Friday, March 15, 2013

Siena, Marist Look For New Coaches in Different Pools

Today's edition of the Baltimore Sun newspaper reports that while Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos is being mentioned prominently (yes, in this blog, too) as a candidate to fill the opening for a men's coach at Siena, he has not spoken to anyone at the Loudonville, N.Y., school as of Thursday afternoon.

"I'm the coach at Loyola," Patsos told the newspaper. "I haven't been contacted by anyone."

Neither has anyone else, except possibly current Jacksonville coach Cliff Warren, on a trip to that city made by Siena athletic director John D'Argenio.

Otherwise, Siena is very much in the beginning stage of setting up off-campus interviews with prospective candidates. It would appear to be too early in the process for the school to have reached out to Patsos yet, although it might be checking in with the coach's agent.

The guess here is that the school will seek out someone with experience as a head coach. Its salary structure gives Siena the ability to bring in a candidate who is already a head coach elsewhere, or has been one recently. Siena's past two hires have been individuals with past head-coaching experience.

That would appear to make Patsos, Warren, Richard Pitino (currently at FIU) and others ... maybe even another former Siena assistant, Steve Evans of Division II LeMoyne College in Syracuse ... potential candidates. Remember, LeMoyne is the program that produced John Beilein, who went from there to Canisius and is now at Michigan.

The Baltimore paper speculated that the MAAC wouldn't be the only feature at Siena that would be attractive to Patsos, who hasn't hidden his displeasure with Loyola's upcoming move to the Patriot League. There's also the Times Union Center, which seats more than four times the number of fans as Loyola's on-campus Reitz Arena, basically a glorified high school gym.

Publicly, Patsos gives the impression he's happy at Loyola, and wouldn't have signed a five-year extention after last season (that came before the move to the Patriot League) if he wasn't. But, he also admits that he didn't want to lie by pretending he'd never entertain other options.

"It's a business," Patsos told the Baltimore newspaper. "Who knows what happens at the end of the season. But I plan to be the coach at Loyola, and I'm on the road recruiting and doing things for Loyola.

Loyola also is hosting an opening-round game in the tournament on Tuesday, and it's unlikely any school would contact him directly before his team's post-season run concludes.

Patsos, according to the last available salary disclosure made by Loyola, was making about $290,000 annually.

Mitch Buonaguro, recently fired by the school, was receiving an estimated $275,000 annual package. But, his predecessor, Fran McCaffery, was making in the mid-$500,000 range in his last year at the school.

It says here that Patsos would be a "home run" choice to take over at Siena. He has resurrected a Loyola program that ranked last nationally in the Ratings Percentage Index the year before his arrival and now has back-to-back 20-victory seasons for the first time since it went to the Division I level in 1981.

He is also a so-called "finished product," having already been a head coach for nine years, more than enough time to work out whatever kinks are involved in the move from assistant (where he was at Maryland prior to coming to Loyola) to a head coach's position.

Siena's financial commitment to recent coaches indicates it no longer need to go the "rising assistant" route for a hire at a lesser salary. There's no longer a need at Siena to worry about whether an assistant can handle the change related to making that 18-inch move from assistant's to head coach's chair.

And, while Patsos remains a "larger than life" presence as a program's public persona, he is no longer the wild-and-crazy guy he once was on the sidelines. Patsos has purposely toned down his in-game antics. He has learned that the best time to be tough on players is during practices, and not in the public spotlight of games.

The days that Patsos' sports coat was rudely thrown to the bench by halftime, or when he was a bug-eyed, finger-pointing presence berating players not only in the game but on the bench are a couple of years behind him.

By all accounts, players enjoy being in his program and he's as concerned about educating his players off the court as on it. He uses team road trips for bonding, taking his players to historical landmarks, tourist attractions or museums while traveling while most other teams rarely venture outside their on-the-road hotels other than for practices and meals.

Siena certainly appears capable financially of attracting Patsos, or someone else who is currently a mid-major level coach.

That, though, might not be the case at Marist, which is also looking for a new coach to replace Chuck Martin, who was fired yesterday.

Although Marist is a private school and does not need to release coaching salaries, the school is required to make public a tax form that lists the school's highest-paid individuals.

In the most-recent on-line form, that from 2010, Martin was not included among the highest-compensated Marist employees, all making at least $195,000 annually.

The best guess here is that Martin was making about $175,000, and that's more than former coach Matt Brady was estimated to have received (about $130,000) in the last year of his time there (2007-08).

Unless Marist makes a significant upgrade in the salary for its men's coach, it won't be looking in the same pool of candidates as Siena.

Marist's last two hires have brought in individuals who had only previously been assistants. Heck, the last hire made by Marist for a women's coach (Brian Giorgis) came directly from the high school ranks.

It leaves the speculation for the next men's coach at Marist wide open, considerably more so than the field will be at Siena.

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