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He Wants to Be a Model of Consistency : College basketball: Doug Christie is trying to refine his game as he moves into a leadership role for Pepperdine.

November 15, 1990|RAY RIPTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

When it comes to playing basketball, Pepperdine's Doug Christie goes all-out all the time.

That can lead to good things; it can also result in disaster.

Christie, a junior guard-forward from Seattle, led the Waves with 112 assists last season as a part-time starter, but he also led the team with 100 turnovers.

One of his strengths is his ability to block shots. Small for the front court at 6-foot-6, he tied for the team lead with 34 blocks last season with 6-8 junior forward Geoff Lear, the only underclassman on last season's All-West Coast Conference team.

The 1989-90 season was Christie's first with Pepperdine. Because he did not receive a passing score on his college entrance examination, he was unable to practice or play with the Waves as a freshman because of NCAA regulations.

He said his mother told him that his hiatus from basketball, forced on him under the NCAA's Proposition 48, "was a blessing in disguise. She told me, 'Get your grades.' But (the layoff) hurt me a lot."

He got his grades as a freshman, but he did not have the kind of season some expected of him as a sophomore. His game suffered because of the layoff, because he was getting used to a new position, and also because he and his teammates were not used to each other's moves.

As a senior at Seattle's Rainier Beach High, he was named Washington's outstanding AA-level player when he led his team to a state championship. He played center and averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots a game.

As a Pepperdine swing man, he played about 24 minutes a game and averaged 8.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, four assists and 1.2 blocked shots.

"Doug was trying to do a little too much last season," Pepperdine Coach Tom Asbury said. "He still has a tendency to turn the ball over because he's doing too many things, but he's a talented guy. Sometimes he's going to turn the ball over, but he also makes some good things happen."

Asbury thinks it would be a mistake to attempt to limit Christie's game.

"I don't want to restrain him too much," he said. "I'd like to refine him as opposed to restraining him."

Much is expected of Christie and Lear this season. Last season Pepperdine dealt WCC champion Loyola Marymount its only conference loss and finished 17-11, but the Waves have lost four of the top five scorers from 1989-90.

Christie is aware that he and Lear will have to help fill a vacuum in scoring and leadership. But he thinks that "Geoff and I will be up to the task of replacing those guys."

He was not up to the strain of sitting on the sidelines in his first season at Pepperdine.

"Not being able to compete just drives me crazy," he said. "Just being out there (on the court) is a great feeling. I had to sit and watch, and I knew I had the talent to be out there. It was tough to watch."

He was tough on himself last season when he did not live up to his own expectations.

"My mom says I'm a perfectionist," Christie said. "I did so much that was wrong last year that I was questioning whether I could play basketball. But my mom said that no one remembers what you did in the first half, only the last jumper that you make."

In Pepperdine's first exhibition game this season, a 108-85 loss to High Five America, Christie acted as if he were following his mother's scenario. Held to only two points in the first half, he scored 14 in the second. He also had seven rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots and two steals. He compiled those statistics in only 21 minutes because Asbury substituted liberally to get a look at all his players.

Christie should average closer to a full 40 minutes a game this season and he knows he will have to refine his skills in such things as defense, dribbling, ball handling and shooting.

But he doesn't want to eliminate the creativity he brings to the game.

"I've had to work on having confidence in my shooting, but I've also worked on my mind game, which has helped me the most."

There are times, he said, when he is "not mentally prepared to play basketball."

When he is unprepared, however, he said that he will try to remember what freshman guard Rodney Sanders, a Fairfax High graduate, told him recently. "He said, 'No one can stop you if you play your game.' "

His playground style is the one-on-one game at which the NBA's Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, Christie's idols, excel.

Christie said he remembers that when he first began playing basketball, when he was in the sixth grade, it was "such a rush. It's so competitive and you can dominate a person (on offense and defense)."

"Sometimes I just like to have the ball because I have a defender where I want him. I can shoot or go by him. I still like to have the ball because I can do as I wish."

Things that he wishes to do sometimes conflict, however, with things Pepperdine coaches want him to do. In such situations, he said, he will try to recall the advice of Steve Aggers, first-year Pepperdine assistant coach.

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