Ex-terps as­sis­tants re­united a decade later

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports - BY PA­TRICK STEVENS

PITTS­BURGH | For one night, three im­por­tant fig­ures in Mary­land bas­ket­ball lore were back to­gether, Billy and Dave and Jimmy gath­er­ing to trade tales.

Bas­ket­ball brought them to­gether in the first place. Bas­ket­ball forged a bond among the three. Bas­ket­ball sent them their sep­a­rate ways. And bas­ket­ball brought them to­gether for an evening at the NCAA tour­na­ment.

Well, two evenings this week. Billy Hahn is West Virginia’s as­sis­tant to the head coach. Dave Dick­er­son is an as­sis­tant coach at Ohio State. Jimmy Pat­sos is in his eighth year as Loy­ola’s head coach. All three teams played in Thurs­day’s evening ses­sion.

The three were as­sis­tants un­der Gary Wil­liams dur­ing Mary­land’s Final Four run in 2001. More im­por­tantly, they as­sem­bled the pieces of the team that would go on to win the na­tional cham­pi­onship the fol­low­ing year.

And they saw just about ev­ery­thing in five years to­gether in Col­lege Park.

“The great thing about it is, usu­ally when you’re with peo­ple, peo­ple make up sto­ries,” Hahn said Wed­nes­day. “The thing about last night was no­body can make a story up. It’s all true. It was clas­sic.”

Hahn was the first piece of the staff, join­ing Wil­liams when he took over the Terps in 1989. Pat­sos be­came a vol­un­teer as­sis­tant in 1991, even­tu­ally earn­ing a full-time job. Dick­er­son com­pleted the group in 1996.

All stepped in at dif­fer­ent points of the Terps’ rise. But all shared a con­nec­tion to a time when Mary­land cov­eted the crys­tal tro­phy it now dis­plays at Com­cast Cen­ter.

“Gary was dad, Billy was the older brother, Dave was the mid­dle brother and I was the younger brother,” Pat­sos said. “The ages were right. Hav­ing played at Catholic U. and been a high school coach in the area, that al­most put me into the fam­ily. I earned my way, but those three were fam­ily mem­bers. We had to be tight be­cause we didn’t have ev­ery­thing.”

Each had their strengths. Hahn was a for­mer head coach who was re­spon­si­ble for scout­ing re­ports for much of his time at Mary­land. Dick­er­son was the ace re­cruiter. Pat­sos served as a vi­tal con­duit be­tween Wil­liams and the play­ers.

It didn’t last for­ever, of course. Hahn left af­ter the first Final Four sea­son, tak­ing over at La Salle for a three-year run that ended abruptly when rape ac­cu­sa­tions were lev­eled at three of his play­ers. (The charges were later dropped.)

Pat­sos de­parted af­ter the Terps’ 2004 ACC tour­na­ment ti­tle and this year led Loy­ola to its first 20-win sea­son since 1948-49.

Dick­er­son was the last to take a head coach­ing job, tak­ing over at Tu­lane in 2005. Later that year, the three at­tended for­mer Mary­land point guard Steve Blake’s wed­ding, an event Pat­sos be­lieves is the last time they were to­gether.

That event oc­curred the same week­end as Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina, which es­sen­tially doomed Dick­er­son’s ten­ure with the Green Wave be­fore it be­gan.

“Dave left the wed­ding to go home to the hur­ri­cane,” Pat­sos said. “We’re like ‘Hey, Dave, hur­ri­cane schmur­ri­cane. That’s not a big deal.’ Dave looks at the weather, gets the news and runs to the air­port.”

It was, no doubt, one of many anec­dotes to pass among the three Tues­day night, a rem­i­nisc­ing ses­sion about Cole Field House and Steve Fran­cis and Wil­liams and count­less other things that un­der­scored some­thing else the three very well might have in com­mon.

“Those years were prob­a­bly the best years of my coach­ing pro­fes­sion,” Dick­er­son said.

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