Mirror Sports Writer
Pepperdine has decided to try for success in basketball a different way. After former NBA coach Paul Westphal was fired, the Waves have hired a much lower profile coach as his successor. Vance Walberg, who has done well the last 17 years at Clovis West High in Fresno and Fresno City College, has become the 12th men’s basketball coach in Pepperdine’s 68 years.
Westphal, who was termed “an ideal fit for the school” by athletic director John Watson, was dismissed after winning just seven games in the past season with a depleted roster. In five years he had a record of 86-66.
The Waves hope that Walberg, with his many connections to high school and community college coaches, can revive recruiting, an area where Westphal and his staff faltered in the last couple of years.
The highest profile player on the team is Michael Gerrity, who thrived as a freshman point guard but had little help. Gerrity was Westphal’s best recent recruit.
Pepperdine has a history of winning West Coast Conference championships, but while the Waves struggled recently conference power Gonzaga rose to national prominence. Westphal’s teams lost seven of the last eight meetings with Gonzaga.
Another problem was that Loyola-Marymount, Pepperdine’s archrival, advanced to the conference tournament championship game this season and lost to Gonzaga by only two points.
“Vance Walberg has a proven track record of developing winning programs at the high school and community college levels,’’ said Watson.
It is known that two of the other finalists were UCLA assistant Donny Daniels and USC assistant Gib Arnold. At one time Arnold was a Pepperdine assistant.