Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Ballad of Jimmy Patsos

Loyola (Md.) enters tonight's game against Fairfield with a young core of athletes who, despite a slow start, found a way to connect. The reason for that connection? Most would point to Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos, the man behind the operation.

We've all heard the stories by now - an eleven-year veteran under Maryland coach Gary Williams, a tireless worker who turned around a one-win program, a Maryland native who desired to build a program on his own accord.

For better or for worse, the legend of Jimmy Patsos has spread like wildfire throughout Baltimore and the MAAC alike due to his unique, loud style of coaching. Loyola loves him. Fans clad in green at last season's MAAC tournament wore 'We love Patsos' t-shirts and embraced him after the game.

Patsos explained his approach in his own word's after a win over Canisius in 2005 (at the time, Loyola was a paltry 3-11 in the MAAC): ""You aren't getting anywhere in life -- forget basketball -- in life without emotion." (Credit: Washington Post)

While he is most certainly brash, confident, enthusiastic, his style bodes ill of relations with coaches and screams of controversy.

Take for instance last year's MAAC Tournament opener against Fairfield - a game ultimately won by the Greyhounds. Aside from his Gary Williams-eque screams throughout the contest, Patsos proceeded to scream in the face of Fairfield point guard Jonathan Han as he attempted to break a press. Ed Cooley took offense.

Patsos' post-game group hug with fans after the Greyhounds' win, in the midst of Fairfield Country at Harbor Yard, illustrated how much one's view of Patsos is all a matter of perspective. The Loyola faithful viewed him as the ultimate people person, taking a personal moment to bask in a victory with a few loyal fans. Some in the Red Sea may have seen a coach whose exhumed arrogance.

Regardless of one's opinion on the man (or Ed Cooley's for that matter), his success cannot be discredited. And, as a famous motto goes, "controversy creates cash". According to many close to the man, he has already started his attempt to take it down a notch. This much is sure: As long as he's behind the bench for Loyola, Patsos will continue to wear his emotions on his sleeve.

For better or for worse.

- K.C.

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