Union lawyer Rob Ades is a true college basketball fan, case closed

By John Feinstein
Monday, December 21, 2009; 5:10 PM

While most people who didn't have to be outside were content to watch it snow Saturday, Rob Ades got in his car and attempted to drive from his home in the Watergate to Baltimore: to see the Loyola basketball team play Howard.

Ades makes his living as a union lawyer. He represents, among others, the DC police and whenever there is a shooting involving a police officer in the District, Ades is called to the scene, regardless of the hour of the day or night.

But his true love is basketball, especially the college game. So more as a sidelight than anything else, Ades has represented various coaches though the years. Some have been big names: Gary Williams, Jim Boeheim, Digger Phelps, Jeff Van Gundy, Mike Jarvis, Leonard Hamilton. Of all the coaches Ades has represented, he is closest to Jimmy Patsos, the former Maryland assistant who is in his sixth season at Loyola. Friends half-jokingly refer to Ades as Patsos's general manager. Ades frequently travels on the road with the Greyhounds, usually on the team bus. During Patsos's first four seasons, Ades, who runs a big-time law firm in real life, didn't miss a game, home or away. When the 'Hounds -- as he lovingly calls them -- are at home, Ades often changes seats during the game, in part because of nerves, in part because it makes it tougher for the officials to spot him when he occasionally disagrees with a call.

Patsos has made great strides at Loyola. He took over a program that had gone 1-27 in 2004 and moved it forward in each of his first four seasons going from six wins to 15 to 18 and then 19. The last two seasons the 'Hounds finished tied for third in the Metro Atlantic. After 13 years as an ACC assistant, the adjustment wasn't easy for Patsos. The recruiting budget was a lot different, and so was the response to the first phone call from a lot of players: "Loyola, where's that? Chicago? You're not at Maryland anymore? Who took your place -- how do I get in touch with him?"

Patsos is part-coach, part-cheerleader, part-fundraiser and also part-Williams. His routine on the bench is similar to his old boss: He screams at referees, screams at players, screams at assistant coaches and will occasionally scream at Ades simply because he's always right there.

Loyola was 19-11 two seasons ago and had a 17-point lead in the MAAC semifinals against Siena (which went on to reach the second round of the NCAA tournament) before losing in overtime. Last season was a step back, a very young team going 12-20. Patsos referred to his "young basketball team" so often, it felt as if those three words has become part of the team's name. But this season is supposed to be better: Everyone is a year older, 6-foot-9 Maryland transfer Shane Walker is eligible and the 'Hounds should contend in the MAAC.

That said, the season hasn't started quite the way Patsos or Ades had hoped. There have been losses to Mount St. Mary's and Coppin State. The first conference road trip was the toughest one -- to Canisius and Niagara, tough places to get to in July, much less December. Both resulted in losses. But as Ades will quickly point out, there's a lot of basketball left, including a trip Tuesday to Indiana, a non-conference game next week against Bucknell and 16 more conference games.

"The over-under," he insisted earlier this month, "is 20 wins."

Ades has seen a lot of basketball, been around a lot of coaches and knows the sport inside and out. Around the 'Hounds, he's a suffering fan. At the start of one game last season, Loyola lost the opening tipoff. Ades slapped his hand against the media table, shook his head and said. "We've been terrible on the opening tipoff all season long." When Rider scored on the opening possession, he threw his hands in the air and said, "You see, I told you. That's it. We're done."

He was right: Loyola lost on a controversial basket at the buzzer. Ades knew the outcome two hours earlier.

Exactly why Loyola and Howard opted to play Saturday no one knows. Actually someone probably does know: The game was on MASN and TV exposure of any kind is like gold to mid-major programs. There probably weren't 100 people in Reitz Arena at tipoff, but Johnny Holliday and Kevin Grevey had made it there to call the game and so had the MASN truck. Ades wasn't there. He was sitting on the Beltway, like a few other brave (or not terribly bright) souls who had made their way outdoors.

"I got stuck," he said. "Just couldn't move. I had to wait for some people to come and dig me out."

By then, even if he had been foolish enough to try to continue north, he never would have made the game. He was relieved when he finally got home to hear that the 'Hounds had won, 85-51.

"Lot of season left," he said. "We've still got some improving to do, but we're getting better."

There aren't many true fans out there. Most are, to quote former Ohio State coach John Cooper, with their team, "win or tie." Ades is with Patsos and the 'Hounds win, lose or snow -- even if he gets stuck on the Beltway trying to get there.

For more from the author, visit his blog at http://www.feinsteinonthebrink.com

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