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February 2014 Archives

WOMEN: Coach Weisenberg on the Final Games

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Pepperdine women's basketball coach Ryan Weisenberg answered a few questions prior to the team's regular-season finale at Santa Clara:

Q: How is team morale?

A: "We are having a difficult season. There are a couple of people who are just waiting for this season to be over. Then there are the smart ones that are looking at this as an audition for next season. The team has actually stepped up the energy and the focus has gotten better. This is a great audition for next year and the players are starting to realize that we have six new players coming in next year. There are players who will be taking starting roles and the competition is going to be fiercer."

Q: What explains the team's difficulties of late?

A: "It is a lack of defense. We have a new defensive philosophy from the past, and it is easy to fall back into what you know. We have seen some major steps in the right direction. That point differential will not be there next year. We will have a whole summer to drill in that new philosophy. Our next two recruiting classes are impressive. We are battling between five players who would start for us right now and we can only give two scholarships to those five. The '15 class will be just as good as our '14 class."

Q: In the final games, what should fans expect?

A: "Our motto is we want one more -- we want one more win over last season. We are anxious to see who we will play at the WCC Tournament. We need to play at the top of our game. If all of us aren't there it will be a struggle.  For the people who have gone to the games they have seen how hard these girls have been working. We have made it extremely difficult for other teams."

Q: Has the team philosophy changed?

"The team's approach to the game has not changed since day one. We believe that if we start going soft on the players because we are losing, not only will we lose our players but we will lose our momentum going into next season. We have made adjustments, yes, but we have not done anything drastic. It comes down to player development. We need to keep these girls accountable on and off the court and that is the big thing we are doing."

Q: Who should fans be watching for in the final game and at the WCC Tournament?

A: "Ea Shoushtari. Ea has been playing a whole new role. She has been thrown back into the responsibility of carrying the team, facilitating, and scoring still. She has done a phenomenal job at what we have asked her to do.

"Fans should look out for Allie Green as well. She has the possibility of winning Newcomer of the Year for the WCC. We generally like to celebrate team over individual, but this is huge and she has done an incredible job, so we are really pushing for her."

Q: What do you expect at the WCC Tournament?

A: "Last year we went in and our focus and mentality wasn't there and we got blown out by San Francisco. I have asked the girls who they would like to see in the first round. A lot have said we want San Francisco. Some say LMU, because it is our rival and we would like to knock them out.

"The intensity of the tournament is different. Something I learned from being with the Lakers and Sparks is that there is a different mentality. It is a completely new season. We are going to teach these girls how to prepare for the playoffs even after a season like this.

"In Julie (Rousseau)'s first season here, they were 11-14 going into the WCC Tournament and she won it!  It is basketball and you never know what it can happen."

Last Thursday, senior forward Malte Kramer made Pepperdine history as the first basketball player ever to receive Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American honors (third team). Kramer an economics major, currently holds a 4.0 grade-point average and is one of just three basketball players in the West Coast Conference who received the honor this year.

Q: How do you manage to balance both school and basketball?

A: "It's definitely been a challenge at times. Classes become especially difficult during the season when the team travels because it's not always easy to catch up when we miss classes. Overall I have pretty good self-discipline so I always study when I need to, and stay on top of all of my assignments."

Q: Why did you choose to major in economics?

A: "I enjoy real world applications like math and feel that it is a subject that I excel in. As a major, I felt that mathematics would be too dry for me, so majoring in economics made sense to me, and I enjoy being able to see how my studies play a role in the real world."

Q: As one of the older players on the team, you have had more experience playing basketball on the college level than most of your teammates. What advice do you give your teammates who are just starting their college careers?

A: :The biggest piece of advice I give is to enjoy every single game. Time flies by so fast, and before you know it, you will be graduating. Cherish the moments you have with your teammates and enjoy this time as much as you can because before you know it, it will all be over."

Q: You're a senior with a perfect 4.0 GPA. What are your plans after graduation?

A: "Right now everything is up in the air. I will either go back to Europe and play basketball at the professional level, get a job, or attend graduate school. I still have not made a decision on what lies ahead in my future, but I am looking forward to the experiences, and no matter what I end up doing, I will miss my teammates and coaches back at Pepperdine."

Pepperdine faced rival Loyola Marymount for the second time in conference play on Thursday evening at LMU.  The Waves had a slow start, trailing the Lions by 10 in the first period, but stayed strong defensively, which allowed them to make a comeback and defeat LMU, 72-69, in the Wells Fargo PCH Cup game. The road win not only allowed Pepperdine to move back up to fifth place in the WCC standings, but was also Pepperdine's sixth road win of the season, the most the team has had since 2002-03.

Leading the Waves to victory, Stacy Davis contributed 27 points on 10-for-15 shooting, plus 12 rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots. Malcolm Brooks followed with 15 points, and Academic All-American Malte Kramer had 12 points.

