Loyola Marymount University has reconvened its screening committee to select a basketball coach and probably will focus quickly on a handful of candidates.
A university spokesman said the school may have a coach to replace Jim Lynam by the end of the week--and no later than mid-July. Lynam, the former Los Angeles Clippers coach, left Loyola last week to take an assistant coaching position with the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Assn.
This time around, the committee will be under the guidance of new Athletic Director Brian Quinn, who officially begins Monday but has been holding meetings. Loyola was in effect without an athletic director when Lynam was hired.
Meanwhile, Father James N. Loughran, president of Loyola Marymount, said this week he does not feel that the program was damaged by Lynam’s sudden departure. “In fact, we’ve made some progress,” Loughran said. “It’s not all lost.
“I’m disappointed, chagrined he’s leaving, but I did a lot of thinking and I learned a lot and I think we set up some things that will help us (with the new selection).”
Loughran said he would not be discouraged from hiring another well-known coach if he seemed to be the best candidate. “We want to find the person we think is best for the university--and Jimmy fit that. We didn’t want to gamble. We wanted someone we could be pretty confident would get us going after years of not going.”
Loyola may be missing out on the scouting of recruits in the numerous summer leagues around the state and the nation, but Loughran said recruiting is “long-distance” at this time and not essential. He also said the players “seem to be taking it (the coaching change) well.” He had consulted with the team last March before hiring Lynam.
Most of the candidates’ names should be fresh to the screening committee, since it decided on Lynam a little more than two months ago after sifting through several dozen serious contenders. Lynam replaced Ed Goorjian in early April.
Loyola may be looking at another former NBA coach, ex-Lakers and Bulls Coach Paul Westhead, who was a candidate the last time the job opened. Reached at his Palos Verdes Peninsula home this week, Westhead had not been contacted by the school and said, “It’s a terrific university. . . . It would be a nice situation (but) I can’t really respond . . . (unless) they approach me.” Westhead has been teaching English and coaching at Marymount Palos Verdes College on the Peninsula. His daughter attended Loyola.
Others thought to be under consideration include Loyola assistant Jay Hillock, who recently resigned his head coaching position at Gonzaga to join Lynam’s staff, and El Camino College Coach Paul Landreaux, who applied the last time around. Hillock was a respected coach in the West Coast Athletic Conference and knows Loyola’s personnel. At least one player, star guard Keith Smith, feels Hillock would be a logical and acceptable choice.
Landreaux, considered a defensive expert, won his second community college state title in five years in March and Loyola has reportedly been receiving supportive calls from his friends.