Preview: Loyola Marymount Lions

Loyola Marymount coach Max Good's team likely will be a WCC contender in 2013-14. Marc Sanchez/Icon SMI

Loyola Marymount Lions

2012-13: 11-23 (1-15 WCC)
In-conference offense: 0.91 points per possession (9th)
In-conference defense: 1.09 points per possession (7th)

After an atrocious regular season in which Loyola Marymount lost its last 13 conference games, the Lions might have enough this season to finish in the top half of the WCC.

Projected starting lineup

Despite the free fall during the second half of the season, Max Good's team had a strong showing in the WCC tournament, winning three straight games before falling to eventual champion Gonzaga in the semifinal. And the Lions get some talent back.

All-WCC guard Anthony Ireland returns, which is good news, as no team in Division I relies on a player more than LMU does the 5-foot-10 guard. His combination of floor time and usage rate is unparalleled in the conference (and nearly nationwide). Ireland was on the floor 93 percent of the time and took 31 percent of his team's shots during those minutes -- meaning his 105 offensive rating was more than respectable given his team's anemic offensive output. Other than Ireland, only senior guard Ayodeji Egbeyemi and senior forward Godwin Okonji posted offensive ratings above 100, and both did so with usage rates under 20 percent.

Even though the team lost a lot of games last season, the Lions have some experience. Aside from Ireland, Good will feature three other seniors and a junior. Okonji and senior forward Alex Osborne are solid offensive rebounders and have defensive tools to go along with their experience. Egbeyemi and junior guard Chase Flint will play supporting roles.

Good also hauled in an excellent recruiting class that features two three-star players: 6-10 center Patson Siame and 6-foot shooting guard Nino Jackson. Siame's size and skill set make it likely that he'll have an immediate impact on the interior this season. Jackson is a dynamic guard who was originally a 2012 LMU commit before reclassifying for a year. The duo headlines a class that also includes two-star players Gabe Levin and Evan Payne.

It's often difficult to project how well a freshman will do, especially at the mid-major level. Still, it seems like Siame and Jackson have the potential to contribute in meaningful ways from the outset.

With Ireland leading an experienced squad with talented youth, a top-five finish is not out of reach for the Lions.

Projected conference finish: 5th