Waves Head to Georgia for Wednesday Game
THE FACTS - The Pepperdine men's basketball team closes out 2009 with a cross-country trip and a game against Georgia on Wednesday. To kick off 2010, the Waves host Miami (Fla.) on Sunday in their final non-conference game. Pepperdine is coming off its best result of the season, a 76-64 home win against Utah.
GAME #15 - Wednesday (Dec. 30) at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga.: Pepperdine (4-10) at Georgia (6-4) at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.
GAME #16 - Sunday (Jan. 3) at Firestone Fieldhouse: Pepperdine vs. Miami (Fla.) (12-1) at 4 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.
PROMOTIONS - For the Miami game, groups of 15 or more can purchase general admission tickets for $5 each ... If the Waves score 75 points or more in an upcoming home game, certificates will be given out afterward for a free piece of grilled chicken from the KFC in Malibu.
TICKETS - Men's basketball single-game tickets cost $15 (lower reserved), $12 (upper reserved), $10 (adult general admission) or $5 (child general admission). Call (866) WAVE-TIX to purchase tickets.
GEORGIA - Pepperdine is 0-2 all-time against Georgia. The two schools played a home-and-home series earlier this decade. In December 2000, the Bulldogs won 72-61 at home, and in December 2001, they were victorious 91-74 in Malibu. First-year Georgia Coach Mark Fox was an assistant coach at Kansas State when Tom Asbury was the head coach there.
MIAMI - Pepperdine and Miami have only met once before, a 93-90 overtime victory for the Waves in December 1969. The game was played at El Camino College. Miami's Charles Gay made a lay-up at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime. But Pepperdine's Herb Andrews scored all seven of his points in overtime to lead the Waves to the win. Steve Sims led Pepperdine with 26 points, while Miami's Wayne Canaday led all scorers with 27 points.
LAST GAME - Mychel Thompson (25 points) and Lorne Jackson (18 points) both matched their career highs as Pepperdine posted its most impressive win of the season, a 76-64 home victory over Utah on Wednesday (Dec. 23). The Waves never trailed in the game and enjoyed a +18 rebounding margin (45-27) and a 27-for-33 (81.8%) showing from the foul line. Keion Bell scored 17 and Corbin Moore added a season-high nine points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Pepperdine's only previous win over Utah (a 2009 NCAA Tournament team) came in the 1979 NCAA Tournament.
ROSTER - There are no seniors on the 2009-10 squad, and 12 of the 16 players are underclassmen. The roster features four juniors, seven sophomores and five true freshmen. Pepperdine does return 11 letterwinners from last season (believed to be among the most in school history). Twelve players are on scholarship and four are walk-ons.
SOPHOMORE SCORERS - Last season, Pepperdine's eight-man freshman class scored more than half of the Waves' points (57.4%). So far, the now-sophomore class has contributed 67.7% of Pepperdine's scoring.
KEION BELL - Sophomore guard Keion Bell has begun the 2009-10 season as one of the most exciting and prolific players on the West Coast. He is currently averaging 20.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists. He ranked as high as ninth nationally in scoring a couple of weeks ago, and until after the Waves' last game when his assist average dipped, he was one of just two players in the country averaging at least 20 points, five rebounds and four assists. Bell has scored more than 20 points in eight games this season, including a career-high 34 against Monmouth. He's been in double-figures in every game but one. At the pace he's on, he could become Pepperdine's 35th 1,000-point scorer by the end of his sophomore season (he's got 701). He was also leading the WCC in steals last week and is at 1.8 per game.
MYCHEL THOMPSON - Junior forward Mychel Thompson was selected as team captain for 2009-10 after a landslide vote by his teammates. He is Pepperdine's only player that has been with the team for two full seasons. Thompson is averaging 11.3 points this season (second-best on the team) and 9.3 points for his career, and has made 105 career three-pointers (he needs 113 to break into the school's top 10). He's been in double-figures in six of the last seven games (averaging 15.1 ppg over that span), including a career-high-tying 25 vs. Utah.
DANE SUTTLE JR. - Sophomore guard/forward Dane Suttle Jr., third-best on the team at 10.8 points per game, is one of the conference's best three-point shooters so far this season. The sophomore wing is averaging 2.1 per game (third in the WCC as of last week) and making 45.8% of them (27-for-59, sixth in the WCC as of last week).
LORNE JACKSON - Sophomore guard Lorne Jackson has been giving the Waves an offensive lift as of late. He's averaging 13.3 points in the last four games and tied his career high with 18 points vs. Utah. He's fourth on the team in scoring this season with 8.4 ppg.
REBOUNDING - Rebounding is one area where the Waves are showing improvement over previous years. Last season the team had a negative-1.4 rebound margin, but this season it's at a positive 4.1. Pepperdine has had as many rebounds or more than opponents in 10 of 14 games this season. The last time the Waves finished a season with a positive rebounding margin was 2000-01.
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 ... The Waves were also the team champion at the World Vision Challenge.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
ONE RECRUIT - There are no seniors on the roster but Pepperdine had one scholarship to offer for 2010-11. During the early signing period, they inked Hector Harold, a 6-foot-6 small forward from the Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.) School. He was given a rating of 88 out of 100 by ESPN.com's recruiting site and is considered one of the top seniors in New England. He is originally from Pasadena, Calif.
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 standouts 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.