Monday, February 21, 2011

Washington Post columns-- 'GW Athletic Director Jack Kvancz has had a pretty good run' and 'Jimmy Patsos still taking baby steps at Loyola'

Here are two articles written for The Washington Post from the weekend ---------------

On Dec. 10, 1979, Catholic hosted Saint Joseph's at tiny, outdated Brookland Gymnasium. The Cardinals won the game, 68-67, in double overtime. One season later, a Hawks team with the same coach and the same group of players upset top-ranked DePaul in the second round of the NCAA tournament and reached the Mideast Region final, where it lost to Indiana on the Hoosiers' home court.

That's how good a basketball coach Jack Kvancz was: He coached Catholic - soon to move down from Division I to Division III - to a victory over a future Elite Eight team.

In March 1987, Kvancz had to make his first critical hire as George Mason's athletic director when Joe Harrington left to become the basketball coach at Colorado. His choice was Rick Barnes. A year later, Barnes - at Kvancz's urging because it was too good a job to turn down - left to become the coach at Providence. The first person Kvancz tried to hire to replace Barnes was a North Carolina assistant named Roy Williams, who turned him down because Tar Heels Coach Dean Smith told him his first job should be bigger than George Mason.

That's how good an athletic director Kvancz was.

He also was a pretty good basketball player, the starting point guard on a Bob Cousy-coached Boston College team that reached the East Region final in 1967 before losing to North Carolina. When his playing career comes up, Kvancz doesn't talk about how good a player he was. He talks about playing for Cousy: "Being from New England [Bridgeport, Conn.], having Cooz come to the house on a recruiting visit was like having God come to your front door," he has often said. "The only thing bigger would have been Red [Auerbach] showing up."

That is classic Kvancz: let's not make this about me. He is one of those people who quietly does things very well, gives the credit to others and then tells jokes about himself. When he talks about his BC career, he doesn't bring up the fact that he averaged 15 points per game for very good teams as a junior and a senior. Instead, he tells the story about trying to keep UCLA point guard Lucius Allen from throwing the ball to Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in the post.

Click here for the rest of the column:  GW Athletic Director Jack Kvancz has had a pretty good run


Loyola men's basketball coach Jimmy Patsos was pacing the hallway outside his locker room Wednesday night, still hyper a few minutes after his team had lost its home finale to Rider, 82-70. A win could have put the Greyhounds in a tie for second place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings with two games to play. The loss left them alone in fifth place.

The first question Patsos had asked Joe DelBalso, his sports information director, as he walked into the locker room was direct: "League scores?"

Soon after he came out, DelBalso had his answer: Siena had lost to Saint Peter's. Patsos threw his arms up into the air and said: "Yes! No play-in game." The Saints' loss meant the worst Loyola could finish in the 10-team conference was sixth - meaning it wouldn't have to play the first night of the MAAC tournament.
Rob Ades, Patsos's good friend, agent and mentor whose "what can go wrong next?" demeanor when the Greyhounds are playing often reminds his friends of Eeyore, sat a few feet away staring at Patsos as if he had just announced he had figured out how to fly to Mars and back in a week.

"What, I can't celebrate that? I'm not allowed to celebrate some good news?" Patsos said to Ades - who had not actually opened his mouth. "That's a good thing. It means we only have to win three games to get to the [NCAA] tournament, not four. That's only the third time in seven years. Baby steps, okay? There's nothing wrong with a step forward, even a little one."

Patsos is now in his seventh season of trying to move forward at Loyola, and perhaps the most important thing he has learned has been to revel in baby steps. When he arrived in 2004 after working 13 years as an assistant to Gary Williams at Maryland, he was absolutely convinced he could leap tall buildings in a single bound. He brought manic energy to the job - an upbeat approach that was desperately needed at a program that had just gone 1-27 - and a singular belief that simply wishing for something can make it happen.
He was 37, his hair was jet-black and he was ready to conquer the world - or at least the MAAC. Now, at 44, he's gone gray and understands that baby steps are a lot more realistic to hope for than those single bounds.

Click here for the rest of the column:: Jimmy Patsos still taking baby steps at Loyola

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