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Westhead Becomes Latest Loyola Basketball Coach

Times Staff Writer

Apparently undaunted by the sudden defection of one ex-NBA coach back to the pros, Loyola Marymount University named ex-Laker Coach Paul Westhead as its basketball coach Thursday.

Westhead replaced former Clipper Coach Jim Lynam, who departed Loyola last week after a 2 1/2-month stay to become an assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers. Westhead’s contract was reportedly a long-term one.

Like Lynam, Westhead is a graduate of St. Joseph’s of Philadelphia and played there for Jack Ramsay.

Westhead, who will be formally introduced at a press conference today, had little competition for the Loyola job, judging from how quickly he was chosen. Athletic Director Brian Quinn and the screening committee that had picked Lynam met Wednesday and made their decision Thursday.

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Constantly rumored to be in the running for various coaching positions, Westhead had been teaching English at Marymount Palos Verdes College while his daughter Monica attended Loyola.

He seemed to be providing some reassurance about staying at Loyola a while when he said: “I love L.A. I have a personal regard for this town. . . . I’m going to be here a long time. I’m happy to have a long-term agreement.”

It is uncertain whether Westhead, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English, will teach classes.

Westhead, 46, had a 142-105 college coaching record at La Salle College in Philadelphia from 1969 to 1979. His teams made three post-season appearances and he earned NCAA District II Coach-of-the-Year honors in 1974-75 when his team was 22-7. He earlier served as an assistant at St. Joseph’s and the University of Dayton.

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Westhead joined another of the Ramsay disciples, Jack McKinney, with the Lakers in 1979-80, serving as McKinney’s assistant. McKinney was seriously injured in a bicycle accident 13 games into the season and Westhead took over, producing a 51-18 record and an NBA championship.

Westhead and the Lakers went 54-28 the next season but were upset in the playoffs by Houston, and the disenchantment with that failure seemed to carry over to the next season, when Westhead was fired 11 games into the schedule. The Lakers were 7-4, but the team was uninspired and Magic Johnson was unhappy.

Westhead sat out he rest of the season, then tried his hand with the Chicago Bulls. This time, a bad team and a 28-54 record, not a palace revolt, got him fired.

Westhead has since spent his time teaching, running and acting as a basketball adviser on the international circuit, working with the Australian Olympic team in 1983 and running clinics in Ireland the same year.

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