Pendleton's sour memory makes for sweet success

March 17, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO, CALIF — SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- B. J. Pendleton planned to get some && revenge this winter, but he never dreamed it would be this sweet.

Pendleton, a junior, plays power forward for Loyola. He's the one who smooched the championship trophy after the Greyhounds won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament, but he figures to be more forceful tomorrow (5:20 p.m., Channel 11), when Loyola makes its NCAA tournament debut in a first-round West Region game against Arizona at Arco Arena.

The best turnaround in the nation was fueled by the addition of first-year coach Skip Prosser and three freshmen and the return of Tracy Bergan and Michael Reese. The Greyhounds are 17-12 a year after going 2-25.

"After last season, I told myself that I would forget it," Pendleton said of the worst season in Loyola history. "Then I thought about it and said, 'What? I can't forget it.' It's been my motivator all season long. I wanted to pay back all of the teams that laughed in our face last year."

Now, the jokes come from his teammates.

"They're always teasing me and Darius Johnson," Pendleton said of the freshman guard who followed Prosser east from Cincinnati. "They say I'm his [Prosser's] son, and that Darius is my little brother."

Pendleton's work ethic is the reason Prosser has propped him up in front of the other Greyhounds. His 6-foot-6, 215-pound frame is mostly a gift of nature, but nobody in the program works harder in the weight room. Pendleton rarely faced the basket before this season, but he worked on his range, and his 43.4 percent (23 of 53) three-point shooting is best on the team.

Even with a season to go, Pendleton is the first Greyhound since Mark Rohde in 1976 to surpass 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a career. He made the MAAC all-rookie team as a freshman, when he complemented Bergan, Reese and Kevin Green, but became the center of attention last year, when he was double-teamed and took a beating.

"There are so many things he does that go unnoticed," Bergan said. "He leads us in charges, and he's always guarding bigger people he shouldn't be guarding. You never hear him say, 'I need help covering this guy.' He's such a strong guy. In one word, he gives us stability."

With Bergan, Reese and center David Credle, Pendleton gives Loyola four starters from the Washington area.

One of Pendleton's best pressure performances came Sunday night, when Prosser gave him five minutes' notice that, as captain, he would speak to the 1,000 fans who had gathered in McGuire Hall for the NCAA selection show. Pendleton's speech is affected by a stutter, but he never stumbled in thanking the fans for their support. "I've reduced the stutter since I first arrived here, but it's a struggle sometimes," Pendleton said. "Maybe I need to speak in front of a crowd more."

* Loyola alumni are invited to watch tomorrow's game on twin large-screen televisions at Reitz Arena. Refreshments will be available.

ARIZONA vs. LOYOLA

* Day: Tomorrow

* Time: 5:20 p.m. approx.

* Site: Sacramento, Calif.

Region: West

* Seedings: Arizona No. 2, Loyola No. 15

Records: Arizona 25-5, Loyola 17-12

* TV: Channel 11.

* Radio: None

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