Pepperdine Men's Basketball HISTORY
Paced by the play of All-WCC selections Dennis Johnson, Marcos Leite and Ollie Matson Jr., Pepperdine won the WCC championship in 1976 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1962. The Waves defeated Memphis by the final score of 87-77 in a first-round game at the McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz., before losing to UCLA at Pauley Pavilion by a 70-61 count.
Johnson, a junior college transfer who played at Pepperdine just one season, enjoyed a professional career with the Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns and the Seattle SuperSonics. Regarded as one of the game’s all-time great defensive players, Johnson was named the Most Valuable Player at the 1979 NBA Finals. He was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2010.
In 1988, Harrick was hired as the head coach at UCLA, and assistant Tom Asbury was elevated to direct the Waves. In six seasons at the helm, Asbury-led Pepperdine teams advanced to postseason play on five occasions and notched a cumulative record of 125-59 (.679) during his first stint as head coach. The Waves competed in the NCAA Tournament in 1991, 1992 and 1994, while the 1989 and 1993 squads advanced to the second round of the NIT.
In 1994, Pepperdine battled a highly touted Michigan team on even terms before falling to the Wolverines by a final score of 78-74 in overtime in a first-round NCAA Tournament game at the Kansas Coliseum in Wichita, Kan.
Under Asbury’s guidance, Pepperdine won regular-season WCC titles in 1991, 1992 and 1993, while the 1991, 1992 and 1994 teams captured the WCC Tournament crown. Pepperdine established a conference record by winning 32 consecutive games against league opponents from 1991-93 (38 straight including conference tournament games).
Swingman Doug Christie attracted dozens of NBA scouts to Firestone Fieldhouse and was a first-round draft pick by the Seattle SuperSonics in 1992. In a 15-year pro career, Christie played for seven NBA teams.