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Category: Pepperdine

West Coast Conference men's basketball teleconference highlights

The West Coast Conference held a men's basketball teleconference Tuesday afternoon, with all eight coaches participating. Here are some of the highlights:

Gonzaga Coach Mark Few said he wasn't thrilled with the idea of playing No. 25 San Diego State on Tuesday in Spokane, Wash., in the second game of the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic Regional because it represented an unusually tough early-season test for the 12th-ranked Bulldogs.

"When you sign up for one of those situations," Few said of the tournament, "you sign up for two guarantee games at home and you move on. You're not usually looking to get a top-20 team in here the first three or four days of the season."

The Gonzaga-San Diego State game, which will be broadcast by ESPN2, is one of several in which WCC teams will be showcased on national television early in the season. Pepperdine plays UCLA at 8 p.m. PST Monday on ESPNU, at the same time Saint Mary's will play St. John's on ESPN. Loyola Marymount also will play Florida State on Dec. 18 on ESPNU.

Loyola Marymount Coach Max Good said 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman Edgar Garibay could be a difference-maker because he would give the Lions a quality interior player who would allow them to "look most of the big men we're going to play in the eye." LMU spent last season with 6-7 forward Ashley Hamilton playing center against taller counterparts.

Garibay, returning from a torn ACL, has resumed practice and Good said he was hoping the former Compton High standout could make a significant contribution early in the season.

Pepperdine Coach Tom Asbury said he used junior Keion Bell at point guard during a summer tour of Italy but did not expect the former Pasadena High star to take over the position this season. As many as four players could play at the point for the Waves, hoping to rebound from a 7-24 season.

"He is so quick and strong that I like him at the point," Asbury said of Bell, who averaged 18.5 points per game last season, "but we have a couple of guys who are more true point guards."

WCC Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich said the conference had committed to playing its postseason tournament at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for the next two seasons. Zaninovich also said the conference would continue to play a double round-robin format once Brigham Young joins the WCC next season, meaning each team would play 16 conference games. No conference games will be held on Sunday starting in the 2011-12 season since the Mormon-affiliated Cougars do not play on that day.

--Ben Bolch

Pepperdine baseball Coach Steve Rodriguez cooks up a winner

Pepperdine has not won a College World Series title since 1992, when Steve Rodriguez played second base for the Waves.

But Rodriguez, set to begin his seventh season as Pepperdine's coach, got 2010 off to a winning start today by defeating other Southland college baseball coaches in an "Iron Chef" style cook-off during a media event at ESPN Zone at Downtown Disney.

Rodriguez won with what he described as a "spicy chicken alfredo pasta."

"As soon as you put more fat in the dish, it's going to taste better," Rodriguez said, adding "I think bacon should be its own food group."

Pepperdine and other Southland teams are scheduled to begin their seasons on Feb. 19.

-- Gary Klein

UCLA basketball: Halftime report

Uclahoops2_300 Looking to take another step forward after their season-opening loss, the Bruins showed glimpses of improved play while building a 28-20 lead over Pepperdine in the first half of Monday night's game at Pauley Pavilion. 

UCLA came out playing with some of the defensive intensity for which Coach Ben Howland's teams traditionally have been known. The Bruins forced turnovers by guard Keion Bell and forward Taylor Darby, and center Drew Gordon blocked Mychel Thompson's jumper on the perimeter.

But, at the same time, UCLA guard Michael Roll was missing shots and tossing a pass out of bounds. There were other miscues against Peperdine's zone defense, and the Waves led by two points early on.

And UCLA's free-throw-shooting woes continued.

Eventually, Roll found his range and Gordon continued with his progress, hitting a little baseline turnaround. Malcolm Lee warmed up, too, scoring nine points as the lead stretched to eight.

-- David Wharton

Photo: UCLA center Drew Gordon power his way to a shot in the second half Monday night. Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times

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UCLA basketball: The fun begins

Lee Beginning with the season opener against Cal State Fullerton on Monday night, the Bruins face six games over a span of 14 days.

Coach Ben Howland worries about how his young team will handle this jam-packed start. Some players share his concern.

"That's just going to test our stamina and our ability to do turnarounds on different games and our different assignments," guard Malcolm Lee says. "Games are going to be rolling in and out, we're going to have different assignments and different objectives for every game."

After the first few -- Fullerton, Cal State Bakersfield and Pepperdine -- UCLA plays in the 76 Classic tournament in Anaheim, where the field includes nationally ranked teams such as West Virginia, Butler and Clemson.

"We're going to look up and down just for right now," freshman Mike Moser predicts. "But once we start getting our chemistry right, getting our rotations going real smooth, I think things are going to look more solid."

At least one player, senior forward James Keefe, is looking forward to the next two weeks.

"It's more fun when you're actually playing games than when you're practicing against each other," he said.

-- David Wharton

Photo: Malcolm Lee. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Keion Bell's dynamic dunk

Keion Bell won Pepperdine's annual Blue & Orange Madness dunk contest, and it wasn't even close.

The 6-3 sophomore positioned five teammates in a line between the basket and the free-throw line, then strolled out toward midcourt, sprinted toward the basket, soared over all of them, and stuffed the ball over the rim and into the net, much to the delight of a large crowd at Firestone Fieldhouse.

Hard to believe? Watch it above. 

Bell is 6 feet 3. Of the teammates he jumped over, four are 6-2 and the other is 6-1.

Bell, a Pasadena High product, made the West Coast Conference all-freshman team last season after leading the Waves with averages of 12.9 points, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals.

-- Mike Hiserman


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