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We did an offseason Q&A session with Pepperdine men's basketball coach Marty Wilson to talk about what's happening this summer and next year's team:

Q: After a few last minute roster changes, how do you feel about the team as your prepare for next year?

A: I'm feeling really good about everything, even after the loss of some great players. I am excited for our returning players this season. Stacy Davis received all-conference honors last year and we are going to continue to challenge him. Jeremy Major started every game and had more assists than any other freshman in Pepperdine history. We are hoping to take another big step with our leading players. Jett Raines, Amadi Udenyi, Marley Biyendolo, Lamond Murray Jr. and David Jesperson should play bigger roles next season.

We have spent some time talking to Lamond and coaching and challenging him, and he is going to come back even stronger than last year. We are also going to be challenging Atif Russell on defense, where he can have the most success. Both Atif and Lamond are great athletes and their true athleticism really plays out on the court and helps make the team stronger all around.

Incoming freshman Nate Gehring recently had surgery on his right shoulder but is already ahead in his rehabilitation and will continue his rehab when he arrives in Malibu next month. He will gradually begin conditioning and skill work when his body allows him. Ryan Keenan is a very strong player who is extremely tough and physical and not afraid to mix things up. He's a big guy, not slow, and has no problem getting up and down the court

A.J. Lapray is transferring from the University of Oregon and he's an older player with a lot of talent and experience, and is definitely going to be an asset to our team. I'm excited about A.J. John's athleticism and skill, he's got a great upside and can become a very good player. Shawn Olden was a great get for us late in the process, and he has an opportunity to come in as a freshman and compete right away for valuable minutes due to his ability to score and defend.

Q: What is the team focusing on this summer?

A: Right now it's quiet. Jett and Marley are the only players here before everyone else arrives in June. They are training eight hours a week, with six hours of lifting and conditioning and two hours on the court. This summer the team will work twice a week with our staff on the court, and with our strength and conditioning coach Matt Young four days a week lifting and conditioning on the beach. We are going to focus specifically on the individual growth of the players, as well as improve collectively both offensively and defensively.

One of our biggest focuses this summer is going to be on changing our defensive mindset. Last year I was not satisfied, especially late season, in how our team defended and our urgency. We will focus a lot on defense this summer and that focus will also carry over into the season.

Q: As the team reunites this summer and welcomes the freshman players, what do you hope to see the veterans teaching their new teammates?     

A: The successful transition of our new players is a top priority this summer. I was talking to Stacy about his role as a team leader, and really stressed the importance of reaching out to the new players, not just on social media and through texting, but by physically picking up the phone and calling them. It is very important that the players are able to develop a genuine bond with one another, and it is the job of the veteran players to act as role models and educate the new players. Establishing trust and building unity early on is only going to make our team stronger.

The veteran players will utilize the summer to teach the new players about the campus, show them where their classes are, where the shuttle is and how everything around Pepperdine works. The freshmen players are going to learn how our team is run, and what it is like being on the court in the heat of the battle. Our coaches and staff are really going to take the time during this summer period to spend time with the players both on and off the court.

Q: You recently went in for surgery to clean up an old knee injury. How is your recovery?

A: My recovery is great. I've been in the training room getting treatment. My stitches were taken out yesterday. I'm feeling good and on the bike everyday. My surgery was pretty minor and easy but Coach (Bryant) Moore tore his patellar tendon during an adult-league game and has a major six-to-eight month road to recovery ahead. He received 25-30 stitches and is currently in a brace and unable to drive. He is very passionate and energetic on the court but it will be tougher this summer for him due to his injury.

Q: What does your summer schedule look like right now?

A: Our staff is preparing for next year and really focusing on video and breaking down strengths and weaknesses and areas of improvement. I was planning on scheduling a staff retreat where we would all take a few days and analyze videos and practices from last season, but with Coach Moore's injury we might stay a little more local and plan something up at the Drescher campus for a few days so it's easier for him to move around. I believe that changes definitely need to be made, but it is essential that we have video confirming why a change is necessary. That will allow us to discuss and debate, and change and fix things as necessary.

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.

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.

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.

With only eight games remaining in regular-season play, Pepperdine (12-10, 5-5 WCC) currently stands fifth in the West Coast Conference. The Waves will play the next three games at home at Firestone Fieldhouse, beginning on Saturday (Feb. 1) against rival Loyola Marymount in a Wells Fargo PCH Cup matchup at 3 p.m.

Sophomore forward Stacy Davis and freshman guard Jeremy Major discuss their thoughts on the season thus far, and what they are looking forward to as WCC play continues:

Q: With less than 10 regular-season games remaining, what is the most valuable lesson you have learned so far?

Stacy: As a team, we really need to bring our 'A' game every night. In league play, this season especially, we've seen how every team is capable of pulling out a surprise win. We've had to learn that it's not just the top-ranked teams we need to worry about, but every single team in our conference is capable of beating one another, so constantly being prepared for every single game is essential.

Jeremy: I've learned that the game becomes as easy as you make it. Watching film has allowed the team to see what we need to improve on and further our overall consistency. At the beginning of the season I was nervous because I'm a freshman and really did not know what to expect in college play. I found that after reviewing film from the Great Alaska Shootout I have been very at ease with myself and am comfortable because I know where I excel and what I need to improve on. I knew that from that point on my comfort level was only going to get better as the season continued.

Q: In regards to your personal performance, what is one aspect you hope to improve on?

Stacy: I need to be more consistent in how hard I play both sides. The other day Coach (Bryant) Moore showed me my stats from the season so far, and physically looking at the numbers made me realize that I am capable of so much more. I recognize that I've been inconsistent in games; one game I will play really strong defense but poor offense, others I will be strong offensively and weak defensively. It's just a matter of being a steady player and playing to my full ability all times. I kept the piece of paper with my stats and I look at it every day as a reminder of my current standing, and view it as motivation to improve.

Jeremy: Personally, I need to work on being a better decision maker. I've found that sometimes I get too into the game and miss critical passing opportunities. After watching game film, I really get to see how I am on the court and specifically where I am weak. Decision-making is the area I feel I need to improve the most, and making sure that I have a clear mind on the court is going to be the key to success for me.

Q: Coming off of two losses against Saint Mary's and Pacific, what is your mindset like as you prepare for Saturday's game against LMU?

Stacy: Go hard. Saturday is a much-needed win, and we really need to come together and play hard consistently through both periods. There's eight games left in league play, and that's a lot of time for improvement. Our team really needs to capitalize on the fact that we are aware of our weaknesses, and correct our errors from previous games. We really just need to battle hard the rest of the season and be consistent.

Jeremy: LMU is definitely a must win for us, especially after going 0-2 on the road. We are really focused, and have a big home stretch coming up that we need to be mentally prepared for. When we play well defensively and rebound well, we can't be stopped,

Q: What has been your most memorable game, and why?

Stacy: When we played San Diego; and not just because of my career high (28 points), but because I had family and a former coach in attendance as well. That was a game where we were down, and I remember being on the court thinking about how I needed to step up and start making plays, and I ultimately was able to help lead the team to a victory. My role in the team's success in that game specifically is a memory that I really cherish.

