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Pepperdine Announces Tom Asbury's Return

Feb. 19, 2008

MALIBU, Calif. - The architect of one of the best stretches in Pepperdine men's basketball history, Tom Asbury will return to Malibu and take over as the Waves' head coach next season, Athletic Director John Watson announced today.

Asbury was at Pepperdine for 15 seasons, the first nine as an assistant coach (1980-88) and then the next six as the head coach (1989-94). He then served as head coach at Kansas State from 1995-2000 and was most recently an assistant coach at Alabama from 2004-07.

Eric Bridgeland, who was elevated to interim coach following the resignation of Vance Walberg on Jan. 18, will remain in that role for the remainder of the 2007-08 season. Asbury will take charge on the bench next season, and in the meantime he will begin meeting with the current players and staff, recruiting and scheduling.

A press conference will be held on Wednesday to reintroduce Asbury, who has a 210-147 (.588) record in 12 seasons as a college head coach.

"There are very few people that have been as much a part of Pepperdine's success in basketball over the years as Tom Asbury," Watson said. "For 15 years he was a major reason why Pepperdine was the class of the West Coast Conference. I'm elated that he has decided to return home and take over the head coaching reins for next year. So many things made this an easy decision in the end: Tom's history with Pepperdine, the fact that he is so well-respected by his co-workers and peers, his reputation as a coach and recruiter. We're looking forward to his return to the bench and I believe he will again make Pepperdine a team that competes for league championships and postseason bids.

"Eric Bridgeland has done a terrific job keeping our team together in some very difficult circumstances. He, the rest of the staff and all of our players are to be commended for their effort. I'm pleased that he will remain as interim coach through the remainder of the season and I believe he will lead us to a strong finish."

Asbury, 62, went 125-59 (.679) in his six seasons with the Waves. The Waves went 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 West Coast Conference titles, finished no worse than second in any of his six seasons and compiled a league record of 66-18 (.786). Pepperdine's only three WCC Tournament championships came under Asbury.

The 125 victories marks the best six-season win total in Pepperdine's history since 1951.

The Waves had four 20-win seasons with Asbury at the helm, including a high of 24 wins in 1991-92, a season in which Pepperdine also went a perfect 14-0 in the WCC. In fact, Pepperdine established a conference record by winning 32 consecutive league games from 1991-93 (38 straight including WCC Tournament games). Asbury was named WCC Coach of the Year in 1991 and 1992.

Firestone Fieldhouse was a particularly tough place for Pepperdine opponents during Asbury's tenure, as the Waves went 60-17 (.779) in home games.

Among the standouts that played for Asbury were Doug Christie, Dana Jones, Dexter Howard, Geoff Lear and Damin Lopez. Christie was a two-time All-American.

Asbury served as Pepperdine's lead assistant coach for nine seasons (1980-88) under Jim Harrick before becoming head coach. During those nine years, the Waves went 167-97 (.633) and went to the NCAA Tournament four times and the NIT twice.

During his time at Pepperdine, Asbury was noted as one of the nation's top recruiters by Basketball Times.

After leaving Pepperdine for Kansas State, Asbury led the Wildcats to an 85-88 (.491) record over six seasons (1995-2000), which included a spot in the 1996 NCAA Tournament and the 1998 and 1999 NIT. His 1998-99 team won 20 games and led the nation in field goal percentage defense (.371).

After spending a few years in private business, Asbury returned to coaching in 2003 when he joined Mark Gottfried's staff at Alabama as an assistant coach. He spent four years there (2004-07) before stepping down. He helped the Crimson Tide to a record of 82-46 (.641), which included three 20-win seasons, three NCAA Tournaments and one NIT bid. The 2004 Alabama squad advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Asbury was the head coach of the West Team at the 1994 U.S. Olympic Festival.

A native of Denver, Asbury was a standout at George Washington High School in the early 1960s and earned varsity letters in basketball, football and track.

Asbury lettered at Wyoming for three seasons and earned All-Western Athletic Conference honors as a senior in 1966-67. As team captain, he helped the Cowboys win the league title and advance to the NCAA Tournament that year. He earned a bachelor's of science degree from Wyoming in 1968 and went on to receive a master's of science degree from Colorado in 1974.

He was drafted by the St. Louis Hawks of the NBA and the Denver Rockets of the ABA and played one season in Denver before beginning his coaching career. Asbury coached Wyoming's freshmen in 1967-68, then was a high school coach in the Denver area for eight seasons. He returned to Wyoming to serve as an assistant coach for three seasons before moving to Malibu.

Three games remain in the 2007-08 regular season (all on the road), followed by the WCC Tournament. The Waves (9-18 overall, 3-8 WCC) next visit Loyola Marymount on Saturday (Feb. 23) for a 1 p.m. game. It will be televised by CSTV and fans can listen to Al Epstein's call of the action at www.pepperdinesports.com.