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- Jackie Benitez Leaving Siena
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- Postgame Comments Following Siena Semifinal Win Over Monmouth
- Siena Marches Into MAAC Semifinal With Win Over Fairfield
- Postgame Comments Following Siena Win Over Fairfield
Patrick Cole, Working While He Waits
- Updated: January 28, 2014
For anyone paying attention, there is no mistaking the fact that there is a renewed energy around the Siena Men’s Basketball program. With the passion brought on by new head coach Jimmy Patsos, the emergence of returning players under the instruction and encouragement of a new staff, and the arrival of a talented freshmen class, there is a great foundation for building something special.
But behind the scenes, there is another piece to the puzzle who for now, goes unnoticed. Patrick Cole is a 6-5 transfer guard from Coppin State who is currently on the sidelines while fulfilling his obligation to sit out according to NCAA transfer rules. After the initial disappointment of the denial of a hardship waiver, which would have allowed him to play right away, Cole is only looking ahead.
“At first it was a real struggle but now it’s moved pretty fast,” said Cole. “We’re almost in February. Obviously I want to play. Every game, every win, every loss, I wanna play. I have a long way to November, but I think it was really worth it.”
As a freshman at Coppin State located in Baltimore, MD., Cole started 16 of 31 games averaging 22.4 minutes per game. He averaged 10.3 points along with 2.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He was a MEAC All-Rookie team selection and had some of his best games against non-league opponents Arizona St. (13 pts.), Texas (15 pts.) and USC (25 pts.).
Although he cannot be on the court during games, Cole has embraced his role. Whether simulating the opponent’s top player on the scout team during practice with his ability to get to the basket, or locking down on defense against the current starters pushing them and challenging them to work harder, he has found his place for now.
“Sitting out so far has been fine,” Cole said. “Knowing I help these guys just being the best player on the scout team, I find out what the other team’s best player does and try to imitate that as best as possible.”
Learning he would not be eligible until next season, could have been a chance for Cole to simply go through the motions for now. Instead, he took it as an opportunity to get better, stronger and wiser about his game.
“Once I found out that I wasn’t eligible, it was time to get with Dan (Taylor) our strength and conditioning coach and work on that, extra workouts with our assistant coaches and just take this year as get right-get ready for next year and the three years I have ,” said Cole.
While on the sidelines at home games, Cole has done far more than simply cheer on his team. He has seen it as a chance to observe and to study his team mates in preparation for next season.
“Sitting out I’ve done a pretty good job of mentally taking notes on the players’ tendencies, spots where they shoot from, where Marquis likes to drive, where he likes to pass the ball, where I should be. Just seeing what the team needs for next year so that we can become a very successful program,” explains Cole.
The move to Loudonville has been a welcomed one for Cole. Having grown up in Newark NJ, and spent his first year of college in urban Baltimore, he sees his choice to come to Siena as a fresh start. Along with the change in environment, Cole explains he has learned more than just basketball. He is also growing as a person.
“It’s just been a learning year for me. Last year at Coppin I was a little immature,” admits Cole. “I’ve grown up a lot with the help of Coach Patsos. He’s helped me grow up a lot.”
For Cole, the benefit of playing for Patsos goes far beyond the humor and entertaining persona of his new coach.
“He’s made me work the hardest out of any coach I’ve played for,’ Cole said. ”I will honestly admit that. His fire and energy just makes you want to play hard. It’s like, he can’t have more energy than me as a player cause he’s a coach. I’ve gotta match his energy.
“It’s just been real great playing for him. He knows a lot about sports and different things, events that happen in the world. When he speaks, you want to listen. It’s not like something you want in one ear and out the other. You want to listen to him because he helps you with life and on the basketball court also.”
Cole also likes what he sees in his team and has every reason to believe the future is bright.
“I see what I haven’t seen in a team before. I see a lot of pieces,” Cole said. “He (Patsos) did a great job with recruiting the freshmen. They are fantastic. I feel like I made the right decision by coming here because of the players we have on this team. I honestly believe that we can run deep into the tournament. I’m not just saying that. I see a lot.”
Although for many the goal most often discussed is to win the conference tournament and earn the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament, Coles prefers to aim even higher.
“I try to speak to them a lot about not just wanting to win the conference tournament. It means a whole lot, but you want to start thinking about how you want your four years at college to be. Do you really want to be remembered? I just try to get through to these guys that we can be really, really good if they want to be. That’s all I try to preach to them this year.”
With his solid work ethic, a high motor on the practice floor and an outgoing personality, Cole has earned a level of respect as a leader in a relatively short period of time.
“Pat’s our best player,” said junior Rob Poole. “No one really knows that cause he’s not playing but in practice he’s killing all the time. Pat knows what he’s talking about and when he talks, you’ve got to listen to him.”
It is not unusual to see Cole being vocal in a huddle during a game at the TUC or in practice in the ARC. Leadership is something which he seems to naturally embrace with the encouragement of his mother.
“My mom’s been telling me since I was little that I was a leader. My mom is more academic than basketball. When she comes to my games she says she sees leadership qualities in me.” Cole does on to explain, “I think leadership is a mindset you have to have. You have to take the good with the bad. The bad being, a lot of things are gonna be your fault. But, you have to take that with a grain of salt because when you are successful, it’s always gonna fall back on you also.”
Cole realizes that whether he is providing a challenge to the starting unit, or pushing a walk-on such as Jimmy Merrill, who he describes as the team’s most improving player, it will all serve to elevate the team.
“You want to see that from your 1 to your 15th, 16th man because I believe, like coach (Bob) Hurley told me when I was at St Anthony’s, you’re only as good as your last man on your roster,” recalls Cole. ”So, if our 15th guy can be a 9th man on someone else’s roster, then we’re doing a hell of a job with our program. I just want to see guys get better. I love basketball and making everybody around me better. I think it helps me to get better.”
And so for now, Cole continues to work, and learn, and better himself. He’s grateful for the opportunity and looking forward to his family seeing him in the green and gold as a Saint.
“I feel like it’s the best decision that I’ve made in my life. I really feel very comfortable here,” Cole said. ”I tell the coaching staff, ‘Thank you’, as much as I possibly can. I’ve never had a coaching staff do as much for a program as they do. I see pictures of Montreal, stopping at different historic places in NYC, it’s moments that you want to remember in college. I just like how they’re making moments for these guys. I’m looking forward to being a part of that next year. I just feel real comfortable with the program.”