A Lion Returns
Mike Dunlap returns to his alma mater to serve as Head Men's Basketball Coach.
March 12, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- Loyola Marymount University Athletics Director Dr. William Husak announced on Wednesday that Mike Dunlap, a 1980 graduate of LMU, has been hired as the 26th head coach of the men's basketball program. Dunlap returns to the Westchester campus with more than 30 years of college and NBA coaching experience.
"I am very excited at the prospect of Mike Dunlap leading the Lions into the future," said Husak. "Mike brings to the position a wealth of experience both as a head coach and as an assistant working under and with some of the best coaches in the collegiate and professional basketball world."
"I love the challenge of coming to LMU, and love the fact I am going back home," said Dunlap. "I am really comfortable with the Southern California and Northern California student-athlete that is going to end up at LMU, and I think this is a great fit."
Known for his player development and on-the-floor coaching, Dunlap was most recently the head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats for the 2012-2013 season, becoming the first coach in NBA history to win three times as many games as the year before. He also spent time with the Denver Nuggets, recently served as a top assistant at Arizona, Oregon, and St. John's, and won a pair of NCAA Division II National Championships at Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colo. He began coaching right after graduating from LMU and he brings that experience back home.
"His reputation is founded on being an outstanding player development coach and a game strategist of the highest level," said Husak. "I would think that any player we currently have in our program or is committed to LMU would want to have the opportunity to develop and play under Mike Dunlap's tutelage. His former players and coaches who have worked with him have provided me with anecdotes and feedback that their experience playing for and working with Mike was rewarding and transforming."
Before arriving in Charlotte, Dunlap spent six years as an assistant coach in the professional and college ranks. Prior to his work as an assistant, he spent nine seasons as the head coach at Metro State, leading his teams to the national titles in 2000 and 2002 while earning NABC Division II Coach of the Year honors in both of those seasons. Coach Dunlap, whose teams went to the NCAA Tournament in each of his nine seasons, posted an overall record of 248-50 (.832), winning five Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference titles.
"The key to my journey back to Loyola Marymount is that I have gained the experience that allows this to be the perfect time to fit in at LMU," said Dunlap. "The reason I am excited about the fit right now is that the right administration and student-athlete are in place. Max Good and his staff have put in a very solid foundation and leaves us with a very solid situation, and it just makes sense for me to come back to LMU. This is the right time to be here."
In 2006, Coach Dunlap left Metro State to become an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets under George Karl. In two seasons with the Nuggets, he helped the team to a 95-69 record that included a 50-win season in 2007-08, the team's first in 23 years.
"No coach or coaching staff can expect their players to develop without hard work in the gym," said Dunlap. "Whether that is in the gym to watch and recruit a player, or being on the floor with the players. Being in the gym with the players is my favorite part. That is where development happens. It is a time-related endeavor."
Dunlap then spent the 2008-09 season as associate head coach at the University of Arizona under legendary coach Lute Olson and the 2009-10 season as associate head coach on Ernie Kent's staff at the University of Oregon before joining Steve Lavin at St. John's in 2010. During the 2011-12 season, he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the team and served as acting head coach in all but four games while Lavin recovered from surgery to treat prostate cancer.
"Mike's recruiting network, both nationally and internationally, is extensive. He understands the type of basketball player we need to be successful in the WCC," said Husak. "He also appreciates what the academic challenges are at LMU as well as the expectation for recruiting athletes of high character and integrity. The reason that he understands is because he is an alum, who was a former player and coach for the Lions. It is great to have an alum leading the Lions. Mike Dunlap's arrival as our head coach indeed signals that he is the right person to lead our program for years to come."
Dunlap's previous head coaching experience also includes three seasons with the Adelaide 36ers in Australia's National Basketball League and five seasons at California Lutheran University. From 1994-97, he led the 36ers to a 59-33 record (.641) and three straight appearances in the NBL Final Four, including advancing to the Grand Final game in 1995.
Before going to Australia, Dunlap was head coach at Division III California Lutheran from 1989-94, where his teams posted an 80-54 record (.597) and won three straight Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles from 1992-94, while also advancing to the Sweet 16 in 1992 and 1994.
"The life blood of any program is recruiting, and I feel I can go into New York, California, Australia, all over the world and have a chance to recruit players," said Dunlap. "My background not only allows me to recruit but to compete against the best coaches in the world, from the NBA to college. I have been fortunate to be a part of every level of basketball in the US and that background is going to help."
His college coaching experience also includes five seasons with the Lions (1980-85), one season at the University of Iowa (1985-86) and three seasons at the University of Southern California (1986-89).
A native of Fairbanks, Alaska, Dunlap earned an associate of arts degree in science from Pierce College in 1978, before attaining a bachelor's degree in English from Loyola Marymount University in 1980.