Men's Hoops at Cal Poly on Saturday
THE FACTS - Following a tournament win at the World Vision Challenge in Wyoming, the Pepperdine men's basketball team heads to Cal Poly this Saturday. It's the last contest in a five-game stretch away from Firestone Fieldhouse. The Waves begin a four-game homestand next week.
GAME #8 - Saturday (Dec. 5) at Mott Gymnasium in San Luis Obispo, Calif.: Pepperdine (3-4) at Cal Poly (0-5) at 7 p.m.
ON THE WEB - 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 25th 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 Wave Casts 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.
CAL POLY - Pepperdine, which has a 13-6 lead in the all-time series with Cal Poly, is making its first trip to San Luis Obispo since the 1953-54 season. The two schools have met just once since then, a 76-72 overtime win for the Mustangs in the 1991-92 season. Damin Lopez had eight points in that game, which was Tom Asbury's fourth season as head coach. Most of the early meetings came when both schools were in the CCAA. The Mustangs, who opened the season with five road losses (including two to San Francisco and Saint Mary's of the WCC), have their home opener on Thursday against Seattle. Pepperdine is 0-2 against Big West Conference schools so far this season.
LAST WEEKEND - After winning the first two games of the World Vision Challenge against Hampton (75-66) and Monmouth (82-73), the Waves had already wrapped up the team title of the event. Unfortunately, Pepperdine was unable to complete the sweep in an 86-82 overtime loss to the host Cowboys. The Waves showed some fight in that game, rallying from 11 points down in the final five minutes to send the game to overtime on Joshua Lowery's three-pointer with nine seconds left. Keion Bell was named Tournament MVP after averaging 26.7 points, including a career-high 34 against Monmouth and 28 against Wyoming. Dane Suttle Jr. also made the all-tournament team after averaging 15.3 points, with a career-high 22 coming against Hampton.
MORE WEEKEND NOTES - In addition to Keion Bell and Dane Suttle Jr.'s career highs for points, others were posted by Jonathan Dupre' (16, tied) and Joshua Lowery (10), both against Wyoming ... The Waves committed just four turnovers against Monmouth but then had a season-high 23 against Wyoming as playing a third game in three days took its toll ... The Waves' loss in overtime to Wyoming was their second OT loss this season already and fourth in a row since beating Portland at the 2008 WCC Tournament.
SUPER SOPHS - Last season, Pepperdine's eight-man freshman class scored more than half of the Waves' points (57.4%). After seven games, the now-sophomore class has contributed 71.8% of Pepperdine's scoring.
BELL'S BIG START - Keion Bell has scored more than 20 points in six of his seven games (and had 18 in the other one), including a career-high 34 against Monmouth. He is averaging 23.6 points, which at the start of the week led the WCC by three points per game. He's also third in steals (2.1), fifth in assists (4.1), ninth in field goal percentage (.514) and 11th in rebounding (6.0). At the pace he's on, he'll become Pepperdine's 35th 1,000-point scorer by the end of his sophomore season (he's got 577).
SECOND-HALF COMEBACKS - The end of regulation has been pretty exciting for the Waves on several occasions: Pepperdine trailed by 10 to Pacific with a little more than four minutes to play, but Mychel Thompson's tip-in with 4.7 seconds left sent the game to overtime (Pepperdine lost in double OT) ... The Waves were down 12 to Cal State San Bernardino with 8 1/2 minutes left but rallied to win by three ... Pepperdine trailed by 11 to Wyoming with less than five minutes to go, and Joshua Lowery would end up hitting a three-pointer with nine seconds left to force overtime (although the Waves lost in OT).
TEAM CAPTAIN - Mychel Thompson was selected as team captain for 2009-10 after a landslide vote by his teammates. The junior forward is Pepperdine's only player that has been with the team for two full seasons. Now in his third year as a starter, he is averaging 8.7 points for his career and made 92 three-pointers.
2009-10 HONORS - Keion Bell was named to the preseason All-WCC first team ... Bell was named MVP of the World Vision Challenge at Wyoming and Dane Suttle Jr. also made the all-tournament team.
WCC PRESEASON POLL - According to the WCC's coaches, the Waves are predicted to finish seventh in the conference. Their poll went in the following order: Gonzaga, Portland, Saint Mary's, San Francisco and Santa Clara (tied), San Diego, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount. Several national publications and websites have differing opinions on the Waves, including fourth (The Sporting News), fifth (The Sports Network), sixth (Athlon and Lindy's) and seventh (Rivals.com, CBSSports.com and CollegeHoops.net).
