G.G. Smith resigned Thursday as men’s basketball coach at Loyola Maryland, ending a five-year stretch in which the Greyhounds failed to build on their success under former coach Jimmy Patsos.
Loyola’s loss in the Patriot League tournament quarterfinals last week dropped Smith’s head coaching record at the school to 56-98 overall and 35-55 in conference play. Under Smith, the Greyhounds never had a winning season and never won more than eight of their 18 regular-season conference games. Their eighth-place mark in the Patriot League this season continued Smith’s streak of never finishing higher than sixth.
Smith was hired in April 2013 to replace Patsos, whose coaching staff he served on for six years and who led Loyola to the 2012 NCAA tournament after winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship.
"I would like to thank Loyola, its administration and our student-athletes for the opportunities given to me and my family over the last 11 years," Smith, 41, said in a release. "While we did not achieve the results we wanted on the court, I am proud of our players' academic and community accomplishments, and I wish Loyola and its student-athletes much success in the future."
A Leonardtown native and former Georgia point guard, Smith began his coaching career in 1999 at Lexington Catholic High in Lexington, Ky., before taking a graduate-assistant role on the coaching staff of his father, Tubby, at Kentucky. Smith later served for a year as a Johns Hopkins assistant, helping the Blue Jays secure a berth in the NCAA Division II tournament, and joined Patsos’ staff at Loyola in 2007. The Greyhounds eclipsed 20 wins for the first time in program history in 2011-12 and again in 2012-13, after which Patsos left for Siena.
When Smith was promoted to head coach ahead of the program’s inaugural season in the Patriot League, Patsos told The Baltimore Sun that Loyola had hired “a quality person who is going to keep the program on the right track." But the Greyhounds struggled to distinguish themselves against local foes, both in and out conference. Loyola went a combined 4-7 against Mount St. Mary’s, UMBC and Towson and was 3-7 against Navy in league play. The Greyhounds’ best campaign under Smith came last season, when they won 16 games, advanced to the Patriot League quarterfinals for the first time and won a game in the College Basketball Invitational.
"I am grateful to G.G. for his efforts on behalf of Loyola University Maryland and our men's basketball program," first-year Loyola athletic director Donna M. Woodruff said in the release. "He has been dedicated to the mission and vision of our program and led us in our transition to the Patriot League for the past five years. We wish G.G. and his family all the best moving forward."
Loyola will begin a national search for his replacement immediately. Woodruff told the Sun that she has high expectations for the program’s next coach.
“We all want to be competing at the end of the year for the legitimate possibility of winning the [conference] championship,” she said. “I will fall short of saying you have to finish first or you have to finish in the top half or you have to finish in ‘X’ place. We just want to make sure that our student-athletes and the institution are in a place to be competing for championships every year, if possible.”
The Greyhounds will lose two senior starters — two-time first-team All-Patriot League guard Andre Walker and senior forward Cam Gregory — to graduation but could return a promising nucleus. Sophomore guards Chuck Champion and Andrew Kostecka, a Patriot League All-Defensive Team selection, and freshman guard Isaiah Hart all averaged over 10 points and started at least 17 games this season. In Loyola’s near-upset of top-seeded Bucknell last week, freshmen and sophomores accounted for 59 of the team’s 78 points.