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March 2014 Archives

Pepperdine had its most successful season since 2005 and finished with 15 wins. The Waves finished fifth in the West Coast Conference. Sophomore forward Stacy Davis was the first All-WCC first team selection for Pepperdine since 2005, Brendan Lane was named Defensive Player of the Year and also received a spot on the All-WCC honorable mention team, and freshman Jeremy Major was named to the WCC All-Freshman team.

The Waves fell short to Saint Mary's in the quarterfinals in the WCC Championships, but were able to celebrate finishing in the top half of the conference.

"We played well," said Pepperdine Coach Marty Wilson about the SMC game. "We scrambled a couple times in the game, allowing the Gaels to hit three's, and they took full advantage of every opportunity and were extremely confident. Unfortunately, it ended up being a little too late for our team to make the comeback that we needed, and it was hard to end the season with a loss, while also having to say goodbye to such great seniors."

The team's camaraderie this season played an essential role in the Waves' success.

Said Wilson: "What really made the team different this season was the chemistry. A lot of times, there are teams where players disagree and bicker, but as a whole, we never had that issue. Our team genuinely liked each other both on and off of the court, and that played a large role on how they were able to work together in games and be successful. The team leadership this season was also a tremendous advantage."

Lane, Malte Kramer and Nikolas Skouen all have played their final games as Waves.

"It was really hard to lose the last game, especially knowing that it would be the last game for our seniors," Wilson said. "It was difficult seeing the emotions of the seniors, and how the younger players reacted to their feelings, because it truly showed how much the younger players looked up to them. There was a time where I, myself had to turn away and hold back tears. As coaches, we all go through times like this where we have to say goodbye to players who are both quality people and players. It's a tough goodbye, but we were lucky to have such great role models for the younger players."

Though the season has come to an end, the Waves will soon begin preparation for next season.

"We will have a staff meeting, where we will collectively review players and film," said Wilson. "We've got a better understanding now of what our younger players are capable of and where we can incorporate them. We'll take a look at the team's strengths and weaknesses and actively continue the high school recruiting process for future classes."

The 2013-14 season ended for men's basketball on Saturday with the Waves falling short to fourth-seeded Saint Mary's in the WCC quarterfinals in Las Vegas. Both teams had slow starts offensively, and then the Waves trailed the Gaels by 13 points at halftime, and by as many as 16 points in the second half. The Waves were able to bring the deficit down to seven points later in the period, but were unable to overcome Saint Mary's, which advanced to the semifinals after defeating Pepperdine 80-69.

Pepperdine's record of 15 wins is the team's most since the 2005 season, making this year the Waves' best season in nearly a decade.

"I could definitely feel the difference between regular season and postseason play," said freshman point guard Amadi Udenyi, who led the Waves with 13 points against Saint Mary's. "I really realized how big of a deal this tournament was and I am honored to have been given the opportunity to compete there."

Udenyi suffered a knee injury earlier in the season. He said: "I feel like my injury stunted my growth as a player at the beginning, but once I was healthy and back on the court, I really began to appreciate and enjoy the team and develop strong relationships with both my teammates and the coaching staff. It has been a really fun season, and it's tough saying goodbye to Brendan (Lane), Niko (Skouen), and Malte (Kramer). All three of them really took it upon themselves to be leaders and really took the time to teach all of the new players how to properly work out, train and take care of our bodies. They are great role models, and I am lucky to have been given the opportunity to play with them."

All-West Coast Conference first team honoree Stacy Davis also reflected on Saturday's game: "I thought everyone played hard and gave it their all. Unfortunately we were unable to come back from the deficit that was established in the first half, but Coach (Marty) Wilson always explains to the team the importance of putting forth the maximum amount of effort and bringing everything to the court. As a team, I really felt that we all did that, and even though we didn't get the results we had hoped, we have no regrets about the way we played. It's all about seeing the light in every dark situation. Everything is an ongoing process of improvement. This season especially, having a large amount of young players that were able to make such an impact so early on, shows just how competitive our team will be in the coming years."

Davis stepped up this season as a leader, but credits his success to his teammates.

"This year was a good year, I've definitely improved since my freshman year, but I owe all of my success to my teammates and team staff," he said. "The seniors, Brendan, Niko, and Malte really provided our team with the leadership that we needed. It had been my goal this season to become more of a team player, and someone that my teammates could look up to, and I would not have been able to make that possible without the seniors. We are all already excited for next season and working out this summer and improving. We're ready to bring Pepperdine back into the spotlight."

 

The postseason will begin on Saturday for Pepperdine, as the fifth-seeded Waves will compete against fourth-seeded Saint Mary's in the quarterfinals of the WCC Championships in Las Vegas. Pepperdine's current 15 overall wins make this season the team's best since 2004-05.

"We had a short but intense practice yesterday," Pepperdine Coach Marty Wilson said. "We need to play with the same level of aggressiveness and passion that we do at our practices in order to finish the season off strong."

This season has been an adjustment for many of the team's younger players.

"Many of our players this season had to learn what competing at the college level was like," Wilson said. "Understanding the grit, intensity and dedication that goes into the sport at this level takes time and does not just pertain to on-the-court conditioning, but sleeping patterns, grades, social life and mental health."

Through the entire learning process, the team has been able to come out stronger and more reliant on one another.

Said Wilson: "We have had a lot of ups and downs this year. Unfortunately we had quite a few injuries, beginning with Jett Raines and Amadi Udenyi, and later followed by Malcolm Brooks and Brendan Lane. We have had to move bodies around a lot but the players have become more versatile and are able to utilize their strengths and abilities on the court."