"Our defense really contributed to our overall performance," said Davis. "We really locked in after being down by 10 in the first half, and were able to come together and play as a team and for each other. Every player on the team will tell you we are all very unselfish players, and that has really contributed to our team's success this season."

Davis came off the bench for his sixth consecutive game on Thursday and said: "At the end of the day I just love being on the court. Not starting really puts things into perspective and when I'm out there, I just really try to do everything in my power to stay on the court and contribute as much as possible."

As Pepperdine approaches its final two games before the WCC Championship tournament in Las Vegas, Davis described the emotions of the team.

"I think our team's overall mindset is to strive to be the absolute best that we can be," he said. "You always hear coaches talking about their teams peaking at the right time and I think this is our time to really come out and shine. We are all focused and determined to give our all everyday, at every practice, and every game, and we plan to finish the season at our peak."

The Waves end the regular season at home next weekend against San Francisco (Thursday, Feb. 27) at 7 p.m. and Santa Clara (Saturday, March 1) at 5 p.m. The Waves will honor their three seniors prior to the finale against the Broncos. It's also going to be Fan Appreciation Day, with general admission seats free to all. Both games will be shown on TheW.tv.

After a Thursday night loss to Gonzaga, Pepperdine faced the Portland Pilots on Saturday afternoon in the team's final game of the Pacific Northwest trip. It was the last home game of the season for the Pilots, who defeated the Waves 74-62, forcing Pepperdine to drop to sixth place in the West Coast Conference standings.

Junior guard Malcolm Brooks led the Waves with 15 points, followed by Stacy Davis with 12 points, and Brendan Lane with 10 points and 10 rebounds, achieving his eighth double-double of the season.

The Waves never led in Saturday's game and shot just 35.1% from the field compared to Portland's 46.0%.

"From the start, Portland came out a lot longer stronger than us," Brooks said. "Our team lacked energy in the beginning, which is really unusual, and Portland had the fan support and motivation to win.

"I was just trying to do whatever I could to help the team win. Points matter in every game, but it's always hard when you don't get the 'W.' If we could do it all over again, I wish we would have come out with more energy, had been more focused on the court, and paid more attention to detail.'

With just three games remaining before the WCC Championships in Las Vegas, Pepperdine hopes to re-group after the weekend's road losses.

"We want to go 3-0 for these final games, and really just put everything we've learned from this season on the court and finish on the strongest note possible," Brooks said. "We are all still confident about the remaining games of the season, and we are very resilient as a group. We survive the tough moments and always come out stronger. I'm looking forward to the next three games and am confident in our team."

Pepperdine's final road game is on Thursday (Feb. 20) at rival Loyola Marymount in a Wells Fargo PCH Cup battle. The game will be shown on ESPNU at 8 p.m. and there will be a free audio broadcast via WaveCasts at PepperdineSports.com with Al Epstein on the call.  

Pepperdine traveled north to Spokane for a Thursday night matchup against the West Coast Conference's top-ranked team, Gonzaga. Pepperdine trailed #24 Gonzaga by just seven at halftime but the Bulldogs ultimately pulled out the win, defeating the Waves 83-68.

Stacy Davis led the team in points with 14, followed by Brendan Lane and Nikolas Skouen each with 12, and Malcolm Brooks with 11 points.

Skouen has been contributing on the court more and more as the season progresses and played 20 good minutes in Thursday's game.

"I am very grateful for the opportunities I have been given recently to contribute more on the court," Skouen said. "I have been praying a lot about it, and have focused on utilizing every opportunity I have to prepare as much as I can and make sure that I am ready to perform whenever the coach calls my name."

Gonzaga's McCarthey Athletic Center, often referred to as "the Kennel," is a unique experience for any visiting team. Said Skouen: "It was a great place to play. The fans started showing up an hour and a half before the game, and they brought a lot of energy and adrenaline to the game. It was really fun to play there."

Despite the loss, the players continue to motivate each other and maintain a positive outlook on the remaining games of the season.

"We are able to stay together, stay aggressive, and play confidently," Skouen said. "We have the ability to do some amazing things on the court, and I feel like we are continuously growing, and we are more together at this point in time than we have been all season. Like we've said all season, this is a very unique team with a great group of guys, and we have the potential to do some really great things."

Pepperdine continues its Pacific Northwest series at Portland on Saturday (Feb. 15) at 1 p.m. It's the WCC Game of the Week and it will be televised locally on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. An audio broadcast of the game will be available for free via WaveCasts at PepperdineSports.com with Al Epstein on the call.

Pepperdine suffered a tough loss on Saturday against Saint Mary's, falling short to the Gaels by just two points, 69-67, at the end of overtime. The Waves (14-11, 7-6 WCC) were strong defensively in the first half and led the Gaels (18-7, 8-4 WCC) by six points at halftime, but then had to rally to send the game into overtime.

