BALTIMORE (AP) — G.G. Smith was promoted to head basketball coach at Loyola (Md.) University on Friday following a six-year run as an assistant under Jimmy Patsos, who left earlier this month to take the top job at Siena.
Smith, 36, is the son of longtime college coach Tubby Smith. At his introductory news conference, Smith told the crowd that he had not yet shared the news with his father.
Smith’s wife, Lorie, then handed him a cell phone. Tubby Smith, who was watching the session on the internet, offered his congratulations from the other end of the line.
“It is a great day for the Smith family,” Tubby Smith said later. “I am really proud of G.G., not only as his mentor and father, but also as his former college coach, watching him grow and mature into the person he is today.”
G.G. Smith was a three-year starter at Georgia while playing for his father. Now he’s the 20th head coach in Loyola history.
He inherits a program that won 62 games over the past three seasons and reached the NCAA tournament in 2012.
“G.G. was a huge part of our success. I believe he will be a great leader of the program going forward,” said Patsos, who did his best to promote Smith as his successor.
“I knew he had my back,” Smith said. “He gave me some advice, and it really helped me in the process.”
Loyola conducted a national search for Patsos’ successor before deciding the best option was one closest to home.
“At the end of the day, we knew (Smith) was the one to lead us into the next chapter of Loyola basketball and into the Patriot League,” athletic director Jim Paquette said.
Loyola, long a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, will move to the Patriot League next season with Smith in charge.
“The timing was perfect,” Smith said. “I had some other opportunities to go pursue some other things in the business, go to other jobs somewhere. I knew I wanted to be here. I wanted to be here so bad.”
With Smith at the helm, the Greyhounds won’t have to undergo the difficult transition of getting acquainted with a new coach and learning a different system.
“During this whole process we were as anxious as G.G. was,” junior guard Dylon Cormier said. “We get a new guy, he comes in here and changes everything. It’s great having a guy already on staff.”
Under Patsos, Smith’s primary responsibilities were recruiting, player development and opponent scouting. Before coming to Loyola, Smith spent the 2006-2007 season as an assistant at Johns Hopkins University.
Patsos was known for his demonstrative demeanor on the sideline, and Tubby Smith — now at Texas Tech — is far more reserved. G.G. Smith says he’s somewhere in the middle of the two.
“My biggest mentors are Jimmy and my dad,” Smith said. “But I’m going to have my own style.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)