Men's Basketball Hosts Montana State on Sunday
Pepperdine's five returners that are seeing the most minutes are all on pace to set career highs for season scoring average.
Dec. 16, 2011
GAME #10 -- Sunday (Dec. 18) at Firestone Fieldhouse: Pepperdine (5-4) vs. Montana State (5-4) at 5 p.m.
GAME #11 -- Thursday (Dec. 22) at KeyArena in Seattle, Wash.: Pepperdine vs. Washington State (6-4, hosts Western Oregon on Sunday) at 7 p.m. in the Cougar Hardwood Classic.
ON THE WEB -- WaveCasts (Pepperdine's live video broadcasts of all home games and audio broadcasts of all road contests) are free to all users at www.pepperdinesports.com. Veteran play-by-play man Al Epstein, now in his 27th season with the Waves, is behind the microphone. Also on the official website, fans can join an interactive live blog/chat using Cover It Live technology for all road games. Finally, follow the program on Twitter at @PEPPBasketball.
TICKETS -- For the majority of home games, men's basketball single-game tickets cost $15 (reserved), $12 (adult general admission) or $5 (child general admission). Premium games (LMU, BYU and Gonzaga) have different pricing plans. Tickets can be purchased through the Pepperdine ticket office (866-WAVE-TIX) or via Ticketmaster.
MONTANA STATE -- Pepperdine trails the all-time series with Montana State, 3-2. The Bobcats have only played in Firestone Fieldhouse once before, a 76-73 MSU victory that was the first game in the series in 1979-80. The last meeting was played in Bozeman in 2007-08, and Montana State won 95-89. The matchup prior to that was the last Waves' victory, 83-76, at a Fresno State tournament in 1990-91.
WASHINGTON STATE -- Pepperdine and Washington State are tied in the all-time series, 2-2. The schools played home-and-home series in the 1970s and 1980s. This will be the first meeting since December 1986. Both teams have gone 1-1 on the other's home court. The Waves and Cougars will play a three-game series with games planned for Malibu next season and in Pullman in 2013-14.
LAST GAME -- A tremendous start unfortunately didn't last into the second half, as Pepperdine lost at home to Cal State Northridge, 73-70, on Saturday (Dec. 10). The Waves hit seven of their first nine shots and were 12-for-20 from the field when they built their largest lead of the game, 26-14, with six minutes to play in the first half. But after Pepperdine went into halftime with a 30-24 lead, CSUN shot 61.9% after the break (compared to 30.4% in the first half), while the Waves went from 51.9% to 37.5%. Joshua Lowery (17 points) and Hector Harold (12 points) each set new career highs.
SCORING -- Two of the top 20 scorers in Pepperdine history are gone (Mychel Thompson was a senior and Keion Bell was suspended and later transferred to Missouri). Another one that's on pace to reach the top 20 (Lorne Jackson) is potentially out for the season with a knee injury. They were the top three scorers on the team last season and each of them averaged double-figures. Without those three, the Waves that are back account for only a little more than a third of last year's scoring. Without Jackson, senior forward Taylor Darby had the highest scoring average last season among available returners at 7.7 points per game.
SCORING PART TWO -- With so many points lost, the big question had been where the points would come from for the Waves. The answer so far: at least a little bit from just about everyone on the court. Six different players have led Pepperdine in scoring, and each had at least a share of the team high in the season's first five games. Only one player is currently averaging in double-figures -- Taylor Darby at 11.8 ppg -- but four other active players are averaging between 6.9 and 9.9 points. Pepperdine's five returners that are seeing the most minutes are all on pace to set career highs for season scoring average.
PLAYER NOTABLES -- Corbin Moore scored a total of five points in the first two games of the season, but has been in double-figures in five of the last seven and is averaging 12.0 points during that time. He never even attempted a three-pointer in the first 100 games of his career but has now hit four in the last five games ... Hector Harold has set or tied his career high in scoring in three of the last four games ... Caleb Willis is averaging 5.7 assists over the last three games.
WCC STATS -- Individually in the conference, Taylor Darby is #16 in scoring (11.8), #12 in rebounding (6.2) and #8 (tied) in blocked shots (0.9). Caleb Willis is #1 in assist/turnover ratio (2.5), #4 in three-point percentage (.500) and #4 in assists (3.9). Corbin Moore is #3 in rebounding (8.6) and #8 (tied) in blocked shots (0.9). Joshua Lowery is #3 in minutes played (34.8), #7 in assists (3.4) and #7 in assist/turnover ratio (1.7). Nikolas Skouen is #6 in three-pointers made (2.1) ... As a team, Pepperdine is #2 in free throw percentage (.709), rebounding margin (+6.2) and offensive rebounds (12.8) and #3 in scoring defense (62.4) and three-point field goal percentage (.391).
