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Georgetown 2023-24 Season Preview - Change is a Good Thing


Overview


It’s a new era on the Hilltop.


On March 20, 2023, Georgetown announced the hiring of Ed Cooley as its new men’s head basketball coach.


Cooley arrives at Georgetown after spending the last 12 seasons at Big East rival Providence, taking the Friars to seven NCAA Tournaments and winning National Coach of the Year in 2022.

Ed Cooley at his introductory press conference on March 22, 2023 (Photo: The Washington Informer)


“Ed is a proven leader and an experienced coach, whose values and knowledge of the game will lead our program into this new chapter,” Georgetown President John DeGioia said in a school statement. “His commitment to excellence on and off the court will bring out the best of our basketball program and will give each member of our team the experiences and support they need to thrive.”


Cooley suffered just one losing season at PC, his first one back in 2011-2012. During his tenure, the Friars won 20 games or more 7 times. Over the previous 82 years of PC basketball, that had been done 23 times.


The success Cooley brings is not something Georgetown was used to under former Head Coach Patrick Ewing.

In Ewing’s six seasons as head coach, the Hoyas went 75-109, never had a 20 win season, and only made the NCAA Tournament once, thanks to a miracle four day run in 2021 to win the Big East Tournament.


Over the past two seasons, Georgetown is 13-50 overall and 2-39 in their last 41 Big East games.


When Cooley took over for Keno Davis at Providence, the Friars had gone 27-36 over the previous two seasons. And, in Cooley’s first season as head coach, he matched Davis’ record from the prior year (15-17).


Ed Cooley faces a monumental task at Georgetown. The Hoyas are not looking to start making the NCAA Tournament and competing for the Big East title just yet, rather they just want to be competitive….but that isn’t the perspective of Cooley, who wants the Hoyas back to college basketball prominence as fast as possible.


“We’re not going to win a little, we’re going to win a lot,” Cooley said in his introductory press conference back in March.


It’s been nine years since Georgetown has put together a 20 win season, which was also the last time they finished above .500 in conference play.


It will likely take more than one season, but the Hoyas are finally in position to start the climb back into relevancy in college basketball

 

Last Year in Review


For the second season in a row, Georgetown lost over 20 games and failed to win 10.


The Hoyas finished the season 7-25 overall and 2-18 in the Big East Conference, prompting the firing of legendary player and less legendary coach, Patrick Ewing.

Patrick Ewing and Georgetown parted ways after just two Big East wins in two years (Photo: Georgetown Athletics)


“Patrick Ewing is the heart of Georgetown basketball,” Georgetown President John J. DeGioia said in a statement. “I am deeply grateful to Coach Ewing for his vision, his determination, and for all that he has enabled Georgetown to achieve. Over these past six years, he was tireless in his dedication to his team and the young men he coached and we will forever be grateful to Patrick for his courage and his leadership in our Georgetown community.”


Georgetown went 2-39 over Ewing’s final 41 Big East games after winning the Big East Tournament title in 2021, which led to the Hoyas only NCAA Tournament appearance in his tenure as head coach.


In the 2021-22 season, Georgetown was off to a slow 6-4 start and promptly lost their final 21 games.

Last season, the Hoyas broke the Big East record for consecutive conference losses (29), before snapping the streak in a win over DePaul on January 24, their first Big East win since downing Creighton in the Big East Tournament title game in March 2021, 22 months earlier.


Georgetown’s second and final Big East win came over Butler on the road on February 19.


The back-to-back embarrassing campaigns prompted the Hoyas administration to part ways with Patrick Ewing, who of course led Georgetown to its only national championship as a player in 1984.


What followed was a national coaching search that resulted in the hiring of Ed Cooley from Providence and led to all but four Hoyas from last year’s team remaining on the roster for the 2023-24 season.


There are 11 new names that will join Cooley in their inaugural season in DC. With the past two seasons yielding just two Big East wins, expectations will be as low as ever.


However, there is finally palpable buzz back under the Georgetown program with a distinguished coach with prior success at the helm and a fanbase desperate, not for a winner, but at least a competitor.

 

Who’s Out

  • Brandon Murray

    • Transferred to Ole Miss

  • Primo Spears

    • Transferred to Florida State

  • Denver Anglin

    • Transferred to SMU

  • Akok Akok

    • Transferred to West Virginia

  • Bryson Mozone

    • Graduated

  • Bradley Ezewiro

    • Transferred to Saint Louis

  • D’Ante Bass

    • Transferred to Alabama State

  • Qudus Wahab

    • Transferred to Penn State

  • Jordan Riley

    • Transferred to Temple


A season ago, I wrote about how Georgetown would have to replace ten departing players, including three of the four top scorers from the previous season.


It’s Deja Vu, because here we are again in the same situation, only this time the Hoyas will have to replace nine players instead of ten.


What remains the same is once again losing three of the top four scorers.


