Departed Loyola Marymount University basketball player Steve Haney said he loves L.A. and already misses his teammates but won't be back because of "a serious lack of communication between Coach (Paul) Westhead and myself," which he felt "couldn't be resolved."
Haney, a sophomore who left school a day before Loyola's first game and returned to his family's home in Lansing, Mich., started the last 15 games of his freshman year and finished second on the team in scoring. He started in an exhibition game three weeks ago against the University of Victoria but didn't shoot well--shooting is his forte--and apparently was told he would be replaced by freshman Enoch Simmons in the starting lineup.
However, Haney figured to see plenty of action as third guard. In Loyola's opener Westhead had only seven healthy players.
Reached in Lansing, where it was snowing, Haney said: "I'm not regretting it, but it had to be something pretty serious to leave L.A. If you've ever seen Michigan, you know what I mean."
Door Is Open
Westhead said he "had nothing against" Haney and said the door is open if he wants to return. Haney said that won't happen.
"Not even a possibility," he said. "It's too bad. I really loved the school and my teammates. They were more like brothers than teammates. (But) there are certain things you can't justify. There was no way in my mind I could stay. It's too bad. It was a perfect situation. I'm not a fool. I didn't want to leave."
Haney's decision seems hasty to many associated with the program--including Westhead--and Haney said his parents "kind of wanted me to stay."
However, after the Victoria game Haney had a conversation with Westhead that he said forced his hand. Westhead reportedly told him he wouldn't be starting and needed to work on his defense.
"In my mind that (talk) made things bad enough to the point I wanted to quit," Haney said. "It's nothing against Enoch (Simmons). Enoch and I are real good friends. I didn't understand how somebody who hadn't played a day in college could take over the job from one of the top returning guards in the conference. I just couldn't justify that. If I could, I would have stayed."
Presence on Boards
Simmons outplayed Haney against Victoria, scoring 18 points and lending a presence on the boards that Haney didn't, and scored 20 points against Azusa Pacific in Loyola's official opener.
Haney starred at Lansing Everett High School, the alma mater of the Lakers' Magic Johnson, who steered him toward Loyola, where the Lakers practice.