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West Coast Countdown: Pepperdine Goes Back to the Future

Nov. 5, 2008

When searching for a new head coach, the Pepperdine Waves looked to the past to help build their future. The architect of one of the best stretches in Pepperdine men's basketball history, Tom Asbury returned to Malibu to take over as the Waves' head coach in 2008-09.

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). Asbury went 125-59 (.679) in his six seasons with the Waves, posting four 20-win seasons, 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). The Waves went to the postseason five times in six years with three NCAA Tournament appearances (1991, '92, '94) and two berths in the NIT (1989, '93). Pepperdine won three regular-season WCC 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 have come under Asbury.

The Waves will have a much difference look this season as they return just five players from the 2007-08 squad that underwent a midseason coaching change and ended with an 11-21 record and a sixth-place finish in the West Coast Conference. The Waves welcome in nine newcomers, seven of whom are true freshmen, and two junior college transfers who will be sophomores. With only three upperclassmen, it's a team that will learn and grow together over the next three to four seasons.

WAVES' TOP RETURNING PLAYERS
NAME YEAR
POSITION
2007-08 KEY STATS
Rico Tucker Senior
Guard
10.7 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.2 spg
Mychel Thompson Sophomore
Forward
8.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 56 3-pt FGs
Ryan Holmes Senior
Guard
6.0 ppg, 2.1 apg, 2.5 rpg

PEPPERDINE BACKCOURT

Senior guard Mike Hornbuckle averaged 7.6 ppg during WCC play last season.


The majority of the Waves' experience is in their backcourt, led by senior guards Rico Tucker, Ryan Holmes, and Mike Hornbuckle. Tucker is Pepperdine's top returning scorer, averaging 10.7 points per game in his first season with the Waves. Tucker, who transferred from Minnesota, led the WCC with 2.2 steals per game and averaged a team-best 3.2 assists per game before suffering a late season-ending knee injury. Holmes, a 6-1 point guard, started 25-of-31 games last season, finishing second on the team in assists (2.1 apg) and minutes per game (26.9 mpg). Hornbuckle, a 6-4 shooting guard, is the Waves' third and final senior. He started 16-of-32 games last season and averaged 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. He showed significant improvement as the season went on, establishing himself as a reliable outside shooter by averaging 7.6 points in conference play.

In addition to the three seniors, the Waves expect contributions from freshmen Keon Bell and Lorne Jackson. Bell, a 6-3 guard, was named the Pasadena Star-News' Player of the Year after averaging nearly 22 points per game as a senior. Jackson, a 6-2 point guard, finished his high school career as one of Ventura County's all-time leaders in steals and assists. He was an all-state second team selection and the Ventura County Star's Player of the Year after leading the county in scoring (22.9 ppg) and steals (4.3 spg), while finishing second in assists (6.8 apg).

PEPPERDINE FRONTCOURT

Sophomore forward Mychel Thompson enjoyed a strong freshman season, ranking fifth in the WCC in 3-point FGs (56).


The Waves return one of the top young wings in the conference in sophomore Mychel Thompson. The 6-7 forward, the son of former NBA No. 1 draft pick Mychal Thompson, enjoyed a solid first season, averaging 8.1 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. He was particularly effective from beyond the three-point arc, tying for fifth in the WCC in three-pointers made per game (1.75).

Adding size to the Waves' frontline will be 6-10 freshman Corbin Moore and 6-11 freshman Andy Shannon. Moore made the All-SCIBCA Southern Section Division I-A first team and was the Sunset League's co-MVP as a senior after averaging 15.8 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. Shannon blossomed as a senior in high school and averaged 11.0 points and 9.5 rebounds.

The Waves also add a pair of sophomore transfers in 6-8 Denis Agre and 6-8 Jonathan Dupre. The Waves will have a familiar name on the roster in freshman Dane Suttle Jr. The 6-6 wing is the son of Dane Suttle, Pepperdine's all-time leading scorer who went on to play in the NBA. Suttle Jr. was the 2006 L.A. City Player of the Year and an all-state honoree as a junior after averaging 22 points per game.