Georgetown basketball is at a low and awkward point right now, but salvation could come via Mike Brey.
Patrick Ewing is a Georgetown legend, and he deserved an opportunity to be a head coach after a long run as an NBA assistant. That chance came at his alma mater, with fanfare as a significant tie to the glory days of Hoyas’ basketball.
An NIT bid came in Ewing’s second season, and a conference tournament win brought an automatic bid into the 2021 NCAA Tournament. But 13 wins over the following two seasons, and two total Big East wins in that span, led to Ewing being fired this past week.
As his 23rd season as Notre Dame’s men’s basketball coach wound down, Mike Brey announced it would be his last. But he openly said he is not done coaching.
Brey is the winningest coach in Fighting Irish history, with a 483-280 record, 13 NCAA Tournament appearances and two Elite Eight runs (2015 and 2016). But with three below-.500 records in the last five seasons, and a changed college basketball landscape which may make it tougher to build and sustain winning in South Bend, Brey saw the challenge ahead. And sometimes, it’s just time for a change.
Mike Brey is the No. 1 answer to Georgetown basketball’s woes right now
As Matt Norlander of CBS Sports noted, whoever replaces Ewing will end a long run of Georgetown coaches with connections to the legendary John Thompson dating back 50 years. Craig Esherick was a Hoya player and a long-time assistant before succeeding Thompson as head coach in 1999. John Thompson III replaced Esherick in 2004, lasting until 2017 when he was replaced by Ewing.
Brey has ties to the geographic area Georgetown once ruled as a pillar program in college basketball. He was born in Bethesda, Maryland, he finished his college playing career at George Washington and he started in coaching as an assistant at DeMatha High School.
Norlander noted how Brey was a finalist for the Georgetown job before Ewing was hired.
"Brey was a finalist six years ago, before Ewing got the nod. He’s also a coaching free agent, and Brey has said he intends on coaching again. The 63-year-old has D.C. roots and, similar to Cooley and Pitino, has the media savvy to take on this job and inject it with the energy and positive attitude Georgetown needs right now. But Brey (582-332 career record) might be a few years too late to actually get this offer. If I’m Georgetown, I still schedule an interview. Gotta cover all the bases."
Iona coach Rick Pitino (still feels weird to write that) has been easy to tab as a top candidate for Georgetown. But he appears more lined up to take the job opening at St. John’s after the firing of Mike Anderson. Providence head coach Ed Cooley has been prominently mentioned too, but it’s unclear if he’d make the move within the Big East.
Georgetown needs an established coach, and whoever it is will naturally come from outside the program. It’s entirely possible Brey wants the job over any other he might be a candidate for. And thus, it’d just be up to the school’s brass to hold up their end by showing interest.
Georgetown’s search for a new men’s basketball coach should start with Brey. If it ends there, so be it as they try to re-establish themselves a prominent program in the sport.