The team's leadership this season has also greatly influenced the Waves' success. Sophomore forward Stacy Davis is the first All-WCC first team selection for Pepperdine since 2005, Brendan Lane was named Defensive Player of the Year and also received a spot on the All-WCC honorable mention team, and freshman Jeremy Major was named to the WCC All-Freshman team.

"Our team's accomplishments this season have been valiant," Wilson said. "Two out of our three players honored this season have at least two more years on the team."

As the Waves prepare for Saturday's matchup against the Gaels, the team will collectively create goals that they hope to achieve at the tournament, while also watching and analyzing game film. Wilson's main goal for the tournament is "to get the team back on track, and play with the same amount of heart and aggressiveness as we do at practice, while also making sure that we continue to play unselfishly. We hope that our efforts and determination will pay off and give us another opportunity to play again on Monday."

Saturday's (March 8) matchup against Saint Mary's at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas will begin at approximately 8 p.m. on ESPN2. There will be also be audio-only WaveCasts at PepperdineSports.com with Al Epstein on the call for both men's and women's games.

 

With the Waves heading into postseason play and the season nearing its end, the team will soon say goodbye to its three graduating seniors: Brendan Lane, Malte Kramer and Nikolas Skouen. Following their final home game on Saturday, the players reflected on their season and experiences and explain what playing basketball at Pepperdine has meant to them.

Q: How did it feel playing in your final game at Firestone Fieldhouse on Saturday night?

Malte: It was both really exciting and very sad all at the same time. It was fun during the game because I was focused and enjoying every moment on the court and my mind was focused on the game, but then when the game was over it hit me that it was the last time I would be playing there, and it was a bittersweet moment.

Nikolas: My mind was in the game the whole time, and it was difficult when we didn't come out with a victory, but our team came together and I was really able to appreciate the time we all had together. It was a weird kind of feeling I had after the game though, realizing that it would be my last game at Pepperdine forced me to come to terms with the fact that my time on the team is ending.

Brendan: It was definitely a thrill. It's crazy because I feel like I've been in college for so long, and realizing that it's all coming to an end is still unreal to me right now.

Q: What has been your favorite part about playing basketball at Pepperdine?

Malte: The camaraderie has definitely been my favorite part about playing basketball at Pepperdine. The team has been so lucky to have great players with personalities that work so well together. The group this year has been one of the best, and we have such an amazing group of guys. I'm really lucky to have been able to play on a team with people that I have such a deep amount of love and respect for.

Nikolas: Pepperdine has such a solid team. Everyone gets along really well, and the respect that we have for one another doesn't just stay on the court, but it also carries into our lives as students. The team has not only allowed me to grow as a player, but also gave me the opportunity to make lifelong friends that I now consider my family.

Brendan: The people. My teammates, the coaches, it's all really been a family experience. Everyone gets along really well and genuinely cares for one another. It has really made my experience on the team a great one, and the bonds I've formed with my coaches and teammates are solid.

Q: What is your most memorable experience during your years on the team?

Malte: The team trip to Hawaii where I played in my first game after recovering from my knee injury. It was a special game for me because I was finally able to play, and I felt great knowing that I had contributed to our team's win after having been injured for an extended amount of time.

Nikolas: I will always remember the games we played against BYU. Last year I was on fire in the first five minutes of the game, and for me, that was the moment I realized my potential as a player, and truly became confident on the court.

Brendan: Playing BYU for the first time this season. That was the game where we really came out as a team and showed everyone what we were capable of. We proved that we were the real deal and I think we really pumped everyone up for the season. It's been really fun.

Q: How have the basketball coaches and staff impacted your life on and off of the court?

Malte: The coaches and staff have helped me develop both as a player and as a person. Their passion for the sport is what really encouraged me to love the game. They cared so much about everyone, and that is what made me want to care so much. The amount of time and effort that our coaches and staff put into our team acts as the foundation for the mutual respect and love that we players have for one another.

Nikolas: Our coaching staff is extremely focused on all aspects of the game. Not only do they care about our performances on the court, but they also care about our lives outside of basketball. They always want the best for us, and are constantly checking up on us and making sure we all are all on the right paths. I am lucky to have been on a team that has such a hard-working and dedicated staff.

Brendan: The coaches have impacted me a lot as a player and in my personal life. They taught me how to be a leader and the importance of being vocal. I wasn't always vocal about things in my life, but learning to be more expressive on the court and seeing how that positively affected the team, encouraged me to be more like that off the court as well. Stepping up as a leader this season really allowed me to bond with everyone and establish long-lasting relationships.

Q: How do you want to be remembered by your teammates and coaches?

Malte: I want to be remembered as someone who my teammates felt they could come to about advice or for encouragement. I hope that I was seen as a reliable player that both my teammates and coaches knew they could always count on.

Nikolas: I hope to be remembered as a hard-working player who always tried my best. I hope that my discipline and dedication to the sport, as well as my obedience as an athlete, contribute to my coach's and teammates' views of me, and that I was able to positively impact each of their lives in some way. 

Brendan: I hope I am remembered as a player who was dedicated and dependable, had fun, and genuinely enjoyed playing basketball.

In the WCC Championships quarterfinals, the Waves will play Saint Mary's on Saturday (March 8) at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas at approximately 8 p.m. on ESPN2. There will be also be audio-only WaveCasts at PepperdineSports.com with Al Epstein on the call for both men's and women's games.

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