On Wednesday afternoon, Ed Cooley was introduced as the new head
coach for the Georgetown Hoyas.
This move follows 12 successful seasons at Providence, including
seven NCAA tournament bids in the past nine years it has been held
and a Big East regular-season championship in 2021-22.
"I am excited for the opportunity to lead the men's basketball
program at Georgetown University," Cooley said in a statement. "I
plan on hitting the ground running, getting to work on the court
and cultivating relationships in and around the District. Accepting
this opportunity with Georgetown is not a decision I took
In an exclusive interview with John Fanta
of FOX Sports, Cooley described his reasons for leaving
"When I did a deep dive of what's important — I always said yes
to everybody, and I always said no to Ed. Coach Cooley did
everything, but Ed needed a change," Cooley said. "I thought
Georgetown was the place for me to make that change. As hard as it
was because it's in-conference, and because a lot of people look at
that as villainous or betrayal, I hope people give me an
opportunity to serve Ed. And it sounds selfish, it sounds real
selfish, but sometimes change is need on both sides and I felt for
me change was needed...
"The Big East has a lot to do with the change even though it's
tough because it's in-conference. I love the Big East. I love
basketball-centric places. They're the recruiting fertile ground of
the DMV area that expands.”
I caught up with two Georgetown Hoya legends in Jerome Williams
(a.k.a. Junk Yard Dog) and Michael Sweetney to discuss their
thoughts on the changing of the guard at their alma mater and the
direction of the program.
Etan: Talk to me about your first thoughts on
the new hire Ed Cooley for Georgetown.
JYD: "From first impressions, he hit the ball
out the park. He really ushered in the alumni. He even got people
like Reggie Williams commenting positivity about him taking over
the reins of Georgetown’s basketball program, and that’s a
long-term Hoya alumni who helped bring a national championship to
the hilltop. So right now, all of the alumni, myself included,
we're very excited.
"We’ve always supported every regime that has been at Georgetown
since I’ve been here, and that includes Coach Patrick (Ewing),
Coach JT3 (John Thompson III), Coach (Craig) Esherick. And
obviously, I was blessed to have Coach John Thompson. So Ed Cooley
is no different in terms of the support that he will receive from
me, and the Junk Yard Dog Dogg Pound. I’m here to support this alma
mater through thick and thin. But like I said, Ed Cooley’s first
impression has really gone over well with everyone. And add to that
— he has the resume of what he accomplished at Providence that has
really energized this entire Georgetown community, with him being a
Big East Champion and Coach of the Year, so that all helps. So
yeah, we’re all definitely excited."
Etan: Yeah, people are really buzzing here in
the DMV. This seems like this was the coach that a lot of people
wanted. You heard the chatter even during the tournament before
Providence lost. But the electricity around the program seems to
have been reignited. Would you say that’s an accurate
JYD: "Definitely, the electricity is back. When
he says he wants to sell out the arena which holds 20,000 [people],
that’s exactly what needs to happen. And that starts with the
alumni, it starts with the students and it starts with the overall
community. So that’s the key."
Etan: Now, of course, programs don’t turn
around overnight and it’s been a tough few years for Georgetown
just as far as wins and losses. So what would your advice be to
Hoya fans as far as patience?
JYD: "My advice would definitely be that
everything is a process and Rome wasn’t built in a day. But, with
the world the way it is around college sports and the transfer
portal, you look at teams like Missouri, who transformed very
quickly into a winning program. And that was largely due to the
Etan: Yeah, the transfer portal is definitely a game
changer, but it’s like musical chairs; you lose four players
and then you get four new players. It’s an interesting dynamic
right now that we’re in with college basketball.
JYD: "That's absolutely correct. In some ways
it’s damaging, and in other ways, it can be transformative."
Etan: Very true. So let’s talk about the
history of Georgetown and why it’s so historically special as a
program and what it means to the DMV area and really all of college
JYD: "Well, it helps when the Georgetown
University basketball program is in a good place. It helps all of
college basketball. And Georgetown has meant so much to the Black
community from what Coach Thompson has built not only as an
individual for himself, not only as a program and a university, but
for what he has done for other Black coaches who helped build other
programs. The John Chaneys and Nolan Richardsons and countless
others who he has helped open doors for, including Ed Cooley. So
that’s where, when Georgetown is in a good place, they represent a
larger piece to the masses."
