- The Washington Times
Sunday, November 4, 2018

Trey Mourning wants some hardware. The son of former Georgetown and NBA great Alonzo Mourning has one more season to make it happen.

Mourning enters his senior season with the Hoyas thinking back to Georgetown’s last appearance in the NCAA Tournament, which ended with a Round of 32 loss to Utah in 2015. He readily admitted at last week’s preseason media day that the team needed better results, not only to win “something of value,” but to get the fan base excited to come to games at Capital One Arena.

“We have to win, of course, for them to come back,” Mourning said. “We haven’t done a good job of that in the past two years, so I wouldn’t blame them for not coming back and buying season tickets and all that.”

But with Georgetown’s history and built-in basketball crowd in the city, a winning team surely will attract crowds. No wonder the Hoyas enter Year Two of Patrick Ewing’s tenure as coach with higher expectations, now that Ewing, his staff and the players are settled in.

“You see it in the way (Ewing) carries himself,” Mourning said. “It’s Year Two for him. More of his players are here. Coming in as a first-year coach, you don’t have access to all your players. So you can tell he’s more comfortable, the coaching staff’s more comfortable and we as players are more comfortable.”

The Hoyas open their season Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. when they host University of Maryland-Eastern Shore.

Georgetown will be led by center Jessie Govan, who tested the NBA Draft waters last spring but withdrew and returned for his senior year. Govan became the first Hoya to average a double-double in 15 years when he maintained rates of 17.9 points and 10.0 rebounds across all 30 games last season. He was a unanimous selection to the preseason All-Big East first team.

The Hoyas’ biggest departure was forward Marcus Derrickson, who earned a two-way NBA contract with the Golden State Warriors, so the team will look to Govan and junior guard Jagan Mosely for leadership this season. Every Hoya is aware of what they will need to do to replace Derrickson’s productivity on defense and the boards.

“We lost seven games last year, seven or eight games down the stretch where we didn’t come up with that all-important rebound,” Mourning said. “It’s gonna take a group effort to replace a guy like Marcus. It’s not gonna take one guy.”

For Ewing’s part, the main strategic change this year will be to shoot for a more balanced offense between the perimeter and the post. He downplayed the idea that he faced a big learning curve in Year One, citing his 15 seasons as an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards and three other NBA teams.

“There’s no difference in that respect because the NBA’s so young now,” Ewing said. “You’ve got one-and-done guys. You have guys who, before they changed the rule, were able to come straight from high school. I don’t think that it’s too much difference.”

Joining Govan and crew this year is senior William & Mary transfer Greg Malinowski and hyped-up recruit Mac McClung. McClung broke Allen Iverson’s Virginia state high school record for points in a single season last winter, not long after signing up to play at Iverson’s alma mater.

Last season, the Hoyas drew criticism for a weak non-conference schedule that allowed them to start the year 10-1, the lone loss coming in overtime to former conference rival Syracuse, before going 5-13 in Big East play. But Georgetown strengthened its opening two months of games a bit for 2018.

They’ll play at Illinois in the Gavitt Tipoff Games next week and then travel to Jamaica for a preseason tournament with games against Loyola Marymount and South Florida. The biggest non-conference matchup is at Syracuse on Dec. 8, before the Big East slate kicks in Jan. 2.

Early predictions seem to like the Hoyas to take a step forward this season. Although they were picked seventh out of 10 teams in the preseason coaches’ poll, NCAA.com bracketologist Andy Katz has slotted Georgetown in for an NCAA Tournament play-in game in his first bracket of the year.

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

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