Thursday, February 28, 2008

Making waves in Malibu

The announcement apparently came a week ago, but somehow, I missed it:

Tom Asbury is returning to Pepperdine as head basketball coach next season, after a 14-year absence.

Asbury presided over one of Pep's best stretches during his previous tenure as head coach, from 1988 to 1994. During those six seasons, the Waves won three consecutive West Coast Conference championships, and made five postseason appearances — three in the NCAA tournament, and two in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). Before that, Asbury spent nine years on the Pepperdine bench as an assistant under the volatile Jim Harrick.

Asbury left Malibu in 1994 to take over the reigns at Kansas State, where he spent six seasons — three good, three less so. He left coaching for a few years before taking an assistant's job at Alabama, where he worked until last season.

When I was at Pep ('79-'81), Asbury was widely known as the secret of Harrick's success — an excellent recruiter, and a stable personality to balance Harrick's mercurial, fly-off-the-handle approach. If Asbury's got anything left in the tank, he could do a great deal to resurrect a program that has fallen into disarray since he left it. (Case in point: Vance Walberg, the head coach who started this season with Pepperdine, was ousted midway through the year amid allegations of player abuse reminiscent of Bob Knight.)

The Waves are currently 10-14 overall and 4-8 in the WCC, with three games left to play.

I hope Asbury pulls this off. I'd love to see the Blue and Orange back in the Big Dance some year soon.

Roll, Waves!

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