Mark Lovelace enters his third season as an assistant coach at Loyola, but he is hardly a stranger to head coach Jim Whitesell. Lovelace served as one of Whitesell's assistant coaches at Lewis University from 1999-2003. Prior to his arrival in Rogers Park, Lovelace spent one season as the head coach at Saint Mary's University in Winona, Minn.
A tireless recruiter who focuses his efforts in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, Lovelace aided in the Ramblers landing back-to-back highly regarded recruiting classes in 2005 and 2006.
Lovelace has helped Loyola make a 10-game improvement in two short seasons. Last season, the Ramblers posted their best record since 1984-85 and the team got off to its best start since 1965-66. En route to a 19-11 record in 2005-06, Loyola defeated Bradley, which would go on to reach the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, Purdue and Butler, while also sweeping the regular-season series from city and Horizon League rival UIC for the first time in school history. The Ramblers also established a single-season school record by converting .754 of their tries from the free-throw line.
Players have flourished thanks to Lovelace's tutelage as last year guard Blake Schilb became the first Rambler to earn All-America honors in over 20 years. Schilb also earned First Team All-Horizon League accolades for the second straight season, and was hailed as a Third Team Mid-Major All-American by FOXSports.com. Majak Kou earned Horizon League All-Defensive Team honors, while freshman Leon Young was selected to the All-Newcomer Team.
In 2003-04, Lovelace helped the Ramblers to 13 wins, a four-game improvement in the victory column from the previous campaign, and to an appearance in the semifinal round of the Horizon League Championship. Loyola posted season sweeps of UW-Green Bay and Wright State and took two of three meetings from city foe UIC. Picked to finish eighth in the Horizon League Preseason Poll, the Ramblers wound up tied for fourth place.
"Mark has worked with me for seven years, so his experience is very beneficial to the program," Whitesell said. "I rely on him to take care of a lot of the day-to-day ins and outs of the program, whether it be game management, scouting or recruiting, among many others. Because we have worked together for so long, Mark knows what I am looking for when it comes to game, practice or recruiting concerns."
In 2003-04, as the front man at Saint Mary's, Lovelace guided the Cardinals to their most wins in four seasons and to their first three-game winning streak in four years. Saint Mary's limited Cal Tech to a school-record eight field goals and a mere five first-half points in a victory.
An experienced coach, Lovelace has completed tours of duty at the high school, prep school and collegiate levels. He was an integral part of Lewis' success, helping the Flyers to a 78-39 (.667) record and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances in his four seasons in Romeoville. He was Whitesell's right-hand man and recruiting coordinator for three seasons, assisting the Flyers to their most successful back-to-back campaigns in school history from 2001-03. Lovelace helped recruit numerous all-conference players as well as the 2004 Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Year and Division II All-American, Monta McGhee.
Prior to his tenure at Lewis, Lovelace was an assistant coach at Augusta Prep in Georgia and he has also served a stint at Decorah High School in Iowa.
A graduate of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, Lovelace started all 100 games of his collegiate career. As a point guard, he established school records for assists in both a season and a career.
He and his wife Lea , who does contracted work for the Museum of Contemporary Art, are the parents of two children, Noah and Ada.