April 1, 2004
Baltimore, Md. - Jimmy Patsos was officially welcomed into the Loyola College community on Thursday, April 1 with a press conference announcing his arrival as the school's 20th head men's basketball coach. Here is a transcript of today's conference with opening statements from President Harold Ridley, S.J., Athletic Director Joe Boylan and Patsos himself.
Loyola President Harold Ridley, S.J.
I think this is a great day for Loyola basketball and it's a pleasure for me to comment for the first time in a public manner on our hiring of Coach Patsos. What give me great hope for the future of the men's program is that Jimmy Patsos understands very well how the mission of the College merges with the goals of our Division I athletic programs.
His background both as a student at Boston College High School and as a student-athlete at the Catholic University of America prepared him for Loyola College as much as his stellar background as one of the elite assistant basketball coaches in the nation at the University of Maryland at College Park. Everyone knows that Coach Patsos is a great recruiter, but the untold story lies in his role as an academic mentor with Maryland basketball.
Jimmy understands that at Loyola College, we want to be leaders, not only on the court, but also in our graduation rates, as we have been over the course of the last decade. I believe that Coach Patsos is uniquely qualified to achieve success in the complex duality that is athletics and academics. I want to wish Coach Patsos and his current student athletes who are with us today success as they go forward. I'm very excited about the future of men's basketball that is beginning here today.
Loyola Athletic Director Joe Boylan
About 13 years ago, when I was very fortunate and blessed to get the job as Athletic Director at Loyola College, a good friend of mine was just taking a job at the University of Maryland. Gary Williams and I go back to when Gary was a player, or as Gary would like to say, more years than I'd like to remember. I remember a conversation with him in the early 1990's and I remember him saying, I never realized how difficult this job was going to be and that's when I first met Jimmy.
Young, enthusiastic, Catholic University graduate - he had coached high school and was now working with Gary. I always thought - as much as I know Gary and respect him - why would anyone want to work for Gary Williams? Jimmy, don't tell him I said that.
But over the years, it's been interesting to watch Maryland's program, built from the ashes of the worst probation in NCAA history - except for maybe Kentucky in the 1970's - to not only becoming a major player in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), but also to compete in two Final Fours and winning a national championship. And right there in the mix was Jimmy Patsos. Watching him grow and mature as a young man was interesting.
Each year, Gary Williams gave him more to do. First it was academics, then it was dealing with the people on campus, then it was recruiting and everyday in practice, Jimmy was involved. You think, now here's somebody who's going to be a good coach someday. He's really paid his dues - he didn't jump around. He stayed during some trying times and learned how to get it done. So if you look at our program today, we're very fortunate to have someone like Jimmy, who knows how to build a program, knows you have to have patience, knows there are going to be bumps on the road and also knows that the right way to do it, is the way it's going to be done.
The most important thing at the end of the day is to graduate student-athletes and five years down the road he'll say, hey, they're Loyola graduates and they played for me. I'll say one thing about Jimmy, he's not good - he's exceptional. I think back as an Irishman with a little Celtic mysticism - many years ago on April 1st, we hired a coach, his name was Skip Prosser and good things happened. Better things are going to happen with Jimmy.
Loyola Head Men's Basketball Coach Jimmy Patsos
First of all, I thank you very much for being here. You know, I can't even contain my excitement to be here. I've had some people around the country call and say, gee Loyola College must be lucky to get you with the basketball program they have. I've been very quick to explain to everybody that the lucky person here is me.
I grew up in Boston and we talked about Boston College, we talked about places like Georgetown and we talked about places like Loyola. I'm an emotional guy because this is an emotional place. I explain to people why we're the lucky ones, because women's lacrosse with Kerri Johnson does an unbelievable job. With women's soccer wins, golf wins, men's lacrosse wins, Candy Cage is doing an unbelievable job with women's basketball like her dad Ernie Cage did. Now I'm the luck one because now I get to rise up this program to be on par with not only the school, but with all the other programs that are here. I can't tell you how excited I am to be here for a bunch of reasons, and by the way Kerri, I stole [Maryland women's lacrosse coach] Cindy Timchal's playbook so if you get to the Final Four, I have everything you want. [laughter]
Anytime I've gone through the recruiting process in basketball, I've focused on being local. It always starts with the head coach and for me that's Fr. Ridley and then Marty Kelly and I don't know if Terri Sawyer is here, but he's a Maryland grad who I can tell has a real vision for this place. And then you meet Teddi [Burns] and Dave Gerrity and you say, wow, everything is coming into place. But there is always one person in the recruiting process who you attach yourself to and I always try to be that guy. I don't know if you know this, but Joe Boylan used to be one of the great recruiters back in the 1970's at Rutgers. I really want to thank you Joe, because you really have the vision and I was touched on how you recruited me and I'm lucky to be here for you. Thank you very much because you are the guy who made this happen for me and I'm not going to let you down.
As far as players go, I'm always here for you. I hope you didn't think I'm as nice as I was a couple of days ago. The players that are here today are the guys who have to turn things around. Everybody wants to ask questions with what we're going to do with recruiting, but we have a core of guys here now that we can get it done with. We're all going to work hard, we're all gong to be together and we're all going to be visible in the community, in Baltimore and of course, on Campus. We're trying to get everyone excited about Loyola basketball because you can't do it alone and it always starts with the players. I'll be here tomorrow at 7 a.m. when they're running. We're just going to take one day at a time and try to get ourselves to work hard everyday.
You know at Maryland there was no secret to the success. When I got there we were in last place. My first year we lost by 39 point to North Carolina and won two games in the ACC. People forget about that. I almost forgot, but I have a lot of gray hair now, I'm a little heavier too. I was a 195-pound guy with long hair, had more energy than anybody. I still have the energy, but I don't have the dark hair and I've had too many training table meals with the players, but to be honest with you, it's never changed in the 13 years that I've been with Gary - it's hard work from day one. We never really cared how much people knew, but we always wanted to know how much people cared we won. I know everyone here cares a lot and it all starts with the players. After meeting with the players, I know they care a lot too.
I don't have all the answerers but nobody is going to out-work us or care more than we do. Teams from the MAAC are no longer going to come down here and take players from Baltimore and Washington because we want to keep those kids at home. And we're going to play an exciting style. I think you have to play up-tempo basketball, pressure defense. I think it's fun to watch, I think it's fun to coach, I think it's fun to play. We'll make some mistakes, but we're going to make the other team make some mistakes too by playing that way. I'm looking forward to the whole campus being behind us. We're going to represent you the best we can, on and off the court.
I want to be where the rest of the programs at Loyola are and I want to be where the academics are, which is one of the top institutions in the country. The most important thing is that we're going to work as hard as we can to get this thing right and to join everyone else here because I see a lot of winners in this room and we want to be right there with you.