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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 03/14/2012 9:15 PM

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Men's Basketball
Loyola Coach Concerned with Sullinger, Buckeyes Length
By Brandon Castel

Jimmy Patsos is going to sleep easier this week, but not because of who his team is facing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

A former bartender turned Gary Williams assistant at the University of Maryland, Patsos has Loyola-Maryland back in the tournament for the second time in their school’s history—and first since 1994.

Coach by Skip Prosser, the Greyhounds were bounced from that tournament by No. 2-seed Arizona, which also happened to be their last winning season before Patsos took over the program in 2004.

What he has done in eight seasons at Loyola is pretty impressive, especially considering the program was at rock bottom when Patsos left Maryland back in ’04 after 13 seasons working under Williams, a former Ohio State coach. 

Loyola was coming off a 1-27 season under former coach Scott Hicks, but Patsos knew he wanted the opportunity to show people that he could run his own program.

“I wanted to be a head coach, and Red Auerbach said, ‘You'd better take that job. Even you can do better than 1-27,’ ” Patsos said.

Fast forward eight years, and the Boston native is vying for a chance to take his team back home, where the Greyhounds would reach unprecedented heights if they could get past their opening game in the East Region.

“Unfortunately, we're playing the Buckeyes, who I thought at the beginning of the year would win the national title,” Patsos said Tuesday.

“I know that they're only six deep, but they're tremendous.”

Ohio State is the No. 2-seed in the East Region, a fact that has not escaped Patsos and the 15-seed Loyola Greyhounds. The Buckeyes are currently favored by 17.5 points, according to Sportsbook, and Patsos knows they present serious matchups problems for his undersized team.

“We're very worried about the physical play of Ohio State,” he said.

“They're a tough, physical team that has one of the best players in the country.”

Patsos knows all about Jared Sullinger, Ohio State’s star big man who could be a lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Patsos knows a lot of things. He is a unique, eccentric coach who has made history with some of his outlandish behavior.

In 2008, he was ejected from a game for arguing with the referees. Instead of leaving the arena, or watching the rest of the game from the locker room, Patsos simply climbed into the stands next to his athletic director and finished out the game from there.

Later that same year, Patsos concluded that his only chance to stop Davidson star Stephen Curry was to double-team him the entire game while his teammates played 4-on-3 against the rest of Loyola’s defenders.

Davidson still won the game by 30 points.

“We had to play against an NBA player tonight. Anybody else ever hold him scoreless,” Patsos asked after the game.

“I'm a history major. They're going to remember that we held him scoreless or we lost by 30? I know the fans are mad at me, but I had to roll the dice as far as a coach goes.”

Thats Jimmy, and he will do whatever he thinks is necessary to win a game, which is why it will be interesting to see how he attempts to slow down Sullinger, who is averaging 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game this season.

“You don't contain Jared Sullinger. You don't do anything with Jared Sullinger. All you do with Jared Sullinger is try and neutralize him,” Patsos said.

“I'm a Celtics fans. I hope they get him. That's what I think of him as a player.”

The Greyhounds have a 6-10 forward named Shane Walker, but he is not exactly Adreian Payne. As a team, they ran 124th in the country in rebounding, and 182nd in scoring. They defeated Fairfield 48-44 in the MAAC Championship game to earn a spot in the tournament.

With his team trailing 30-26 at halftime, Patsos broke into a speech about Malcolm X and the Black Panther party.

“I said there are levels; there's Martin Luther King; there's Malcolm X; and I saved Bobby Seale for the end,” he said after the game.

“Sometimes you have to get militant, and we're getting militant young men.”

The Greyhounds responded with an 11-1 run to open the second half and held Fairfield to just 12 second-half points on their way to the four-point victory. The fact that game was played nine days ago could be an advantage for Loyola, especially considering the intense nature of Ohio State’s loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament title game on Sunday.

Patsos still knows his team is going to have to play its best basketball to contend with the Buckeyes.

“They're stronger and bigger than us, but they're not as quick, so that's good,” Patsos said.

“We can win this game. It's going to take a solid, solid effort to keep ourselves in the game. And if you stay in the game, you have a chance to win the game. We can't get blown out, we can't get too down. We've got to do what we do.”

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