Pete Gillen Visits Siena

pete gillen

Former college coach and current college basketball analyst, Pete Gillen paid a visit to Loudonville this week to lend a hand as the Saints continue their first week of official practice. Gillen and Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos were part of a group who traveled to the Middle East this summer to work with the troops as part of Operation Hardwood.

“I’ve known Jimmy a long time,” said Gillen. When I was at Virginia he was an assistant at Maryland. We became friendly competitors. We went to Kuwait together for a week. I’ve always admired and loved his enthusiasm. He was kind enough to invite me to come up today and tomorrow to watch practice to observe and offer any thoughts.”

Gillen who served as head coach at Xavier, Providence and Virginia welcomed the opportunity to be in the gym with Patsos and his team.

“When I was coach I always enjoyed having someone come in and see things,” Gillen said. “Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees when you’re there every day. So, I’ll try to help him out.”

Currently working with CBS Sports Network, Gillen calls 30-32 games a year covering primarily Mountain West and American Athletic Conference games as well as some non-league games for Big East teams. But, with a passion for coaching Gillen planned to talk to Patsos and the Saints on various topics including the use of the 1-3-1 defense.

“We ran it at Xavier,” Gillen said of the 1-3-1. “It was like a two-minute defense, a change of pace. Like a pitcher throwing a change-up or a slider. It helped us. He (Patsos) feels he has the personnel so we’re gonna talk about it with the guys and go from there. It’s nice to have in your arsenal.”

This year’s roster of Saints includes some additions which will be suited to mixing in a variety of defenses.

“You’ve got to have long guys,” explains Gillen. Length especially the guy on the top. Somebody who’s aggressive. It’s a hard-working defense. It’s a fun defense to play and its good at home, get out in transition, get a dunk it can be effective. You’ve got to have energy and passion, not every team can play it.”

This was not Gillen’s first visit to the ARC as he once coached against a Bill Kirsch led Siena team while he was an assistant at VMI in the late ’70’s. “It was a real good game and a great crowd,” recalled Gillen.

Gillen discussed the upcoming college basketball season and how he sees the rule changes and points of emphasis effecting play.

“I think they’re is gonna be a change and the referees are going to call it tight,” Gillen said. With a new head of officials, JD Collins, they are saying the physicality on the perimeter is going to change. They’ve been saying it but haven’t really followed up on it. I think this year they’re gonna do it. I think that’s gonna help the game. I’d like to see an adjustment. I’m not saying like Fantasy Island or Mary Poppins but it’s a flowing game, it’s a graceful game, free movement. I think that’s gonna be a big adjustment.”

Gillen is familiar with Siena and is well aware of their past success. He see’s them poised to return to the top of the MAAC.

“Mitch Buonaguro is a friend of mine and Fran McCaffery is a friendly acquaintance. Beating Vanderbilt in the NCAA Tournament and Ohio State in Dayton, that’s amazing. They had great success. I know Jimmy, a perfect guy with a lot of energy and a good recruiter, has good connections. I think it’s a great job and I think he’s a great coach for this situation.”

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