With the 2018-19 men’s basketball season less than two months away, Siena College athletics is treading in waters they’re all too familiar with: a head coach vacancy. Last season ended with former head coach Jimmy Patsos’ abrupt resignation, leaving yet another head coach vacancy for the Saints to fill. Within one month, former Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jamion Christian was chosen as the successor to Patsos. Despite being under contract until the 2026-27 season at his alma mater, Christian decided to forego his six-year tenure at Mount St. Mary’s for a five-year contract with the Saints, keeping him in Albany through the 2022-23 season.
During his time at Mount St. Mary’s, Christian guided the Mountaineers to a total of 101 total wins, a 67-39 record within the Northeastern Conference, two NEC Tournament Championships and two NCAA Tournament berths across six seasons. His style of coaching consists of focusing on high-pressure defense while limiting opposing threes and forcing turnovers and allowing his players the freedom to take more threes on offense without forcing the tempo of his squad. With Christian now at the helm of the Saints, he hopes to be able to translate both his method and his success here to Siena.
While rebuilding the program to the heights it once achieved under former head coaches, Christian plans to do more than try to win. Although coming off a tumultuous 8-24 season, and with some key players deciding to seek new opportunities, Christian wants to make his lasting impression through implementing new standards for the team. Despite speaking of his goal to lead the Saints to multiple NCAA Tournament appearances, Christian wants something more to be known about his goals: a new environment for the team.
When accepting the job, Christian was confident from the start about what needed to be done, and how he plans on doing it. Speaking on this, Christian said, “Let’s be excited because we’re going to turn this page in Siena basketball and we’re going to achieve our own set of history – and we’re going to set a new standard that has not been seen before.”
Although the season was months away when he accepted the job, the one thing Christian could immediately take control of was his approach towards the program, and towards the players. When he was hired, he was immediately in contact with the players newly under his wing, being open and communicative towards them, and even giving them an assignment. In an “appreciation project”, Christian required players to contact five people they had not spoken to in some time, just to tell them in what way each person had an impact on their life.
On top of this, Christian stresses the importance of a family atmosphere for the team, even commencing his marriage three days after his hire. He can always be seen with his wife and child and has high hopes for what he can do to turn around not only the team’s record, but the culture of the program. In an interview, Christian said, “My pledge to you is that we’re going to have the most enthusiasm. I’m going to lead our program with the most enthusiasm of any head coach you’ve ever seen.”
While the impressions of his personality and his regime are already being felt across the Saints basketball organization, the effects of his coaching are still yet to be seen. With less than two months to go before the Saints take the court yet again, one can only expect to see a much-improved squad from last year’s showing. With the combination of a new coaching staff, positive sideline energy and a drastically different culture, this has the potential to be the start of something amazing in the history of Siena men’s basketball.