For Loyola Marymount, taking down UCLA in the season opener might not end up being the highlight to its season after all.
After an upset win against Saint Louis earlier this week, the Lions have now beaten ranked opponents in consecutive tries for the first time since their emotional run in the 1990 NCAA tournament following the death of star player Hank Gathers.
That's enough to make LMU at least one of the top teams in Southern California, and the Lions are doing it without some of their best players. Drew Viney, the West Coast Conference's second-leading returning scorer, wasn't cleared to practice until Thursday following offseason foot surgery. Ashley Hamilton, who led the upset of UCLA with 23 points, has missed the past three games after suffering a foot injury of his own.
But this year, coach Max Good is unwilling to let injuries slow down the team's progress like they did last season when his roster was decimated. With guard Anthony Ireland averaging 16 points and nearly 4 assists, the Lions look like they're for real after disappointingly tying for last in the WCC last season.
From the Los Angeles Times:
In that 11-21, LMU lost 10 games by a total of 34 points — two of the losses were in double overtime. Injuries to six of the team's top eight players resulted in their sitting out a total of 66 games over the course of the season. For most coaches, that would end the summary.
"Max Good did a terrible job," he says. "I will go to my grave disliking myself for last season."
He says he tried too hard, yelled too much at his players during games and mismanaged the injuries.
But that's gone, or, as Good says, "Nothing gets beat quicker than excuses." He also says, "You're only as good as your next game, not your last one."