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LAST SEASON: Pepperdine went 15-16 overall last season, and 9-5 in the WCC. They tied for second in the WCC, and lost in the second round of the WCC tournament to St. Mary's.
HEAD COACH: Pepperdine is fronted by 4th year head coach Paul Westphal, who landed the job in 2001 after NBA coaching stints with the Seattle Supersonics and Phoenix Suns. He has also previously coached at Southwestern Baptist Bible College and Grand Canyon College in Phoenix.
THIS SEASON: The Waves are 12-6 thus far, with wins over Siena, Farleigh-Dickinson, Long Beach State, Wisconsin, UC-Santa Barbara, Azusa Pacific, UNLV, Arkansas State, Mississippi Valley State, Colorado State, San Diego and San Francisco, and losses to East Carolina, UCLA, Bradley, Cal, Troy and Portland.
After a disappointing 2003/04 campaign, largely due to numerous injuries which plagued the Waves' roster throughout the season, the Waves enter their game against Gonzaga with high hopes of earning a conference championship title. As usual, the Waves are enormously athletic and quick, with some of the more underrated players in the country. Also, as usual, the Waves have shown a propensity to mysteriously play down to their competition. That certainly will not happen on Saturday night.
G – #23 Chase Griffin (6-2, So.) = Griffin is a redshirt sophomore who began starting for the Waves a few games ago. Griffin came into the program with the reputation for being an excellent 3-pointer shooter after averaging 19.8 PPG his senior year in high school. The Seattle area product is only hitting his three's at a 30% clip thus far, but he has seen limited minutes until recently.
G - #3 Alex Acker (6-5, Jr.) = Acker, a former conference freshman of the year, is a guard who is receiving serious looks from NBA scouts. He can play multiple positions, has a very quick first step, and an outstanding shooting touch from midrange to the outside. He is averaging 15.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.9 APG, and is shooting 39.5% from 3 point land this season. Acker shot 14 free-throws against Portland too.
F - #2 Glen McGowan (6-9, Sr.) = Perhaps no player in the WCC has been a bigger thorn in Gonzaga's side than McGowan. A tremendously athletic and versatile player, McGowan averaged 16 PPG in his two contests versus GU last year, including 20 points in the first match up. He is averaging 21.2 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 51% FG, and 38% from 3 ball land this year, and will likely be wearing a NBA uniform next season. McGowan is physical in the paint and is very good at getting to the foul line. He is the go-to star of this team and gives the Zags their toughest matchup problem since Joey Graham of OK State.
F - #34 Yakhouba Diawara (6-7, Sr.) = Diawara, who came to Pepperdine last year after two years of juco ball at the College of Southern Idaho, is averaging 13.8 PPG and 5.9 RPG so far this season. In his one match up versus GU last year, Diawara scored 24 points on 8-15 shooting. A tremendous competitor, Diawara is the Waves' best post defender and an excellent, strong athlete. Another gifted athlete, originally from France.
C = #50 Jarrad Henry (6-11, Fr.) = Henry has been the victim of injuries, including a torn cruciate ligament that caused him to redshirt last year. He was a highly recruited player out of Bishop Miege High in Kansas City. Henry is an outstanding shotblocker with good defensive instincts. He has had injury problems this season too, and is just beginning to work his way into the Waves rotation.
Jesse Pinegar (#4, 6-9, Sr.) is the first big off the bench for Pepperdine. He is averaging 5.6 PPG and 2.4 RPG this season. He is a transfer from BYU and has excellent shooting range, and is the Waves' best 3-point shooter (47%). Marvin Lea (#5, 6-3, So.) is a point guard who has started several games for the Waves this year. He is averaging 4.1 PPG and 3.1 APG this season. Kingsley Costain (#10, 5-7, Fr.) is another quick point guard type out of Toronto who played for the Canadian Young Man's National Team at the Global Games this past summer. He's averaging 5.3 PPG and 1.6 APG. Keith Jarbo (#11, 6-4, Jr.) is a Brown transfer, and an undersized forward who likes to mix it up in the paint. Russell Hicks (#33, 7-0, Fr.) is another Canadian import who gives Pepperdine some additional size underneath.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Gonzaga must return to basics, particularly on defense and on the boards. Pepperdine thrives on second and third chance points, so the Zags must limit the Waves to one shot by blocking out and aggressively going after rebounds on the offensive end. The Waves will want to turn the game into an NBA style free-wheeling, isolation one-on-one game so solid team defense will be needed. On offense, Gonzaga needs to be efficient and exploit Pepperdine's loose syle of play for easy inside baskets and good open looks from outside.