Loyola Marymount and Cal State Dominguez Hills closed the basketball season with appearances in the NCAA regionals and a number of school and national records.
In reaching 20 victories apiece, each overcame the loss of key players and got stellar years from their centers. You might say the post man rang early and often.
Loyola got it done with offense, breaking the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. scoring record by averaging 112.5 points per game. Loyola set records for points in a game (181), points in a half (94) and combined points (331) in a game. All those records came in a 181-150 victory over U.S. International in January.
The Lions also led the nation in three-point shots made per game, averaging 9.3. Individually, Loyola is believed to have set a record when both Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble scored 40 points against Gonzaga. The NCAA has no record of teammates scoring 40 or more in a previous game. Gonzaga’s Doug Spradley also scored 40 in that game, and the NCAA has no record of three players in the same game scoring 40 or more previously.
Gathers, who had one of the most prolific scoring seasons in NCAA history, only needs the final NCAA stats to be declared the second Division I player to lead the nation in both scoring (32.7) and rebounding (13.7). (Xavier McDaniel of the Seattle SuperSonics led the NCAA in both at Wichita State in 1984-85.) Gathers’ 1,015 points is the 11th highest total in NCAA history.
The Lions’ 20-11 finish was their second straight 20-win season and they made their second straight NCAA appearance by winning a second consecutive West Coast Athletic Conference tournament. It marked the third time in Coach Paul Westhead’s four seasons that Loyola has made postseason play. His accomplishment is more impressive considering the absence of Kimble for much of the season due to knee surgery.
Dominguez Hills ended on a winning note, beating Sonoma State, 98-77, in the Division II Western Regional consolation game to finish at 20-10. It was Coach Dave Yanai’s fifth 20-win season at Dominguez Hills and was accomplished with a relatively young team and despite the loss of a starter who left for religious reasons.
The Toros also suffered a sputtering offense much of the season but won with a consistent defense, allowing only 61.2 points per game to rank third nationally. The Toros set team records for most free throws made (455) and free throw percentage (.740). The Toros also enjoyed a school-record nine-game winning streak and played in a school-record five overtime games.
Most of the individual news was made by senior center Anthony Blackmon, who was the California Collegiate Athletic Assn.'s most valuable player. Blackmon led the conference in scoring (19.7) and rebounding (9.8) and set school records for rebounds in a season (293) and career (885). Blackmon also finished second in career scoring with 1,468 points.
Blackmon finished his college career playing in the most Dominguez Hills games ever (114). He set Toro records for blocked shots in a season (37) and career (95) and established a school mark for career free-throw percentage (.743).
Getting Technical--Paul Westhead’s pet peeve in his four seasons at Loyola has been opponents’ interference with the basketball after scoring. Loyola likes to grab the ball and get it in-bounds quickly. By the rules, teams that touch the ball after scoring get a delay-of-game warning, then get technical fouls for subsequent interference. West Coast Athletic Conference officials know Westhead well enough to issue early warnings.
That proved to be a sticking point for the Lions in the NCAA Regional at Indianapolis. Arkansas got a delay warning early in the game, but when Razorback players later grabbed the ball, Westhead protested to officials--rightly--and was hit with a technical. But he got his point across.
As the second half was beginning, Westhead approached the officials and loudly announced, “We now know the rule.” Early in the second half, an Arkansas player scored, caught the ball and handed it to a Loyola player. Arkansas was hit with a technical foul, and the two free throws helped Loyola cut an 18-point deficit to six. “That’s 25 minutes late,” Westhead told the officials. This time, Arkansas Coach Nolan Richardson was the irate one.
“But he gave it to the player,” Richardson told the officials, who said in turn it was still a violation. “Oh, that’s really technical stuff,” Richardson said. “What about verticality? You guys talked about calling verticality all summer but you don’t call it. How about verticality?” Richardson didn’t get any “verticality” calls, either.
Afterward, Westhead explained, “When you’re a running team the ball must be available the instant it’s in the basket. We need the ball to be available to do our thing. We already let you score, what more do you want? Give us our thing; we gave you the basket.”
Richardson admitted the delay-of-game call was by the book but said he’d never seen it called before. “That’s the first time I ever got a technical for giving him the ball,” he said. “The rule is you’re not supposed to touch it. I didn’t know it was a two-shot technical. I never saw it before. I really didn’t quite understand it.”
Westhead suffered the dismissal of longtime University of Dayton basketball Coach Don Donoher with more than just professional compassion. Westhead and Donoher started together as assistants at Dayton in 1961 under Tom Blackburn. Westhead was an English professor who was recommended for an assistant coaching position by his college coach, Jack Ramsay. “The day I arrived (in Dayton) was the day they hired Donoher as an assistant,” Westhead recalled.
In that preseason, Blackburn was found to have terminal cancer. Early in the season Donoher took over as head coach, with Westhead coaching the freshman team. Westhead moved on, first to a high school coaching job, then as head coach at LaSalle. Donoher held the Dayton reins ever since, going to the NCAA championship game in 1967. Donoher’s teams made eight NCAA appearances but had struggled through three straight losing seasons. A coaching institution in southwest Ohio, he was dismissed over the weekend despite a career record of 437-275. Westhead said his friend was still vitally involved in coaching.
Donoher’s firing appears to be the latest in a what-have-you-done-lately syndrome that is rampant in college athletics. “It’s really something, isn’t it?” Westhead said.
From point guard to hot corner: Loyola Marymount’s softball team has gotten hot since the women’s basketball season ended and Noelle Manfre switched sports two weeks ago. With Manfre at third base, the Lions have won four straight games to improve to 10-8. Over the weekend they swept Whittier and the University of San Diego. First-year Coach Ed Aronin said Manfre put on a clinic against USD on how to play third, with 12 assists. The 5-foot-4 junior also hit a home run. “She practically beat USD herself, just with her defense,” Aronin said. “I’ve never seen that good a ballplayer. I think she’s a legitimate All-American. I think the San Diego coach would say the same thing.”
The Lions play their next game at home Monday against Air Force.
In the shadow of Hank Gathers’ 1,000-point season, junior guard Jeff Fryer quietly scored 710, the third most productive season in Loyola history. Fryer and Gathers (twice) are the only Lions to top 700 points . . . Morningside High graduate Elden Campbell helped lead Clemson to an NCAA opening-round victory over St. Mary’s before falling to Arizona. The 6-10 junior averaged 17 points and 7.5 rebounds this season . . . Lawrence Hom, star hitter for USC out of North Torrance High, ranks fifth in kill average in the Western Intercollegiate Volleyball Assn. Hom is averaging 5.72 kills per game . . . Loyola hitters Sio Saipaia and Chris Young rank eighth and ninth with averages of 4.83 and 4.82 . . . Loyola’s Chuck Donlon ranks 10th in the WIVA in ace average, with 11 in 38 games. Teammate Danny McInerny is tied for ninth in dig average with 2.09 per game.