Men's Hoops Faces USD, SMC on Road
UPCOMING Â The rapidly improving Pepperdine men’s basketball team has won three of its last four games after a rough start, including a victory over local rival Loyola Marymount to start West Coast Conference play. The Waves must now take one of their most challenging WCC road swings, going down and up the state with contests at San Diego and Saint Mary’s, a pair of NCAA Tournament teams from last season. Underclassmen are dominating the young Pepperdine lineup, as freshmen and sophomores are scoring more than 86% of the points.
GAME #18 Â Thursday (Jan. 15) at the Jenny Craig Pavilion in San Diego, Calif.: Pepperdine (4-13, 1-0) at San Diego (10-7, 2-0) at 7 p.m.
GAME #19 Â Saturday (Jan. 17) at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, Calif.: Pepperdine at Saint Mary’s (15-1, 2-0) at 5 p.m. The Gaels are ranked #25 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
ON TELEVISION Â The Waves’ game at Saint Mary’s will be shown on Comcast SportsNet California. Greg Papa and Dan Belluomini are the announcers.
ON THE WEB Â Subscribers to "Wave Casts" can catch all Pepperdine men’s basketball games on the internet at www.pepperdinesports.com. Veteran play-by-play man Al Epstein, now in his 24th season with the Waves, is behind the microphone. Non-televised home games will have live audio and video, while road games will be audio only. Go to the Pepperdine Athletics website and look for the WaveCasts link. An annual pass costs $69.95 and monthly subscriptions are also available. Live statistics will be available for all home matches free of charge, and links are provided to the home team’s website when the Waves are on the road.
SAN DIEGO Â Pepperdine is 52-31 all-time against San Diego. However, the Toreros have won eight straight in the series and five consecutive in San Diego. USD has ended Pepperdine’s season at the WCC Tournament in each of the last three seasons. Tom Asbury went 13-1 against San Diego in his first stint as head coach.
SAINT MARY’S Â Pepperdine is 68-50 all-time against Saint Mary’s. The Gaels have won nine of the last 10 games. The lone Pepperdine win in that stretch was in Moraga in 2007. Tom Asbury is 15-1 against Saint Mary’s (14-1 as Pepperdine’s head coach).
LAST GAME Â Pepperdine continued its home-court dominance of local rival Loyola Marymount as the Waves pulled off a 59-57 win on Saturday (Jan. 10) in a game televised by ESPNU. It was the Waves’ 11th straight home win over the Lions, and their 21st in the last 23 meetings overall. Keion Bell scored a team-high 15 points and Mychel Thompson and Dane Suttle Jr. each scored 12. Pepperdine led 38-27 early in the second half but went scoreless for eight minutes and LMU claimed a 42-38 advantage. The Waves took the lead back for good with a 7-0 run and later held LMU scoreless for five minutes to take a nine-point lead in the final minute of play.
ROTATION Â Among the 10 players that got into the game against Loyola Marymount, seven were freshmen or sophomores and six weren’t on the roster last year ... Pepperdine has been starting four freshmen and one sophomore, and has played five freshmen on the court at one time on an occasional basis.
FRESHMAN SCORING Â Last year, freshmen scored 63.6% of Pepperdine’s points. It looks like the new group of freshmen will lead the way in 2008-09 as well. Right now they account for 58.7% of the scoring, compared to 27.5% by the sophomores and 13.8% by the seniors.
QUICK HITS Â Pepperdine has led at halftime in each of the last five games. The Waves led at the half in only three of the first 12 games of the season ... The Waves are shooting 78% from the foul line in their victories, 68% from the line in their losses ... Pepperdine’s shooting from the field has risen in three straight games ... Dane Suttle Jr. is averaging 12.0 ppg in the last four games ... Lorne Jackson had 15 assists in the first 13 games, then has had 16 in the last four ... Taylor Darby is averaging 9.8 rebounds over the last five games.
INJURY UPDATE Â Senior point guard Ryan Holmes suffered a sprained knee two minutes into the New Mexico State game on Nov. 21 and missed 12 straight games. He was attempting a lay-up but an Aggie player landed on him. One of just three upperclassmen on the squad, the absence of Holmes’ experience and steady point guard play was felt by the young Waves. He returned to the floor on Jan. 10 vs. Loyola Marymount and played eight minutes. ... Sophomore forward Jonathan Dupre' suffered a sprained ankle against Georgia Tech on Dec. 20 and has not played in the last five games.
