Jimmy Patsos wiped a tear from his eye more than once Wednesday, when the realization finally hit him. After nine years of clamoring to be Siena's coach, the job was finally his.
Patsos was introduced as Siena's coach at a news conference in Loudonville, N.Y.
Patsos replaces Mitch Buonaguro, who was fired after going 35-59 in three seasons.
"I'm grateful. I'm lucky," Patsos said. "I had a couple people say to me, `Siena's lucky to get you.' It's clearly the other way. I'm lucky to get Siena. ... I can't even believe I'm the basketball coach at Siena. This is a great job."
The Saints were believed to have had interest in several other coaches, but Patsos was among their favorites from the beginning, perhaps in part because of the familiarity they have with the way he ran his program at Loyola. With the Greyhounds, he inherited a team that went 1-27 in the season before his arrival and wound up finishing with winning records in three of his first four years at the helm.
At Siena, another rebuilding project awaits. After dominating the MAAC for three straight seasons and going to the NCAA Tournament - with wins over Vanderbilt and Ohio State to their credit during those appearances in the Big Dance - the Saints have not finished over .500 in any of the past three years.
"Jimmy is more than just a personality," Siena athletic director John D'Argenio said. "He's more than just a recruiter. I talked to many coaches and they all told me his teams play hard. They execute as well as anybody in the MAAC."
Loyola is leaving the MAAC after this academic year for the Patriot League. Patsos went 145-135 in nine years at Loyola, winning one MAAC title.
"I like his style," Siena President Fr. Kevin Mullen said of Patsos. "I like what he does."
Patsos won his last six head-to-head matchups with Siena, while on the Loyola sideline. Still, Patsos said he "always envied" the Siena job because of the team's fan base and the passion in the Capital Region for Saints basketball.
"I was jealous of you for nine years as the coach at Loyola," Patsos said.
He met with his new team Wednesday afternoon for the first time, and became emotional when talking about what the late Dave Gavitt - a founder and first commissioner of the Big East - used to say about the Siena job.
"This is the kind of job Dave Gavitt would say, `You've got to get this job,"' Patsos said. "You've got to get this job and you've got to stay forever."