By Tom Benoit
April 3, 2013 10:12 PM

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When Jimmy Patsos’ flight was approaching Albany International Airport today, he explained that he was warned multiple times that it may be a bumpy landing. Although that proved to be true, he landed safely nonetheless. Although the ride for the Siena Basketball program has been rather bumpy for the last few seasons, it appears that it will land just fine with Jimmy at the controls. It was the beginning of a new era in Siena Basketball history today as Patsos was introduced to the entire Siena community as the program’s 16th men’s head coach.

To many, Patsos may seem familiar, as for the last nine seasons he has served as head coach for MAAC opponent Loyola. But, today was an opportunity to get to know him on another level, as OUR coach. Both at the press conference and at the pep rally which followed, he displayed his profound sense of humor, his emotion and passion for basketball, his knowledge of history, movies, television, local eateries and everything in between.

When Siena Director of Athletics John D’Argenio introduced Patsos at an afternoon press conference, he explained that in some ways familiarity with Patsos and his teams was what led to him being the choice.

“They play hard. They execute as well as anybody on the MAAC… and his student athletes love to play for him. The fact that he wants to motivate our players to be the best students he can and to win MAAC championships is the reason why Jimmy Patsos is going to stand here as our new head coach.”

Following the official introduction Patsos proceeded to allow fans, supporters, staff and players to learn a bit more about him, and what led him to Loudonville.

“It’s tremendous to be here because I always envied this job” said Patsos. ” I can’t believe I’m the basketball coach at Siena. I was jealous of you for nine years. As the coach at Loyola I would say I wish I could coach at Siena. I’d love to have all the things that they have. And what I really meant by that is I’d love to have all the fans cause it all starts with the fans.”

He went on to explain that the Siena program and the job leading it is one which is looked highly upon far beyond the capital region. He choked up as he reflected on former Big East commissioner and architect of the original USA Dream Team, Dave Gavitt who prior to his passing offered his advice.

“Dave Gavitt always loved your job” Patsos said, “I get emotional cause this is the kind of job Dave Gavitt would say, ‘You gotta get this job. You gotta go there and you gotta stay forever cause its a great job.’ Dave Gavitt was one of the good guys.”

Although Patsos knew some about Siena as an opponent he told of how he is quickly understanding even more since his arrival.

“In two days I could see why you guys win so much and it’s because you are all in it and that’s a nice thing. This is like Wichita State, VCU, Butler. You have the same stuff they have and that’s gonna be our goal, is to win.”

“It’s already a great situation. You get great media attention. The fans, the players, the community and all the people around here starting at the top with Father Kevin is why this is a great job.”

He knows the expectations are high and he welcomes that as a challenge.

“I know we’ve got to win games.” said Patsos. “If we don’t win enough games you can yell all the things you used to yell at me when I was the Loyola coach. It’s a tougher job because you have more expectations. But it’s a better job because, look at all the stuff you have.”

When asked what makes him the right fit for the program at this time he was a bit humble but yet confident he had qualities to offer.

“There’s a lot of people that could do a good job here but, wanting to be here, wanting to be here for a long time, knowing the MAAC. Boston to Pittsburgh to D.C. you draw the triangle we’re in it. That’s the area we’re going to get most of our kids from. That’s the area you have to play a certain number of games. Basketball’s a business and I know this business.”

He explained for him it was not just about finding another job, but finding the right job.

“A year ago I interviewed at the College of Charleston but it wasn’t a good fit for me. Here is a really good fit for what I want to do with my life. This is a new journey for me. The mid-major thing has gotten different. This is one of the haves as opposed to the have-nots. So you’ve got to go for it when you see that.”

As the new head coach, his first priority will be about his team and its players and he spoke well of what his impressions are and their potential

“I think there’s some good pieces there but I didn’t see them play fast. Playing fast and playing slow is different. I think it’s easier to play fast than it is to play slow. I think it’s easier to go up and down and I think guys want to do that. It’s an easier adjustment so I’m interested to see. We’re going to get up and down we’re gonna shoot the three. I like to play 8 or 9 guys. I think the players here are ready for that.”

Having spoken with the team a short time before, he described their first meeting where he told them his three main expectations, to go to class, play hard, and have fun.

“They were great. They came in. It was a new guy and for two minutes they weren’t real happy. We all know how that works. After 5 minutes and a couple jokes, talk about stuff other than basketball and this is how we’re gonna do it. They were great. You can see it in their eyes. These were some highly recruited kids. They want to win. It’s time to do the work to win.”

He knows he will have to earn their trust and is prepared to work hard to get them to buy in to what he has to offer.

“Today’s kids are different. They’ll run through the wall for you but they want to know why and what’s on the other side.”

Putting together a staff is also going to be a focus in the upcoming days for Patsos. He has already secured on assistant in Greg Manning, a former Loyola player who had been on his staff at Loyola. He also plans to meet with the lone remaining Siena assistant, Craig Carter this weekend in Atlanta at the Final Four to discuss the possibility of retaining him. Patsos was confident he would have no trouble putting a staff together as he has already received numerous contacts from those wanting to fill the open positions.

Patsos looks forward to his new job and is hoping to leverage his connections in the basketball world to go play against some higher profile opponents as well as bringing them to play here. He is also enthusiastic about being a part of this community.

“My friends and family, we love the arts. We love to eat. We like to go out. We like to have a good time. That’s why they loved Albany. It’s a really cool place. There’s a lot of good stuff to do.”

There’s alot of good stuff to do and alot of hard work to do. Patsos said he was fond of Loyola but he is clearly thankful for the opportunity to coach at Siena.

“This is about a journey. That’s why I got a little weepy about Dave Gavitt. Dave was one of those guys, ‘Take that next journey. Find a good place and don’t run away from it cause it’s the next thing. But if it’s a special place you go for it.’ This is a special place. I’m here because this is a special place.”

It seems like a great fit as Jimmy seems like a special coach and one which will strive for success while making Siena Basketball fun again, as it should be.

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