Patrick Ewing’s illustrious playing career at Georgetown produced three Final Fours in four years and a national championship. As head coach, Ewing leads a promising Hoyas team in pursuit of its first NCAA Tournament, taking their first steps of the 2019-20 season Aug. 10-17 in the Bahamas.
Georgetown plays three games against the Bahamian national team over the course of the weeklong tour, all streaming live on FloHoops.com and the FloSports app. The Hoyas aim to continue the improvement shown in Ewing’s first two seasons at the helm, building off a 19-14 finish after a 15-15 mark in the Hoya Destroya’s homecoming campaign.
One area Georgetown can make strides: closing out games. A 19-win finish in 2018-19 landed Georgetown a berth in the National Invitational Tournament, but the Hoyas were several heartbreaking finishes away from the Big Dance. They dropped six regular-season decisions by a total of 21 points, including five in the hyper-competitive Big East Conference.
The campaign ended in an unfortunately fitting manner, with Harvard winning by three -- right around the average of those six regular-season games -- in the 1st Round of the NIT.
That was Georgetown’s last time out, so expect the blue-and-gray to have some frustration to work off in the Bahamas. Likewise, look for a savvy squad sharpened by last season’s near-misses.
Ewing welcomes back the most experienced roster of his brief tenure. A corps of freshmen and sophomores who carried much of the load in 2018-19 are veterans heading into 2019-20.
The backcourt of rising sophomores James Akinjo and Mac McClung sets the tone for a talented roster. Akinjo and McClung both shined as freshmen; Akinjo shot better than 39 percent from behind the 3-point line, and boasted the nation’s 64th-best assist rate, per KenPom.com advanced metrics.
Akinjo could be poised to break out as one of the nation’s premier point guards in 2019-20. In the same vein, the GIF-generating viral sensation McClung has a ceiling as high as his impressive vertical leap. The exciting off-guard will have an opportunity to show the evolution of his game in the Bahamas.
Josh LeBlanc rounds out last year’s kiddie corps, coming off a debut campaign in which he ranked 44th nationally in offensive rating. How the effective slashing scorer LeBlanc feeds off of one of Georgetown’s new arrivals should be one of the tour’s more intriguing developments.
That addition is 7-foot center Omer Yurtseven, a transfer from NC State who spent the 2018-19 season as a redshirt. Yurtseven averaged 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game for a 2018 NCAA Tournament squad.
His addition should give a needed boost to a defense that ranked No. 133 nationally in adjusted efficiency, and that yielded an opponent 2-point field-goal percentage a shade below 50. But in Yurtseven’s offensive involvement during the Bahamian tour, the Ewing influence could be readily on display.
Yurtseven is the first classic center under Ewing’s tutelage at Georgetown. In his time as a Hoya, Ewing was one of the most dominant big men in NCAA history. He added to his reputation over a nearly two-decade NBA career.