Good in familiar territory

The West Coast Conference officially lists Loyola Marymount’s record as 3-27. Coach Max Good says his team is 2-4.

To paraphrase George C. Scott in the movie "Patton," the WCC has its schedule and Good has his.

Good, who succeeded Bill Bayno as the Lions’ coach on Jan. 12, a month after Bayno took a medical leave of absence, changed things up six games ago. He gave up on an ineffective zone defense and installed halfcourt trapping and man-to-man pressure. The Lions are playing better as a result.

"At one point we were down to eight players. We had to play zone to protect our numbers," said Good, the former UNLV coach who returns to Las Vegas today to tip off the WCC tournament at the Orleans Arena. The eighth-seeded Lions play fifth-seeded San Diego at 6 p.m.

"We’ve got enough guys back to where we can pressure man-to-man, and we’ve been in (contention) in five of our last six games."

This isn’t the first time Good has come out of the bullpen to replace Bayno. Good joined Bayno’s UNLV staff in 2000 as an assistant and was elevated to head coach that December when the school fired Bayno as a result of NCAA violations.

Amid almost daily rumors that Rick Pitino was ready to become the Rebels’ next coach, Good led the team to a 13-9 record, but he wasn’t retained after the season. Pitino took the Louisville job, and UNLV hired Charlie Spoonhour.

"We had the NCAA investigation and all the Rick Pitino rumors," Good said. "We couldn’t play in the Mountain West tournament, which bothered me. Those kids had nothing to do with the NCAA investigation.

"… (At Loyola Marymount), we didn’t have any of that to deal with. I never worried about (the transition to head coach) for a second. All I wanted was for Billy to have serenity and peace."

Bayno has regained his health and is back in the NBA as a player development coach for the Portland Trail Blazers. Good is in the first year of a six-year contract, giving him the luxury of considering the last six games as the starting point for his program.

"These kids come to practice with such resolve every day," he said. "I want them to believe that they can win every game. I’d like to think we wouldn’t be shocked if we beat the (Boston) Celtics. But that’s not realistic."

Beating San Diego is realistic, however, because the Lions did it on Feb. 12 for their first conference win, 65-57. They outworked the Toreros that night, and Good said it will take a similar effort tonight to advance to the WCC quarterfinals.

"I told our guys that if they want to go partying or sightseeing, do it on their own time," Good said. "We’re coming to Vegas for one reason — to win some games."

A victory or two this weekend would help stabilize the foundation that Good is trying to build. He has two of the WCC’s top freshmen in Jarred DuBois and Kevin Young. A couple of Division I redshirt transfers — guard Larry Davis from Seton Hall and forward Drew Viney from Oregon — are waiting in the wings.

"Our talent level will quadruple next year," Good said. "We’re going to get this thing turned around sooner than later. You know me; I’m not a very patient man."

Neither was Patton.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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