Pepperdine's home-court games with Northern Iowa, at 1 p.m. today, and with U.S. International, at 7:30 p.m. next Tuesday, appear to be tuneups as the Waves prepare to play at DePaul next Thursday. Both home games will be played at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu.
Although the Waves (10-2) are off to their best start in a decade, Coach Jim Harrick said his team has been struggling, particularly in a loss to Kentucky just before Christmas. In its last game, however, Pepperdine routed Robert Morris, 84-59.
If the Waves are off their game, they may not have easy times with Northern Iowa (4-4) or USIU (7-5).
Northern Iowa's last game was an 83-69 loss to the University of San Diego. But the Panthers' top scorer, 6-3 Randy Kraayenbrink, had a game-high 32 points against the Toreros at San Diego, raising his average to 21.4 points a game.
The Panthers' 6-10 center, sophomore Scott Plondke, is averaging 17 points and 7.5 rebounds and could be hard to handle for the Waves, who have won the rebound battle against only 6 of 12 opponents. And Pepperdine needs defensive rebounds to get its fast break going.
USIU's record is not impressive, but the Sea Gulls are an improving team. They are averaging 95 points a game and have already won six more games than they did all last season, when they finished with a 1-27 record.
Pepperdine's balanced scoring is led by Dwayne Polee, who is averaging 14.3 points and four assists a game; Eric White, with 13.9 points a game, and sixth man Grant Gondrezick with 12.5 points.
The Waves are shooting 53.4%, led by Gondrezick at 57.2% and Polee at 56.5%. Pepperdine has shot better than 50% in 10 games this season.