Jeremy: The BYU game at home has definitely been the most memorable and was an extremely eye-opening game coming into conference play. BYU is an extremely consistent team, and the fact that we were able to beat them proved to the team that we possess something very special as a group. I felt that this game was proof that we can play against any team, regardless of age and maturity, because success is all about confidence, aggressiveness, and playing with heart.

Q: What is the most valuable advice you have received from one of the coaches?

Stacy: I was talking with Coach Moore recently and he described his experience working with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and how he had the ability to watch players like LeBron James mature and grow on the court. The thought really stuck with me. Our coaches and team staff all have countless years of experience in the sport, so it would be foolish to not utilize their advice and mentorship. Pepperdine is lucky to have such a wonderful staff, and as players we should really take advantage of everything they have to offer.

Jeremy: Coach Moore often says: "The separation is in the preparation." I really like this quote because it encourages me to stand out and be the best that I can be; but in order to do that, I must be aware of my weaknesses and do what needs to be done to improve. Whether that means watching film or going to the gym, I need to be prepared at all times so when game time comes, I know that I'm ready.

Saturday's 3 p.m. Wells Fargo PCH Cup matchup against LMU can be seen locally on Time Warner Cable SportsNet, while there will also be a free audio broadcast via WaveCasts at PepperdineSports.com with Al Epstein on the call.

It was a tough two-game road trip over the weekend for the Waves, who suffered losses against both Saint Mary's and Pacific. In Saturday evening's (Jan. 25) matchup against the Tigers, a 76-66 loss and the first WCC contest between the two teams since UOP left the conference in 1971, Malcolm Brooks and Stacy Davis each had 12 points, followed by Amadi Udenyi with 11 points, and Brendan Lane with nine points.

Bay Area native and freshman guard Udenyi described the road trip: "At Pacific, we definitely had times of high energy and strong defense, but overall we were unable to stay consistent. Especially on the road, it's essential for the team to make sure we are on our A-game at all times, and on top of our defense. The Tigers are an older, more mature team, so that was one of the biggest challenges we had to face.

"I enjoy our games up north, I have my family and friends who come and support me, and this trip I even had the opportunity to play against some of my former teammates from high school. It was a tough road trip for us, but we are going to come back next game feeling stronger both mentally and physically, and we are looking forward to our improvement."

Beginning on Saturday (Feb. 1), the Waves will play five of their remaining eight games at home, starting with a Wells Fargo PCH Cup contest against the Loyola Marymount Lions at 3 p.m. Time Warner Cable SportsNet will televise the game locally, and live audio commentary by Al Epstein will be available via WaveCasts at www.pepperdinesports.com.

The Waves traveled to Northern California for a Thursday evening matchup at Saint Mary's in Moraga. Pepperdine now has a season record of 12-9 and a West Coast Conference record of 5-4, currently tying their most wins overall and in WCC play over the last nine years. Unfortunately, the Waves were unable to add to the total at McKeon Pavilion, falling short to the Gaels, 80-74.

The starters for the Waves remained the same for the third consecutive game: Jeremy Major, Amadi Udenyi, Malcolm Brooks, Stacy Davis and Brendan Lane. Lane led the Waves in points with 18 points. Brooks had 11, followed by Jeremy Major and Austin Mills with 10 points each.

Mills, a sophomore point guard, played aggressively throughout his 14 minutes on the court, and tied his career high of 10 points.

"I just feel like I need to step up, especially given the amount of injuries our team has had this season," Mills said. "I need to be reliable under pressure, and be able to perform well during crunch time so I can make as many plays as possible."

In regards to the team's performance against the Gaels, Mills said: "The team fought really hard to the end, and we performed better as a team defensively in the second half. Unfortunately, we would come close to securing a lead, but we were unable to really get into a steady rhythm. Luckily, the team seems to be pretty comfortable now with the crowds, so a lot of the focus is not so much on keeping our heads in the game, but rather making sure that we can regain control of the tempo, and know when to start picking things up and slowing things down."

Continuing their northern California trip, Pepperdine will face the University of the Pacific on Saturday (Jan. 25) at 7 p.m. The Waves have not played the Tigers in the WCC since they left the conference in 1971. TheW.tv will televise the game for free, and there will also be a free audio broadcast via WaveCasts at PepperdineSports.com with Al Epstein on the call.

After a Thursday night loss to Gonzaga, the Waves (12-8, 5-3) came back stronger than ever with a 76-65 win over Portland (11-8, 3-4) on Saturday evening.

The Waves got off to a slow start in the first 20 minutes of the game and trailed the Pilots by four going into the second half. But the team's reserve players scored 32 of the Waves' 76 points, and true freshman Lamond Murray Jr. played an essential role for the team in the victory.

Not only was Murray the top-scoring Wave, but he also achieved career highs of 16 points and eight rebounds.

Following Murray in total points scored were Stacy Davis with 14, Malcolm Brooks with 13 and freshman Jeremy Major with 11. Sophomore Atif Russell went 2-for-3 for both field goals and free throws and contributed six points. Senior Nikolas Skouen drained an impressive three-pointer in the second half and went 2-for-3 on field goal attempts, contributing a total of five points.

"The team really stepped up tonight," Murray said. "The coaches have been encouraging me a lot lately, helping me focus on defense and rebounding, so I really just went out there tonight and gave it my all. After our game against Gonzaga, it was really important for us to come out aggressive and confident and play smart. As the season progresses the team's chemistry is continuing to improve, we just keep getting closer and closer. At end of the day, we all want to achieve the same goal of finishing at the top, and as a team, we are all willing to make the sacrifices necessary to get there."

Pepperdine will travel to the Bay Area for a Thursday (Jan. 23) matchup at Saint Mary's (14-5, 4-2) in Moraga, followed by a Saturday (Jan. 25) game at the University of the Pacific (10-7, 1-5). Both games will begin at 7 p.m. and be televised by TheW.tv. Additional audio-only commentary by Al Epstein will be available via WaveCasts for both games.

More than 3,000 fans gathered in Firestone Fieldhouse on Thursday evening to watch the first-place showdown between Pepperdine and Gonzaga. The Waves (11-8, 4-3) began the game with high energy and led the Bulldogs by five points early, but Gonzaga (15-3, 5-1) had a change of pace later in the first half.

Pepperdine suffered a 70-53 defeat, and is now tied with San Francisco (11-8, 4-3) for fourth place in the West Coast Conference.

Pepperdine's field goal percentage was just over 32%, and the Waves went 15-for-24 from the line with 16 turnovers. Sophomore forward Stacy Davis was the only Wave to score in double-figures and he led the team with 12 points. Junior Malcolm Brooks followed with eight points, while senior forward Brendan Lane fouled out of the game late in the second half after having scored a total of seven points.

