Mike Dunlap brings a vast amount of experience and leadership to a Loyola Marymount team that is still working to find its identity. The first-year head coach has received high praise from LMU’s athletic department and the Los Angeles community surrounding the small Jesuit school.
But bringing Dunlap on board wasn’t an easy task for Loyola Marymount.
In order to hire the former Charlotte Bobcats’ head coach, LMU would have to say goodbye to Max Good, the Lions’ head coach for the past six years – which is exactly what they did. In early March, Loyola Marymount opted not to renew coach Good’s contract, a decision that did not sit over well with many members of the LMU community.
March 6, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Loyola Marymount Lions head coach Max Good instructs against the Portland Pilots during the first half of the WCC Basketball Championships at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Throughout his tenure as the Lions’ head honcho, Good compiled a 77-117 record. However, he was quite popular amongst Lions fans, picking up the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year Award in 2012 after leading the Lions to a 21-win season. The end of that glorious “above .500” season had LMU fans practically eating out of the palm of Coach Good’s hands.
But easy come, easy go.
Following his award-worthy performance in the West Coast Conference, Coach Good put up back-to-back losing seasons for the Lions, with a last place finish in 2013-14.
Because of Mike Dunlap’s departure from the NBA and the end of Good’s contract, Loyola Marymount saw an opportunity and pounced on it. Dunlap got the job; Good went on to become an assistant coach at UNLV, receiving a newly-created position by the university.
Now, some are still upset with LMU’s decision of letting Max Good find opportunities elsewhere, saying that his team was plagued by injuries and that he was placed in an unfair position. This may not necessarily be wrong, but when you look at what Dunlap brings to the table, I believe it’s clear to see that Loyola Marymount made the right decision.
First and foremost, it’s important to always keep in mind that Mike Dunlap coached in the greatest basketball league in the world. You can knock him for the Bobcats’ less-than-impressive record during his tenure, but think about this: Dunlap led a team that was owned by Michael Jordan and competed against the likes of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Sure, his career there didn’t last, but regardless, for a small program like Loyola Marymount to get a former NBA coach is outstanding.
Most importantly, though, is that Mike Dunlap specializes in player development. This is the section of his resume that skyrockets him ahead of all other potential candidates. And I believe this is where we see an improvement over Max Good.
The Lions have a star centerpiece in sophomore guard Evan Payne, who (if you haven’t watched recently) is tearing up the WCC. The amount of untapped talent that Payne possesses is outstanding, and it gives hope to a LMU fan base that hasn’t had much to cheer about the past couple seasons.
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But in order for Evan to get to that point, he’s going to need someone there who can properly guide him in the right direction and unleash his full potential. And there is no one more qualified to do so than Mike Dunlap. The new head coach is aware of Payne’s abilities on the court and plans to construct his future teams around the young guard.
With Dunlap leading the way, for all we know, Payne could put up some serious challenges to Anthony Ireland, one of the best players to go through Loyola Marymount’s program. The potential is there, and with a development specialist like Dunlap taking the reigns, we could see a very powerful Lions team within the next couple years.
I’m excited to see what Mike Dunlap can do with this team, but let’s also thank Max Good for his time with LMU. Good is an amazing coach, and I don’t doubt that he’s going to find much success over at UNLV. Heck, they already took down the Arizona Wildcats this season, so obviously he’s doing something right.
Thank you for the years at LMU, coach Good.
Mike Dunlap: We can’t wait to see what the next couple seasons have in store for this Loyola Marymount program.