Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos not only showed his ability to turn around what was once a struggling MAAC program, but Thursday night's NBA draft showed that the Greyhounds' program director is a pretty good prognosticator, too.
Boston born-and-raised Patsos, whose affinity for that city's NBA Celtics also can be traced to his friendship with the Celts' former patriarch Red Auerbach, spoke more than three months ago about who he hoped his favorite pro team would wind up with in the draft.
Patsos extolled the virtues of Ohio State's 6-foot-9, 270-pound forward Jared Sullinger this past March. And, then, on Thursday night the Celts did exactly what Patsos had hoped for by taking the Buckeye with the 21st overall pick in the first round.
Patsos knew plenty about Sullinger since his team's NCAA appearance was a first-round game against Sullinger and Ohio State. The Loyola coach not only spent a considerable amount of time watching game films to scout Ohio State and Sullinger but, then, got a first-hand look at the sophomore big man in the Greyhounds' 78-59 NCAA tournament loss.
Here's what Patsos had to say about Sullinger two days before the meeting with Ohio State:
"(Jared) Sullinger) ... like some people say, you don't contain him you just try to neutralize him. I'm a Celtics' fan, and I hope they get him (in the draft). That's what I think of him as a player ... I hope the Celts get Jared Sullinger. If we can hold Sullinger to 18 points and nine rebounds ... something like that ... We need to keep him from getting second shots, and we need to fast break and make him run up and down the court. But, no doubt, he's an NBA lottery pick."
The only thing Patsos was wrong about was Sullinger's status as a lottery pick. Instead, the Buckeye fell to No. 21, but most draft observers (including those speaking for the Celtics on Thursday night) portrayed Sullinger as a top-10 talent with a back issue that caused his proverbial stock to drop as the draft approached.
According to published reports, the Celtics' medical staff perceived Sullinger's back issues to be relatively minor.
As for Sullinger's performance against Loyola this past March?
He only scored 12 points while collecting 11 rebounds. But, all 12 of those points came in the first half of a game that the Buckeyes had full control of by that point. Clearly, Loyola concentrated its defense heavily on slowing Sullinger. But, that left another forward, 6-7 Deshaun Thomas, free enough to turn in a monster 31-point, 12-rebound effort.