Season Preview: CHD sits down with new Siena coach Jimmy Patsos

To prepare for the tip-off of another great year of college basketball, CHD is reaching out to coaches and players around the country to get the inside scoop on what we can expect this time around.  Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with new Siena coach Jimmy Patsos about moving from the Patriot League to the MAAC.


In April you were hired as head coach at Siena. Why did you take the job? They have a great basketball tradition and the AD/president are very special people. I love Loyola and spent nine years there, but sometimes you have to take a challenge. Loyola is a lacrosse school and there is nothing wrong with that, but when you say Siena people think about basketball. The MAAC is about basketball and is a good up-tempo league.

You lost two of your top three scorers from last year in OD Anosike and Rakeem Brookins. Is this team built to win now or do you think this is going to be a rebuilding year? We lost two great scorers from a team that only won eight games so it is what it is, but I am excited to see what our new guys can do. Both the new recruits as well as the guys who did not get a lot of playing time last year. We are going to be a little faster this year.

Your non-conference schedule includes games against La Salle, Purdue, and Memphis. Which of these three games do you feel will present your biggest test? We have the toughest schedule that the school has had in about a decade, but it is all about the MAAC. Memphis will be our biggest test. Josh Pastner is a great coach and does not get enough credit for what he has done at Memphis. They are the highest-rated team we play and it will be on national TV on Thanksgiving night. What John Giannini has done at La Salle is amazing. The Purdue game will be a good experience because they are very physical on defense.

What are your expectations for the upcoming season? Play hard and get better.

You played basketball at Catholic University under Coach Jack Bruen. How good a player were you back in the day, and how did you get into coaching? Like most coaches I was not a very good player, but I think the worse player you are the better coach you will become! I was lucky to be on the team and to play for Jack. I was mostly a screener and rebounder. I learned the culture of college basketball after moving to DC. I grew up in Boston, which was a college hockey town.

You spent over a decade as an assistant to Gary Williams at Maryland. What made Williams such a great coach and what was the most important thing you ever learned from him? I learned how to compartmentalize. No matter whatever is happening around the program, you just have to be ready to practice and prepare for the games. Gary is also a great person and a very giving guy. One of the first things we learned that we had in common was that we each coached other sports in addition to basketball.

In the 2002 NCAA tourney title game, Lonny Baxter had 15 points and 14 rebounds to beat Indiana and win the title. What did it mean to you to win the title and what was the reaction like when you got back to campus? The fans were so passionate and we were happy to see it: to steal a line from the Prestige, we did it to see “the look on their faces”. North Carolina and Duke are two of the best teams in the country, so we always had to be ready in the ACC.

In November 2008, as coach at Loyola, you held All-American Stephen Curry scoreless by having your players double-team him in a 30 point loss to Davidson. Why did you decide to go with that strategy and how do you think your team would have fared if you had played a more conventional defense? Looking back I do not know if I would do it again, but as they say, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. We only had eight players that night due to some injuries and we planned on playing a triangle-and-two defense, so we just rolled the dice. We mostly used it in the 1st half, but the players told me they wanted to stick with it in the second half.

Your brother Chris won the 1981 Division II World Series title as a captain at Florida Southern and your father Charles won a Tony Award in 1987 as a member of the production team for “All My Sons”. What was it like to grow up in such a successful family? I was really raised by my mother but production is like coaching. You have some hits and some bombs. My brother and I both loved playing and coaching college sports so we share that passion, and my brother is a better coach than me. My sister Terri Stanley also won an Emmy and she busted my ass about that!

Your birthday was earlier this month: what did you do for the big day? I got a manicure and a pedicure, then had dinner in New York with my sister and the producer of Lee Daniels’ “The Butler”. I am not a huge birthday guy but I pick my spots now and then.