Lorenzo Romar remembers well the days when Loyola-Marymount was the rage of college basketball, when the Lions averaged well over 100 points with a run-and-gun style rarely seen...
Lorenzo Romar remembers well the days when Loyola-Marymount was the rage of college basketball, when the Lions averaged well over 100 points with a run-and-gun style rarely seen before or since.
“They were fun to watch and fun to play against, too,” said the Washington men’s basketball coach, who saw action against some of those LMU teams as a player-coach for Athletes in Action. “Until the last three minutes when your legs turned to glue.”
Memories of those days were revived this week as the Huskies prepared to play the Lions in a game at 12:30 p.m. today in Los Angeles.
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It’s a much different LMU team now than in those days, however. LMU’s run of glory essentially ended in 1990 with the shocking on-court death of Hank Gathers. Bo Kimble, a senior that year, and coach Paul Westhead then left for the NBA, and LMU has rarely made noise since.
UW forward Bobby Jones, a native of nearby Compton, Calif., has vivid memories of the impact that Gathers’ death had on Los Angeles.
“It was on TV a lot,” he said. “It was a crazy time. But it’s going to be fun going back there.”
Jones knows more about LMU than most a couple of former high-school teammates played for the Lions last season and he’s expecting a tough game today.
The Lions are in their fifth season under former Eastern Washington coach Steve Aggers, and they have made steady progress since he took over, going from 9-19 in his first year to 15-14 last season.
They’re 5-1 now, but the wins have come against the likes of Monmouth and South Alabama, and the loss to UC Riverside.
Washington, ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press poll, will be the first ranked nonconference team to play at LMU since Utah in 1997.
Jones compared the game to Washington’s upset of No. 1 Stanford late last season, when the Huskies knew they could make a big splash by beating a team perceived to be a heavy favorite.
“They’re kind of in the same situation we were in, only it’s at the beginning of the season,” Jones said. “But it’s the kind of game where if they won it would be a big boost to their program. We can’t underestimate anybody. … We’ve done a good job of not playing down to the competition so far.”
Still, on paper, this game doesn’t loom as much of a threat for UW. LMU has no starters taller than 6-8 and has been narrowly outrebounded for the season, meaning it is unlikely to take advantage of what appears to be UW’s lone real weakness a lack of bulk inside.
LMU does average 75 points per game and has proved dangerous from beyond the arc, shooting 42.9 percent on three-pointers.
“I wouldn’t call them a deliberate team, but they are definitely not a run-and-shoot team,” Romar said. “They do a little bit of everything pretty good.”
UW, though, has made its last two opponents Eastern Washington and San Diego State look exceedingly feeble. UW used suffocating defense to jump out to big leads early in each game and never looked back. The defensive revival came after UW’s loss at Gonzaga, in which the Bulldogs shot 58.9 percent.
“So far, our shots have been going down every game,” Jones said. “But it’s always going to be like that, so our defense has to be there.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org