April 20, 2006
Malibu, Calif. - Displaying the same enthusiasm and passion that enabled him to build winning programs at the high school and junior college levels, Vance Walberg was introduced as the new Pepperdine men's basketball head coach Thursday afternoon before a gathering of media, athletics staff and program supporters in the Jones Trophy Room of Heritage Hall.
Walberg, 49, became the 12th head coach in the program's history when he was hired on Tuesday to succeed Paul Westphal following successful stints at Clovis West High in Fresno, California, and Fresno City College.
"I'd like to thank Dr. (John) Watson (Athletics Director), Dr. (Andy) Benton (University President) and John Kasser for giving me this opportunity," Walberg said. "This is my 28th year of coaching. When I was a junior in high school I always wanted to be a coach and I had teachers and coaches who I've always enjoyed that gave me that strength to get me going.
"I started having some success and really enjoyed it," Walberg continued. "You start looking at the Final Four during March Madness and you think, `I wonder what it would be like to be out there'."
Walberg comes to Pepperdine after a remarkable four-year run at Fresno City College where he compiled a 133-11 (.924) record, including a perfect 34-0 mark and a California State Championship in 2005. His teams won four straight Central Valley Conference (CVC) titles, made four consecutive trips to the Northern California Playoffs, advanced to the Final Four of the California State Championships three times and appeared in the state title game in 2003 and 2005.
"Today we have the pleasure of introducing you to the next head coach of Pepperdine basketball," Watson said. "He has had a great deal of success in his career, he has a great deal of passion for the sport and perhaps most importantly for Pepperdine, he is a man committed to developing men of character, to graduate them, to make them the best players they can be and to represent this institution to the highest honor."
Walberg inherits a team that went 7-20 last year, but returns 12 letterwinners, including 11 who started at least one game. Sophomore Michael Gerrity, who was named to the West Coast Conference's (WCC) All-Freshman team and named Freshman of the Year by CBS Sportsline.com, returns as the Waves' leading scorer after averaging 14.1 points and contributing 3.43 assists and 1.86 steals a game.
"I've watched several films," Walberg said. "There is a lot of talent here. The one thing I love to see is shooters and when you can get guys that can do more than of those then you have some really special players.
"The biggest thing is going to be their work ethic and their passion," Walberg added. "And we have some really good kids that have that and that is what I am really excited about."
Pepperdine fans should also be excited as Walberg brings with him an up-tempo style of play that results in high scoring games. While at Fresno City College his teams averaged over 100 points a game.
When asked to describe what type of offense he's going to run, Walberg responded:
"Shoot, shoot and shoot some more. It's really very simple. What I do is I spread you out and we attack. I call it AASAA-Attack, Attack, Skip, Attack, Attack. Everybody gets a big plus out of it. It starts with the guards. The first thing I want them to do is come down and look to score. It's up to the guards to be able to break their man down. Once the breakdown process begins and whoever helps, that's where the kick goes. If we struggle, we reverse things and put it inside and it's time for the big guys to take over. It's very simple."
Walberg said he hopes that brand of play quickly leads to success and an NCAA Tournament appearance.
"Well my time table, according to Dr. Watson is next year," Walberg joked. "But honestly, I told him by year two I expect to be in the NCAA (Tournament) and by year three I expect to be a Top 25 team."