The moment all Cal basketball fans have been waiting for will soon be at hand, as the Bears compete in their season opener this Tuesday against the Pepperdine Waves here in Haas Pavilion. Fans itching to see a sneak preview of Mark Fox’s Bears in action had their opportunity last Wednesday, October 30th, during their exhibition game against the Saint Martin’s Saints. Those fans were hopefully pacified by Cal’s handy 98-75 win; fans of the Pepperdine Waves have had no such opportunity yet, as Cal will be their first opponent, official or otherwise, to open up the 2019-20 season. Pepperdine coach Lorenzo Romar will kick off his second season back coaching the Waves, though this will be his fifth season total with this team counting his stint there from 1996-1999. In the interim, Romar served a long run with the Washington Huskies from 2002-2017 where he collected several Pac-10/Pac-12 championships and NCAA Postseason appearances.
Though we don’t have much to go on performance-wise when evaluating Cal’s inaugural opponent, we can make some speculation on what the fresh Waves will bring up from Malibu to Berkeley this Tuesday. Though only boasting one true senior on their roster, Kameron Edwards, who has been with the program since 2015, the team still has four of their top five scorers returning from last year. Pepperdine has not seen victory over a Pac-12 opponent since their win over Washington State in 2012, and worse yet, the last time they won a true road season opener was 1997 (also under Coach Romar). Though Cal has won their only two Pepperdine matchups in history, we have yet to see the full potential of our new squad under Coach Fox, and the mysteries lurking under the Waves will present challenges for the Bears for Round 3. Relying on last year’s statistics alone, things look bleak for the Bears, with Pepperdine’s top three returning scorers outshining Cal’s by 10.3 points per game.
Pepperdine Players to Watch:
#4 Colbey Ross – 6’1” Jr G
From Aurora, Colorado, Ross is on track to become Pepperdine’s all-time scorer, with one of the best freshman performances in program history already under his belt. He has thus far started in all 66 games of his collegiate career, and averaged 19.4 ppg and 7 ast.
#5 Jade’ Smith – 6’4” Jr G
This Oakland native is returning to the Bay Area for this matchup in Haas, and is widely recognized as one of the Pepperdine squad’s most improved players last season. Smith was one of the best rebounders on the team last year averaging 5.6 reb, and was fourth in the West Coast Conference for steals with 51 on the season.
#15 Kessler Edwards – 6’8” So F
Kessler Edwards hails from Rancho Cucamonga, California, and put up some impressive numbers his first season; he led the conference in rebounding and started in the majority of his games. Edwards shot 54.1 eFG% last year, the second-best for freshmen in the WCC.
#20 Kameron Edwards – 6’6” Sr F
Brother to the above K. Edwards, Kameron is one of Pepperdine’s seasoned veterans. Though consistently plagued by injuries, he still started in 14 of the 18 games he appeared in last season and scored in double figures in 14 of his first 15. He scored 20 or more points in five separate games, and averaged 14.7 ppg for the last two seasons.
#33 Skylar Chavez – 6’5” Jr G
Chavez is new to the Waves this season, but previously played at Santa Rosa Junior College where he led the state of California in scoring, with 27.8 ppg, during his sophomore year. He also shot 53.2% from the field and 39.5% behind the arc. This Woodacre native will experience his first game with Pepperdine today against Cal.
Meaningless prediction: Cal 76, Pepperdine 72
The game will take place at Haas Pavilion at 7:00 p.m. PST. It can be viewed on Pac-12 Network, and the KGO 810 AM feed can be streamed on TuneIn radio.