Trying to rebound from consecutive seven-win seasons is hard enough. Loyola Marymount must do it without three of its top five scorers and its top three rebounders from last season.
Second-year Coach Charles Bradley must replace Ben Ammerman, Kenny Hotopp and Peter Cornell, who combined to average 27 points and 16.6 rebounds a game.
He plans to do that by running.
“Our front line is not as big, so we have to play more of an up-tempo game,” Bradley said. “Our kids want to play that way. They want more of a fast tempo.”
The key to the fastbreak offense is senior point guard Haywood Eaddy.
Eaddy, at 5 feet 4 the Lions’ shortest player, led the team last season in scoring (15.2 points a game), assists (4.9) and steals (2.1). Rather than passing the ball inside, Eaddy will be called upon to score more.
“Whatever the team needs, I’m going to do it,” Eaddy said. “I’m the leader of this team.”
While Eaddy considers himself the leader, Loyola is a team dominated by seven seniors.
Joining Eaddy in the backcourt is Willie Allen, whose 9.2 scoring average last season is the second best by a returning player.
Tim Kennedy, who began last season starting in the backcourt with Eaddy and finished as a role player , will be counted on as a forward.
Forward Elton Mashack, a sophomore, is the only underclassman in the starting lineup. He started 13 games last season and scored 16 points against Portland State in his first start.
But the most difficult job will be that of 6-11 senior center Silvester Kainga, who has to replace Cornell, Loyola’s most athletic player last season.
“There’s a lot of pressure on those guys to step up,” Bradley said. “They all have to bring something to the table for us to be successful.”
However, success could be tough for the Lions to come by in the West Coast Conference. Loyola, picked to finish last in the conference in the preseason coaches’ poll, hasn’t won the WCC since 1990, also its last NCAA tournament appearance.
To get back there, Bradley has a three-step plan.
The first is to learn how to compete. The second is to learn how to win. And the third is to win consistently.
“We accomplished [step one],” Bradley said. “Even down to the last game when we lost to Gonzaga on a last-second shot, we learned how to compete. Now, we’re showing some signs that we’re learning how to win.”
Those signs came in the exhibition season, when the Lions were 2-0. But Eaddy knows Loyola has a long way to go. “We haven’t won a game that’s mattered yet, so we’re still at that first step,” he said.
To go beyond the first step, Loyola will need an improved defense. Last season, the Lions gave up nearly 82 points a game while scoring 74. With the offense pushing the ball more, the defense will be under even greater pressure, as it was in a 98-92 overtime loss to Long Beach State on Tuesday.
“We can’t be giving up those kind of points,” said Eaddy, who scored 27 against Long Beach.
With seven seniors, the Lions had better quickly figure out how to do that.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
LOYOLA MARYMOUNT AT A GLANCE
Date: Opponent, Time Nov. 17: Long Beach State 98, LMU 92 Saturday: Boise State, 5 Wednesday: Southern California College, 7 Nov. 28: at UC Santa Barbara, 7 Dec. 2: Cal State Fullerton, 7 Dec. 5: San Diego State, 5 Dec. 9: at USC, 7:30 Dec. 12: Pacific, 5 Dec. 19: at Utah, 7:30 Dec. 21: at Xavier, 7 Dec. 29: at UCLA, 7:30 Jan. 2: California Baptist, 3 Jan. 7: at Gonzaga, 7 Jan. 9: at Portland, 7 Jan. 15: San Francisco, 7 Jan. 16: Santa Clara, 7 Jan. 21: at San Diego, 7 Jan. 23: at St. Mary’s, 3 Jan. 29: St. Mary’s, 7 Jan. 30: San Diego, 7 Feb. 3: Pepperdine, 7:30 Feb. 6: at Pepperdine, 5 Feb. 12: at Santa Clara, 7:30 Feb. 13: at San Francisco, 7 Feb. 19: Portland, 7 Feb. 20: Gonzaga, 7 Feb. 27-March 1: WCC Tournament, TBA
No. Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr. 3 Haywood Eaddy G 5-4 140 Sr. 4 Tim Kennedy F 6-5 200 Sr. 12 Willie Allen G 5-11 160 Sr. 20 Mihail Papadopulos G 5-10 165 Sr. 24 Chris Evelyn G 6-1 175 Sr. 30 Robert Davis G 6-3 190 Fr. 31 Leo Saucedo G 6-4 185 Sr. 32 Elton Mashack F 6-5 210 So. 33 Curtis Slaughter G 6-6 180 Fr. 34 Matt Moore F 6-7 240 Fr. 41 Silvester Kainga C 6-11 220 Sr. 42 Ed Wolfe F 6-7 225 Jr. 45 Rupert McClendon G 6-5 215 Jr. 53 Pablo Machado C 6-10 235 Jr.
Scoring: Eaddy, 15.2 ppg
Rebounds: Kennedy, 3.3
Assists: Eaddy, 4.9
Steals: Eaddy, 2.1
FG%: Eaddy, .412
FT%: Eaddy, .835