Waves' Homecoming Against Santa Clara Saturday
UPCOMING Â It’s Homecoming weekend on the Pepperdine University campus and the Waves’ men’s basketball team, fresh off a thrilling comeback victory at Portland, will look to continue its success on Saturday night against Santa Clara. Then, on Monday, Pepperdine plays its 2008 home finale against #25 Saint Mary’s. Both games will be televised by FSN Prime Ticket. The final three regular-season games are on the road. The Waves’ next victory will allow them to surpass last season’s win total.
GAME #26 Â Saturday (Feb. 16) at Firestone Fieldhouse: Pepperdine (8-17, 2-7) vs. Santa Clara (12-11, 4-4) at 8 p.m. Saturday offers a day-night doubleheader with the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team hosting UC San Diego at 2 p.m.
GAME #27 Â Monday (Feb. 18) at Firestone Fieldhouse: Pepperdine vs. #25 Saint Mary’s (21-3, 8-1) at 7 p.m.
ON TELEVISION Â Both the Santa Clara and Saint Mary’s games will be aired by FSN Prime Ticket. Paul Sunderland and Brad Holland will call the first game, while Sunderland and Mike Montgomery are the announcers for the second. Pepperdine coaches Marv Dunphy (Santa Clara) and Julie Rousseau (Saint Mary’s) will be the featured halftime guests.
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.
SANTA CLARA Â Pepperdine is 51-64 all-time against Santa Clara. The teams have split the season series each of the last five years, and the Broncos won at home earlier this season. The Waves are 26-8 all-time in Firestone Fieldhouse against the Broncos, and have won the last two, and 10 of the last 11, meetings in Malibu.
LAST SANTA CLARA GAME Â Back on Jan. 21 ... Pepperdine nearly overcame Santa Clara’s fast start, but a big early deficit proved to be too much in a 101-86 loss at the Leavey Center. The Broncos could do no wrong for the first 14 or so minutes, hitting 11 of their first 12 shots en route to a 41-21 lead with 5:53 to play. The Waves chipped away and got as close as three points, last at 68-65 with nine minutes left, but the Broncos held off the rally. Malcolm Thomas led four players in double-figures with 16 points.
SAINT MARY’S Â Pepperdine is 68-49 all-time against Saint Mary’s. However, the Gaels have won eight of the last nine meetings. Pepperdine is 25-9 all-time in Firestone Fieldhouse against Saint Mary’s, although the Gaels have won three straight in Malibu.
LAST SAINT MARY’S GAME Â Back on Jan. 19 ... With only one practice and one shootaround since the resignation of Vance Walberg, the Waves put forth a remarkable effort at Saint Mary’s. The Gaels were a heavy favorite but the Waves were in the game until the end of a 79-74 loss. Tyrone Shelley had his third double-double of the season with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Pepperdine’s last lead was at 28-26 with about five minutes left in the first half, and though the Gaels kept taking sizeable leads, the Waves kept battling back.
GAME #25 RECAP Â In what was perhaps one of the biggest Â and certainly one of the unlikeliest Â comebacks in Pepperdine men’s basketball history, the Waves pulled together and rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to win 71-66 at Portland on Monday night (Feb. 11). Pepperdine’s top scorer, Tyrone Shelley, fouled out with 12:27 left and the Pilots held a 51-33 lead with nine minutes to go. But out of nowhere, the Waves hit five three-pointers and went on a 17-1 run over two-plus minutes, making it a two-point game at 52-50 with 6:45 to play. Portland still led by five at 66-61 with 2:15 left, but Rico Tucker took over and led the Waves on a game-ending 10-0 run. He converted a lay-up and the ensuing free throw with 2:09 left, then scored on another lay-up with 1:22 left to tie the game. Malcolm Thomas’ post move and basket gave the Waves their first lead since early in the game at 68-66 with 28 seconds left. Tucker finished with a team-high 17 points, all of which came in the second half.
CLOSE LOSSES Â Sometimes it takes young teams a while to learn how to win close games and Pepperdine has been no exception. The Waves are 2-7 in games decided by five points or less. In 10 losses this season, the Waves were within five points of the opponent at some time in the final five minutes.
EXPERIENCE (OR LACK THEREOF) Â Of the 11 players that remain with the Waves, only eight are scholarship players and only one saw any action for Pepperdine in 2006-07 (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. Seven other players are new to the team this year: one junior college transfer, five true freshmen and a sophomore walk-on.
FRESHMEN Â Freshmen are providing most of the Waves’ scoring, with 63.8 percent of the points thus far. The youngsters have scored at least half of the Waves’ points in 23 of 25 games, including the first 15 of the season (a streak that ended when reserves played most of Pepperdine’s rout of Hope International) and the first eight WCC contests (freshmen only scored about a third of the points in the win at Portland). 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 14.7 ppg and Malcolm Thomas at 13.2 ppg) while Mychel Thompson chips in with 8.2 ppg.
THOMAS & SHELLEY Â You could make a case for WCC Newcomer of the Year honors for two of Pepperdine’s talented freshmen in Malcolm Thomas and Tyrone Shelley. But which one? ... Thomas ranks third in the WCC in rebounding (8.7) and is also tied for second in blocked shots (1.88), fourth in field goal percentage (.543) and eighth in scoring (13.2). He has five double-doubles and has had team bests of 18 double-figure scoring games and nine double-figure rebounding games ... Based on available records, Shelley’s 34 points vs. Cal State Northridge set a new single-game scoring mark by a Pepperdine freshman. He is fifth in the WCC in scoring (14.7 ppg), as well as fifth in steals (1.64) and ninth in rebounding (6.0). He has three double-doubles and has been in double-figures in points 17 times.
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).
ROSTER CHANGES Â Freshman center Daniel Johnson left Pepperdine the week of Jan. 28, 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, left the team at the same time 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 from Saint Mary’s 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.
FIRST HALF/SECOND HALF Â The Waves have trailed at halftime in 21 of 25 games and are just 2-2 in the games they’ve led at halftime. Pepperdine trailed at the break in the first eight games 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 (a win) and a 12-point lead vs. USF (a loss). On the positive side, the Waves have either outscored or matched the opponent in the second half in 15 of 25 games.
POINTS Â Pepperdine is third in the WCC in scoring (77.0 ppg) and the more points for the Waves, the better. In Pepperdine’s victories, the average score has been 90.0 to 75.4. In losses, the average is 70.8 to 84.8. The Waves are 4-0 when scoring 90 points or more. Other than the most recent win against Portland (71), the fewest points that Pepperdine scored in any of its first seven victories was 83 at Pacific.
STEALS Â The Waves lead the WCC in steals (9.96 per game). The next-closest school in that category is Gonzaga at 7.80. Rico Tucker is second in the conference at 2.1 steals per contest.
REBOUNDS Â Although Pepperdine’s rebound margin is a negative 3.3, that’s a vast improvement over 2006-07, when it was a negative 12.3. The Waves lead the WCC in offensive rebounds at 13.08 per game. At his current pace, Malcolm Thomas (8.7 rpg) could finish as the Waves’ best rebounder since 1993-94 (Dana Jones, 9.7 rpg).
NOTABLES Â The 23-point win over Loyola Marymount on Jan. 26 was the Waves’ largest in a WCC game since also beating LMU by 23 points in 2002-03 ... 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 four times: Jon Reed vs. Long Beach State on Nov. 21, Rico Tucker at Northern Arizona on Nov. 28, Shelley vs. Hope International on Jan. 8 and Mychel Thompson vs. San Diego on Feb. 4 ... 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 active 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. 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. 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.