AGRE OUT Â Sophomore center Denis Agre, in his first season at Pepperdine after transferring from Central Arizona College, is academically ineligible for the remainder of the season. He averaged 3.2 points and 3.6 rebounds and started seven of the first 16 games.
STAT LEADERS Â Taylor Darby is fourth in the WCC in rebounding (7.6) ... Keion Bell is tied for fifth in steals (1.47), sixth in free throw percentage (.766) and 18th in scoring (10.8) ... Dane Suttle Jr. is fifth in three-point field goal percentage (.426) and three-pointers made (1.71) ... Rico Tucker is 11th in assists (2.47) ... Mychel Thompson is 15th in scoring (11.1).
SEASON NOTABLES Â The win over Cal State Monterey Bay gave the Waves their first victory in a season opener since 2001-02 ... Veteran broadcaster Al Epstein called his 700th consecutive Pepperdine men’s basketball broadcast vs. Pacific on Dec. 13 ... The game at Cal State Northridge on Dec. 18 was the 2,000th in program history ... Pepperdine’s 12-game losing streak tied the third-longest in program history and was the longest since the 1965-66 season ... The Waves beat Loyola Marymount in Firestone Fieldhouse for the 11th consecutive time ... Pepperdine won its conference opener (vs. LMU) for the first time since 2005.
SOLES4SOULS Â Pepperdine’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, in conjunction with student-fan group Riptide, will be collecting shoes at Firestone Fieldhouse until Feb. 17 for Soles4Souls. Soles4Souls has already successfully donated more than one million pairs of shoes to those hurting both domestically and internationally. Fans can drop off shoes, both new and used, into the Soles4Souls collection box located near the concession stand at Firestone Fieldhouse, or among several additional boxes placed throughout Pepperdine’s Malibu campus.
ROSTER Â The Waves have just five players that saw action last season. Only four of them were on the roster at season’s end, and because of injuries, only two of them played in the 2007-08 season finale at the WCC Tournament. The five returners accounted for 40.2% of last year’s scoring (950/2,365), 32.0% of the rebounding (357/1,117), 59.6% of the assists (239/401), 16.4% of the blocked shots (21/128) and 57.9% of the steals (183/316). To replenish the roster, the Waves added 10 newcomers. Two are sophomores that are junior college transfers, six are scholarship freshmen and two others are walk-on freshmen. Of the 15 players, 12 are underclassmen. The breakdown is three seniors, zero juniors, four sophomores and eight freshmen.
RETURNERS Â Three players Â senior Rico Tucker (10.7 ppg last season), sophomore Mychel Thompson (8.1 ppg) and senior Ryan Holmes (6.0 ppg) Â were starters in 2007-08. Senior Mike Hornbuckle (5.5 ppg) saw extended playing time last season and started half of the 32 games. Sophomore Gus Clardy (1.3 ppg), a walk-on, appeared in 16 games last season.
NEWCOMERS Â When Tom Asbury was hired in February, he was given a very late start to the recruiting process. The three recruits that signed letters-of-intent with the previous coaching staff were given their release, and several players transferred following the season. With many holes to fill, Asbury and his staff utilized their contacts, identified the best of the remaining unsigned talent that fit their needs and put together a very impressive group under the circumstances. The Sporting News ranked Pepperdine’s recruiting class #2 in the West Coast Conference.
NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE Â The home schedule should have been much more palatable to Waves fans in 2008-09. A year after playing just three non-conference home games, Pepperdine supporters were treated to eight this time around, including ones against such big-time opponents as Brigham Young and Georgia Tech, and in-state rivals such as Cal State Bakersfield, UC Irvine and Pacific. A few of the road games were notable too, including contests at Pac-10 foes Arizona State and USC. The Waves also took part in the Rainbow Classic in Hawaii right after Christmas.
TELEVISION Â The Waves will appear on television several times once again in 2008-09. Six games will be shown locally (Nov. 21 at Arizona State on FSN Prime Ticket, Jan. 10 vs. Loyola Marymount on ESPNU, Jan. 22 vs. Gonzaga on FSN West, Feb. 14 vs. San Diego on FSN West, Feb. 21 at Gonzaga on ESPNU and Feb. 26 vs. Saint Mary’s on FSN West). A few other games will be televised out of market (Nov. 21 at New Mexico State on FSN Arizona, Dec. 28 vs. Buffalo on KFVE in Hawaii, Jan. 17 at Saint Mary’s on Comcast Sports Net California).
