Pepperdine Voice Magazine
Coach Tom Asbury's Winning Ways
by Jerry Derloshon
Watching the Pepperdine men's basketball team get crushed on national television last December was difficult for former head coach Tom Asbury. Considered by many as the architect of one of the best periods in Pepperdine men's basketball history he spent 15 seasons at Pepperdine, the first nine as an assistant coach (1980-88) followed by six as head coach (1989-94).
Asbury teams compiled a 125-59 record in his six seasons as head coach of the Waves and made five postseason appearances: three in the NCAA Tournament (1991, 1992, and 1994) and two in the National Invitational Tournament (1989, 1993). Pepperdine won three regular-season West Coast Conference (WCC) titles under Asbury and had four 20-win seasons with him at the helm, including 24 wins in 1991-92, a season in which the Waves went a perfect 14-0 in the WCC. The impressive records made the program's recent decline all the more difficult for the two-time WCC Coach of the Year. When director of athletics John Watson asked him to come out of retirement and assume head coaching duties last spring, Asbury felt more than compelled to return.
"There are very few people who have been as much a part of Pepperdine's success in basketball over the years as Tom Asbury," says Watson. "For 15 years he was a major reason why Pepperdine was the class of the West Coast Conference, and we're looking forward to his return to the bench."
Asbury is focused on building continuity in the program and returning it to a high level of success. Toward that end he hired three assistant coaches who all played at Pepperdine: Marty Wilson ('89), Damin Lopez ('94), and Will Kimble ('04). Scott Coopman signed on as director of operations. Asbury and his assistant coaches have eight new players joining the team: six freshmen and two community college transfers. Only four players are returning from last season's team.
High on Asbury's priorities is helping inspire student-athletes who understand and appreciate the mission of school. He underscores that at an academically rigorous university like Pepperdine, it is all the more difficult to be a competitive athlete as well as a good student.
"Our athletes are expected to practice hard and play at the highest level of competition while making good grades and dealing with the travel schedules and distractions that other students don't always have to deal with. It's not easy by any means."
Nor is it easy for the coaches, who keep demanding schedules as well and give their all in support of the team. It has been especially gratifying that former players were quick to let Asbury know how pleased they were that their old coach is back in Malibu. Many have dropped in on the coach to extend their best wishes and make plans to cheer on the Waves this season.
For up-to-date information about the 2008-09 game schedule and more about the men's basketball team, visit www.pepperdinesports.com.