Senior Brendan Lane led the team with 19 points, 10 rebounds, six blocks and three steals, followed by Jeremy Major with 14 points and four assists, and Amadi Udenyi with 10 points and a season-high seven assists.

"Going into the game I really just wanted to be there for my team," Major said. "Last time we faced Saint Mary's I got hurt with 13 minutes left in the game, and I really wanted to go out in this second game and be able to play at my best, and not feel like I let the team down. Saint Mary's is one of the top teams in the conference, and we really did have a chance to beat them and move up in the rankings."

The Waves led the Gaels 28-22 at halftime and that provided great motivation for Pepperdine to continue playing hard coming out of the locker room.

Said Major: "We were really confident with the six-point cushion at halftime. We played great defense in the first half of the game, and we wanted to continue being aggressive on the court."

Pepperdine's tremendous amount of heart on the court carried on into their first overtime game of the WCC season.

"It was my first overtime game in college," Major said. "For me, I really thought we could win. I was confident coming out of the locker room that we could beat Saint Mary's, but ultimately the fact that we were getting foul calls away from the paint and kept sending them to the free throw really killed us. Stephen Holt played a great game and is a great free throw shooter, so in the end that was what really got us."

The team will travel to the Pacific Northwest this weekend, facing Gonzaga on Thursday (Feb. 13) at 6 p.m. and Portland on Saturday (Feb. 15) at 1 p.m.

"We have always been a good team on the road," Major said. "Playing at 'The Kennel' at Gonzaga is going to be a new experience and we are looking forward to the challenge. Gonzaga is beatable, but we really need to be at our best. Portland is going to be a good game because they're going to be playing hard and really be seeking out the 'W' since we beat them at home the last time we played them. As we get ready to travel up north we need to be in the right state of mind and play aggressively."

The Gonzaga game will be on ROOT Sports while the Portland matchup is the WCC Game of the Week and it will be televised locally on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. Free audio broadcasts via WaveCasts at PepperdineSports.com will be available for both games with Al Epstein on the call.

WOMEN: Meet Transfers Layana White and Krista Pettepier

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Two Waves who will take the floor next year are Layana White, a 5-foot-9 transfer from Arizona, and Krista Pettepier, a 6-foot-2 transfer from Pittsburgh. While unable to play, both players have been critical to the team by giving all they have to give at each and every practice.

Originally from Lancaster, Calif., White is excited to join the Waves on the court next winter. Pettepier is looking forward to studying abroad this summer and returning to play with the Waves come fall.

With injuries suffered by several of the Waves this season, practice players have been few and far between. White and Pettpier have stepped up to make sure that those who are healthy are getting the preparation they need to compete game after game.

Q: Why did you choose Pepperdine?

Layana: The coaches, the staff, I really loved the campus and it is a good school, and it's also close to home.

Krista: I'm not really religious, but when I came here I absolutely fell in love with the coaches who are so genuine and the people I meet that are so genuine.  A lot of people say it is the view, but it is so much more than that, it is the people, the school and the academic opportunities that are unbeatable. I am planning to study abroad this summer.  I would not have been allowed to do that while playing basketball at any other school. I have always put academics before athletics and I can have both here, it is a good balance.

Q: How are you doing in your classes? Is it different, or do you like it better?

Layana: I like it better, the classes are so much smaller. I am used to being one of 600 students in one class, and now it is 15, and it is better that way because the professors notice you.

Kristia: I have a close relationship with Dr Perrin who I took for stats last semester.  He actually spoke to my sociology professor this semester and told him to watch out for me.  I think that is really cool -- to be able to have such a great relationship with our professors that they actually know who we are when we walk down the street and know what kind of student we are and can put in good words for us.

Q: How are you liking the team?

Layana: I love the team, they are all very close outside of the court.  I just got here but I felt comfortable right away.

Krista: We are all very close and we hang out all the time. It is like a family, giving hugs is not uncommon, it is very close-knit.

Q: Who would you like to challenge on the court and why?

Layana: I would challenge athletic trainer Karissa (Scherer), because she is a baller. She used to play.  Or I would challenge one of the male basketball players!

Krista: I would never challenge Coach Ryan (Weisenerg) because he is such a cheater. If you box him out, he pulls your shirt.  Mallory (Winn) would be too much work. I wouldn't challenge Coach Jordan (Adams-Smith) because that would be too tough and it wouldn't be a level playing field.  Ultimately, I would challenge my stats professor because he attends all the men's games.

Coach Ryan Weisenberg's response: "Cheat! I think I would be more physical, but I wouldn't cheat. I do pull jerseys. See, I was never the best jumper, but I was playing against the biggest guys so I had to learn the little tricks, stepping on the back of the shoes or pulling jerseys. I can see where they are coming from, but I think she's just scared."