TOM ASBURY Â It was announced on Feb. 19, 2008, that the architect of one of the best stretches in Pepperdine history, Tom Asbury, was returning to Malibu to become the Waves’ head coach again. Asbury was previously at Pepperdine for 15 seasons, the first nine as an assistant coach (1980-88) and then the next six as the head coach (1989-94). He then served as head coach at Kansas State from 1995-2000 and was most recently an assistant coach at Alabama from 2004-07. Asbury went 125-59 (.679) in his first six seasons with the Waves and 210-147 (.588) in his first 12 seasons overall as a head coach. The Waves went to the postseason five times in six years with three NCAA Tournament appearances (1991, ’92, ’94) and two in the NIT (1989, ’93). Pepperdine won three regular-season West Coast Conference titles, finished no worse than second in any of his six seasons and compiled a league record of 66-18 (.786). Pepperdine’s only three WCC Tournament championships came under Asbury.
ASSISTANTS Â Tom Asbury wanted to find assistants with a passion for Pepperdine and an understanding of its mission, so he turned to three former student-athletes. It’s believed that Duke and Pepperdine have the only two college basketball staffs where the assistant coaches are all alums. Associate head coach Marty Wilson (1985-89) and assistant coaches Damin Lopez (1990-94) and Will Kimble (2001-03) played in three different eras, all successful. In the 13 seasons that made up their playing careers, Pepperdine went a combined 261-135 (.659), had 12 winning seasons, won six WCC regular-season titles and three WCC tournament titles, and made six NCAA Tournaments and four NITs.
RECRUITS Â The Waves signed two players to letters-of-intent for 2009-10 during the early-signing period. They are 6-foot-3 point guard Josh Lowery (Phoenix, Ariz./Desert Vista HS) and 6-foot-9 forward/center Tanner Kerry (Sydney, Australia).
WCC PRESEASON POLL Â Unfortunately, Pepperdine was picked to finish eighth in the conference’s preseason poll, done by a vote of the coaches. The predicted order of finish went Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, San Diego, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Portland, Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine.
LAST SEASON Â The midseason resignation of Vance Walberg and several player departures that followed contributed to Pepperdine’s third straight losing season, as the Waves finished 11-21 overall and sixth in the WCC at 4-10. They defeated Portland in the first round of the WCC Tournament before falling to eventual champion San Diego in the quarterfinals.
PEPPERDINE HISTORY Â This is the 71st season of Pepperdine basketball, and the Waves opened 2008-09 with an all-time record of 1,102-887 (.554). Pepperdine has been to the NCAA Tournament 13 times (last in 2002), and has won 12 West Coast Conference regular-season titles (last in 2002) and three WCC Tournament crowns (last in 1994).
BEST IN THE WEST Â Over the 30-season period from the 1978-79 season through the 2007-08 campaign, Pepperdine has proven itself as one of the top Division I programs on the West Coast. Of the 31 schools that currently play Division I basketball in California, Oregon or Washington, the Waves began the 2008-09 season ranking third overall in postseason appearances (16) and fifth in both wins (516) and winning percentage (.575) over the past 30 years.
WAVES IN THE PROS Â Several former Pepperdine players have gone on to play in the NBA, most notably Dennis Johnson (the 1979 NBA Finals MVP) and Doug Christie (a 15-year NBA veteran who was a mainstay on the All-Defensive Team). Currently in the NBA is Yakhouba Diawara, now in his third season overall and his first with the Miami Heat. Alex Acker is on the Detroit Pistons’ roster for the second time, having also appeared briefly with the team in 2005-06. Some recent players have been playing in foreign countries, including Brandon Armstrong (Ukraine), Casey Crawford (Mexico), Tashaan Forehan-Kelly (New Zealand), Jelani Gardner (Greece), Kelvin Gibbs (Germany), Chase Griffin (Germany), Dana Jones (Switzerland) and Glen McGowan (Dominican Republic) and Levy Middlebrooks (Mexico). Robert "Hollywood" Turner, formerly a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, is now playing in Germany.
ABOUT PEPPERDINE Â Pepperdine boasts a one-of-a-kind athletic department with unprecedented success for a school of its size. The Waves have won a total of nine NCAA championships in five different men’s sports Â one of just 14 schools to have accomplished this feat. Of the 14, Pepperdine is the only non-BCS school and has by far the smallest enrollment. The majority of Pepperdine’s teams are ranked nationally year after year and several compete for conference and national titles.
TICKETS Â Men’s basketball single-game tickets cost $15 (lower reserved), $12 (upper reserved), $10 (adult general admission) or $5 (children general admission). Call (866) WAVE-TIX to purchase tickets.