Freshman Jeremy Major said: "In the beginning we had a lot of energy and came out strong. Gonzaga went on a 15-0 run, and made three three-pointers in a row, and we just started playing catch up from there. As a team, we were never able to get into our rhythm, and it was a bad day to not have a good game. Offensively we struggled, we really weren't able to make shots, and defensively Gonzaga really had us. The game is over now, and tomorrow is a new day with a new beginning. We have suffered from this loss as a team, and it is important that we all stick together, learn from our mistakes, and go into Saturday's game against Portland with a clear mind and a positive attitude."

Pepperdine will host Portland (11-7, 3-3) on Saturday (Jan.18) at 5 p.m. The game will be shown for free online with Al Epstein's commentary and will be available to watch via WaveCasts.

Pepperdine defeated the University of San Diego in their second matchup of the conference season on Saturday night. The Waves earned their first regular-season sweep of the Toreros since 2011, and the 69-65 road win improved the Waves to 11-7 overall and 4-2 in West Coast Conference play.

Starting for the Waves were Brendan Lane, Stacy Davis, Jeremy Major, Lamond Murray Jr. and Amadi Udenyi. After the absences of Lane, Malcolm Brooks and Nikolas Skouen in Thursday's contest at BYU, all three players were able to return Saturday.

Davis finished with a career-high 28 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season, and was the game's top-scoring player. Davis went 8-for-15 for field goals and 11-for-11 from the free throw line. Eleven straight points by Davis late in the second half put the Waves just one point behind the Toreros with four minutes left in the game.

Said Davis: "Going into the game I really focused on wanting to play aggressively. I wanted to try to make the defense collapse to enable us to secure good shots. It was a really close game at times, and there was a certain point in the game when I told myself that I was not going to let the team lose, and that we were going to come out with the W."

In addition to Davis' 28 points, Major contributed an additional 12 points and five assists, Brooks had nine points and Lane had eight points and five rebounds.

The Waves are currently tied with San Francisco for second place in WCC play.

"The team is feeling good," Davis said. "The losses against San Francisco and BYU have been good learning experiences for us as a whole and we look at those defeats as motivation. We know what we need to do in order to be successful. We have more players coming up from off the bench and getting playing time. As a team our level of motivation has definitely increased and we are definitely going to be fighting for first place."

Pepperdine will host Gonzaga (14-3, 4-1) on Thursday (Jan. 16) at 7 p.m. and Portland (10-7, 2-3) on Saturday (Jan. 18) at 5 p.m. The Gonzaga game will be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsNet and there will be an audio-only broadcast at PepperdineSports.com. The Portland game will be shown online via WaveCasts at PepperdineSports.com.

A commendable effort was put forth by the Waves on Thursday night, as they played their second matchup of the West Coast Conference season against BYU in Provo. Unfortunately, the team was unable to overcome the Cougars with a final score of 84-72.

Just prior to the contest, the team announced that senior forward Brendan Lane and junior guard Malcolm Brooks would not suit up for the game due to injuries, and senior Nikolas Skouen was also out due to illness. Lane and Brooks have been starters for all of the previous 16 games this season, and have been the highest-scoring players for the team in conference play.

The absence of the three players in Thursday's game forced the Waves to rely more heavily on sophomore Stacy Davis, and presented younger players like David Jesperson and Jonathan Allen with more playing opportunities.

The starting lineup for the Waves featured Stacy Davis, Jeremy Major, Malte Kramer, Jett Raines and Lamond Murray Jr. Davis led the team with 17 points, followed by Murray, who made his starting lineup debut with 14 points, and Major with 12 points.

"We felt pressure immediately in the game, beginning with the jump ball," Murray said. "The team knew that we really needed to step up and fill up holes on the court since Brendan Lane was not there to block shots or rebound. Not having Brooks or Brendan on the court made it easier for BYU to score, especially Haws."

Also contributing to the intimidation factor was the large amount of fans - 14,012 - in the Marriott Center.

"The crowd definitely got to us a lot in the beginning of the game, because we aren't really used to having such a large number of opposing fans knowing our names and trying to distract us," Murray said.

According to Major: "Not having Brendan's post presence, and his ability to get rebounds, was definitely a challenge for the team. Malcolm's ability to create his own shots, and be a consistent three-point shooter was also another component of the game that definitely would have allowed us to perform more aggressively. Jeff Van Dyke and David Jesperson had solid games, and having more playing time than usual was an adjustment for them; but ultimately we played hard and fought hard, but the win got away from us."

The Waves will travel to San Diego for the last of a stretch of four straight road games on Saturday (Jan. 11) at 6 p.m. There will be an audio-only WaveCast with Al Epstein at www.pepperdinesports.com. The game will be shown on FOX Sports San Diego and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, and for out-of-market viewers on TheW.tv.

MEN: BYU Pregame Injury Update

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Brendan Lane (knee), Malcolm Brooks (ankle) and Nikolas Skouen (illness) are OUT for tonight's Pepperdine men's basketball game at BYU.

Lane had his knee checked by doctors this week after feeling pain following Saturday's game at San Francisco. Lane saw limited practice on Wednesday, but participated in today's shootaround. Coaches and athletic training staff have decided it is best to sit him out tonight as a precaution against further injury to the knee.

Brooks suffered a sprained ankle late in the first half of Saturday's game at San Francisco. He also saw limited practice this week and in today's shootaround and it was decided that his ankle had not healed enough to play tonight.

Lane and Brooks are the Waves' top two scorers in West Coast Conference play. Over the past four games, Lane is averaging 17.0 points (tied for fifth in the conference in WCC games) and Brooks is averaging 15.8 (ninth). Both players were in the starting lineup for all previous 16 games this season.

Skouen became sick earlier today and did not attend the Waves' shootaround.

Pepperdine's active roster tonight will include one senior, four sophomores and six freshmen.

It is hoped that Lane, Brooks and Skouen will all be available for Saturday's game at San Diego.

The Waves fell short to San Francisco on Saturday, ending their three-game winning streak in West Coast Conference play. Pepperdine (10-6, 3-1) was strong in the first half and led San Francisco 27-19 at halftime. The Waves excelled defensively in the first half and only allowed the Dons to make three shots in the team's first 18 attempts.

But with less than a minute left in the first half, junior guard Malcolm Brooks turned an ankle and did not return after halftime. Brooks scored eight points on 4-for-4 for shooting and played a critical role for the team in the first 20 minutes of the game. Senior forward Brendan Lane led the team with 13 points, Jeremy Major had 12 points and senior forward Malte Kramer had 9 points.

Kramer had 14 minutes of game play in Saturday's contest, and went 3-for-5 for three-pointers.

Reflecting on the game, Kramer said: "We defended very well in the first half. In the second half San Francisco turned it up a lot, and kept us out of our offensive rhythm. Defensively we did not manage to keep them off the glass, which ultimately made the difference. Malcolm's injury at the end of the first half affected us. He's a great defender and can create off the dribble."

Pepperdine has two games remaining in its four-game road stretch, competing at BYU on Thursday (Jan. 9) at 7 p.m. MT/6 p.m. PT, and San Diego on Saturday (Jan. 11) at 6 p.m. Audio-only WaveCasts will be available for both games on www.pepperdinesports.com with commentary by Al Epstein. Thursday's matchup will be shown on BYUtv and the San Diego game will be available on FOX Sports San Diego and TheW.tv.

