NEW YORK — Big East basketball media day normally provides a platform for coaches and players to speak optimistically about the upcoming season, but for the Georgetown women’s team, the tone was far more contemplative given the difficult circumstances surrounding the program.
Samisha Powell and Andrea White, the only two seniors on the team, were the lone representatives for the Hoyas, who arrived at the annual event on Wednesday afternoon without a head coach following the resignation of Keith Brown less than a week ago.
Brown had been put on administrative leave at the beginning of the month amid allegations that he verbally abused his players, and university officials announced eight days later he would not be back for his second season at the helm. Assistant Tim Valentine, who also had been suspended before he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the school, is running the team along with fellow assistants Krystal Reeves-Evans and Kenya Kirkland. None of them attended media day.
“Our assistant coaches are doing a good job trying to keep the team together,” said Powell, a 5-foot-8 guard. “Me and Andrea are trying to do a good job as seniors., As leaders of this team, as well as upperclassmen, we are trying to keep the team together.”
Players began raising concerns about Brown two weeks before he was placed on leave as the team was preparing for a transitional season. With the graduation of all-time scoring leader Sugar Rodgers, the core of the team that went to three consecutive NCAA tournaments for the first time in program history had all departed.
Rodgers, a four-time all-Big East selection, finished with 2,518 career points and was selected 14th overall in the WNBA draft.
Brown had assembled one of the better recruiting classes in the conference, with five highly regarded freshmen. That group now is minus Kelsey Briggs, who decided not to enroll at Georgetown. Brown said when Briggs initially committed that she had the potential to be one of the program’s most accomplished players ever.
Taylor Brown, The Post’s 2011 All-Met Player of the Year, and Jasmine Jackson also transferred during Brown’s tenure. Both are attending George Mason.
“Clearly it’s a time for our student-athletes that’s difficult for our program,” Georgetown Athletic Director Lee Reed said Wednesday. “I think we’ve quickly turned our attention to quickly do what we can to try and support our student-athletes. They deserve that. We’re trying to provide them with a positive experience this year. Practice continues to move forward. The games don’t change.”
Reed said the search for a new coach is ongoing but did not specify when a decision would be made regarding a permanent replacement for Brown, who had been the top assistant to then-coach Terri Williams-Flournoy for five seasons.
Brown was named head coach May 7, 2012, shortly after Williams-Flournoy departed for Auburn. The Hoyas finished 15-16 last season.
“I think we’re definitely closer,” said White, who was Georgetown’s second-leading scorer last season. “The main focus on the team is the players, so we’re trying to keep together.”
Said Powell: “I feel like if we’re able to overcome the situation, I feel like it will bring us that much closer as a team. We’ll get that much farther as to where we need to go as the season progresses.”