Loyola Marymount head coach Max Good had been with the Lions for six seasons by the time the 2013-14 basketball season ended, but progress was something that seemed to be escaping the program. By the end of Good’s sixth season, his 77-117 record at the school was certainly nothing to be proud of.
Indeed, it had been a number of years since Good posted a winning season with the program, something he only managed to do twice in his time at LMU. This was made even more disappointing by the fact that star guard Anthony Ireland (18.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg and 5.4 ppg in his senior season) was unable to get the recognition he truly deserved because of his team’s inability to win.
So, the Lions fired Good in March of 2014.
On the surface, it probably seemed like a good decision for Loyola Marymount to fire Max Good four years ago. Considering win percentage alone, it would be easy for an observer to agree with LMU’s decision to get rid of its coach. However, a deeper dive is necessary to understand why it was such a mistake to fire Good.
That dive begins and ends with the incoming recruiting class Good put together for the 2014-15 season.
For what would have been his seventh season with the program, Max Good was going to add two names to his roster that should be familiar to many college basketball fans: Elijah Stewart and Kyron Cartwright.
Both were California natives. Both were backcourt sensations. Stewart was a 4-star recruit and listed as a member of the ESPN100.
Neither of them became LMU Lions.
Indeed, both of those players had already signed letters of intent to Loyola Marymount before Max Good’s firing. After the head coach was let go, both decided that Gersten Pavilion was not where they’d be playing college ball.
Ultimately, both ended up playing for power conference teams, with Stewart deciding to stay in-state and play at USC while Cartwright chose to play for Providence.
Stewart and Cartwright eventually both saw NCAA Tournament action with their respective teams, with both seeing successful junior and seasons (each averaged over 10 points per game in those years).
Now, that’s how productive those two were on teams that were already composed of high level players, which is typical of a power conference team. One can only begin to imagine how efficient and fruitful their efforts would have been when matched up against teams such as Portland and Santa Clara rather than UCLA and Villanova.
Not only that, but these guys would have also been added to a team that already contained Evan Payne and Gabe Levin, two standouts who both transferred to Long Beach State in the wake of Max Good’s firing. Payne was a prolific scorer who was lethal when put alongside Anthony Ireland; Levin was an efficient big guy on a guard-heavy team, who would eventually become an all-Big West first team selection.
No matter how little success Good had seen in the two years prior to his firing, it’s difficult to argue that he shouldn’t have been given another year or two to at least see how a Cartwright, Stewart, Payne, and Levin-led team would have fared. It wasn’t as if LMU was in a position to demand such success.
Patience should have prevailed. Perhaps we’d be talking about another legendary LMU lineup today. Instead, we’re fresh off a 20-loss season, wondering what could have been had the Lions kept Good on board and allowed his incoming class to shine.