After two victories over San Diego and BYU last weekend, the Waves (10-5, 3-0) continued their winning streak on Thursday night (Jan. 2) with a 70-61 victory over Santa Clara. Pepperdine and Gonzaga are the only teams in the West Coast Conference who are currently undefeated in league play.

Brendan Lane contributed an impressive 26 points and 17 rebounds against the Broncos, tying his career high for points and setting a new career high in rebounds.

"(My performance) felt good," Lane said. "Especially coming off of the BYU game, it felt really good coming out with the win tonight. League play really has the team confident and excited, and we realize that this is the meat of the season that counts so everyone is really looking forward to it."

Jeremy Major finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, junior guard Malcolm Brooks scored 11 points and made three of four three-pointers, and Atif Russell scored a season-high eight points.

Brooks, the current WCC Player of the Week, described the victory: "It was a great win for our team. The fact that we still remain undefeated is a great accomplishment so far and we hope that we can continue being dominant as the season continues. League play has really allowed our team's energy levels to increase and has positively influenced the team's overall performance." 

On Saturday (Jan. 4), Pepperdine will play their second of four consecutive road games, at San Francisco at 1 p.m. Time Warner Cable SportsNet will televise the game locally, and an audio-only WaveCast with Al Epstein will be available at www.pepperdinesports.com.

After a Monday night win over Brigham Young, Pepperdine is now 2-0 in league play for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

Junior transfer Malcolm Brooks was the top-scoring player in Saturday's win over San Diego, and continued his streak against BYU by contributing a career-high 24 points, and went 6-for-9 for three-point field goals. Including Brooks, five players scored in double-figures for the first time this season. Freshman guard Jeremy Major had 13 points, sophomore forward Stacy Davis and freshman guard Amadi Udenyi each had 12 points, and senior forward Brendan Lane contributed an additional 11 points.

Pepperdine's 80-74 win over the Cougars is yet another testament of success for the team, whose chemistry both on and off of the court, is at an all-time high.

Udenyi went 4-for-6 for three-pointers and had five assists in his second game back from injury.

"It feels really good to be back," Udenyi said. "After being injured and having to watch so many games, I was able to pick up on some of the little mistakes that we made as a team. I made sure that I did whatever I could to help the team out on the court and tried to contribute defensively as much as possible. I'm happy with my game performance, and I contribute the success of my three-point shooting to the practice I put in before the game with (graduate manager) Ricky Fois."

Another freshman guard, Jeremy Major, has been a very consistent player for the team this season. Udenyi said: "Jeremy and I have great chemistry both on and off of the court. He is one of my good friends and we're together every day, so our ability to work well with one another comes very natural to us."

Pepperdine will play the next four games on the road, and will head north to the Bay Area where they will face Santa Clara on Thursday (Jan. 2) at 7 p.m. and at San Francisco on Saturday (Jan. 4) at 1 p.m. Thursday's matchup will be televised on TheW.tv and Saturday's game against San Francisco will be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. Audio-only Wavecasts will be available for both contests at www.pepperdinesports.com with commentary by Al Epstein.

The Waves hosted San Diego on Saturday night for the first game of the West Coast Conference season. Pepperdine led 34-26 at halftime, but it was tied 58-58 with less than eight minutes left in the game. The Waves did not allow the Toreros to score for the final three-plus minutes of the game, and went on to win 75-64.

Sophomore guard/forward Atif Russell made his first career start alongside Brendan Lane, Malcolm Brooks, Stacy Davis and Jeremy Major. Brooks scored a game-high 20 points, followed by Lane with 18, Major with 13 and Stacy Davis with 11.

Brooks said afterward: "We wanted to protect our house and win the first game of the conference. We came out with great energy, and the team did a great job sticking together and we all fought for the win. We knew that San Diego would double-team Stacy and Brendan so we made sure that we had good ball movement and plenty of space for open shots."

In regards to his own performance, Brooks said: "It felt good to knock down shots, be aggressive and play good defense. In the coming games I'm really looking forward to showing everyone what we are made of. Our team is really strong this season and our talent and chemistry will play a huge role in our success this season."

Pepperdine will host Brigham Young on Monday (Dec. 30) at 7 p.m. Time Warner Cable SportsNet will televise the game, and a live audio-only WaveCast will be available at www.pepperdinesports.com with commentary by Al Epstein.

As the West Coast Conference season opens Saturday (Dec. 28) with a matchup against San Diego, junior guard Allen Stevens discusses his experience as a Wave, his goals heading into the conference season and how he spent his Christmas holiday.

Q: You began as a freshman student manager for the Waves in 2011 before making the team as a walk-on last year. Overall, how has your experience been thus far?

A: My experience going from team manager to a player was definitely a change for the better. Since joining the team I have learned a lot about basketball, as well as myself. Being on the team has taught me important life lessons, such as decision-making and time management, and has also allowed me to grow closer to both my teammates and coaches. I used to see my role on the team as a job. Now being a player, it is my privilege and obligation to be the best teammate possible and I would not trade this experience for anything.

Q: How would you describe the team's chemistry this season?

A: This year's team chemistry is by far the best I have experienced at Pepperdine. There are no cliques at all and as a whole we all get along really well. The mutual respect we all have for one another is not just on the court, but also carries over when we are not playing. We all have each other's backs, and genuinely want to see everyone succeed. As teammates, and as friends, we are all very unselfish toward one another and that really contributes to our team dynamic.

Q: What are you most looking forward to about the West Coast Conference season?

A: I'm looking forward to the team's new start. The conference season is all about learning from the non-conference games, determining our strengths and weaknesses, and applying the lessons we learned that hopefully will allow us to win more conference games. I am really excited not only to see how well we perform, but also observe how we have grown as a team since the beginning of the season.

Q: What are some of the team's goals heading into tomorrow's game against San Diego?

A: Staying aggressive offensively and making sure that we can contain their guards on defense.

Q: What are some of your personal goals for the season?

A: I just want to make the team as successful as possible, whether that's on the court or off of the court. I always give everything my all, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to better the team. I want to make myself as useful to the team as possible.

Q: How did you spend your Christmas holiday?

A: I went to my aunt's house in Corona for three days. Since my teammate Marley is from Australia, he came and spent time with my family for both the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. It brings my aunt a lot of joy having guests over so Marley choosing to spend both holidays with my family was really exciting for them. I enjoyed the quality time with my family and having the opportunity to hang out with everyone before heading back to campus.

The non-conference season has officially ended for the Waves, who defeated Houston Baptist at home on Saturday. The Waves trailed the Huskies by three going into the second half, but the team came together and stayed aggressive during the final minutes of the game before defeating Houston Baptist 76-64.

Senior forward Brendan Lane and sophomore forward Stacy Davis both had double-doubles as each scored 21 points. Lane had 11 rebounds and Davis added 10.

