Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Loyola (Md.) Heading for Patriot League With Interesting New Coaches

On Friday, the Loyola (Md.) Greyhounds promoted assistant G.G. Smith to head coach, replacing longtime boss Jimmy Patsos. Patsos left for Loyola's former MAAC rival Siena, jumping off the ship before it sailed off to the Patriot League.

Smith, the son and former point guard of new Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith, made his first assistant coaching hire on Tuesday, and it's a name that Maryland basketball fans will know well.

Smith dipped into the Loyola women's hoops program to pluck former Maryland Terrapin star Keith Booth (pictured) for his staff. Booth spent seven years as an assistant at his alma mater, working under legendary Terps coach Gary Williams.

Before that, Booth was a McDonald's All-American out of Baltimore. His recruitment to College Park helped restore Maryland's relationship with the Baltimore City area, one that was damaged by sanctions incurred on the watch of Williams' predecessor Bob Wade. If not for Booth's commitment, the Terps may never have landed Baltimore native Juan Dixon, who propelled Maryland to the 2001 Final Four and a national title in 2002.

Booth is still top-10 all time in scoring, rebounding and steals at Maryland. He was a third-team AP All-American as a senior and a first-round pick of the Chicago Bulls in the 1997 NBA Draft. In his rookie season, the Bulls won the sixth and final championship of the Michael Jordan era.

Williams also got Booth into coaching, giving him his first collegiate job when the Terps lost an assistant coach who had gotten his first head coaching position.

That assistant's name? Jimmy Patsos. Yes, it's a small world. No, I will not torment you with the song.

During Booth's tenure as a Maryland assistant, the Terps never had a season of fewer than 19 wins. However, they did only make the NCAA tournament three times in those seven seasons.

Between the connections of G.G. Smith's family name and the Baltimore cred of Keith Booth, Loyola is positioning itself well for a strong run in the Patriot League. The Patriot League doesn't often see many coaches with bonafide experience as an NBA first-rounder, especially not one working for a head coach who learned at the feet of a national champion.

The Greyhounds lose a lot from the 2012-13 team, but look for Smith and Booth to restock the cupboards quickly.

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