Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Siena hires Jamion Christian to replace Patsos

Shown here cutting net after winning Northeast Conference championship, Siena now trusts Jamion Christian to do for Saints what he did twice at Mount St. Mary's: Reach NCAA Tournament. (Photo by the Washington Times)

Nearly three weeks after Siena's investigation into allegations made against Jimmy Patsos, which prompted the now-former head coach to resign on April 13, the Saints reportedly have reached an agreement to bring a new leader to the Capital Region.

Jamion Christian -- whose tenure at Mount St. Mary's includes a pair of Northeast Conference championships -- will be introduced as the next Siena head coach, as reported by Rodger Wyland of WNYT in Albany and corroborated shortly thereafter by a number of local media outlets, including the Albany Times Union. ESPN's Jeff Goodman confirmed Christian's receipt of a five-year contract, and a press conference may happen as soon as Wednesday afternoon if all the contractual details are ironed out.

Christian, who turned 36 on April 18, brings a proven track record of success and an exciting style of play to Siena, a school hoping to reverse its fortunes after an 8-24 season and fallout that led to Patsos' departure after five years at the helm. During his time at The Mount, Christian -- a former assistant to Shaka Smart at VCU before striking out on his own -- compiled a record of 101-95 in six seasons, including a 67-39 mark in conference play, never finishing worse than fifth in the NEC under his watch.

While rebuilding the Mount St. Mary's program, Christian installed a system largely influenced by his mentor, Smart, that came to be known as "Mayhem." Based on the same principles of the "Havoc" philosophy that turned Smart into a household name at VCU, Mayhem is largely predicated on defensive ball pressure and a greater emphasis on the three-point shot, using it as a weapon on offense while seeking to take it away defensively.

Christian became the choice at Siena after speculation that Patrick Beilein, the head coach at Division II Le Moyne and a popular choice to replace Patsos even before the Saints' job became available, was eliminated from contention when it emerged that athletic director John D'Argenio was prioritizing prior Division I head coaching experience in his prospective candidates, stressing his desire to find a coach who had had, according to the Times Union, "an experience like Siena." The rumor mill soon expanded to names such as Syracuse assistant Gerry McNamara, Vermont head coach John Becker, Miami assistant Chris Caputo, Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey, and former LIU Brooklyn and Duquesne head coach Jim Ferry, now an assistant at Penn State. 

Most notably, Rick Pitino's name had surfaced as a potential candidate after spending this past season on the sidelines after he was fired at Louisville for his role in the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball that centered around Louisville allegedly paying Brian Bowen to sign with the Cardinals. However, Pitino -- still recovering from the scandal involving the alleged hiring of escorts to attend parties on campus -- swiftly denied any perceived interest in the opening at Siena.

Once Christian is officially introduced, he will need to hit the ground running with regard to recruiting, which picks up again with the July live period. In house, he will also work on convincing freshman guards Roman Penn and Jordan Horn -- as well as freshman forward Prince Oduro -- to stay in the program after all three were granted their respective releases and had been rumored to consider transferring. In addition, junior guard Nico Clareth; who left the program in January, is a wild card of sorts as far as potentially returning to Siena after being unable to find a new suitor for his services to this point in the offseason.

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