Davis describes the game as very competitive: "We were going back and forth most of the game but luckily in the second half we were able to stay persistent and pull out the win."

As the season progresses, the team's on-court chemistry is proving to be significant. 

"I am really proud of the team today," Davis said. "We fought hard and stayed aggressive. I feel like we are really clicking as a team right now and if we can continue on this same path, and remain consistent, I am confident that we will win a lot more games and have an impressive conference season."

After a few days off for the holiday break, the Waves will kick off the West Coast Conference season on Saturday (Dec. 28) hosting the University of San Diego at 5 p.m. followed by Brigham Young next Monday (Dec. 30) at 7 p.m. The San Diego game will be available to watch via WaveCasts at www.pepperdinesports.com, and the BYU matchup will be shown on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. Be sure to follow @PeppBasketball and download the official Pepperdine Athletics app to stay updated on all things Pepperdine basketball.

Senior forward Brendan Lane has been a key player for the Waves this season, and with the start of the West Coast Conference season rapidly approaching, Lane discusses his role as a team leader and his contributions to the team thus far:

Q: After choosing to redshirt last season, this is your first year on the floor with the Waves and your final year of eligibility. How has it been for you so far?

A: It's been going really well. I am happy with the team and our performance. Our team is really young and it has been a little difficult at times, but we work well collectively and have a great team chemistry that really contributes to our on-court success.

Q: You're one of the older players on the team and play an important role as a leader. How do you feel about taking on the responsibility, and what do you do to keep the team together?

A: I am very comfortable being a team leader and being a role model for the younger players. Going into this year, Coach Wilson sat me down and talked to me about the role I would be playing for the team this season and encouraged me to motivate my teammates. This kind of team leadership role is not something I have ever had on past teams, but it has not been difficult for me at all. We have some younger players who can get discouraged, so I just make sure that I'm able to bring them up and teach them how to focus on the team as a whole rather than just them as an individual.   

Q: You currently rank first in the West Coast Conference averaging 2.4 blocks per game, and your 61.8% field goal average ranks fourth in the WCC and 21st nationally. Overall, how do you feel about your performance thus far?

A: I feel like I've played pretty well overall. I have had a few poor games that have been great learning experiences for me. As far as improvement, I want to defend better around the perimeter and exercise better judgment when it comes to choosing when to block shots.

Q: What experiences have been most valuable to you during the non-conference season?

A: I think the most valuable experiences have been the road trips, especially Central Michigan, Alaska, and even Irvine. When we perform well on the road and win games, the team becomes more confident because winning is something we all know we are capable of.

Q: As the conference season approaches, what are some of the goals the team hopes to achieve?

A: We definitely want to finish in the top half of the conference. We have the ability, it's just about being consistent and performing at our best at all times.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Wave?

A: My favorite part is just the overall community. Pepperdine's small campus is great and I really enjoy seeing so many friendly faces. I like that I can walk around and know so many people on campus.

On Saturday, Pepperdine will host Houston Baptist at 1 p.m. for the final game of the non-conference season. The Waves (6-5) hope to end non-conference play with a win, and use their previous game performances as motivation to go into the conference season with the best possible outlook.

Asked about the team, senior guard Nikolas Skouen said: "We are really good and perform well when we are all on the same page. I think when we played Denver during the Alaska Shootout Tournament, we communicated the best both defensively and offensively, which allowed us to stick together and come out victorious."

Skouen, who recently became the 14th Wave ever to sink 100 three-pointers in a career, hopes to continue promoting effective communication and trust on the court as the team prepares for Saturday's matchup.

He said: "I'm grateful for the coaches for believing in me and allowing me to have so much playing time, especially last season. Their confidence in me, especially during crunch time, inspired me to continue performing well, and I hope that I can make an even bigger impact on the team during this conference season.

"This year's squad has a great chemistry, and we have all of the tools needed for success. As long as we keep learning from our mistakes and being aggressive we have the ability to make our final game of the non-conference season a winning one."

Saturday's doubleheader will begin with the men's basketball game at 1 p.m., followed by the women's basketball game against Northern Arizona at 3:30 p.m. Bring an unwrapped toy for the Pepperdine toy drive and admission is free for both games.

After a week-long break for finals, Washington State hosted the Waves on Sunday night for a non-conference matchup. The Waves struggled in the first half as sophomore Stacy Davis picked up two early fouls and the team committed 12 turnovers. At the end of the period the Cougars led the Waves 41-26.

Pepperdine improved in the second half and managed to get the deficit down to seven points, but ultimately fell short to the Cougars, 78-61.  Freshman Jeremy Major was the Waves' highest-scoring player of the game, contributing 17 points, 15 of which were made in the second half.

"In the first half Washington State had a great offensive energy. Their pressure made us pretty timid, and they had a really strong post presence," Major said. "In the second half we came out a lot more aggressive, and were able to keep our turnovers down. In the first half we had 12 turnovers that allowed the Cougars to score 13 points. Overall, we just have to keep improving on our rebounds, defense and offensive execution."

As a freshman, Major is playing a very important role in the team's success this season, and hopes to continue improving and learning how to be a more effective communicator on the court.

Said Major: "I don't see the pressure of being a leader as a burden, I enjoy it. I take on the challenge and always look to my teammates and coaches for support and encouragement. In the first half I wasn't being vocal enough, and my teammates told me I needed to pick it up. I came back in the second half with a lot more energy and really made sure that I was being as vocal as possible. Reviewing film with Coach Wilson and Coach Moore has really helped me pinpoint what my weaknesses are, and in what areas specifically I need to improve."

The Waves will play their final non-conference game on Saturday (Dec. 21). Pepperdine will host Houston Baptist at 1 p.m. and a live stream of the game will be available via Wavecasts at www.pepperdinesports.com. Be sure to follow @PeppBasketball on Twitter for live game updates and more information about the 2013-14 season.

After a long week of final examinations, the fall semester at Pepperdine has officially come to an end. After successfully completing their first full semester of college, freshman men's basketball players Jonathan Allen, Lamond Murray Jr., Jeff Van Dyke, and David Jesperson reflect on their first semester away from home and share how they have learned to balance school and basketball.

What has been the hardest part about transitioning from high school to college?

Jonathan: In terms of basketball, the speed of the game is completely different than high school. Everything is so much faster and more physical, so I had to both mentally and physically adjust to those changes in the game. The most difficult part academically has been learning how to effectively manage my time. In college the classes are harder and more demanding, and the same goes for basketball practice, so finding the balance and motivating myself to study and stay on top of everything was a challenge.

Lamond: In general, just school. In high school, not going to class was never an option. Now being away at college where the classes are larger and the teachers don't take attendance, I have to be a self-motivator and make sure that I'm attending all my classes, and not choosing to sleep in. Basketball is also a lot different because in high school it's more serious and physically demanding.

Jeff: The hardest part has been keeping up with studying. High school was completely different because there were homework assignments and other projects that would factor into your final grade. College, on the other hand, is a lot different because in some cases your exam grades can make or break your final grade. I also had to get used to new food and not having home-cooked meals all the time. So far it's been a great growing experience. I'm a lot more independent, but there are definitely times when I miss my mom.