The Waves kicked off their weekend home game series on Thursday evening with an 80-69 win over Pacific.

Sophomore forward Stacy Davis has come off of the bench the past two games, and has spent much of his free time studying game film and working on his technique. The move paid off on Thursday as Davis scored a game-high 24 points against the Tigers.

Said Davis: "Coach Wilson really wants to get the most out of me, and if that means me coming off of the bench, then I need to look at that as motivation to improve. I really just need to constantly make sure that I am always at my best on the court, and making the right moves. I've spent time reviewing game film from some of the recent games and really observing my on-court presence on both sides, and analyzing my body language."

Aside from having a very young team, Pepperdine also has a very strong, well-rounded bench.

"It's a huge advantage having the ability to sub players in and out and still put points on the board," Davis said. "Our team is fortunate enough to have such a strong group, that if a player needs to sit down for a few minutes, we know that we still have the ability to play strong, while subbing in new players. It's a blessing to be on a team where the players depend so much on one another, and we all are very unselfish. When one person has a great performance the team isn't just excited because of the success that was brought to the game, but we are genuinely happy for one another and support each other."

Davis also went 11-for-11 from the free throw line and had eight rebounds against Pacific.

"When it comes to free throws, I just try to take my time and breathe," Davis explained. "I look at those shots as free points, and even though making them is a lot easier said than done, I believe that my free throws are the key to my success."

According to Davis, the team is fully committed to continuing their winning trend and hoping to improve their overall record. The Waves had 20 assists on 25 field goals in Thursday's game and have high hopes for a successful postseason.

"We are going to focus on improving in all areas," Davis said. "We are especially going to emphasize the importance of playing strong defensively. As a team we've been clicking a lot lately, and we all really are determined to get a postseason bid and continue working well as a team. I think our performance against Pacific is a great testament to how well we work with one another when we are all passing the ball and making shots. We plan to maintain the same state of mind going into Saturday's game against Saint Mary's so hopefully we can achieve a three-game winning streak."

The third and final game of the three-game homestand will take place on Saturday (Feb. 8) against Saint Mary's at 1 p.m. The game will be shown locally on Time Warner Cable SportsNet as well as on Comcast SportsNet California, ROOT Northwest and ROOT Rocky Mountain, as well as on TheW.tv, with a pre-game show beginning at 12:30 p.m. A free audio broadcast will be available via WaveCasts at PepperdineSports.com with Al Epstein on the call.

 

Taking advantage of a week between games, Pepperdine came back as strong as ever on Saturday against rival LMU in a Wells Fargo PCH cup game. The Waves (13-10, 6-5 WCC) beat the Lions (11-12, 3-8) in the teams' 159th matchup, 80-69.

Sophomore forward Jett Raines made a surprising start for the Waves alongside Jeremy Major, Amadi Udenyi, Malcolm Brooks and Brendan Lane. Five Waves scored in double-figures: Brooks led the team with 16, followed by Raines with a career-high 15 points and eight rebounds, Stacy Davis had 12 points, and Lane and Nikolas Skouen each scored 10 points.

Junior transfer Malcolm Brooks describes participating in his first Pepperdine-LMU rivalry game: "It was a really good experience. Coach (Marty) Wilson emphasized the competitiveness between our schools, and even discussed his experiences playing LMU back when he played at Pepperdine. Prior to the game, Coach Wilson introduced the team to one of his former teammates Levy Middlebrooks, and he talked to us and got us all really pumped up for the game."

During his time as a Wave, Levy Middlebrooks scored 40 points and had 25 rebounds against the Lions in one rivalry game in 1988. After graduation, Middlebrooks later went on to play professionally for multiple teams in Mexico, Spain and Cyprus.

Brooks came out strong in the second half of the game, scoring the Waves' first couple of baskets, and later secured the Waves' victory with four more points in the final 1:30. Fourteen of his 16 points came after halftime.

"I really just wanted to win," Brooks says. "It didn't matter what I had to do; whether I had to rebound or play defense, all I wanted to do was play at my absolute best and come out with the win for the team. Our 9-0 run in the final three minutes was definitely the most exciting part of game for me, and coming out victorious in the end was an exciting, and much-needed win for the team."

The next matchup for the Waves will be on Thursday (Feb. 6) at Firestone Fieldhouse, when Pepperdine will host the University of the Pacific at 7 p.m. and then Saint Mary's on Saturday (Feb 8) at 1 p.m. The game against Pacific will be televised on TheW.tv and the contest against the Gaels is the WCC Game of the Week and will be shown locally on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. Free audio broadcasts via WaveCasts at PepperdineSports.com will be available for both games with Al Epstein on the call.

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