Etan: That’s great. So are we going to see you
at some of the games? Can fans expect to see you and the Junk Yard
Dog Dogg Pound representing on the sidelines this season?
JYD: "Yes sir, you saw me at many of the games
this season supporting Patrick (Ewing) and the program. I was able
to move back to the area this year. My son [Jeremiah] goes to St.
Albans now and plays for Team Takeover, so I’m here ready to
continue to support the program. My daughters [Gabby and Giselle]
are playing volleyball for Georgetown, so I’m here."
Etan: That’s great, and what year is your son?
I’ve seen some of the clips you’ve posted on social media. He looks
like he’s gonna be good
JYD: "Thanks I appreciate that, and your son
[Malcolm] as well. But my son is a little younger. He’s [in the]
2029 [class] and he is just loving the game, working hard, and
getting better and better. And that’s all you can ask at this age.
But let me say, thank you for writing this and showing some love to
your school’s biggest rival historically."
Etan: No problem, it’s always been nothing but
respect for Georgetown.
Etan: Okay, so how do you feel about the new
hire of Coach Ed Cooley and the new direction that Georgetown is
going in? What were your first initial thoughts?
Sweetney: "Well, first let me say that it was
sad for me personally to see how it went for Patrick (Ewing) these
last couple of years. Winning trumps everything, and we’ve had it
tough for his last few years, so I was definitely sad to see
Patrick struggle the way that he did. He loves Georgetown so much
and had such a special relationship with Coach Thompson, and I know
he really wanted to be successful. So that part was definitely sad
for me to see."
Etan: Yeah, I grew up a Patrick Ewing fan. I
was a Knicks fan. I actually interviewed him on The Rematch last
year. It was just an honor to be able to sit down with him. I
mean, Patrick is a legend.
Sweetney: "Exactly, I definitely feel the same
way. And he’s a great guy all around. But to answer your question
about the Ed Cooley hire, I think everyone is excited about what’s
to come. I personally really respected the way he immediately
connected with the alumni and made a concerted effort to make the
point clear that he wanted the alumni to be involved, and that’s
important. It’s no secret that, for a long time, a lot of the guys
felt distant from the program. So for him to come in and that’s one
of the first things on his agenda was to reach out to the alumni,
it made a lot of ears throughout the Georgetown community perk up.
It was a great first impression for all of us, so we’re all excited
about that aspect for sure."
Etan: Now, I’ve heard that from a few guys that
over the last decade or so, there has been distance from the
program. I don’t understand why, but I’ve heard quite a few former
players mention that.
Sweetney: "Yeah, that’s pretty accurate,
because a lot of guys have been feeling like that. I don’t think it
was intentional. It’s just a lot of people from the program never
reached out and said, 'Hey guys, come to the games,' or, 'We’re
going to have this special program to bring the alumni back
together and back into the fold of the program.' It was really no
interaction. It was almost like, 'Hey if you want to come to the
game, you have to jump through hoops.'
"Luckily for me, I had direct access. So I would just call Pat
Jr. and he would always look out. But it was never anyone from
Georgetown who ever contacted me and said, 'Hey, come around. We
have this event.' I don’t even know if they had anyone assigned to
do that — not really sure why. I don’t think it was personal. But
yeah, a lot of guys felt they weren’t embraced the way alumni who
have given so much to the program should be."
Etan: And what did Coach Cooley do differently?
You and JYD both mentioned this, so I'm just curious. What exactly
did he do?
Sweetney: "Well, for example, he held a Zoom
[meeting] just yesterday and JYD was on there. But it was just with
a lot of Georgetown former players and he introduced himself to us,
told all of us how honored he was to be given this opportunity for
a program he has so much respect for. He was knowledgeable of the
history of the program, and he specifically told us, 'Hey, I want
you all to be involved. This is a family thing and whatever I have
to do to make things comfortable for you all, just let me know
because I want you to be a part of this entire process.'