David: It's been different having to do everything on my own and not having my parents here to tell me what to do and when to do it. I have to plan things out for myself and make sure that I am on top of all of my classes and studying. Managing my time and being conscious of exam dates is really important in college, and the amount of time I have to study in college versus the amount of time I had to study in high school is completely different. Exams are the most important part of your grades in college.

How would you describe your first semester away from home?

Jonathan: It was definitely tough at times. Being from Tennessee, I don't have the opportunity to go home very often and see my friends and family. There were a few times where I got really homesick, but this semester has been a great growth period for me and I've been able to make a lot of new friends, and have become really close with my teammates.  

Lamond: I'm from Los Angeles so being away from home was actually pretty refreshing. I was able to see what it was like to be my own man, and not have to live under my mom's rules, and be forced to go to bed at a certain time or anything like that. I feel like I'm a lot more independent and I really like the fact that I am able to grow and make decisions for myself.

Jeff: At first I struggled, but the more time I spent away from home the easier it was to cope with the fact that I was away. It feels really good to be done with my first semester. I feel like I accomplished and learned a lot.

David: It was a big change, but definitely a little easier than I thought. I felt like I was so busy with basketball and school that I really didn't have time to be homesick. I enjoyed my first semester and I thought it was a lot of fun to be in a new place and meet new people.

What was your favorite class this semester?

Jonathan: My favorite class was political science. I enjoyed it because I really liked my professor and he made going to the class fun. I also had my teammate Marley and a few other friends in the class with me as well, so it was nice being surrounded by people that I'm close with.

Lamond: I liked my humanities class. The class was pretty hard, but the teacher made history a little more fun and interesting. We got to learn a lot about ancient Greece and Rome. Specifically, I enjoyed learning about the Acropolis in Athens. My teacher showed us a lot of pictures of it and the class learned how influential the architecture was to later generations.

Jeff: I took a sports broadcasting course that was really interesting. I got to work behind the scenes and learn all about how TV production works. I also learned more about sports and how to deliver sports news, which was really cool as well.

David: I really enjoyed my political science class. I liked learning about our country and the how the government works. It was interesting to learn about the history of America and how past events shaped the country into what it is today.

How did you feel about your final exams?

Jonathan: My exams were not as hard as I thought they would be. For a few of my classes I had to do some major presentations, so that that was a little more manageable than having to physically take an exam, although I did still have to study a lot and stay focused.

Lamond: They were pretty hard. Finals in college are a lot different than tests in high school because professors don't assign a lot of outside projects, so in some classes the grade you receive on an exam determines your overall grade in the class. So there's a new level of pressure to perform well on exams.

Jeff: Surprisingly, I think I did pretty well. I studied really hard and I definitely passed all of my classes, which was a little bit of a struggle but I made it through. College is on a completely different level than high school. The amount of time I spent in high school studying for tests doesn't even come close to the amount of time I have to devote to studying in college.

David: Personally, I don't understand why so many people stress about finals. At least in my case, all of my final exams were just additional tests, so they weren't weighed any different or cumulative. I already knew how to study for all of my finals because they were just like the other exams I had been taking all semester. I was pretty lucky, and I'm confident that I did well, so hopefully next semester the same thing happens again.

What are you most looking forward to about next semester?

Jonathan: Next semester I'm looking forward to not having to take a math class. My math class that I took this semester was pretty difficult and it definitely wasn't my favorite. So it's a relief knowing that I can start fresh next semester with new some new classes.

Lamond: I'm going to be taking a dance class and an acting class so that should be a really interesting experience for me. I don't really know what to expect for either one of those classes. I'll also be taking economics and I think that will be pretty interesting and hopefully I learn a lot.

Jeff: Next semester I am going to satisfy my fine arts general education requirement, so I'm going to be taking ballet and acting. Those should definitely be exciting classes, and I'm looking forward to the fact that the classes won't require a lot of homework or studying. I am also looking forward to conference play and being able to compete against some big teams.

David: I am most looking forward to conference play starting. I'm really excited to travel and be in a new kind of basketball atmosphere. I'm anxious to play in front of the larger crowds and play in televised games. I'm especially looking forward to the BYU and Gonzaga games, and I think once conference play starts the season is going to get even more exciting.

The Waves will travel to Washington State for a Sunday matchup where the team hopes to come out victorious for the third straight year over a Pac-12 school. The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Network at 5 p.m. and an audio-only WaveCast with Al Epstein will be available to stream at www.pepperdinesports.com. Follow @PeppBasketball on Twitter for more information about the team, and for live game updates.

After an impressive win over UC Irvine on Saturday, the Waves are taking a week off for final exams before traveling north for a Sunday matchup at Washington State.

The Waves are currently 3-0 in road games, which hasn't happened since the 1988-89 season. The freshmen and transfer additions to the squad have made a stimulating impact on the team, whose starting lineup has been consistent for the past four games. Seniors Brendan Lane and Malte Kramer, junior college transfer Malcolm Brooks, sophomore Stacy Davis and freshman guard Jeremy Major have been successful thus far leading the team in the opening minutes of the game and further utilizing the team's growing dynamic.

"The starting lineup is not about bringing in the five best players," head coach Marty Wilson explained. "It's more focused on which players will help us get off to a good start, and also provide a solid combination of offense versus defense. Ultimately for the players, it's not about who's starting, but rather which players we rely on in crunch time, and trust to get the job done."

The Waves welcomed Jett Raines back to the court after recovering from a hand injury earlier in the season. Raines played briefly last week against Cal State Fullerton, but his defensive performance against UC Irvine, as well as his aggression and energy on the court, are important factors for the team.

"His initial game was difficult because he got winded after a short period of time," Wilson says. "Facing Irvine, he was able to play for longer periods of time, and brought great athleticism and energy to the game that the other players were able to feed off of. I wish we would have been able to have him in the games from day one, but we're glad he is back and healthy and ready to play."

The Pac-12 Network will televise the game against Washington State on Sunday (December 15) at 5 p.m. A live audio-only broadcast will also be available via WaveCasts at www.pepperdinesports.com with commentary by Al Epstein.

On Saturday night the Waves faced their second Big West Conference team of the week, taking on UC Irvine at the Bren Events Center. After a tough loss against Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday, the team rallied and came out with a 75-69 win over UC Irvine.

It was a slow first half for the Waves, who trailed by 10 going into the second period. However, game-changing plays and high levels of aggressiveness in the second half allowed the team to secure the win in the final minutes of the game.

Freshman guard Jeremy Major scored 18 points in the game, 14 of which were made in the second half.

"In the first period we a lot of trouble defending," Major said. "After talking with the coaches in the locker room at halftime, the team came together as a unit, and we all just realized we needed to get everything together, be aggressive, and focus on defense."

Another key player in Saturday night's game was junior college transfer Malcolm Brooks, who scored 13 of his career-high 16 points in the second half.

