Team preview: Loyola-Chicago
Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2004-05 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.
While he was coaching for 12 years at Lewis University in suburban Chicago, Jim Whitesell observed the Loyola program from afar. He always thought it would be a promising opportunity. He loved the lakeshore campus and, in fact, would occasionally make a point of passing through on his bicycle rides.
On April 14, Loyola invited Whitesell to get up close and personal, handing him the reins of the basketball program that won an NCAA championship back in 1963. The Loyola administration decided to make a change, pulling the plug on the Larry Farmer era.
As athletic director John Planek shopped around, Whitesell was a name that kept getting mentioned, based on his strong ties to Chicago and his success competing in the nation's best Division II conference at Lewis. A team from the Great Lakes Valley Conference has played for the D-II national championship for the last decade. One of them was coached by Bruce Pearl at Southern Indiana; for the last three years, Pearl has had Wisconsin-Milwaukee at (or near) the top of the Horizon League standings.