SEASON NOTABLES -- Pepperdine won its first two games of the season for the first time since 1999-2000 (the Waves made the NCAA Tournament that year) ... Only four head coaches have begun their full-time careers with 2-0 starts at Pepperdine: Wade Ruby (the program's first season in 1938-39), Robert Dowell (1948-49), Jan van Breda Kolff (1999-00) and now Marty Wilson ... The last time Pepperdine recorded two true road wins among the season's first five games was 2002-03 ... That was also the last time the Waves won three of their first five road games ... Pepperdine already has its most true road wins in a season (three) since 2007-08 ... At 5-3, Wilson had the same record after his first eight games as Pepperdine's full-time head coach as Jim Harrick (1979-80) and Tom Asbury (1988-89) ... Pepperdine is above .500 in December for the first time since 2004-05.
ROTATION -- Pepperdine's primary eight-man rotation consists of two seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen (five returners and three newcomers). The next two players that are also seeing time are a sophomore and a freshman.
SENIORS -- When Tom Asbury was hired in February 2008 and he had to rebuild practically the entire roster, he landed six freshmen during the late signing period. That class went on to lead the Waves in scoring as freshmen, sophomores and juniors. Now they're seniors, but because of injuries and transfers, only Taylor Darby and Corbin Moore are on the floor right now. As the top two scorers on the team at 11.8 and 9.9 ppg, respectively, they're on pace to be the highest-scoring class for the fourth consecutive year. The seniors are scoring 37.8% of the Waves' points this season.
ASSISTS -- Ball movement and unselfish play are key aspects to Pepperdine's offense. One of Marty Wilson's favorite statistics is how many baskets came via an assist. So far, 65.1% of Pepperdine's field goals have had an assist attached to them, which would be a school record. Only four previous teams have reached at least 60 percent, with a best of 61.8% in 1982-83.
INJURIES -- It's likely that three Waves are out for the season due to injuries. Senior guard Lorne Jackson may redshirt the season after having surgery this past summer to repair a torn ACL. An All-WCC honorable mention selection last season, Jackson would have been the team's top returning scorer at 13.2 ppg. Senior guard/forward Dane Suttle Jr. reinjured an ankle at the Arizona State game on Nov. 15 and will miss the remainder of the season after being diagnosed with a stress fracture. Junior forward Moriba De Freitas didn't practice the first month and a half due to a knee strain and it's been decided that he will redshirt. In better news, sophomore center Jan Maehlen returned to action on Nov. 28 at UCLA after fracturing his right hand on Oct. 29.
PAC-10/12 -- Pepperdine's win at Arizona State was its first against one of the old Pac-10 teams since the Waves beat both UCLA and USC in the 2001-02 season. Pepperdine had lost 11 straight games against former Pac-10 teams. In recent years the Waves had beaten the two newest members of the Pac-12, Colorado (in 2003-04 and 2006-07) and Utah (in 2009-10). Though Pepperdine hasn't played Arizona State often, it was the Waves' first win over the Sun Devils since December 1957, ending a five-game losing streak. Though the Waves lost at UCLA, they'll have another chance against a Pac-12 school in Washington State.
ROSTER -- Four starters and 10 letterwinners are back from last season, and they're joined by six newcomers (three freshmen, two transfers and a walk-on). It's the third straight year that Pepperdine has had returners numbering in double-digits. The breakdown is six seniors, three juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen.
RETURNERS -- With Lorne Jackson's numbers included, Pepperdine's returning players account for 53.4% of last year's scoring (1,222/2,289), 55.9% of the rebounding (583/1,043), 66.2% of the assists (270/408), 43.3% of the blocked shots (42/97), 62.7% of the steals (121/193) and 59.8% of the minutes played (3,977/6,650). Without Jackson, those figures drop to 34.4% of the scoring (787/2,289), 46.7% of the rebounding (487/1,043), 42.6% of the assists (174/408), 38.1% of the blocked shots (37/97), 35.8% of the steals (69/193) and 46.2% of the minutes played (3,075/6,650).
WILSON -- After 21 seasons as an assistant coach, including nine at Pepperdine, Marty Wilson was elevated to the position of head coach of the Waves following the 2010-11 season. He has compiled an impressive record in Malibu as a student-athlete (1985-89), an assistant coach (1991-96, which included a brief stint as the interim head coach) and as the associate head coach the past three seasons (2009-11). He was also an assistant at San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and Utah inbetween stints at Pepperdine. Wilson ended his playing career #5 all-time in assists at Pepperdine with 342. The team went to the NCAA Tournament twice and the NIT twice in his four seasons on the court. As a Pepperdine assistant, the team went to the NCAA Tournament three times and the NIT once. Follow Coach Wilson on Twitter at @MartyWilson4.
