Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Siena's Search For Men's Coach Nearing Final Stages

Things have been relatively quiet on the search for a coach at Siena, we have learned a few things in recent days.

The Albany Times-Union newspaper, in today's edition, reports that Siena's athletic director John D'Argenio recently went to off campus/out-of-area sites to meet recently with Robert Morris head coach Andy Toole and Virginia Commonwealth associate head coach Mike Rhoades. The newspaper quoted a single source familiar with the process.

We'll go one better on that report. This scribe has two sources that confirmed that D'Argenio had earlier conducted off-campus interviews with Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos and Florida International head coach Richard Pitino.

Those sources indicated that both Patsos and Pitino will be brought to the Siena campus for the next round of interviews later this week.

In every process D'Argenio has conducted, the off-campus interview has been the preliminary meeting, and individuals brought on campus for a second talk, as well as the opportunity to tour the campus and meet with other school administrators, have been finalists for the job.

To read the proverbial tea leaves, then, it would appear that Patsos and Pitino are the early front-runners for the Siena position.

That's not to say that Toole and/or Rhoades won't also be afforded on-campus interviews and get into the mix as "finalists."

But, the past indicates that Siena won't bring four finalists on to its campus. In most other processes, the maximum number of finalists brought to campus had been three.

The current candidates mentioned (Patsos, Pitino, Rhoades and Toole) appear to be the entire "pool." Expect the next Siena coach to come from that group, a variety of sources believe.

In case the Siena administration wants some advice, it says here that the top choice should be Patsos.

The Loyola coach is no stranger to revitalizing a program, and no program needed it more than his own when he took over in 2004-05. The year before his arrival Loyola was 1-27 overall, ranked dead-last in the RPI's, and high school players from the fertile recruiting areas of Baltimore and the D.C. area perceived themselves as failures if they had to accept a scholarship offer from the program.

Patsos quickly changed that perception to where, now, he regularly bring in the best mid-major level talents from his area. And, in his second year the Greyhounds were back over .500.

In his last two seasons, his teams have won 24 and 23 games (first back-to-back 20-victory seasons since the early 1940's at Loyola), and have won 18 or more four of the last seven.

Clearly, Patsos can coach. But, he's more than an on-court mentor. He's also concerned with his players' education, and uses road trips for both team bonding and to enhance his players' cultural boundaries by scheduling trips to historical sites, museums and landmarks.

Pitino has told confidants that he is very interested in the Siena job. His father, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, owns a Saratoga Springs home (the elder Pitino enjoys thoroughbred racing).

Pitino, at 30, is also the youngest candidate by far. He just finished his first season at FIU with an 18-14 record, 10 victories more than the program's 8-21 record the previous year.

Makes one wonder, though, if Pitino's relative youth will work against him, as might his inclination to leave FIU (and a reported $250,000 annual base salary) after just one season.

Rhoades has also been a head coach, albeit at the Division III level. After three seasons as an assistant at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., he took over that program and had a 197-76 record in 10 years.

Rhoades then moved to VCU, where he has been an assistant for the past 10 years.

Toole just finished up his third season as head coach at Robert Morris with a 24-11 record and a trip to the NIT where his team got a first-round victory over Kentucky, before a second-loss to Providence.

Prior to his promotion, he had been an assistant in the program for three seasons.

Toole, like former Siena coach Fran McCaffery, is a graduate of Penn.


Craig-D said...

Patsos excites me the least of the three. For starters, his on court antics and the way he berates his players publically will not go over well at Siena. Yes, he's toned it down - but he's still a lunatic. Let's not forget the whole Stephen Curry debacle. Moving on, yes he's had back to back 20 win seasons. But they are the only ones in 9 seasons as Loyola head coach. He would have been fired before season 5 at Siena with his record.

Lastly, he's relied heavily on transfers to get better players - and that is not how Siena does things. His freshman recruiting is mediocre. I just don't see him as the next Fran McCaffery. It reads here that Pitino, Toole, and Rhoades, have more potential to be superstars and clean up on the recruiting trail. Be honest: if you're a 3 start athlete and Richard Pitino and Jimmy Patsos offer you a scholarship, who are you most likely to sign with?

My picks are Pitino and Toole in that order.

Steve Amedio said...

I'd sign with Patsos. But I've gotten to know him pretty well.
He has consciously tone things down in games the last two years. No more in-game antics. And, no one berated players in games more than Fran.
Patsos took over the worst program in Division 1. He had a winning in his second season. At no point did his record deserve being dismissed. Not even at Siena.
Plus, he doesn't have the resources at Loyola that he'd have at Siena.
Keep an open mind. A very good coach, a terrific guy and he really cares about his players.

hoop mom said...

