Backcourt, Govan Provide Offensive Balance
Reporters, fans and players alike are all eager to see what Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) has in store for year two of his tenure in charge of the Georgetown men’s basketball team.
Senior forward Trey Mourning has noticed a change in Ewing’s demeanor before the start of this season.
“You see it in the way [Ewing] carries himself. This is year two for him; more of his players are here,” Mourning said at the Georgetown men’s basketball media day. “He’s more comfortable; the coaching staff is more comfortable; we as players are more comfortable.”
Georgetown’s first year under Ewing did not produce desired results, as the Hoyas finished 15-15 overall, dropping their last five games of the year and finishing third to last in the Big East Conference. The Hoyas were unable to close out games, losing six games in the Big East after holding the lead at halftime.
However, the team enters the 2018-19 campaign with new energy, adding four-star freshman guard James Akinjo and three-star freshman guard Mac McClung to its backcourt, which struggled last year in matching up with guards across the Big East.
“It’s like a three-headed monster with me, James and Mac,” junior guard Jagan Mosely said.
Along with Akinjo and McClung, Georgetown will add four-star freshman forward Josh LeBlanc and four-star freshman forward Grayson Carter to its strong freshman class.
Senior guard Greg Malinowski will make his debut for the Hoyas this season after sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules, while Mourning, who missed all of last year with a hip injury, will return to the team.
Ewing said that the improved backcourt and wings will allow the Hoyas to adopt a more balanced game plan.
“We’ve improved the team,” Ewing said. “If you look at our team, we have a lot more options to go to than we did last year.”
The new additions to the lineup will complement the return of sophomore guard Jamorko Pickett, the team’s third leading scorer last year. Pickett was named to the All-Big East Freshman Team last season.
Ewing hopes Pickett can build on his performance as a freshman.
“He has to have a good year for us this year. I thought that he came on in the second half of last year, but in order for us to be successful he’s going to have to be one of the guys that is going to have to carry a load,” Ewing said.
More than anything, the emphasis will be on the leadership and production from senior center Jessie Govan, the team’s leading scorer last year, who returned to Georgetown after testing the NBA draft waters.
Govan has been named to the preseason All-Big East First Team and placed on the watch list for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award.
Ewing emphasized that Govan must perform well in his last season on the Hilltop.
“Like I told him, this is his last year; there’s no more. So, he has to have a great year,” Ewing said.
Govan is one of the key pieces for Georgetown, which, despite gaining several newcomers, lost forward Marcus Derrickson, who signed a two-way contract with the Golden State Warriors.
Derrickson’s departure will likely make opponents focus on Govan, but he is prepared for the extra pressure.
“This year the scouting report is out, so I have to be ready for game one,” Govan said. “I have to be ready for double teams and ready for having all the attention on me. I’m ready for that; the guys are ready. I’m going to embrace that role and make the right play.”
Georgetown will be challenged in Big East conference play by the strength of reigning national champion, No. 9 Villanova, and the return of many players across the conference.
Marquette junior guard Markus Howard will lead a potent Golden Eagle offense, while Big East Preseason Player of the Year junior guard Shamorie Ponds will return to St. John’s after averaging 21.6 points per game last season.
Govan hopes to get drafted after this season but wants to lead the Hoyas back to prominence and cement his legacy as a Hoya.
“If I go out on that note, being the one to be the leader of this team that goes back to the NCAA tournament, gets Georgetown back on the map, I’ll think that would be great for me,” Govan said.
The 2018-19 campaign for the new-look Georgetown Hoyas begins Tuesday, Nov. 6, against the Eastern Shore Hawks.