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Van Breda Kolff to Build on Success

NCAA COLLEGE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | NOTES

March 20, 2000|STEVE HENSON

After the Waves' loss to Oklahoma State on Sunday, Coach Jan van Breda Kolff talked about building a program at Pepperdine "like they have done at Oklahoma State and other schools in this tournament."

A glance at Pepperdine's history suggests the notion is not far-fetched.

Jim Harrick led the Waves to five West Coast Conference championships in six seasons during the 1980s and Tom Asbury won three titles in a row in the early '90s.

Pepperdine is nearly certain to reach a milestone next season: 1,000 victories. This season's 25-9 record puts the Waves at 986-743 all-time.

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With their Afros and up-tempo play, the Waves reminded some onlookers of the ABA, the long-defunct professional league where Van Breda Kolff began his professional career in 1974.

"Players needed to feel freedom then and they still do now," he said. "The ABA was a wide-open game. They shot three-pointers in transition.

"It was more of an up-tempo game then, so that might be a similarity to what we do, but that's not because I played in the ABA 100 years ago."

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Pepperdine center Nick Sheppard, who was mostly mediocre in two seasons since transferring from Louisiana State, might have played his way into an NBA tryout camp.

The 6-foot-11, 260-pound senior turned in two strong performances, scoring 17 points against Indiana and 13 against Oklahoma State. He made 13 of 18 shots.

"It felt like I was reborn," he said. "I was back on the national stage and everything came together. I felt so much joy."

Several NBA scouts sat court-side.

"Sheppard is mobile for a big guy," said one. "I can see him getting a look."

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