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COLLEGE BASKETBALL 1995-96 : Waves’ Fuller Hopes Nightmare Is Over : Pepperdine: Last season’s first-year coach did some soul-searching after nothing went right.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A greater debacle could hardly befall a first-year coach. Pepperdine slides to its worst record in 17 years and players flee.

“I don’t like the place and I don’t like the coach,” said Joey Ramirez, a guard now at UC Riverside. “I can’t handle another year at Pepperdine.”

Five players transferred, and although they had combined to shoot a woeful 34.3% from the field, their parting shots rattled Coach Tony Fuller.

“There has definitely been an adjustment on my part,” Fuller said. “I’ve done lots of soul-searching. I’ve become more spiritual, looking into myself.”

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Team meetings during the off-season resembled therapy sessions. Dissected were the 8-19 overall record, the 1-14 road mark, the 4-10 record and tie for last place in the West Coast Conference.

“We wanted to forget about it, but . . . we had to discuss it in order to improve,” Fuller said. “Now it is time to move on.”

Moving on meant moving in several new players, including promising guards Marques Johnson and Tezale Archie.

Johnson (no relation to the former UCLA and NBA star), a 6-foot junior transfer from Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa, should help the Waves improve last year’s 42.5% shooting. Archie, a 6-1 freshman from Fresno Hoover High, is pushing junior returner Khary Hervey at point guard.

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The Waves’ three-guard lineup also includes Gerald Brown, the only player who flourished amid last season’s turmoil. Brown, a sturdy 6-3, 210-pound off-guard, was an All-WCC selection after averaging 16.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists a game. He led the team in three-point shooting (37.1%) and steals (32) in addition to scoring average.

“Opponents will know who I am this year, so I have to pass to the open man if I’m getting too much attention,” Brown said. “We should have five guys on the floor who can score.”

Offensive production is expected from 7-foot forward Gavin Van Der Putten, the team’s only senior. Van Der Putten averaged 8.1 points and a team-high 5.3 rebounds last season, shooting 54.6% from the field.

“He’s got a nice touch and his range has improved,” Fuller said. “We need strong, aggressive play on both ends of the floor from Gavin.”

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A rugged approach is taken by Pepperdine’s other starting forward, Bryan Hill. The 6-8, 225-pound sophomore is fully recovered from knee surgery that sidelined him all last season.

“Bryan is a good power forward,” Fuller said. “I’m expecting big things from him.”

Reserve forward Wil Weir, perhaps the team’s best athlete, will sit out at least a week because of a severe sinus infection, and returning sophomore guard R.J. Powell is sidelined indefinitely because of a bulging disk in his back.

All things considered, Fuller sees an improved team. The Waves should have a better transition game, leading to the easy baskets that will improve last season’s dismal shooting percentage.

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“We had very few steals and layups, quick outlets and fast breaks last year,” Fuller said. “This team is much quicker and more athletic.”

Fuller, a former Pepperdine player, was an assistant under Jim Harrick on largely successful teams at Pepperdine from 1982-88 and UCLA from 1988-92. Yet he struggled in his first shot as a head coach, directing San Diego State to a 20-37 record in two seasons before taking over at Pepperdine.

Then came a season of growing pains.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

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Pepperdine Facts and Figures

ROSTER

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No Player Pos Hgt Wgt Yr 22 Tezale Archie G 6-1 175 Fr. 25 Terik Bragg F 6-5 195 Fr. 34 Gerald Brown G 6-3 210 Jr. 4 Eric Griffin F 6-8 215 Fr. 12 Khary Hervey G 6-2 170 Jr. 33 Bryan Hill F 6-8 225 So. 44 Kwame Hunt F 6-7 225 Jr. 31 Marques Johnson G 6-0 155 Jr. 13 Barry Kurnick G 6-1 170 Jr. 11 R.J. Powell G 6-2 185 So. 50 G. Van Der Putten C 7-0 220 Sr. 3 Wil Weir F 6-7 200 Jr.

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No Comment 22 Fresno prep 25 Los Angeles prep 34 All-WCC selection 16.5 points a game 4 San Jose prep 12 Second on team in free throws (80%) 33 Sat out last season due to knee injury 44 JC transfer 31 With this name, big things expected 13 JC transfer 11 Northern California prep 50 Top returning rebounder (5.3) 3 JC Transfer

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SCHEDULE

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Date Opponent Time Saturday at South Florida 4:30 Nov. 28 Seattle 7:00 Dec. 1 Grambling (Ameritas Classic) 6:30 Dec. 2 Ameritas Classic TBA Dec. 5 at CS Northridge 7:00 Dec. 9 Weber State 5:00 Dec. 16 at UC Santa Barbara 7:30 Dec. 19 at Southern Utah 6:30 Dec. 23 at San Jose State 2:00 Dec. 28 Boston (Lobo Classic) 7:15 Dec. 29 Lobo Classic TBA Jan. 6 Boise State 5:00 Jan. 11 at San Diego 7:00 Jan. 13 at San Francisco 7:00 Jan. 19 St. Mary’s 5:00 Jan. 20 Santa Clara 5:00 Jan.26 at Santa Clara 7:30 Jan. 27 at St. Mary’s 7:30 Feb. 2 Portland 5:00 Feb. 3 Gonzaga 7:00 Feb. 8 at Gonzaga 7:00 Feb. 10 at Portland 5:00 Feb. 14 Loyola Marymount 7:30 Feb. 17 at Loyola Marymount 7:30 Feb. 23 San Francisco 7:00 Feb. 24 San Diego 5:00 Mar. 2-4 WCC Tournament at Santa Clara TBA

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All times Pacific and p.m. unless noted.

Coach: Tony Fuller, 2nd season at Pepperdine. 8-19 (28-56 overall).

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1994-95 Team Records: 4-10 in WCC (6th tie), 8-19 overall.


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