Patsos: First, adjust attitude

New Loyola coach says initial goal is to restore Greyhounds' confidence

April 02, 2004|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

After a season of pain in the Loyola men's basketball program, which nearly tied an NCAA record for consecutive losses, Greyhounds fans might have found reason to rejoice.

Yesterday, the school formally introduced former Maryland assistant Jimmy Patsos as head coach in a news conference on the North Baltimore campus.

Patsos, 37, who served on Gary Williams' Terrapins teams in several capacities over the past 13 years, is hoping to turn around a program that has only 82 wins over the past decade. He is the fourth coach in 10 years to lead the Greyhounds, who went 1-27 last season under Scott Hicks.

Given that Loyola hasn't cleared 10 wins since the 1998-99 season - including a 31-game losing streak under Hicks - Patsos said he recognizes that installing confidence in the current players might be his first job. Lindbergh Chatman is the only departing senior on the team.

"We've got to pump 'em up," said Patsos, who signed a five-year contract. "You walk into a locker room and they were 1-27, and they're thinking, `Who are you, John Wooden? What are you going to tell us?' They've got to be excited to play, and we've got to let them know good times are on the way."

Patsos, a Boston native and 1989 graduate of Catholic University, has been on the radar of Williams' friend and Loyola athletic director Joe Boylan since joining Maryland's staff as a volunteer assistant in 1991.

For his first 10 years, he worked as a low-level staffer, coordinating academic development among the team's players and eventually becoming a candidate for the Loyola job that went to Hicks in 2000.

"It's been interesting to watch Maryland's program build from the ashes [of NCAA probation]," Boylan said, "and right in the mix there was Jimmy. Watching him mature as a young man, Gary would give him more things to do. ... He's really paid his dues."

Patsos said it was a good thing he was once passed over by Loyola, as his knowledge has since increased. He moved up to the No. 2 assistant position behind Dave Dickerson when lead assistant Billy Hahn left to become La Salle's head coach in 2001. That allowed Patsos to take on responsibilities for recruiting players and scouting opponents.

"I'd done some recruiting [before the promotion], but I was the first one out on the road," Patsos said. "By doing that. I think I expanded my recruiting base. I'm not necessarily more mature, but I'm more experienced."

Williams said Patsos is more than ready.

"He has a sense of how to build a program, not just coach a basketball team," Williams said. "I'm really glad for him, because you don't always get rewarded in this business."

In his remarks, Patsos made the usual pledges of new coaches, promising that Loyola would focus on graduating its players (the most recent rates were 31 percent, 55 percent, 73 percent and 75 percent), stem the tide of Baltimore players leaving town, and quicken the pace of play.

All that sounded fine to players hopeful that a new coach can guide them to more wins than they are accustomed to.

"I liked Coach Hicks, and he is a good friend of mine," said junior center Sean Corrigan, "but Coach Patsos is going to have more of that style that Gary Williams has - `in your face.' We need that, because we need some drastic changes."

Sun staff writer Gary Lambrecht contributed to this article.

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