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Men's Head Coach Steve Aggers

 

 

 

 

 

Loyola Marymount basketball

 
 

Coach Steve Aggers is heading into his 3rd year as the head coach of the Lions, and his 29thth season overall in college basketball.  We'd like to thank Coach Aggers for taking the time to take part in our Coaches Survey Series.

 

(CHN) 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 fine.

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 the NCAA?
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 speak.

(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


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