a swish. No, what Thompson wants from Ewing is everythng else – on the ball defense, rebounds, steals, general athleticism, and yes, ballhandling. All of these skills were very much on display in the last ten minutes against West Virginia.

Over six or seven possessions during crunch time, Ewing spun three beautiful bounce passes for lay-ups, took down a big defensive rebound in traffic, made a steal, and drew two fouls. To cap matters, his block of a Da’Sean Butler lay-up at the buzzer preserved the victory. His final line: five points, six rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and ferocious energy expended over 27 minutes. But Ewing’s excellence is not fully reflected in the stat sheet. You’ve got to see him to notice it. And you must be forgiving of the brickmanship.

Can a player who does everything well but score succeed in the NBA? Is Patrick Ewing, Jr. an NBA player? Do we throw stats out the window when we have a guy with unbridled athleticism and a great knowledge of the game, who loves to do the dirty work? The guess here is that Ewing, Jr. is in the NBA next year, making it by a different route than his old man, who was the number one pick in the 1985 draft. Think Kurt Rambis, Mark Iavarroni, or Dudley Bradley.

Young Thompson is successful because he has taken the best from Big John and left out the rough edges. Like his father, he knows how to blend talent. Because Thompson needs scoring punch, Ewing Jr. will continue to lose minutes to Freeman and Summers. But at crunch time, when JTIII needs everything to work well, he will do the same thing that his father did…… he’ll call on Patrick Ewing.

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