Some people call him crazy, but I prefer to view Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos as "crazy like a fox."
Patsos, took over a program that had the worst record among 330+ Division I teams nationally (1-27) in 2003-04 season, the year before his arrival.
Not only has he brought a winning attitude and winning records to the team, but he has instilled a new level of enthusuasm within the school and local community. Games there, once played before family members and close friends, now draw large enthusiastic crowds.
Last season's Loyola team finished 19-14, setting a school record for wins on the Division I level. It was also the program's third straight winning season, the first time that has happened in two decades.
Over that time, Patsos' teams have been 52-40.
Overall, including this season (prior to Wednesday's game against Siena), his record at Loyola is 60-67 and includes a 6-22 record his first year.
Patsos, though, has come under some scrutiny this year on two fronts.
In a game against Colgate, Patsos left his team's bench after earning a technical foul and spent the rest of the game watching from the stands, next to his athletic director and school president.
In his team's game against Davidson recently, he employed a diamond-and-two defensive scheme that put two defenders on Davidson star Stephen Curry and allowed the other three Greyhounds to guard the remaining four Davidson players.
Curry went scoreless, but Davidson won by 30.
Who knows what might have happened had Loyola played Curry straight-up defensively. Odds are, though, that Davidson is good enough to have still won by 30. At least Patsos tried something.
Patsos is an act worth viewing at games as he works referees, and works his players with a fiery demeanor. He quickly becomes disheveled, throwing off his sport jacket and loosening his tie. He has "mellowed" slightly since his first days on the job, but not too much.
And, there is no discounting what he has done to restore winning and enthusiasm to a program that had very little of either before his arrival. His methods work.
A good friend, Pete Iorizzo of the Albany Times-Union, painted a terrific picture of Patsos with a story that appeared in Wednesday's paper (Dec. 3). Here's the link: