Men's Hoops Hosts USF, USD
UPCOMING Â Coming off a 23-point win that gave interim coach Eric Bridgeland his first victory, the Pepperdine men’s basketball team stays at home this weekend for two more West Coast Conference games. Eddie Sutton will be going for win #800 when the Waves host San Francisco on Saturday, and then the Waves battle San Diego on Monday in a game shown on FSN West. Pepperdine’s roster has continued to change as two freshmen left the team this week.
GAME #22 Â Saturday (Feb. 2) at Firestone Fieldhouse: Pepperdine (7-14, 1-4) vs. San Francisco (5-15, 1-4) at 7 p.m.
GAME #23 Â Monday (Feb. 4) at Firestone Fieldhouse: Pepperdine vs. San Diego (11-11, 4-1) at 7 p.m.
ON TELEVISION Â The San Diego contest on Monday will be televised live by FSN West. Paul Sunderland and Mike Montgomery are the announcers.
ON THE WEB Â Fans 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 23rd season with the Waves, is behind the microphone. 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 button. Live statistics are also available for home games. All online services are currently free.
PROMOTIONS Â Pepperdine’s coaches and support staff will wear non-dress shoes on Saturday as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Suits & Sneakers awareness weekend. It’s an annual event and basketball coaches nationwide will be participating ... Pepperdine will honor local firefighters and public safety officers at halftime on Saturday night for their role in protecting the community during the fires that took place in October and November 2007.
SAN FRANCISCO Â Pepperdine is 45-62 all-time against San Francisco. It’s been a series filled with streaks lately. The Dons have won the last four. Prior to that, Pepperdine won three; before that, USF won three; before that, Pepperdine won seven. The Waves are 18-13 against the Dons in Malibu.
SAN DIEGO Â Pepperdine is 52-28 all-time against San Diego, though the Toreros have won five in a row and seven of the last eight. The Waves are 22-6 against USD in Malibu.
GAME #21 RECAP Â Five players scored at least a dozen points and the Waves rolled to an 87-64 win over rival Loyola Marymount on Saturday night at Firestone Fieldhouse. It was the biggest margin of victory in a WCC game for the Waves since also beating LMU by 23 points (94-71) in 2003. Malcolm Thomas had a game-high 18 points, Tyrone Shelley had 16, Rico Tucker and Ryan Holmes each had 15 and Mychel Thompson added 12. Pepperdine took a 39-23 lead at the break, only the third time this season the Waves had led at halftime, and then outscored the Lions 48-41 in the second half.
ROSTER CHANGES Â Freshman center Daniel Johnson left Pepperdine this week, citing homesickness, to return to his native Australia. He intends to turn professional. He was averaging 9.4 points in 21 games ... Seldom-used freshman walk-on Gus Clardy, who came to Pepperdine on an academic scholarship, has also left the team to focus on his studies. He was averaging 1.3 points in 16 games ... Senior center Jarrad Henry did not return to the team following Vance Walberg’s resignation. Henry, fifth all-time at Pepperdine in blocked shots, missed the first 11 games of the season with a broken thumb. He reinjured the thumb in early January, though he continued to attempt to play. He appeared in only seven games this season and averaged 2.7 points ... Senior guard Jason Walberg, who transferred to Pepperdine prior to the 2006-07 season in order to play for his father, left the program following his father’s resignation. He was averaging 8.5 points in 17 games.
NUMBERS UP Â Three games are a small sample to look at, but Pepperdine’s offensive output has been better than usual the past three outings since Eric Bridgeland took charge. Pepperdine averaged 78.2 points the first 18 games and 82.3 the last three. Other numbers that have improved include field goal percentage (.424/.486), three-point percentage (.296/.388) and even free throw percentage (.718/.820), which was pretty good to begin with.
EXPERIENCE (OR LACK THEREOF) Â Of the 11 players that are currently part of the team, only one saw any action last season (walk-on Tyler Carr). Three other players were on the roster last year: two of whom redshirted due to NCAA transfer rules, and a walk-on who did not appear in any games. The Waves began the season with nine players new to the team: one junior college transfer, seven true freshmen and a sophomore walk-on.
FRESHMEN Â Freshmen are providing most of the Waves’ scoring, with 65.1 percent of the points thus far. The youngsters have scored at least half of the Waves’ points in 20 of 21 games, including the first 15 of the season (a streak that ended when reserves played most of Pepperdine’s rout of Hope International) and all four WCC contests. Freshmen contributed the most with 85.9% of the 92 points against Long Beach State. See the chart on page five for game-by-game figures. Pepperdine’s top two scorers are freshmen (Tyrone Shelley at 15.4 ppg and Malcolm Thomas at 13.7 ppg) while Mychel Thompson chips in with 8.5 ppg.
MORE ON SHELLEY Â Based on available records, Tyrone Shelley’s 34 points vs. Cal State Northridge set a new single-game scoring mark by a Pepperdine freshman. He is fourth in the WCC in scoring (15.4 ppg), as well as sixth in steals (1.62) and eighth in rebounding (6.1). He has three double-doubles, most recently with 20 points and 14 rebounds at Saint Mary’s. He’s averaging a team-best 16.4 ppg in WCC play.
MORE ON THOMAS Â Freshman Malcolm Thomas was named one of the five-best mid-major freshmen in the West by espn.com’s Kyle Whelliston at the end of November. He ranks third in the WCC in rebounding (8.8) and is also second in field goal percentage (.556), third in blocked shots (1.76) and ninth in scoring (13.7). He has four double-doubles and has had team bests of 16 double-figure scoring games and seven double-figure rebounding games. He scored in double-figures in 12 straight non-conference games at one point.
WALBERG RESIGNS Â On the morning of Thursday, Jan. 18, head coach Vance Walberg unexpectedly resigned, citing personal and family reasons. In his 1 1/2 seasons with the Waves after leaving Fresno City College, Walberg’s teams went 14-35 overall. Pepperdine was 6-12 overall and 0-2 in the WCC at the time of his resignation.
BRIDGELAND ELEVATED Â Eric Bridgeland, in his second season as an assistant coach, was elevated to interim head coach. He previously was a head coach for seven seasons at the Division III level and posted an overall record of 115-65 (.639). In five seasons at Puget Sound (2002-06), Bridgeland’s teams captured three consecutive Northwest Conference championsips (2004-06), advanced to the Division III NCAA Tournament "Sweet 16" in 2004 and 2005 and the "Elite Eight" in 2006. Bridgeland was tabbed the Northwest Conference’s Coach of the Year following the 2003-04 and 2005-06 seasons. He also coached at NCAA Division III UC Santa Cruz for two seasons (1999-2000 and 2000-01).
FIRST HALF/SECOND HALF Â The Waves have trailed at halftime in 18 of 21 games, including the first eight of the season. They lost the first four but came back to win the next four. Pepperdine’s first halftime lead of the season came in the ninth contest at Montana State (though the Waves ended up losing). Pepperdine then trailed at halftime the next six games before taking a 42-point lead at halftime vs. Hope International. Pepperdine trailed at halftime in the first four WCC games before taking a 16-point edge vs. Loyola Marymount. On the positive side, the Waves have either outscored or matched the opponent in the second half in 13 of 21 games.
POINTS Â Pepperdine is first in the WCC in scoring (78.8 ppg) and the more points for the Waves, the better. In Pepperdine’s victories, the average score has been 92.7 to 76.7. In losses, the average is 71.8 to 85.3. The Waves are 4-0 when scoring 90 points or more. The fewest points that Pepperdine scored in any of its six victories is 83 points (Pacific).
STEALS Â The Waves lead the WCC in steals (9.86 per game). The next-closest school in that category is Gonzaga at 7.33. Rico Tucker is tied for first in the conference at 2.1 steals per contest.
REBOUNDS Â Although Pepperdine’s rebound margin is a negative 1.5, that’s a vast improvement over 2006-07, when it was a negative 12.3. The Waves lead the WCC in offensive rebounding at 13.90 per game. At his current pace, Malcolm Thomas (8.8 rpg) could finish as the Waves’ best rebounder since 1993-94 (Dana Jones, 9.7 rpg).
STREAKS Â Pepperdine’s modest four-game winning streak in November provided a few highlights. It was the first time that the Waves had won as many as three in a row since January 2005. The final three wins in the streak came away from home, the first time Pepperdine had won three straight road or neutral-site games since November 2004.
2007-08 HONORS Â Malcolm Thomas was named to the all-tournament team at the Oregon World Vision Invitational after averaging 13.0 points and 10.0 rebounds ... Tyrone Shelley and Rico Tucker were named to the all-tournament team at the Montana State GranTree Inn Classic. Shelley averaged 19.5 ppg and Tucker averaged 16.5 ppg.
LAST-SECOND HEROICS Â Tyrone Shelley hit a three-pointer with 4.2 seconds left to send the Nov. 28 game at Northern Arizona into overtime, and the Waves ended up winning 93-87 ... On Nov. 30 vs. Texas-Pan American, Jason Walberg drove down the lane and dished off to Malcolm Thomas, who laid it in with six seconds left for the game-winning points in an 86-84 victory ... The Waves have hit three-pointers right before the halftime buzzer three times: Jon Reed vs. Long Beach State on Nov. 21, Rico Tucker at Northern Arizona on Nov. 28 and Shelley vs. Hope International on Jan. 8 ... Shelley hit a three-pointer at the final buzzer at Manhattan, but unfortunately the Waves trailed by four points prior to his basket.
ROAD TRIP Â Pepperdine’s 10-game road trip (which featured nine away games and one neutral-site contest) appears to have been the longest stretch without a home game in school history. The Waves went 47 days without a home game (Nov. 21 to Jan. 8). During this stretch, Pepperdine played the two schools with the longest current home winning streaks in the country, Memphis and BYU.
SCHEDULE Â The non-conference schedule was daunting, as the Waves played 13 of their 16 non-conference games away from home. The Waves took on three ranked teams on the road, losing at #12 Oregon, #25 BYU and #2 Memphis. Pepperdine won four of the 13 games away from Malibu. One oddity had Pepperdine playing Pacific twice. The Tigers won on a neutral court in Oregon but the Waves returned the favor on Pacific’s home floor in Stockton a month later. The three non-conference home games came against a trio of local schools: Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State and Hope International.
WCC PRESEASON POLL Â The Waves were picked to finish sixth in the WCC in a preseason coaches’ poll. The predicted order is as follows: Gonzaga (five first-place votes), Saint Mary’s (three first-place votes), San Diego, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Pepperdine, Portland and Loyola Marymount.
TELEVISION Â Pepperdine fans will be able to watch the Waves on television plenty of times in 2007-08. The non-conference game at Northern Arizona was shown on tape delay on FSN Prime Ticket. Right now eight of the 14 WCC games will be available on the likes of FSN West, FSN Prime Ticket, ESPN, ESPNU and CSTV.
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 last played with the Clippers in 2006-07). Currently in the NBA is Yakhouba Diawara, now in his second season with the Denver Nuggets. Diawara, who played at Pepperdine in 2003-04 and 2004-05 and was an all-conference honoree, was the Nuggets’ starting shooting guard on opening night of the 2007-08 NBA season. Some recent players have been playing overseas, including Alex Acker (Spain), Brandon Armstrong (Poland), Tashaan Forehan-Kelly (New Zealand), Jelani Gardner (Russia), Kelvin Gibbs (Greece), Geoff Lear (France) and Glen McGowan (Belgium). Robert "Hollywood" Turner is a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.
PEPPERDINE HISTORY Â This is the 70th season of Pepperdine basketball, and the Waves opened 2007-08 with an all-time record of 1,092-857 (.560). 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).
FIRESTONE FIELDHOUSE Â When Pepperdine moved its campus from South-Central Los Angeles to Malibu, Firestone Fieldhouse was built and opened in November 1973. The gym currently seats 3,104 fans. Entering the 2007-08 season, the Waves compiled a cumulative record of 335-128 (.724) in 35 seasons and won a school-record 30 consecutive games from 1984-87.
TICKETS Â Season tickets for men’s basketball cost $440 for courtside seats, $165 for lower reserved and $132 for upper reserved. Individual game tickets cost $15 for lower reserved, $12 for upper reserved and $10 for general admission. Please call 1-866-WAVETIX for more information.