By Azarr Johnson
As many teams have played their regular last season game today, many are getting prepared for their conference tournament. One of those teams are the Siena Saints in their conference the MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference). When the season begin, the Saints were projected to finish last in the conference, at press time the Saints have defeated Niagara in their season finale, finished in second in a four way tie, have an over 500 record at 18-17 and go into the tournament ranked #4, as to being ranked #10 from last year. While things look on the up and up now, they were not looking like this was coming right around the corner this quick, as oppose to everything that happened last year. Last season Jimmy Patsos was the coach for the Siena, whose sideline rants, awkward post game press conferences and strained relationship with some if his players got him ran out of town. With all of this leading to him resigning, believe it or not it was not all that bad when Patsos got here.
In Patsos first season 2013-2014 year he won the CBI tournament, which led to high expectations for the following seasons, but that success from the first year, never materialized to anything further then that. Even though it always seemed like it was, Siena never could get over the hump, like for example the 2014-2015 season they finished eighth in the conference and even though they made it to the quarterfinals, they were knocked out by Iona, which ended up being the MAAC champ. This resulted in the Siena fan base having high expectations for the team going forward into next season, some of the season was bad and some of it was good but one thing was for sure that 2016-2017 season was when things started to rear its ugly head and to be honest the beginning of the end. As the season started, the Saints got off to a rocky start with a 4-11 record, on top of that, issues with his star player Nico Clareth, started to rear its ugly head, as he was benched midseason. This change became a turning point, even though they won some games, they were not able to sustain down the stretch, their were rumblings about Patsos job.
When Clareth returned near the end of the season, the team was clearly missing him. Going into the tournament that year, even with all turmoil swirling around, the Saints moved all the way up to #4 in the tournament, but expectations were not high. Yet somehow they exceeded them by defeating Fairfield in the semifinals and what probably saved Patsos job, was defeating a Monmouth team in the quarterfinals, that was not only expected to win the MAAC championship, but also go to the big dance. The highlight was Clareth performance with a sprained ankle and how he fought through it to help assist his team to the championship, on the following night, /Siena magical run came to an end, as once again they faced Iona and was knocked out of the championship game.
Going into next season, from the inside looking in, it was going to be tough for Patsos to repeat last years performance, with four of his starters graduating and not returning. To make things worse, his relationship with his star player (Nico Clareth) was getting worse and it showed when the season started, as they got off to an 0-4 start. During the middle of the season, Clareth was no longer on the team, weather it was by his or Patsos decision is unknown, but what we do know is, it did not get any better from there. The Saints finished 4-14 in the conference, finishing second to last in the standings, losing four straight going into the tournament. When the tournament started, the results were no different, as they were bounced out of the first round by Quinnipiac 75-68. To make matters worse the fan base had had grew tired also, what usually is a pretty packed arena, regardless of the seeding for the Saints, was not a good turnout for that night. Although everybody knew Patsos was going to have challenging season/year, losing four seniors to graduation, the fanbase did not care, because they were tired of his antics and to mention the fact, he had never made it to NCAA tournament during his four year tenure.
After the season was over, their were rumblings/rumors of Siena replacing Patsos, but it was highly unlikely they were going to. What did probably speed up the process and change the it from rumor to reality was the accusations that sent him packing. The first major one, was the verbal abuse allegations of team manager, who suffered from OCD. The second, as if one was not enough, was that Patsos was allegedly withholding perdiem payments from players and team aides. If as the two accusations were not enough, the school was also looking allegations of Patsos pushing a player out of their chair. At some point, it became to much and Siena and Patsos parted ways. With Patsos out, Siena was going to have to figure out, hiring a coach, that was going to be able and come in and change the culture of the team and not make wave, while doing it. There were rumors about Rick Pitino being interested in the job, but with all the scandal swirling around him from the Louisville situation, their is no way Siena could even entertain the possibility, after what they just went through with Patsos. So somehow they figured out a better decision, then expected, they hired a coach that like to lay mayhem! Part two coming soon stay tuned!