How satisfied are you with the 'state of the program'? What do you
thinkis needed for your program to the reach the next level?
We took over this program in April two years ago when they were
coming off a 2-26 season in which they let the former coaching staff
go. We were forced to play our first season with 7 scholarship players
and 3 walk-ons. But that team overachieved and finished tied for 5th
in our league with U. of San Francisco. We spent a lot of time mending
fences and building bridges. Changing attitudes and establishing our
culture and value system. Year two saw us make big strides in the
rebuilding process with good early season road wins against Long Beach
State and at Texas A & M - We then came home to beat eventual Big West
champ and NCAA tournament team U.C. Santa Barbara--lost by two at home
to UNLV and after leading 18th ranked USC by 9 at the half we got beat
and seemed to lose our confidence and never really regained our form.
West Coast Conference action was tough but we did graduate all 7 of
our seniors and had a good recruiting class. Rebuilding a program from
the ground up takes time, patience, and involves up and down efforts
where some days things look good and others it is tough. Nobody said
it would be easy - if it were then there would never be any triumphs.
As we begin year 3 we are excited about our young team - we
recruited 5 good freshmen, brought in two more freshmen walk-ons that
will redshirt and bring back a good big man who redshirted last year.
The other side of that coin is we only have two seniors - so we will
have more growing pains and as our team gains experience we will be
The state of the program is upward and good thing are happening. We
have rebuilt our summer camps/ started coaching clinics for area high
school coaches/ brought a huge summer AAU tournament on to our campus/
started a new Tip-Off dinner for alumni and had Hall of Fame coach
Pete Newell as our first guest speaker---Pete is an LMU graduate
(played here from 1935-1939) then this year was year two for the
dinner and we had Paul Sunderland the new voice of the L.A. Lakers as
our guest speaker--Paul is also an LMU alum and former Olympic Gold
Medalist in volleyball. Our attendance has doubled and we have
reconnected with our student body - So we are excited and enthusiastic
about our future - good things are happening. The rebuilding job is
certainly harder because of all the great coaches in the West Coast
Conference and the good teams like Gonzaga and Pepperdine. But in the
late 1980's Loyola Marymount dominated this league and our goal now is
to Restore the Roar to the Lion program. Go Lions!
(CHN) On a similar note, what do you feel about the current state of
Are there any major problems with the institution of College Basketball?
This is the greatest game around and it fast becoming the
world's game. Having all the great players leaving college to go into
the NBA has hurt the continuity of the college game and kept the good
teams from putting together 2 or three great years in a row. Unless
you are Duke or Michigan State or even Gonzaga. The NCAA has taken a
great deal of criticism for their stance on increasing the academic
entrance requirements for Division I schools - Core Classes going up
from 13 to 14 - but they have balanced that by going to a more sliding
scale and decreasing the importance of standardized tests for
entrance. I am against the recent influx of more teams trying to
become Division I Universities--it was not too long ago that we had
under 300 Division I schools and now we have 320+ and more Division
II's and small colleges are trying to become Division I schools. I
believe that will be bad for the NCAA and for athletics. I think that
is why the BCS and the major football powers are pushing for an elite
to 50 level of the largest and most powerful 50 Division I schools -
it will be interesting to see what happens.
(CHN)Do you look for specific players to take important leadership
roles each year? Who do you expect to fill that role this season?
I can't ever remember seeing a championship team that didn't have
good leadership from their Junior and Senior class. Older experienced
players that know what it takes are key to most successful teams. That
has been hard for us in rebuilding and we have taken an approach that
we are developing a small "core" group of leaders with one guy from
each class as we search for team leadership - that is one of the
hardest things about rebuilding - finding good team leadership within
the ranks. We are working with our freshmen to develop their
leadership skills so that as the program grows they will begin to
assume more of that responsibility and the coaches less. Our team
captain is redshirt Junior Jason Dickens - a great young man who will
do a fine job for us.
(CHN) How do you feel about the newcomers to this year's squad? Who
do you think will be a major contributor right away?
LMU is a highly respected academic institution with pretty tough
entrance requirements - that has made it hard for us to recruit the
junior college ranks except in rare cases - so we have taken the
stance that we will go with high school kids and have them for 4 or 5
years. I really like our young players they are high energy and
enthusiastic kids with good talent. They just need game experience and
that means growing pains and probably some inconsistency. It will be
fun to grow with them over the next couple of years--we play 30+ games
this year/ are in the Great Alaska Shoot Out and then go to Europe this
May---so I'm looking at this class over a two year span in terms of
their development. They are all high character kids that want to be
good and want to be coached.
They will have to play this year but it sure would have been nice
to redshirt a couple of them. Learn on the job trial by fire so to
(CHN)What are your reasonable expectations for this year's team?
Our expectations are about establishing our values/ goals/
team building/ raising the bar-setting new expectations/ changing the
culture of our program/ and establishing our own new work ethic and
level of intensity. I believe winning will be a by-product of our
efforts. We want to develop our team in non league games/ and get
ready for the rigors of West Coast Conference action by January. We
are all embracing this challenge and working our tails off to be
successful. WE have a 100% graduation rate since our staff has arrived
two years ago - now we need to win more games and be as successful on
the court as we have been in the classroom. Go Lions