Jimmy Patsos: Substitute Teacher

patsos correcting

Photos courtesy of SienaSaints.com

For Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos, coaching is about teaching lessons. As someone who once aspired to be a history teacher, he sees opportunities everywhere for his players to learn. Whether in the form of an off the court excursion to a museum or movie theater, during a competitive drill in practice, or in a spirited sideline “discussion” during a game, teaching never stops.

At times Patsos’ unorthodox style may be misunderstood. It can surely be an adjustment for players as they may find themselves on a carousel rotating out of games with a quick hook only to return to the court, often just seconds later. Patsos assures there is indeed a method to what may be seen as madness. When asked to describe his substitution philosophy, he joked, “Do you have like a week?”

“I’m actually letting guys play through some mistakes,” said Patsos. “I’m working on us not compounding our mistakes. I’ll take guys out when they compound their mistakes. I’m not opposed to a guy making one mistake but if you took a bad shot and then your guy took a wide-open three… In the old days if I took a bad shot, which I did, I definitely ran back and covered my guy.”

Compounded mistakes in particular, can be the most frustrating. They can change the momentum of a game and may ultimately be the difference in winning or losing.

“That’s been happening a little bit where like we’re in the press, they throw the ball right to us and a guy drops it,” Patsos describes. “It kind of bums me out because we should’ve scored two and it led to two on the other end.”

patsos cheering

Patsos explains that he values correcting mistakes in the moment as the best way to avoid repeating them in the future. Most of all he expects his players to take responsibility for when they go off track and to understand how that impacts the team.

“Doc Rivers, reliability, dependability availability, but most importantly accountability,” proclaims Patsos, “When I say drive the ball and a guy takes a three off the dribble, I have to take him out because everybody’s watching and it doesn’t matter if it’s a freshman. It doesn’t matter if it’s Rob Poole. It doesn’t matter if it’s Evan. That’s called accountability.”

Still, even the most animated sideline lessons that are administered by Patsos are followed up by a supporting staff and more times than not a bit of comic relief and words of encouragement by the main man himself. Despite being the lead professor, he is not opposed to learning a thing or two himself.

“I’m learning this team and I’m learning how to coach these guys,” Patsos explains. In all likelihood those lessons learned will lead to a passing grade.

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