On Monday night, the NCAA tournament became approximately 8,000 times more quotable. Why? Because Loyola (Maryland) topped Fairfield in the MAAC tournament title game, 48-44, reaching the tournament for the first time since now-deceased, beloved former Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser guided them there in 1994. And because coach Jimmy Patsos -- one of God's own originals, to paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson -- is the man that led Loyola there.
Patsos wasted zero time in announcing his presence to the college hoops world Monday night, and the New York Times' Pete Thamel was there to document the revelry:
In an epic, rambling postgame news conference, he name-dropped everyone from Red Auerbach to Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers to the team trainer Steve Austin, mentioned a trip to the Guggenheim and chastised ESPN’s Joe Lunardi for not having Iona in his N.C.A.A. tournament field. (Lunardi was not in attendance.) [...] On Monday, Patsos provided nonstop entertainment, pointing his fingers inches from his players’ faces, egging on the crowd and gyrating on the sideline as if he were auditioning for a role in a “Kung Fu Panda” sequel.
“Fortunately, he’s matured,” said the former Loyola athletic director Joe Boylan, who hired Patsos. “However you define Jimmy and maturing, that’s a tricky thing.”
Patsos, if you'll recall, was the infamous coach that in 2008 decided that Stephen Curry, then a junior star for Davidson months removed from a legendary NCAA tournament performance, wouldn't beat his team single-handed. So he double-teamed Curry for all 40 minutes and refused to waver as Curry happily stood in the corner and watched his teammates play 4-on-3 against an overmatched Greyhounds team. Davidson won by 30. Patsos was roundly mocked. (In Thamel's piece, he says it was a "bad idea, stupid idea.") But don't let the wackiness obscure the guy's coaching ability, and this latest accomplishment -- getting Loyola, a program he took over after a one-win season in 2004, to its first tournament since the mid-90s -- is only more proof.
In any case, SB Nation's Andy Hutchins is right: You be ready to hear countless Patsos stories in the coming weeks from college hoops writers on Twitter; perhaps no coach in the tournament will be -- this much fun. And if you need further background reading, be sure to check Kyle Whelliston's definitive profile of the man from 2010.
Welcome to the tournament, Coach Patsos. We'll have our notebooks ready. The rest is up to you.