Not as much upside and the easy way to hire....backfired already. Isn't going to excite this fan base.

Steve Amedio said...

Hoop mom -- You'll have to be more specific ...
How does Patsos not have "upside?"
He lifted Loyola's program from being the worst nationally to 47 wins over the past two seasons.
Not going to excite fan base? Have you ever met this guy?

mark grimm said...

I wonder how the Siena and the A-10 talk is affecting the search? Wouldn't that have to be cleared up before picking a coach? Many good candidates appear interested. Young Pitino is intriguing choice. He's been schooled by a master since childhood and will bring instant recognition and excitement to program. Had good year this year as well.

Steve Amedio said...

Hey Mark ... Good to hear from you; thanks for reading.
I'll believe the Siena-to-A10 stuff when it happens. I continue to think the finances don't make any sense; nor does the affiliation with more than a few very large, public institutions with considerably more resources than Siena.
Plus, there's a $1 million buy-out owed the MAAC if Siena leaves with less than a year's notice.
That figure decreases with lengthier advance notice. If this were indeed going to happen, it would behove Siena to make its intention known ASAP. That is hasn't indicates strongly (at least to me) that the move isn't close.
And, again, I just don't see it happening.
One last thing ... considering what would be left of the A-10 after next season ... would it really be that much better than the MAAC?
On the coaching search: I only know of Pitino by reputation and from afar. Is he ready, at age 31 to be a head coach?
Do you want a guy who's ready to leave his current program after one year? Very easily, he'd do the same to Siena.
I know Patsos very well ... he'd be my choice, hands down.

Craig-D said...

I won't argue against the fact that Patsos is a decent coach - but is he the best of the four finalists? I just can't get excited over a coach that has been unable to win a regular season MAAC title after nearly a decade in the league. Say what you will about Loyola's resources compared to Siena's - but it's overall athletic budget is $2 million higher than Siena's. It's not like Patsos has been at St. Peter's this whole time.

As for Siena to the A-10, we'll see. I have it on good authority money won't be an issue. If the invite comes, Siena will accept. The median A-10 athletic budget was $16 million in 2012 with Bonaventure bringing up the rear at $8 million. That median is what MAAC leader Fairfield spent and is within Siena's means (its budget was just over $12 million in 2012). As for whether the A-10 will be any better than the MAAC going foward, the answer is yes. It'll still be at least a 2 bid league most seasons, still have a TV contract, still play its championship game on CBS - and have you compared A-10 to MAAC facilities lately?

Steve Amedio said...

Craig -- Wish they broke down athletic budgets by sport, because Loyola's primary sport is Lax ...
I'm sure hoops pales in comparison to spending vs. Siena.
Listen ... we've all got our preferences.
I just think Patsos, for a variety of reasons ... coaching acumen, personality, connection to players, etc. .. is by far the best of the bunch Siena is considering.
Actually, Loyola's program was in worse shape than Saint Peter's when he took over.
Starting in 2014, the A-10 might become a 1-bid league. Only team left that got in this year was La Salle, and that's an anomaly.
Again, I still think money will be a huge issue for Siena. I'll believe a move to the A-10 when I see it.
Enjoy the debate, and hearing your opinions/insights.

Craig-D said...

Steve - LaSalle was not the only team left in the A-10 that got in. VCU also made the tourney and will remain in the league. As long as Shaka Smart is there, you can pencil them in the NCAA tourney most seasons. The A-10 has had many defections over the last couple of decades and has always remade itself without falling far, having maybe a single 1-bid season that I can recall years ago.

As for budgets, there is no available breakdown by sport except hoops. Siena spent 2nd most in the MAAC on hoops at $2,293,234. Loyola was 3rd at $1,898,542. Not exactly a game-changing difference. And according to the latest form 990s, Patsos actually outearned Buonaguro. So I don't buy that Patsos will do much better at Siena due to a sizeable difference in resources. Yes, Siena plays in a nicer arena and has better fan support, but if those two advantages were all it took to be on top, Mitch would still be employed there.

Steve Amedio said...

I'll call a $400k difference fairly significant.
All I'm saying is I know Patsos well, I know others who know him well. Based on all my sources, he'd be absolutely terrific at Siena.

Steve Amedio said...

Bottom line: A-10 could easily be a one bid league in future years ... not that much better than the MAAC. Plus, the league, with many large/public institutions with many more resources, doesn't fit Siena's "profile."
Better chance that Hofstra goes A-10 than Siena.