"I wanted to make sure I was bringing energy to the game," Brooks explained. "Defensively we were not playing to our full ability in the first half, but there was a change of energy in the second half that allowed us all to have a better team effort, and be motivated to pull through with a win."

The Waves will have a weeklong break for final exams, but will be back December 15 when they will visit Washington State at 5 p.m. The Pac-12 Network will televise the game, and the live audio-only WaveCast will be available to stream on www.pepperdinesports.com, with commentary by Al Epstein. Remember to follow @PeppBasketball on Twitter to stay up to date on all men's basketball news and team updates.

Unable to continue their successful shooting run, the Waves suffered a Wednesday night loss against Cal State Fullerton with a final score of 78-64. This was the team's first game since the Great Alaska Shootout, and unfortunately the Waves' consistent shooting performance did not continue against the Titans. Redshirt senior, and Great Alaska Shootout all-tournament member, Brendan Lane was the team's top scorer of the game with an impressive 24 points on 10-for-17 shooting. However, the rest of the team shot a combined 14-for-43.

Freshman point guard Jeremy Major has consistently been a starter for the team this season and uses a team loss as a learning experience.

His postgame thoughts: "It's tough when we lose to teams that we are beating at halftime due to our lack of defensive focus in the second half. As a team, we need to work on being more aggressive defensively, and be more focused on guarding the ball. When we aren't handling the ball properly, the opposing teams gain confidence when we allow them to score baskets too easily. That was definitely the case for the team last night against Fullerton, and after that game we all realize what we need to work on collectively as a team going into Saturday's game."

The Waves will face another Big West Conference school on Saturday. Pepperdine faces the UC Irvine Anteaters at 7 p.m. There will be an audio-only broadcast of the game streaming from Irvine via WaveCasts at www.pepperdinesports.com with Al Epstein.

The Waves have returned from the Great Alaska Shootout and are back in Malibu ready to prepare for this week's matchups against two Big West Conference schools. The Shootout was a great experience for the Waves, who set a tournament record with their 60.0% field goal percentage. Pepperdine men's basketball is now ranked sixth in the nation with its overall team field goal percentage of 52.5%. Redshirt senior Brendan Lane was named to the Great Alaska Shootout all-tournament team after having averaged 17.0 points and 8.0 rebounds.

"The team played well for the most part, especially offensively," head coach Marty Wilson said. "Our key players performed very well. Brendan Lane made the all-tournament team, and was extremely consistent throughout the tournament. Stacy Davis played very well the second game against Denver and was the 'Player of the Game.' Jeremy Major is also continuing to be consistent and is growing as a player as the season continues."

This week the team is going to focus on taking better care of the ball and on defensive rebounding. After a limited amount of practice time in Alaska, the team is looking forward to reviewing more video from the tournament and utilizing practice to perfect as many skills as possible.

The team is still awaiting the clearance of Jett Raines, who suffered a hand injury during practice earlier in the season. When Raines is able to get back on the court, the team will be able to take advantage of Jett's size and overall ability, as well as the emergence of freshman David Jesperson, to allow starters Davis and Lane to have more rest, enabling them to play harder for longer periods of time.

The Waves take on Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Firestone Fieldhouse, and will travel to UC Irvine on Saturday for another 7 p.m. matchup. Live WaveCasts will be available at pepperdinesports.com for both games; a video stream will be available for Wednesday's game and audio only at Irvine with Al Epstein.

After an impressive win against Denver on Friday, the Waves were unable to repeat the outcome and fell short to Indiana State, 73-70, on Saturday in their final game of the Great Alaska Shootout. Though the Waves went 1-2 in the tournament, they did set a Shootout record with a combined 60.0% field goal percentage.

Jeremy Major scored 15 points with six assists, and senior forward Malte Kramer went four-for-six from three, and achieved career highs of 14 points and four assists in Saturday's game.

"I got into rhythm pretty early in the game," Kramer said. "I made the first couple of shots I took, and Brendan (Lane) and Stacy (Davis) opened up a lot of space so I made sure to take advantage of the opportunities and be aggressive."

It was a tough loss for the team, Kramer said: "The game was extremely physical, and well-played on both sides. Indiana State is probably the best team we have faced this season. They shot incredibly well, especially in the beginning of the game; but we stuck with them, and were very close at the end."

Although the Waves faced three talented teams on the court, the trip to Alaska was also an incredible bonding experience for the team.

Kramer explained: "Away trips are great for team bonding, especially these longer trips because we spend so much time together, and have more opportunities to get to know other teammates that we don't usually room with. We spent so much time together as a team during our stay in Alaska, and we really became each other's family."

The Waves will return to Malibu on Sunday night and will begin preparing for two Big West Conference schools: Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday (Dec. 4) at Firestone Fieldhouse, followed by a road game at UC Irvine on Saturday (Dec. 7).

The Waves played their second game of the Great Alaska Shootout on Friday, taking on the Denver Pioneers. After a tough loss on Thursday against Green Bay, the Waves came back with a 68-56 win over Denver. The Pioneers scored the first five points of the game, but the Waves were able to secure a strong 38-15 lead going into the second half.

Stacy Davis scored 22 points for the Waves, followed by Brendan Lane with 12. Pepperdine shot 71.4% (25-for-35) against Denver, a new Great Alaska Shootout record, and the second-best mark in school history.

"Compared to game one against Green Bay, this game was a lot more intense and very physical," sophomore Stacy Davis said. "Our team definitely came out a lot more aggressive, and rather than just going through the motions of the game, we really focused on working with what the defense gave to us and tried to take good care of the ball. After my performance last night, I really wanted to improve tonight and come out strong early in the game. I mentally prepared last night and felt confident going into the game today, and I'm glad the team was able to pull through and get a win."

Life in Alaska has been a new experience for the team, as Davis describes: "It's different being in the snow consistently, and experiencing life in a new place. The climate is completely different than what I'm used to, and traveling to Alaska is another task I can check off of my bucket list."

The Waves will face Indiana State for their third and final game of the tournament. According to Davis, the team plans to "continue taking care of the ball and staying aggressive. We're going to make sure that we are all focused, and intense on the court so we can bring home the win."

The Waves' final game of the Great Alaska Shootout will begin at 3 p.m. PT on Saturday and a live audio broadcast will be available at pepperdinesports.com.

The men's basketball team completed the first of three games in the Great Alaska Shootout tournament in Anchorage on Thanksgiving. The Waves fell short to Green Bay, 97-89, but the team managed to set some personal records, and even break some Pepperdine ones as well. Freshman Jeremy Major discusses Thursday night's game and the adjustment to Alaska:

Q: By having 12 assists against Green Bay, not only are you the first Wave since November 2004 to have that many, you also set a new Pepperdine true freshman record. How does that feel?

A: It feels really good. I actually had no idea I set any kind of record until I checked Twitter after the game. It is definitely a great accomplishment and it's nice having the recognition. I'm proud of myself for being able to positively represent my team and my university.

Q: What was the biggest challenge for the team against Green Bay?