"And a few players — I don’t want to say their names because it
wasn’t a public meeting — but a few guys specifically said that,
for years, they thought the program didn’t like them or respect
them, so this was a breath of fresh air. So yeah, Coach Cooley
definitely started off on the right foot with all of us."
Etan: You know, the DMV is really excited about
the direction of the program. Do you get that same
Sweetney: "Definitely. And a large reason for
that is because Cooley is saying all the right things. And what he
did at Providence, when he got there, the program was where it was,
and he’s shown that he can turn programs around. He has the resume
to support that, and people in the DMV are hoping that he can do
the same thing here. And also, with the DMV being a hotbed as far
as recruiting, it’s one of the top places in the country for high
school players going on to play Division I. So hopefully, he can
get in and develop those relationships in the DMV and get some of
this local talent."
Etan: So you mentioned that, and that’s
something else that’s always brought up. One of the biggest
criticisms you hear around the DMV is that two of the biggest
schools in the area — Georgetown and Maryland — haven’t kept the
local DMV talent local. You saw Coach Kevin Willard came in on Day
1 last year and made a concerted effort to recruit guys from the
DMV: Jamie Kaiser, Deshawn Harris-Smith and Jahnathan Lamothe. All
of them are from the area.
Do you expect that same level of focus from Coach Cooley? People
don’t understand the level of talent in this area, but for a long
time, so many have left to play somewhere else. I just watched
Jordin Hawkins for UConn light up Arkansas for 24 points last
night. They’re headed to the Sweet 16 and he’s from right here and
went to DeMatha.
Sweetney: "Definitely, that’s one of the things
Coach Cooley mentioned. He’s definitely aware of it and he told us
specifically that he wanted to focus on and develop those
relationships in the DMV and get some of this local talent to stay
home. And I hope that’s the case because there is so much talent in
Etan: There definitely is. It’s really amazing.
KD made that documentary a few years ago — "Basketball County: In
The Water.” So I think that really showed the world how special the
Sweetney: "Now, let me ask you a question if
you don’t mind?"
Etan: Oh, you’re gonna take over the interview?
(Laughing) Sure, go ahead.
Sweetney: (Laughing) "No, but seriously.
Because we were discussing the DMV talent and I’ve seen your son
Malcolm play, he is a tremendous talent and can do a lot on the
basketball court. But would you be open to him coming to
Georgetown? I know we’re a rival school and you’re Syracuse
royalty, but 'What If' you know?"
Etan: Oh, you just gonna put me on the spot
huh? (Laughing) Well honestly, and people ask me this all the time,
that’s one of the reasons I did an article with Malcolm.
We sat down and discussed this because so many people say to me,
"So Malcolm is definitely going to Syracuse?" And I always respond
with, "He’s going to whatever situation is best for him, whether
that’s Syracuse or somewhere else." Of course, both his parents
went there, so yes, there is history there. But I was glad to hear
him echo that he wants to go to the best place for him.
Sweetney: "So it wouldn’t be weird for you to
cheer for Georgetown if he came to us?"
Etan: Not at all. Listen, I bleed Orange, make
no mistake, but I genuinely want him to go to the situation that’s
best for him. My situation at Syracuse worked out for me, but it
has to be the right situation for him.
Sweetney: "That makes total sense."
Etan: I mean, Malcolm grew up here. He’s a PG
County kid. Although he has his love for Syracuse because both his
parents went there, he grew up watching Georgetown, Maryland and
all the DMV schools and surrounding schools like all of the other
kids who grew up here. What do you think with your sons? I know
they’re a little young now, but when they get older.
Sweetney: "It’s funny because people always say
that to me too. They say they’re future Hoyas and I’m like, 'Well I
don’t know, we’ll see.' But like you said, I want them to do
whatever is best for them. Whatever fits their needs and their
happiness. So I get it. Just had to ask you that, and honestly,
that’s good to hear because your son can play. So I'm glad to hear
that you’re open to it.
"But yeah, we’re in a good place as a program and going in a
good direction, so I think fans can expect an entire wave of local
talent coming to Georgetown and exciting times in the near