Primo Spears was Georgetown’s top scorer last season (16 PPG) and has transferred to Florida State. Brandon Murray was right behind him at 13.7 PPG and is now at Ole Miss. Center Qudus Wahab averaged just under 10 PPG last year and is now at Penn State.


The top scorer, rebounder, assister, and stealer, all gone.


Normally, that’d be cause for concern. However, for a team that went 7-25, won two conference games, and finished dead last in the Big East, it’s probably a good thing.

 

Who’s In


Last year, Georgetown welcomed nine new players to the Hilltop.


For Ed Cooley’s first year as head coach, the Hoyas will be working with 11 new players, 9 of whom are transfers.

“Change is in the air and that’s ok,” Cooley said on Big East Media Day.


When you take a look at the roster, that change is extremely prevalent.


Drew Fielder is one of just two incoming freshmen on the team. A 6-10 center out of Castaic, CA, Fielder was originally committed to Ed Cooley at Providence, but flipped to Georgetown when Cooley accepted the job.


Besides Fielder, Cooley has made some significant noise in the transfer portal since arriving on campus, with no bigger name than Jayden Epps.


Epps played one season with Illinois, starting 11 games as a freshman while averaging 9.5 PPG and shooting 41.4% from the field.


In a mid-October secret scrimmage against Wake Forest, it was reported that Epps scored 46 points in a 81-77 Georgetown win. It seems that the true sophomore guard from Norfolk, VA is ready to take on the 'top scoring option’ role.

Illinois transfer Jayden Epps should be the focal point of the Hoyas offense (Photo: USA Today)


Besides Epps, the Hoyas have added North Carolina transfer Dontrez Styles, big man transfer Supreme Cook, Cam Bacote from Western Carolina, and several more.


There'll be a lot of new faces on the floor early and often for Georgetown, which is nothing new from years past.


What is different, finally, is who will be directing them from the sideline.


 

Who’s Back


The Hoyas will enter 2023-24 with just 26% of its scoring back on the team and one less returning player than they had a season ago.

Jay Health enters his final year of eligibility having started 18 games a season ago and finishing 3rd on the team in scoring with 12.3 PPG. The two-time transfer from first Boston College and then to Arizona State will likely be the only returning starter for the new coaching staff.


Wayne Bristol also returns for his senior season as a Hoya. Formerly the MEAC Rookie of the Year for cross-town school Howard, Bristol suffered an injury in 2020-21, sat out the following season, and in 2022-23, looked like a player who had hardly played basketball in two years.


For Bristol, he’s out with a point to prove this season. Playing for a new coaching staff, he’ll have to fight for minutes at what should be one of Georgetown’s more loaded positions.


His freshman year at Howard, Bristol reached double-figures in scoring in 23 games, including five 20+ point performances. If he is playing like that for Cooley’s Hoyas, he’ll be hard to sit down.

Wayne Bristol is one of two returners who played significant minutes last season (Photo: Georgetown Athletics)


Besides Victor Muresan, who only appeared in one game last year, the only other returning Hoya is center Ryan Mutombo.


The son of Georgetown legend Dikembe Mutombo, Ryan has failed to make a significant impact so far in his Hoya career, playing just 64 minutes last season.


Expect the biggest impact from any returning player to come from Jay Heath, followed by Wayne Bristol, with maybe a dash of Mutombo.


If the young center can take a step forward and provide needed depth at the position, the ceiling for the Hoyas only gets higher.

 

Projected Starters

  • PG: Cam Bacote

  • SG: Jayden Epps

  • SF: Jay Heath

  • PF: Ismael Massoud (out roughly 6 weeks to start the season - hand)

  • C: Supreme Cook

 

Final Thoughts


It’s hard to predict a season like this for Georgetown, let alone what a starting lineup is going to look like on November 7 when they lace it up for the first time against Le Moyne.


However, what this Georgetown team has is a feeling of ‘unknown’ that is similar to last year, and yet very different.


Last season, the Hoya faithful knew that as long as the head coach remained, the same lowly performances were to be expected.

New Head Coach Ed Cooley is looking to change the culture at Georgetown (Photo: Georgetown Athletics)


That has now changed.

Yes, there are tons of new faces on the roster and it’ll likely take time for them to gel. And yes, they face a brutal conference schedule and it’ll be very hard to win games.


And yet, the optimism that surrounds the Georgetown program entering 2023-24 is unlike the optimism seen in years past. The Hoyas are not looking for a special season, rather the start of their return to where they belong, at the top of college basketball.


As Georgetown perhaps waits for the improvement on the floor and in the win column, Head Coach Ed Cooley hopes to see systemic change across the program as his measure of success in his first year in DC.


“Our wins won’t come on the scoreboard in Year 1,” Cooley said. “Our wins are going to come in transformational change of students, alumni, faculty, staff, advertising, ticket sales, promotions…We’ve got our work cut out this year. It’s going to be tough. But I think we will improve.”

 

Prediction: 13-18 overall (5-15 Big East), 10th place in Big East Final Standings

 

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