WHAT WE THINK - PREVIEWING WEEK EIGHT OF WCC PLAY
PEPPERDINE is probably grateful to be on the road this week, traveling to a pair of campuses far removed from Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu -- Portland and Gonzaga. The Waves need to get as far away from their last home game as possible.
That would be the San Diego Stinker, an inexplicable 72-50 loss to the Toreros.
With a pair of road sweeps this season, the Waves are 5-2 on the road and should have every reason to believe they can beat 5-7 PORTLAND, a team against which they have a series record of 58 wins against 33 defeats. Pepperdine has won five of its last six and six of its last eight games against the purple Pilots.
However, Pepperdine has won only once in Portland in the last six years, in 2013.
After losing by such a huge margin to San Diego, coach Marty Wilson’s team should be plenty motivated for this road swing, tied as it is for third place with BYU, both at 8-5. Furthermore, one more win the rest of the way and Pep will clinch its first winning season since 2005.
As Wilson is fond of reminding his players, they were picked to finish tied for seventh before the season started.
Forward Stacy Davis has been steady all season long with averages of 15.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, with 1.8 assists for good measure. Fellow forward Jett Raines averages 11.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Of late, the Waves have gotten good play from swingman Lamond Murray Jr. In the last five games he’s contributing 9.8 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 56.1 percent from the floor.
Getting a split on this trip would be huge for Pep considering No. 3/2 GONZAGA, 24-1 overall and 12-0 in the WCC, awaits on Saturday in Spokane. Pepperdine has lost 16 straight on the road to Gonzaga and last won in Spokane in 1998. While the Waves won 26 of the first 31 games in this series, the Zags have bullied their way to 42 wins in the last 47 meetings.
Since the Waves are tied for third with BYU, they should be rooting for SAINT MARY’S to knock off the Cougars in Provo on Thursday. PACIFIC, looking up in the standings at the other nine teams in the conference, isn’t given much of a chance to topple BYU on Saturday in Provo.
Elsewhere around the WCC, What We Think of the season thus far is:
- At 3-10, SAN FRANCISCO has to be the most disappointing team in the conference. Just last season the Dons were 21-10 and tied for second in the WCC. That was so last season. This time around USF is saddled with a five-game losing streak and is 6-16 in its last 22 games. “I don’t think we’re as good as we thought we were going to be,’’ coach Rex Walters said. “Our guys have worked hard all year. We haven’t had many bad practices. Some teams can learn from winning, some teams learn through losing.’’
- Is SANTA CLARA-USF still regarded as a rivalry game? When the teams met Jan. 17 at the Leavey Center in Santa Clara, attendance was a disappointing 2,074 and the atmosphere was tepid, slightly better than the sound of one hand clapping, even with the Broncos winning 70-64.
- After playing at BYU on Thursday night, Saint Mary’s better guard against the dreaded “trap’’ game at SAN DIEGO on Saturday afternoon. It’s the WCC’s Game of the Week, featuring two of the best players in the league in Saint Mary’s productive post man, Brad Waldow, and USD’s Johnny “Deadeye’’ Dee, currently third in the nation in free throw percentage at .927.
A few Marty-isms
Many coaches are fond of using platitudes and famous quotes to convey deep meaning to their teams. Wilson is much more succinct, reducing his messages to acronyms and pithy statements. Here are some that Pepperdine’s players are familiar with:
“Both Feet In’’ – When Wilson addresses his team at center court, every player must have his feet inside the jump circle, symbolic of being “all in’’ with the Pepperdine program.
OKG – “Our kind of guy.” Used in the recruiting process to identify the right kind of player for Pepperdine.
GID – “Get it done.” Or, in different parts of the country, git ‘er done, or even gitter dun. Either way, do whatever it takes to achieve the objective.
DAT – “Discipline, accountability, trust.’’ Self-explanatory, or should be. A prospect who doesn’t grasp the concept of DAT is definitely not Pep’s OKG and thus will never have a chance to either GID or have Both Feet In.
Bet you didn’t know
That Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer is the half-brother of Pepperdine women’s assistant coach Jordan Adams-Smith. Neither did yours truly.
Speaking of which
Wiltjer and teammate Kevin Pangos, along with BYU’s Tyler Haws, made the cut to 20 for the 2015 Wooden Award, given to the top college basketball player in the country. I would have liked to have seen Saint Mary’s Waldow on that list as well, but darn it, no one asked me.
Legendary towel-chewing coach Jerry Tarkanian, who died Wednesday at 84, will be remembered fondly around the WCC. He coached UNLV in 1973-74 and ’74-75 when it was a member of the West Coast Athletic Conference, which subsequently dropped the “A” and morphed into the WCC. The conference will pay tribute to Tark the Shark at its tournament next month in Las Vegas. In retirement, Tarkanian almost always attended the WCC Tournament.
A limited number of all-session passes to the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas March 5-10 are now available for sale online at WCCHoopsInVegas.com. All-session passes for the event at the Orleans Arena in the casino of the same name cost $175 for all nine men's games and all nine women's games, 18 games in all. Breaking it down, that's $9.72 per game. Further ticket information is available below: HERE or log on to WCChoopsInVegas.com.
John Crumpacker spent more than three decades working at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle. During his career he has covered the full gamut of sports from prep to professionals. Most recently, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for Cal through the end of the 2013-14 season. In addition to covering 10 Olympic Games, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a two-time winner of the Track & Field Writers of America annual writing award and has several APSE Top 10 writing awards.