The coaching carousel might be moving a little slower than normal due to the coronavirus, but it’s still turning for men’s basketball. Today, it stopped turning with an access point aimed at Marquette. Loyola Marymount has announced that they have hired MU associate head coach Stan Johnson to take the men’s basketball head coaching job for the Lions.
Johnson was hired as an assistant by Steve Wojciechowski before the 2015-16 season. He had a near instant impact on the Golden Eagles, as former Arizona State commit Markus Howard made his pledge to Marquette in April of 2016. Johnson’s primary reputation as a coach was as a recruiter, particularly with connections to the West Coast.
Johnson will be taking over a LMU program that went 81-108 in six seasons under Mike Dunlap. The former NBA head coach and LMU graduate went 22-12 in 2018-19 for his best finish in Los Angeles, but went just 8-8 in West Coast Conference play. LMU hasn’t had back to back winning seasons since the 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons, and they haven’t made the NCAA tournament since the legendary 1990 Elite Eight run. With Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, and BYU in the league, Johnson will have his work cut out for him.
This is the second straight offseason that has resulted in Steve Wojciechowski losing an assistant to a head coaching position. Last year it was Holy Cross hiring Brett Nelson, which resulted in the promotion of Jake Presutti to assistant coach. That was really more of a function of timing, as Holy Cross made their move in early July after Bill Carmody resigned in mid-June. At that point, popping an assistant free from some other job was unlikely, so promoting Presutti was the logical move given his familiarity with MU’s operations. This one is happening within the normal sequence of coaching moves, so Wojciechowski’s options for his new third assistant are wide open.
I don’t think it’s an unfair thing to say that Wojciechowski needs to make an impact hire here. Given Marquette’s back-to-back collapses the past two seasons, a change on the coaching staff isn’t the worst thing in the world, even if Johnson was the one doing the heavy lifting on recruiting the top prospects on the radar. Whoever ends up as the new assistant needs to be able to bring something immediately impactful to the table as Wojciechowski’s welcome is quickly wearing out in Wisconsin.