The college basketball season has tipped off in Malibu.
The Pepperdine Waves men’s and women’s hoops teams began their schedules this week. The women’s squad hosted CSUN on Wednesday, while the men’s team took on UC-Irvine at a four-team event at San Diego State University.
The beginning of the Waves teams’ 2020-21 campaigns comes after months of uncertainty in the sports world due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The illness’ spread caused the cancellation of men’s and women’s college basketball’s March Madness last spring and delayed the start of this season by several weeks.
Last month, the West Coast Conference, of which Pepperdine is a member school, announced that the conference schedule begins in late December. However, it was up to individual programs to put together their own nonconference schedules to compete in between the NCAA’s declared Nov. 25 start date of the season and the end of the year.
Waves men’s basketball head coach Lorenzo Romar gave a lot of credit to associate head coach Ken Bone and director of operations John Impelman for composing a 10-game nonconference slate that, if the Waves rack up several Ws in, could lead to a berth in the NCAA tournament. Romar described it as a difficult process.
“They stuck with it,” Romar said. “And they not only were able to fill games but were able to get us quality opponents at the last minute. It’s the type of schedule where if we do well, and if we do well in conference, it puts us in position to perhaps get an at-large bid to the tournament.”
The men’s team’s second game of the season is Friday against UCLA. The matchup is also at San Diego State’s Viejas Arena. The Waves’ first home game is Dec. 2 against San Jose State. The squad hosts Fresno State two days later, then on Dec. 9 hosts Cal, which will be the first time a Pac-12 team has traveled to Malibu for a game since 2012. On Dec 12, the club hosts CSUN and two days later will play at UNLV in Las Vegas, Pepperdine’s only true nonconference road game. The Waves host Concordia-Irvine on Dec. 16 and UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 19. Their last nonconference game is on Dec. 23, when the team hosts Tarleton.
The Pepperdine women’s team has a seven-game nonconference schedule. The bunch’s second game is a Nov. 29 home matchup against UCLA. On Dec. 23, the Waves play at UC-Santa Barbara, then host CSU-Bakersfield five days later. Pepperdine hosts New Mexico State on Dec. 12 and California Baptist on Dec. 15. The squad hosts Boise State on Dec. 20 before beginning its WCC schedule.
The women’s squad opens its conference schedule by hosting Portland on Dec. 28. The men’s team’s WCC schedule begins with a New Year’s Eve home matchup against BYU.
Five of the men’s team’s conference games will be broadcast on ESPN channels—the opener against BYU, the Jan. 7 contest at San Francisco, the Jan. 14 matchup at Gonzaga, the Jan. 23 game at BYU and a Jan. 30 home contest against Gonzaga.
The Waves men’s team went 16-16 last season and is lead by senior guard Colbey Ross, a two-time All-WCC first teamer and a preseason Naismith Trophy and Bob Cousy Award candidate. Kessler Edwards, a junior forward and All-WCC second teamer last season, is also a top returning player for a squad that features seven of its top scorers from the 2019-20 season.
The Pepperdine women’s team finished last season with a 16-15 record. The group features three starters and seven letter winners from a season ago including junior guard Malia Bambrick, who averaged 10.4 points a contest, and senior forward Monique Andriuolo, who averaged 9.7 points.