Aug. 3, 2005
The phone rang Wednesday afternoon and on the other end was Loyola (Md.) coach Jimmy Patsos, checking in from Beijing, where he had just coached the MAAC all-star team to a 6-0 record on a tour of China.
Why would Patsos take this gig in the middle of recruiting?
Well, he was looking to improve his coaching throughout the summer and to experience something different.
Boy, did he.
"We were playing on the side of the mountain in Yangcheng. I'm not kidding, on the side of the mountain," Patsos said.
The MAAC team beat the Chinese Soldiers team 104-65 in an open-air stadium apparently filled to the brim with fans.
But this isn't the whole story.
Patsos wasn't thrilled with the playing conditions, so he said the team was through and wouldn't play a seventh game on the tour.
"Just then, nine delegates drove up in three Mercedes and said, 'We heard you're not playing,' Well, I was afraid that I would end up in a Chinese jail if I didn't say yes. So, we agreed to play a seventh game."
On the way back, Patsos said the team was sent through the mountains."But the road had collapsed on the other side, so after a 10-hour ride, we had to get out and walk down a mountain pass," Patsos said. "We were walking down in the mud. Everyone had to throw out their shoes. Hey, I wanted to practice coaching, so here I am."
Iona's Steve Burtt, according to Patsos, has been one of the top players on the trip while Niagara's James Mathis has also been a consistent presence. Patsos also pressed the Chinese teams, something that he said drew incredible interest from the opposing coaches.
Patsos, the former Maryland assistant, said he would be back stateside soon as a better coach and likely with plenty more stories to tell.