When Virginia made the surprising decision on May 23 to fire Dom Starsia as head coach, Marc Van Arsdale – who had spent 15 consecutive seasons as Starsia's offensive coordinator and played a role in three of that school's four NCAA championships – was in a state of limbo.
He was not going to be a part of new Cavaliers coach Lars Tiffany's staff, but he had one more year remaining on his contract with the school. So he could have taken a sabbatical and viewed his options afterward.
But when Loyola Maryland coach Charley Toomey reached out to inquire about Van Arsdale's interest in replacing offensive coordinator Ryan Moran, who left to become the head coach at UMBC, Van Arsdale did not hesitate.
"It's actually been really good coming to this place," he said in an interview at Ridley Athletic Complex, the Greyhounds' home stadium in Baltimore. "The work side of things, after being so long in one place, I wasn't really looking to make change until it happened and the hand was dealt. But I felt really fortunate to find a place like this, and after 15 years in one place and 21 years in two stints there, coming somewhere new has been energizing in some ways. I'm seeing new ways of doing things and being around different people has been a real boon."
Van Arsdale is the program's third offensive coordinator in four years, but Toomey said he was intent on landing Van Arsdale, calling him "the biggest recruit I had all summer."
"He was the most important piece of the puzzle for Loyola because I do think we have enough talent in our locker room, and I couldn't look at bringing someone in whom I would have to keep a watchful eye on when I'm on the other side of the field," Toomey said. "I brought in an established guy that I know will run with it and embrace it and who the kids will play hard for."
Van Arsdale inherits an offense that ranked 22nd in scoring at 10.9 goals per game a year ago and 18th in man-up percentage at 43.2. He also gets sophomore attackman and second-team All-American Pat Spencer, who tied Gary Hanley's single-season record of 89 points set in 1981, and senior midfielder and honorable mention All-American Brian Sherlock.
Van Arsdale said he has a few ideas for tweaking, but not overhauling the current offensive system that worked well enough to help Loyola reach the NCAA tournament semifinals in May.
"Obviously, there are some ideas I'd like to bring and put a stamp on some things, but I also feel like they've had a lot of success the last couple of years, and it's probably easier for one person who's doing this full-time to learn some terminology and the way they're doing things rather than to make the whole team re-learn everything," he said. "It's a matter of continuing with some of the things that have worked pretty well here and then adding some other nuances, which I think you would if you were returning to a place."