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Transition from Jimmy Patsos to G.G. Smith moving smoothly for Loyola

To hear Jarred Jones tell it, the 6-foot-7 sophomore swingman agreed to play for the Loyola men’s basketball team because he was drawn to Jimmy Patsos’ coaching style, not repelled by it.

“I’ve been used to coaches all my life like Patsos that yelled at you,” said Jones, a Havre de Grace native and John Carroll graduate. “I was kind of used to that, which is probably why I picked him to come here and be my coach.”

Patsos’ tenure with the Greyhounds ended in April when he decided to become the head coach at Siena. Enter G.G. Smith, the son of renowned college basketball coach Tubby Smith who was promoted from assistant coach just a few weeks after Patsos’ departure.

The tone during practices and meetings has taken on a calmer and gentler vibe, according to players.

“Our team has adopted [Smith’s] composure,” said 6-3 senior shooting guard Dylon Cormier, a Baltimore native and Cardinal Gibbons graduate. “Last year when we were down, it was kind of like Coach [Patsos] digging us, yelling at us, and that kind of riled us up to go out there and play furious. But now, it’s kind of like we have his composure. If we’re playing a certain way, he’ll bring us in and now we just change without all the hoo-rahs and talking back. It’s definitely been helpful that way.”

Smith has tried to maintain some things from his time as an assistant coach. His door is still open, but he conceded that his relationships with the players have changed.

“I’ve just got to let them know that I’m their friend, but I’m not their buddy,” Smith said. “As an assistant coach, players can come into your office and say, ‘Coach is crazy, man. The head coach is this, the head coach is that.’ As the assistant coach, you can settle them down, but as the head coach, they understand that my role is changing, my position is changing. I’m the head man now. So what I say, goes. So there are certain things they can’t come to me with, and there are certain things they can. But I think they’re handling it very well. They’ve been great so far. I’m just excited to see how it goes this year.”

Smith did not disagree with the notion that his style is intentionally different from Patsos', but he said it’s not meant as a slight towards his former mentor.

“That’s just the way I am,” Smith said. “Jimmy was that type of guy. He came from [former University of Maryland coach] Gary Williams. He was coached like that by Jack Bruen at Catholic when he was playing. I’m just a different guy. Our personalities are different. So I’m going to be me. I’m not going to be anybody else. I’m going to be me and do things my way. I’m going to be demanding, but not demeaning, and the best way to do that is tell the guys what they’re doing right and let them know when they’re doing it wrong. There might be yelling and there might not be yelling. As long as they listen to me and do what we say as a coaching staff, we’ll be fine.”

The differences between the head coaches have forced the players to adjust their attitudes as well. Jones said he is becoming more comfortable with Smith’s way of addressing the team.

“He’s a lot calmer,” Jones said. “When you do a lot of bad things, he’ll tell you to calm down and he’ll get you settled. Coach Jimmy was fired up. Coach Smith will get you fired up at the same time, but you feel much calmer with him to get the job done. Just different ways of getting you motivated. We have to get used to that, but we’ll get used to it.”

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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