Utah assistant coach Marty Wilson could be leaving to become an assistant coach at Pepperdine, his alma mater, with the chance to eventually become the head coach in the next couple of years.

Reports from California have former Waves coach Tom Asbury coming out of retirement to take the job at the end of this season. Vance Wahlberg was hired two years ago but abruptly resigned last month and was replaced by interim coach Eric Bridgeland.

Wilson, who is in his fourth year as a Ute assistant, said "there's a chance" a scenario will work where he goes to Malibu to assist the 62-year-old Asbury for a couple of years before taking over as head coach.

He said he is going down to California after the New Mexico game Saturday to meet with Asbury, athletic director John Watson and "some other people." Wilson said he definitely wouldn't leave Utah until this season was completed.

"We're going to discuss all the parameters and what it would take to get me down there," Wilson said. "I don't know many of the details right now."

Wilson believes Asbury will be announced as the new Pepperdine coach on Wednesday. Wilson said he is loyal to Utah and wouldn't leave without an agreement to be Pepperdine's head coach in the near future.

The 41-year-old Wilson played at Pepperdine from 1984-89 and was an assistant there from 1990-96, taking over as the interim head coach for the last two months of the '96 season. After that, he was an assistant at the University of San Diego for two years and UC-Santa Barbara for six years before coming to Utah in 2004.

Wilson was hired by coach Ray Giacoletti and, after three years, was kept on the staff by Jim Boylen when he took the Utah coaching job. Wilson was one of the finalists for the Pepperdine job before Wahlberg got the job two years ago.

CONFIDENCE IN LUKA: Luka Drca has the worst turnover-per-minute percentage on the Ute team.

He also has the best assist-per-minute percentage on the team and by far the best assists-per-game average.

Coach Jim Boylen can put up with the former because of the latter.

"I feel comfortable with Luka Drca having the ball in his hands at the end of the game," said Boylen.

Drca had four assists and three turnovers against San Diego State on Saturday, including one bad pass late in the game on a pass from under the basket to halfcourt that was picked off with two minutes left and the Utes up by four. Fortunately for the Utes, the Aztecs didn't score and Shaun Green scored at the other end to put the game away.

Boylen didn't like the turnover, but he seems to excuse such errors because of the positives Drca brings.

"Sometimes your greatest strength is your greatest weakness," he said. "Luka has unbelievable confidence in his ability to make plays and to be successful. Sometimes he turns the ball over because he thinks he can make any play out there. I'll take a guy that way."

Drca, despite playing just 20 minutes a game, has 76 assists on the season, well ahead of second-best Tyler Kepkay, who has 54.

FUN ON THE ROAD: Pretty much every road game is a new experience for Boylen, whose only previous college coaching experience was at Michigan State.

Boylen will visit the 23,000-seat Marriott Center for the first time Wednesday night, and he said he's looking forward to it.

"Our league is a terrific league for playing on the road," he said. "By that I mean, at New Mexico is fun, at BYU will be fun. It's why you get into this business. It will be loud and they have great fans (at BYU)."

To get ready for the Marriott Center, the Utes used a couple of loudspeakers to pipe in crowd noise while they practiced Monday morning in the Huntsman Center.

"We've been practicing with the crowd noise because it's going to be hard to communicate," said Boylen, who believes his team has been road-tested this year.

"We've played big road games — the whole idea of why Dr. (Chris) Hill and I built this schedule, at Washington, at Gonzaga, at Oregon, at Cal. It's all part of the master plan to have been in these situations before to hopefully prepare us."

THE JERK: For the fourth time this season, Boylen grabbed the microphone after the game to address the crowd at the Huntsman Center. After saying all the usual things about "staying with us" and "help us build this thing," he publicly apologized to his wife for being a "jerk" all week.

When asked about it after the game, Boylen said, "I had to say that. I've just been out of it this week."


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