News and Events
Men's Basketball Head Coach Vance Walberg Brings Up-tempo Style to Pepperdine
August 23, 2006 - In his 26 seasons as a head coach, Vance Walberg has gained significant experience taking over new programs and turning them into winners. In his most recent position as head coach at Fresno City College, Walberg enjoyed a four-year run of success that would be hard for any coach to match at any level. During his four seasons at Fresno City College, Walberg guided the Rams to a 133-11 (.924) overall record, including a 34-0 mark in 2005 en route to the California State Championship.
As he enters his first season as head coach of the Pepperdine men's basketball program, Walberg is not guaranteeing any immediate national championships, but is confident that he can return the Waves to their proper place as one of the elite teams in the West Coast Conference (WCC) and a consistent participant in the NCAA Tournament.
Walberg's immediate challenge will be turning Pepperdine into a winning program after the Waves suffered through a tough season a year ago. "The biggest thing is going to be their work ethic and their passion," Walberg comments. "And we have some really special kids … and that is what I am really excited about." Walberg likes their enthusiasm for learning and feels the team has been very receptive and are trying hard. "It's not only a cultural shock but a body shock to have your body go at a different speed than it's used to," said Walberg. Pepperdine should also be excited as Walberg brings with him an up-tempo style of play which generally results in high scoring games.
While at Fresno City College, his teams averaged 103.5 points a game. When asked to describe what type of offense he's going to run, Walberg responded: "Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. It's really very simple. What we do is spread you out and attack. I call it AASAA-Attack, Attack, Skip, Attack, Attack. Everybody plays a big part in it. It starts with the guards. The first thing I want them to do is come down and look to score. It's up to the guards to be able to break their man down. Once the breakdown process begins and whoever helps, that's where the kick goes. If we struggle, we skip it and put it inside and it's time for the big guys to take over. It's very simple." Walberg hopes that the play quickly brand leads to success and an NCAA Tournament appearance.
The installation of a new style of play should definitely improve a Pepperdine offense that averaged 66.0 points a game and ranked eighth in the WCC. The Waves are looking to replace their leading scorer in Tashaan Forehan-Kelly, who averaged 15.5 points and 5.8 rebounds a game while receiving honorable mention All-WCC recognition.
The catalyst for the new Waves' offense will be Gerrity, who put together an outstanding rookie season despite missing six games due to an ankle injury. Gerrity topped Pepperdine in scoring a team-high 13 times and was second on the club with 17 double-figure scoring games. "Mike is going to be the quarterback of the club," Walberg said. "We need a big year from Mike and more importantly we need Mike to stay healthy for us to have a chance to compete in the WCC this year. I think, in this offense, if Mike does what he is suppose to, he should be one of the leaders in the league, if not the country, in assists," Walberg added. Gerrity topped the Waves and ranked eighth in the WCC with 3.43 assists a contest last season.
Gerrity is one of 12 guards listed on Pepperdine's 16-man roster and, according to Walberg, he could never have enough for his style of play that puts a premium on handling the ball, running the floor and shooting from the outside. Other guards on the Waves' roster include returning letterwinners Gregg Barlow (Jr., 5.2 ppg., 2.3 rpg), Kingsley Costain (Jr., 4.2, 0.5), Chase Griffin (Sr., 6.4, 2.5), Marvin Lea (Sr., 2.2, 0.9) and Tomas Pranciliauskas (So. 3.2, 0.2). Griffin and Barlow saw the most extensive playing time out of all returning players a year ago, each appearing in 22 games. Griffin established career-highs in points, rebounds and assists and has the ability to excel in the new system, according to Walberg.
The position is further bolstered by the additions of juniors Tyler Carr (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Moorpark), Mike Hornbuckle (Westlake Village, Calif./Azusa Pacific), and Rico Tucker (San Diego, Calif./Minnesota), freshmen Michael Nash (Plano, Texas/Texas A&M) and Nic Van Weelden (Paradise Valley, Ariz./Valley Christian HS), and senior Jason Walberg (Fresno, Calif./Saint Mary's).
Sophomores Willie Galick and Chris Oakes return as forwards while freshman Blake Wallace (Yorba Linda, Calif./Servite HS) is set to begin his first season at Pepperdine after signing an early letter-of-intent in November.
Pepperdine begins its 30-game schedule on Sunday, November 12, when it travels to Seattle, Washington, for the Basketball Travelers Tournament. The Waves are scheduled to open the season against Washington before facing Northern Iowa and Nichols State during the three-day tournament.
Pepperdine will play 11 of 16 non-conference games on the road, including eight of its first nine. "Our schedule is definitely going to test us early in our first year," Walberg said. He feels the season will be a challenge for the team but a lot of fun at the same time. "We're going to come in with a lot of enthusiasm and no-excuse attitude. We will play hard and hopefully our style of play will create some match-up problems so we can surprise some people," comments Walberg.
For a complete list of the upcoming Pepperdine men's basketball season, please click here.