If a strong front line is Loyola Marymount's Achilles' heel, then Pepperdine could leave the Lions limping when both teams open West Coast Athletic Conference basketball play at 7:30 tonight at Loyola.
Loyola (8-7), riding a three-game win streak, will start freshmen Mark Armstrong and Mike Yoest at forward alongside center Steve Haderlein, the tallest of the three at 6-7. The majority of Loyola's scoring will come from guards Keith Smith and Steve Haney. Smith ranks among the nation's scoring leaders at 25.1 points per game, with Haney second on the team at 13.4.
Pepperdine (11-6) surfs into Gersten Pavilion on a five-game win streak, its longest in two years, and its front line is the talk of the WCAC. Eric White, 6-8, is averaging 14.6 points and 9.4 rebounds and is shooting 53%; Anthony Frederick, 6-7, is averaging 13.4 points, has 43 blocked shots and is shooting 55%; 6-7 Levy Middlebrooks is averaging 11.9 points and 6.9 rebounds and is shooting 58%.
By comparison, Haderlein is the Lions' only front-court player scoring in double figures, at 10.6.
Add in the potent back court of point guard Jon Korfas (12.7 points, 5.1 assists, 55% shooting) and the offense's catalyst, Dwayne Polee (15.9 points, 4.9 assists, 49% shooting) and you have five of the top 15 scorers, the top two foul shooters--Korfas at .843 and Polee at .842--and three of the top eight rebounders. The Waves lead the WCAC in shooting, scoring, rebounding and assists.