Coach Pat Clatchey: A Baltimore basketball legend

Mount St. Joseph High School, where Coach Pat Clatchey has coached for 30 years, is considered a premier basketball program because of the hard work put in by Coach Clatchey, and staff.

Pat Clatchey has been the head basketball coach at Mount Saint Joseph for 30 years. In those 30 years, a lot has changed in the game of basketball, and just coaching in general, and how coaches treat their student-athletes. I have had the pleasure to know coach Clatchey since I was young. I would always attend his basketball camps, and through those camps, we got to know each other. Coach Clatchey in many ways is an old-school Italian coach. He preaches toughness and defense. He also has a great personality and is just entertaining.

Coach Clatchey, in January of 2020, won his 700th game. Clatchey deserves the recognition of being one of the great high school coaches this town has seen, including Bob Wade, Pete Pompay, and William Cain. So I decided to sit down and ask Clatchey some questions to get his take on things that span his career and life. I also got the privilege to ask Clatchey’s Assistant Coach and professional trainer, coach Jordan. I also went to numerous basketball camps and have been able to get to know coach Jordan. Jordan has been a part of the Mount St. Joseph coaching staff for a couple of years now.

Clatchey has seen a lot of change in basketball and the Mount during his time at Saint Joe. From the prominent role the three-point has taken in basketball and the building of the smith center, Clatchey has had to adapt to a lot of changes. When I asked Coach what changed the most since he started coaching, he said, “Well, this is my thirtieth year coaching here; there have been a lot of changes, but I would say the most obvious is going to be the influence of AAU basketball, and probably social media.” Clatchey, to those who know him, is well known for being against AAU basketball. When asked about AAU, Coach said, “It involves more people in the player’s circle than needed.” In my time knowing Clatchey, he would go on long rants about AAU basketball and how it is killing the game. Coach often cites how it is a money grab and not real basketball due to the absence of the team aspect. AAU is like 5 1v1s at the same time.

I asked coach Jordan how AAU and social media have affected his coaching at MSJ and his job as a personal trainer. “My training business with social media helps me promote and reach out to others.” Jordan said, “In terms of basketball, it’s made it harder to recruit. A lot of kids feel now they are superstars…most kids feel like a star, and as a coach, you feel obligated to adjust with what they do. They feel entitled that social media praises them.” Coach Jordan adds this about coach Clatchey, “What the coach says is what the players should listen to, unlike social media.”

Clatchey had also recently been invited to watch a Cleveland Cavaliers practice. With such changes in the sport, I asked Coach if his philosophy had changed in his 30 years of coaching. He said, “As years go by, you know more and different concepts from college coaches and pro coaches, and did you know I spent a lot of time studying coaches in Europe and look to learn and improve and better myself as a coach. So I would say some changed, but some stayed the same.” I asked the same question to coach Jordan, and he said, “I have been around Coach for about 7 years now. He has changed since he started. Of course, when he first started, they weren’t that good…His core values have not changed, but he has changed based on the generation of players because, of course, each generation is different.”

Coach Clatchey has also coached some truly great players. From Jaylen (Stix) Smith to Dino Gregory, he has had some legends on his team. So I asked Coach Clatchey: What player do you think made the biggest leap that you coached? Coach Clatchey commented, “I can throw out a lot of names, and most recently, it would probably have to be Jason Edokpayi his senior year. He was a guy who always had some talent and ability, but he could never be consistent for some reason. Then his senior year, he was outstanding and helped us win the championship, and he put him into a position to get a college scholarship.”

Also, Clatchey has played against some truly great teams, so I asked him: What is the best team you have ever coached against? He said, “Probably the team that in 2006, well we were 32-0 and we lost our last game to DeMatha, and I probably think that was the most talented team that we have played against. Just for the fact that they probably had about ten or eleven Divison I players, and every one of those guys was capable of scoring double figures. Then we played Oak Hill, I think it was around the same time in 2008; they were very good, and I think we lost by 8. In the league, there are a lot of great teams, but those two are probably the best.”

I followed up and asked if he ever coached against Carmelo Anthony and if he was the best player he’s coached against, and he said, “I did…Well, I don’t know about that we beat them by 28 his junior year. He was good. Rudy Gay played in our league and never won a game against us. He was good. We have had some good players and a good team too.”

Clatchey surprised me with a lot of answers, especially on how the game changed. Clatchey has seen a lot of change in his 30 years of coaching. He is a bank of basketball knowledge from leaving the MSA to joining the MIAA and seeing many Hall of Famers caliber players during his time as a coach. All in all, I think there is no more knowledgeable man about the game of basketball in this area. Coach Clatchey is truly a legend!

Andy Rossbach is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.