This is the same school that was once known as Loyola of Los Angeles, but a merger with Marymount College in 1973 brought an instant identity crisis in the media. Loyola Marymount is too long to type repeatedly into a laptop computer. And when you're doing play-by-play—"If [Dick] Vitale were doing this one, there'd be a cosmic inversion," said ESPN announcer Roger Twibell—the Lions can rip off half a dozen treys before you can spit out all the syllables.
Nevertheless, simply Marymount will not do. In a WCAC press release last week, the conference admonished the world: "Think of it like calling an ACC school just 'Forest' or a Midwest Independent just 'Dame'.... Never leave your Dickinson without a Fairleigh."
The problem for Loyola Marymount against Oklahoma was that Gathers was without his Kimble—which is to say, a healthy Bo Kimble, the 6'5" jumper-pumping machine who has been Gathers's running and shooting buddy since the ninth grade back in Philadelphia. The pair starred as freshmen at USC and transferred together to LMU, where they have thrived on Westhead's system. Unfortunately, Bo hardly made a peep against the Sooners, his tendinitis-inflamed knee limiting him to 4-for-14 shooting in 16 minutes.
Loyola's disappointing 1-3 record has been a byproduct of Kimble's absence thus far, a d�j� vu of last season, when he missed the first six games with a stress fracture of the patella and the Lions opened 3-3. Upon Kimble's return, LMU went on that 25-0 streak, finally losing to North Carolina in the NCAA tournament in a game that answered the question. What happens when the Lions have a bad shooting night? Loyola rattled off 103 shots against the Heels; 33 went in. The Lions lost 123-97. "Yeah, we were embarrassed, but anybody'll beat us when we shoot 30 percent," says Gathers. "Nine out of 10 times we nail Carolina."
The Lions don't ever get beaten at their own game, you see; they just turn up cold. Obviously, they truly believe in their system: A) Scatter and wave for the steal, but if your man gets by, B) forget about it and let him lay it up so that C) we can grab the ball, inbound it to half court and fire from the half-moon line with the result that D) we get three while they get two and E) we win 180-120. Next?
Westhead, who is best remembered for coaching the Lakers to the 1979-80 NBA title and being fired 11 games into the 1981-82 season, has always been an educator in the truest sense. He wrote his master's thesis at Villanova on Titus Andronicus—behind his back the Lakers called him Shakespeare—and he still teaches a writing class at Loyola.
In turn, Westhead's M.O. takes its cue from Macbeth's contemplation of the murder of Duncan—"If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly...." The Lions try to keep possessions down to seven seconds, and the coach wants the team's fast break to start within a fourth of a second after his inbounder pulls the ball from the net. Prepping for Oklahoma, West-head was at least realistic. "We know we're walking into a trap without enough weapons," he said. "King said if Azusa got 138 on us, the Sooners would go for 180. He might be low."
Conversely, Gathers, playing the supreme Philly street woofer, said of King before the game, "He's good, not great. I don't see him playing much D, or rebounding. He's into letting up, but I don't let people let up. This is a guy I can really get into. I can make a name for myself playing against this guy."
How about it, Stacey?
"Hank should have come to Oklahoma," said the diplomatic King. "I want Loyola in the 80-90 range and us around 130. That'll look good on the r�sum�."