ROSTER - Pepperdine returns 11 letterwinners from last season (believed to be among the most in school history). There are also five newcomers, bringing the roster total to 16. There are no seniors on the squad, and 12 of the 16 players are underclassmen. The roster features four juniors, seven sophomores and five true freshmen. Twelve are on scholarship and four are walk-ons.
RETURNERS - Four of the five starters from last year's team return (Keion Bell, Taylor Darby, Corbin Moore and Mychel Thompson). Pepperdine's returning players account for 82.5% percent of last year's scoring (1629/1974), 88.3% of the rebounds (919/1041), 65.4% of the assists (223/341), 95.0% of the blocked shots (96/101) and 77.2% of the steals (166/215).
YOUTUBE SENSATION - Keion Bell, a preseason All-WCC first team selection, got Pepperdine a ton of publicity in mid-October. At Blue & Orange Madness, Pepperdine's event to kick off the start of practice, the sophomore guard finished up the dunk contest by leaping over five teammates and slamming it home. A Pepperdine fan happened to record the dunk on his iPhone and uploaded it onto YouTube. It quickly spread around the internet and at last check had nearly 1.1 million hits. ESPN's SportsCenter picked up the video and made the dunk the #2 Play of the Day.
NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE - Tom Asbury believes in preparing his team for league play with a difficult non-conference slate of games, and so that's what the Waves are in the midst of. The Waves play six games against non-conference teams that took part in the postseason last year: Portland State, UCLA and Utah made the NCAA Tournament, Miami (Fla.) was in the NIT, Wyoming was in the College Basketball Invitational and Pacific was in the inaugural CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Nine of the 16 non-conference games are at home.
TELEVISION - The Waves are slated to appear on television several times once again in 2009-10. Six games will be shown locally - Nov. 23 at UCLA on Fox Sports West, Jan. 14 vs. Santa Clara on ESPNU, Jan. 21 at Gonzaga on Prime Ticket (delayed), Jan. 30 vs. San Diego on Prime Ticket, Feb. 18 vs. Portland on Prime Ticket and Feb. 20 vs. Gonzaga on Fox Sports West.
TOM ASBURY - Now in his second stint in charge of the Waves is coaching great Tom Asbury. He returned to Malibu prior to the 2008-09 campaign to become the Waves' head coach again after 14 seasons away. Asbury was previously at Pepperdine for nine years as an assistant coach (1980-88) and then the next six as the head coach (1989-94). He went on to serve as head coach at Kansas State from 1995-2000 and was an assistant coach at Alabama from 2004-07. Asbury went 125-59 (.679) in his first head coaching job at Pepperdine and took the Waves 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 WCC titles and the school's only three WCC Tournament championships came under Asbury. Prior to the start of the 2009-10 season, his seven-year record at Pepperdine was 134-82 (.620) and his 13-year record as a head coach was 219-170 (.563).
ASSISTANTS - Upon his return, 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.
LAST SEASON - Tom Asbury's return to Pepperdine brought much-needed stability to the program in his first season back. With only five players returning, Asbury and his new staff brought in 10 newcomers well after the regular letter-of-intent signing period. The young Waves posted a 9-23 overall record but got much better as the year went on, placing sixth in the WCC with a 5-9 record and winning a first-round game at the WCC Tournament. Keion Bell was named to the WCC All-Freshman team after averaging a team-best 12.9 ppg.
PEPPERDINE HISTORY - This is the 72nd season of Pepperdine basketball, and the Waves opened 2009-10 with an all-time record of 1,111-910 (.550). 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 - Pepperdine has long been one of the top Division I programs on the West Coast. Over the 31-season period from the 1978-79 season through the 2008-09 campaign, of the 32 schools that currently play Division I basketball in California, Oregon or Washington, the Waves began the 2009-10 season ranking third overall in postseason appearances (16) and fifth in both wins (525) and winning percentage (.565) over the past 31 years.
WAVES IN THE PROS - This is the 34th consecutive season where at least one Pepperdine alum has been on an NBA roster. Currently in the NBA is Yakhouba Diawara, now in his fourth season overall and his second with the Miami Heat. A total of 16 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). Some recent players have been playing in foreign countries, including Alex Acker (Italy), Tezale Archie (Netherlands), Brandon Armstrong (Venezuela), Gerald Brown (Poland), Jelani Gardner (Greece), Kelvin Gibbs (Germany), Chase Griffin (Germany), Dana Jones (Switzerland) and Glen McGowan (Dominican Republic). Robert "Hollywood" Turner, formerly a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, is now playing in Finland.
ABOUT PEPPERDINE - 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 - 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 compete for conference and national titles.