Ed Cooley’s move to Georgetown was met with a lot of backfire, mostly from upset Providence fans. Make no mistake – the Hoyas landed a top coach in the game, but the job won’t be easy.
When coaches leave one school for another, emotions are bound to happen. When those schools both play in the same conference, all hell breaks loose.
Such is the case with Ed Cooley’s jump from the Providence Friars to the Georgetown Hoyas.
For Cooley, the choice came down to a business decision. He grew Providence into a yearly contender in the Big East, but elevating Providence to a national powerhouse is next to impossible. It might be able to happen once in a blue moon, but that level of consistency in Friartown is hard to sustain.
Georgetown on the other hand, is a national brand. Despite the Hoyas’ recent struggles – and they’ve been pretty bad – the proof is in the history. The Hoyas have a national championship, albeit in 1984. They have 5 Final Fours, with the last one coming in 2007. And Georgetown has some of the most iconic players in college basketball history. Some of them just can’t coach.
Ed Cooley comes into a Georgetown Hoyas program fired up to return to some sort of success and with a dream of getting back to the good ‘ole days. Even under John Thompson III, the Hoyas were competitive in the Big East. At the tail end of his tenure, they started sliding down. Patrick Ewing wasn’t able to return them to glory and ultimately made the basement far lower than ever imagined.
So how can Ed Cooley get Georgetown back to some sort of national relevance? It’s going to take a lot of patience, hard work, and recruiting. But it is possible.
(1) Dominate the DMV
Winning usually comes down to recruiting, and that’s one area where Patrick Ewing failed. In six years as the head coach, Ewing was able to get seven 4 and 5-star recruits to come to play at Georgetown. Just two of them were from the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia).
For those who might not know, the DMV is arguably the top basketball hotspot in the country. Kevin Durant came from there. Carmelo Anthony came from there. Countless college prospects and future NBA All-Stars can trace their roots back to Washington D.C., Maryland, or Virginia.
Do you know who else came from that area? Allen Iverson and Alonzo Mourning. When Georgetown was at its height, they recruited the hometown kids. If you look back at some of the historic Georgetown teams, the majority of guys came from the DMV. The 2012-13 Hoyas team that finished 8th in the AP Poll featured three starters from the DMV. The 2007 Final Four team had five guys from the DMV, including Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green. I could go on and on.
That style doesn’t work for everyone. Look at where it got Kevin Ollie at UConn. But it does work when you’re at Georgetown. And it’s a good starting point for Ed Cooley.
(2) Bring the swagger back
This one shouldn’t be hard at all. Ed Cooley already coaches with a lot of swagger. He’s a respectable guy, but also knows how to say the right things as a coach. We got a taste of that when he addressed every single head coach at Georgetown and predicted a national championship in the near future.
Ed Cooley: “Ian Eagle will be talking to me when Georgetown wins a National Championship.”
— Thompson’s Towel (@ThompsonsTowel) March 22, 2023
Overdoing it? Maybe a little. But do you know what gets fans fired up? Stuff like that. Ed Cooley set the bar as high as it possibly could be on his first day as the head coach of Georgetown basketball.
The important thing is for Cooley to be himself. He’s not John Thompson, and no one will be. He’s not the former player turned coach in Patrick Ewing, and again, he never will be. But he is a coach who has had a lot of success in the Big East and can continue to ride that momentum by being the disciplined, energetic coach that he is.
Ed. Cooley. Is. AMPED. pic.twitter.com/em57pkyRNA
— BIG EAST MBB (@BIGEASTMBB) January 5, 2023
(3) Continue to take over the Transfer Portal
What really brought Providence to a new level was Cooley’s mastery of the transfer portal. The Friars finished the 2021-22 season at 27-6 (14-3), losing to the eventual national champion in Kansas, 66-61 in the Sweet Sixteen.
Second leading scorer Al Durham was a transfer from Indiana. Leading rebounder Noah Horchler transferred from North Florida in 2019. Point guard Jared Bynum came in after a year at St. Joseph’s in 2019. Glue guy Justin Minaya played four years at South Carolina but decided to finish it up at Providence.
Move on to this year. Bynum used his graduate year to stay with the Friars. Bryce Hopkins revitalized his college basketball career after coming over from Kentucky. Devin Carter did the same after a year at South Carolina. It was Noah Locke’s third stop in three years, and his most successful scoring campaign in five seasons. And Ed Croswell, who transferred in 2020, broke out into one of the Friars’ best players.
Two things stick out to me here. Guys saw Providence as a good place to come to if they wanted more minutes and more wins. In turn, Ed Cooley’s retention rate was key. Horchler, Bynum, and Croswell all came to Providence in 2019 or 2020 and stayed with it. Bynum has since put his name back in the transfer portal, but that’s likely in response to Cooley leaving the program.
The fact of the matter is this: with strong recruiting in the DMV, Cooley can bring back the hometown feel that made Georgetown so successful for so many years. And how can he do that? By being himself. Ed Cooley is a lovable coach, even if Providence fans may not feel the same way anymore. But players do feel that way, and it’s one reason why Cooley has so much success in the transfer portal, which is inevitable.
Can Ed Cooley revive Georgetown to the John Thompson days? I’m not sure if it’s even fair to make a statement like that. But based on his track record, Hoya Nation should feel as good as they have in a long time about who their head coach is.