By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 8, 2007
The play that Patrick Ewing Jr. made midway through the second half of Georgetown's 66-48 victory over 17th-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon was ultimately recorded as just an offensive rebound, one of the two that he grabbed in the game.
But it was really a play that epitomized the way that the Hoyas thoroughly dominated the Irish, and a play that represented the effect that Ewing Jr. has on a game when he takes the floor.
With 11 minutes remaining, Notre Dame forward Luke Harangody appeared to be in position to easily rebound Jonathan Wallace's errant shot. Ewing Jr., however, suddenly moved over and ripped the ball away from Harangody, and the Irish freshman -- who is built more like a football player than a basketball one -- dropped to the floor. As Ewing Jr. started to fall out of bounds, he tried to deflect the ball off of Harangody. Ewing Jr. screamed, the Verizon Center crowd roared, Georgetown maintained possession, and the Hoyas began an 8-0 run that put the game out of reach.
Ewing Jr., a 6-foot-8 junior and the son of the iconic Georgetown center, didn't score in 12 minutes against Notre Dame, but he had two rebounds, an assist, a blocked shot, and drew a charge. He gave the Hoyas, who host Villanova tonight, a noticeable lift when he was in the game.
"He gives you energy and he gives you emotion. That's who he is," Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said. "He's been playing pretty smart lately. He's an emotional person, but he hasn't been letting his emotions just totally take over his being out there. . . . There's no doubt he gave us a boost, as he has for the last this little stretch here. He's been very good when he's been in there."
The idea of another Patrick Ewing wearing number 33, patrolling the paint for Georgetown, was a tantalizing one at the start of the season. So far, Ewing Jr. has been a valuable role player for the Hoyas, who have won seven straight, and his minutes figure to increase with the departure of sophomore forward Marc Egerson, who withdrew from the university last week.
Ewing Jr., who is averaging 2.5 points in nine minutes per game, was not a dominant player during his first two college seasons, which he played at Indiana University. He sat out last season after transferring, per NCAA rules, but was allowed to practice with the Hoyas. During an interview at media day in mid-October, he said that he was not a big-time scorer; instead, he described himself as the type of player who does the intangible things, and said that he was more interested in "strapping down on defense and making hustle plays."
He received a warm ovation when he made his Georgetown debut as a reserve against Hartford; in his first three games, he had more personal fouls (10) than points (seven) or rebounds (six). More recently, Thompson credited Ewing Jr. with giving the Hoyas a much-needed spark in wins over Winston-Salem State and Towson. Against the Tigers, Ewing scored six points in nine minutes, including a timely three-pointer and fast-break dunk that was set up by a steal.
"At the beginning of the season, it was a little shaky for me," Ewing Jr. said. "I felt like I was letting my team down and coach down, because I felt that when I was in the game, I wasn't doing enough to help the team -- the other teams were scoring a lot, and my man was scoring a lot.
"I sat down and had a talk with coach and we discussed some things that I needed to do better, and I've been concentrating on that. Ever since then, I feel like the last few games, my play has been better. I may not score a bunch of points, I may not get a bunch of rebounds, but I feel like I do a lot better helping my team out in the last couple of games."
One of Ewing Jr.'s greatest attributes is his emotion; he's constantly standing up, waving his arms, yelling at his teammates. When a timeout is called, he's generally the first one off the bench to greet his teammates with a chest bump (sometimes unexpected) or high-five. Thompson said that Ewing Jr. helped the Hoyas win games last year -- when he was on the bench in a nice suit -- because of his enthusiasm and his "ability to will his teammates through situations." Now Georgetown gets that same effect on the floor.
"Starting off on the bench has been good for me because I get a chance to calm down, and I'm not as hyped," Ewing Jr. said. "If I was maybe starting, I'd probably come in and pick up two fouls because I was too excited. . . . I think my timing has been right to do the right thing, and we've been coming away with the wins."