By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun
7:39 PM EDT, April 3, 2013
Jimmy Patsos was introduced as Siena's new men's basketball coach on Wednesday — calling the school "my dream mid-major" — as his former assistant, G.G. Smith, emerged as a leading candidate to replace Patsos at Loyola.
Smith, the son of Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith and a former player at Georgia, is a "top candidate" for the Loyola job, according to a source familiar with the process. Smith has been with Loyola for six seasons as an assistant.
Loyola athletic director Jim Paquette isn't commenting until a new coach has been hired. Loyola would say only that it is conducting "a national search."
With Siena officials and players in attendance, Patsos,46, was introduced at the upstate New York school. He talked about his goals, "This is like Wichita State, VCU, Butler — you have the same stuff they have."And he talked about his basketball philosophy, "We're going to play fast and press, and run up and down."
Patsos paused briefly when asked if Siena — of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference — was his "dream job," during a news conference streamed live on the Siena website.
"You have different dreams," Patsos said. "Anybody that knows me knows that one day I want to coach at the University of Maryland because the only reason I'm in this business is because of (former Terps coach) Gary Williams."
Patsos was an assistant under the now-retired Williams for 13 seasons, including the 2002 national championship.
"When you work and you win a national title, do you love Maryland? Sure. But is this like my dream mid-major? Is this where I want to be? Sure. This is a better job than a lot of Big East jobs. You have a list of where you want to go, [and] this is right there at the top of it. No question that I always envied this job."
Patsos spent the last nine years at Loyola, leading it to consecutive seasons of 20 or more wins for the first time in its Division I history.
Loyola is leaving the MAAC for the Patriot League beginning in the 2013-14 season.
Patsos said the move to Siena was simpler because he would not be facing Loyola as a conference rival.
"If we were in the same conference … I don't know if I'd go for the job," Patsos said. "I don't know if I'd feel weird. Because Loyola gave me a chance. They were 1-27 but they gave me a chance to be a head coach."
In its search, Loyola might also look at Maryland assistant Scott Spinelli, among others. Spinelli was once an assistant at another Jesuit university — Loyola University of Chicago.
Spinelli's name has come up in connection with other openings, and Maryland coach Mark Turgeon says Spinelli is ready to be a successful head coach.
Heading back from the National Invitation Tournament in New York — where the Terps lost to Iowa in the semifinals — Spinelli said it would be premature to comment.
A previous Siena coach, Fran McCaffery, now coaches Iowa. McCaffery was 112-51 in five years at Siena before leaving in March 2010.
Siena has gone to the NCAA tournament six times and the NIT five times since 1989 but had endured three straight losing seasons under Mitch Buonaguro, who was dismissed this year after the team finished 8-24.
"I think this is a job where I could see myself staying a long time if you'll have me," Patsos said.
But not if the team doesn't win.
"If we don't win enough games, you can yell all the things you yelled at me when I was the Loyola coach," Patsos said.
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