ASSISTANTS -- Marty Wilson brought on two new coaches this season. Associate head coach Mark Amaral and Wilson were assistants together at UC Santa Barbara. Amaral was most recently the associate head coach at Cal Poly for two seasons. Assistant coach Bryant Moore worked with the Cleveland Cavaliers for five seasons in a variety of roles, including player development coordinator. Last year, he was a basketball operations assistant at Sacramento State. Damin Lopez, a former Pepperdine standout who still ranks among the school's top three-point shooters ever, was in his fourth season as an assistant coach, but left the program after being named head coach at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral High School on Dec. 7. Director of operations John Impelman will fill the role of assistant coach for the remainder of the season.
2011-12 SCHEDULE -- Five schools that reached the 2011 postseason and three Pac-12 Conference foes highlight Pepperdine's non-conference schedule. Among the new-look Pac-12 opponents, Pepperdine plays at Arizona State (Nov. 15), against UCLA at the Sports Arena (Nov. 28) and vs. Washington State at KeyArena in Seattle in the Cougar Hardwood Classic (Dec. 22). The Bruins made the third round of the NCAA Tournament last season while the Cougars advanced to the semifinals of the NIT. A key home game takes place on Saturday, Dec. 3, when the Waves host Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors made it to the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament last season. The Waves play a return game on the road against 2011 NCAA Tournament team Texas-San Antonio on Nov. 26, and also visit Northern Arizona, which played in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, on Dec. 7.
WCC -- The West Coast Conference got bigger and better when it added perennial NCAA Tournament participant Brigham Young to its roster of schools prior to 2011-12. A writer from CBS Sports named the WCC as the seventh-best basketball league in the nation during the preseason. The coaches' preseason poll went in the following order: Gonzaga, Saint Mary's, BYU, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Loyola Marymount, Portland, Pepperdine and San Diego.
RECRUITS -- Pepperdine landed two promising high school seniors during the early signing period. The Waves signed a player from Arizona for the fourth straight season in 6-foot-6 forward Stacy Davis of Laveen Betty Fairfax High. Davis averaged 22.9 points and 9.7 rebounds last season at Tolleson High and is a two-time Arizona Republic all-state 5A honorable mention selection. Pepperdine went to Texas to sign 6-foot-5 shooting guard Atif Russell of Katy Seven Lakes High. He made the All-District 19-5A first team as a junior and averaged 15.1 points.
LAST SEASON -- After three years of helping to rebuild the foundation of Pepperdine basketball, head coach Tom Asbury retired following the 2010-11 season. Although the Waves went 12-21 overall and placed sixth in the WCC with a record of 5-9, Pepperdine won its most games since 2005 and equaled its best conference win-loss mark in the last five seasons. Lorne Jackson and Mychel Thompson both earned All-WCC honorable mention honors.
PEPPERDINE BASKETBALL -- This is the 74th season of Pepperdine men's basketball, and the Waves began the campaign with an all-time record of 1,130-955 (.542). 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). Did you know that William "Bird" Averitt led the nation in scoring in 1972-73 with 33.9 points per game?
BEST IN THE WEST -- Pepperdine has long been one of the top Division I programs on the West Coast. Over the 33-season period from the 1978-79 season through the 2010-11 campaign, of the 32 schools that currently play Division I basketball in California, Oregon or Washington, the Waves began the 2011-12 season sixth overall in postseason appearances (16), seventh in winning percentage (.545) and eighth in wins (544) over the past 33 years.
WAVES IN THE PROS -- Sadly, a streak of 34 consecutive seasons with at least one Pepperdine alum on an NBA roster ended in 2010-11. The most recent NBAers, Yakhouba Diawara and Alex Acker, went back to Europe. The streak began in 1976-77 after the ABA/NBA merger. A total of 16 former Pepperdine players have gone on to play in the NBA, most notably Dennis Johnson (a 2010 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee, the 1979 NBA Finals MVP and a three-time NBA champion) and Doug Christie (a 15-year NBA veteran who was a mainstay on the All-Defensive Team). The Waves had two of last year's players taken in November's NBA D-League Draft (Mychel Thompson, 3rd round to Erie and Jonathan Dupré, 8th round to Maine).
ABOUT PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY -- Pepperdine boasts a one-of-a-kind athletic department with unprecedented success for a school of its size. The Waves have won NCAA Division I championships in five different men's sports -- one of just 16 schools to have accomplished this feat -- and nine overall. Of this elite group, Pepperdine has the smallest enrollment and is the only school not associated with a BCS conference. Located in scenic Malibu, Calif., the university overlooks the Pacific Ocean and its campus and athletic facilities are regularly voted among the nation's most beautiful. Pepperdine, which is affiliated with the Church of Christ, ranks #55 overall on U.S. News and World Report's list of America's best colleges. The 2011-12 school year marks Pepperdine's 75th anniversary.