A: The biggest challenges for the team were definitely turnovers and rebounds. Early in the second half the turnovers really gave Green Bay the advantage of having more opportunities to score. Green Bay had a lot of second-chance attempts, which allowed them to score, and eventually time just caught up with us and we didn't have time to come back from those errors.

Q: What is the team hoping to improve on for the final two games on Friday and Saturday?

A: Overall, we just really need to take better care of the ball. Coach Wilson really preaches about the importance of handling the ball well, and as a team, when we take care of the ball we have more opportunities to score. So we have to cooperate better with one another. We really want to focus on being smarter with the ball, and having more rebounds and fewer turnovers.

Q: How was being away from your family on Thanksgiving?

A: It was definitely different. My friends and brother were all home from college for the holiday, so it was a little bit harder than I thought being away from everyone. Wednesday night we celebrated Thanksgiving as a team, and our families sent us all letters and pictures of us when we were babies. It was nice being with the team and celebrating though, because it's the times like those with the laughter and bonding that just really unite the team and bring us together as a family.

Q: How has the adjustment been to Alaska?

A: It's actually been pretty easy, a lot better than we had expected. Most of the team was pretty well prepared. We packed flannels, coats and beanies. But for the most part we're spending a lot of time indoors, whether it's in the hotel room, on the bus or in the gym. So overall, definitely a better adjustment than I anticipated.

Q: What are you most looking forward to as you head into the final two games of the Shootout?

A: I'm really looking forward to improving in the next two games and hoping to come home with two wins. We just have to be aware of our weaknesses, learn from our mistakes, and take better care of the ball.

The men's basketball team has traveled to Anchorage, Alaska, where the Waves will compete in the Great Alaska Shootout. It begins Thursday night when the Waves (4-1) take on Green Bay (2-1).

According to head coach Marty Wilson, a successful trip to Alaska begins with "first and foremost, packing warm clothes. Flannels, tights and layers are definitely necessary for the players, because a lot of them don't quite realize how cold it's actually going to be."

Aside from the adjustment the players will have to make to the weather, the tournament also requires that the team be prepared to go against multiple opponents. Wilson explains: "The challenge will be playing three games in a row. Creating a game plan for one team could be totally different than the next team in regards to preparation. The next game we have to prepare to play one of two teams, so not knowing where we need to focus is always an immediate challenge."

The Waves do, however, have a plan of action to be as well prepared as possible.

Said Wilson: "We assign specific teams to our assistant coaches, who will have all of the necessary videos and written reports ahead of time. And then as a staff, we review the film and break down what the team is going to need to focus on. We will watch the videos with the team after the first game, and implement the focus on the necessary skills during our one-hour practice before the second game."

The team will play a total of three games in the Great Alaska Shootout. Game one against Green Bay will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network, and all three of the games will also be available to stream with live audio at www.pepperdinesports.com.

The men's basketball team had a busy week last week, hosting San Jose State on Wednesday night followed by Saturday's home game against Utah Valley.


Going into the San Jose State game, the Waves were 3-0. The Waves led by 14 points in the first half and 10 points at halftime but the Spartans went 10-for-15 for three-pointers in the second half and went on to take the win, 83-77. Brendan Lane was the Waves' top performer with 23 points, nine rebounds and six blocks, followed by Stacy Davis with 20 points and nine rebounds, and Jeremy Major with nine points, nine assists and eight rebounds.


Reflecting on the loss, head coach Marty Wilson says: "San Jose State took the win from us. We reviewed the film from the game later with the team so they had the ability to see what they were not doing on the court, that allowed San Jose to compete as well as they did. Our lack of defense, not contesting shots, not blocking out, and them getting the rebounds that we were supposed to get, enabled San Jose to be overly comfortable and confident that they could take the win from us based on how we were performing."


San Jose State was the Waves' first loss of the season, but the team was able to take the loss as a learning experience and apply what they learned from the game to Saturday night's 58-53 win over Utah Valley. Again, Brendan Lane led the team with 11 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. He also secured the Waves' lead in the second half, scoring the go-ahead basket with a little more than two minutes left in the game. Senior Nikolas Skouen scored 10 points, and senior Malte Kramer and sophomore Stacy Davis each added seven points. Kramer added all seven points the second half, four of which were free throws made in the final minute of the game.


The Waves faced a tough matchup against Utah Valley, a team that was physically stronger and more mature in regards to age. However at the end of the game, it was the Wolverines who came out not only with the loss.


Said Wilson: "The team kept their focus, grinded it out and got the win. The loss against San Jose State was definitely a good lesson for the team and the video will be a good tool for reference later in the season."


The Waves will travel to Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday where they will compete in the Great Alaska Shootout, playing three days in a row beginning on Thanksgiving night against Green Bay (2-1) at 6:30 p.m. PT. The game will be shown on the CBS Sports Network. Friday's matchup will be against Denver (0-2) or Harvard (4-1). If the Waves (4-1) compete in the winners' bracket, they will play at 9 p.m. PT; if they drop to the losers' bracket they will play at 6:30 p.m. PT. The Waves will continue playing until Saturday. Live audio broadcasts for all three Great Alaska Shootout games will be available at www.pepperdinesports.com.

The Pepperdine men's basketball team credits a great deal of their success to strength and conditioning coach Matt Young. We asked him about what he did to help get the team ready for the season.

Q: When did you begin working with the men's basketball team?

A: The first time I worked with the men's basketball program was in March of 2013.  They had a different strength and conditioning coach prior to that, but I have been at Pepperdine as the Director of Strength and Conditioning since the fall of 2009.

Q: Prior to summer conditioning, what were some of the goals you wanted to set for the team?

A: The culture was already set with Coach Wilson and his staff and my job was to carry that culture over from the court to the strength and conditioning program. Coach Wilson wanted the players to get physically stronger. He also, more importantly, wanted to players to become mentally tougher. He wanted them to have the willingness to grind. Coach Wilson saw strength and conditioning as a great avenue to build on that weakness.

Q: What was your plan of action for summer training? 

A: I wanted the team to be challenged, not just in the weights that were lifted and the times that were run, but also in creating an atmosphere for development. We grinded out sets in the weight room and ran 400s on the track, but within each of those developmental opportunities we challenged them for energy, communication and discipline. Each one of these played an important role in the culture of the strength and conditioning program. The team put energy into each session for constant encouragement, communicated well so the entire team knew what was expected in that moment, and were disciplined enough to tolerate discomfort throughout the training.

In the beginning of the summer we taught a lot of new movements and how we wanted them to be completed in the weight room. We slowly built up our volume and training load so by the time summer ended, the team would be able to be pushed farther and be able to overcome more challenges. It wasn't just the x's and o's of their program that benefited their development, but also the team's change in mindset as well as their culture.

Q: Have you seen improvement in the team since you began working with them?

A: Yes, and the good thing is that the list is too long to cover in this interview. I have been extremely happy with how the team has responded to the training over the past eight months, though it hasn't been easy. The early 5:30 a.m. morning lifts and conditioning sessions, fast times on the track and heavy weight lifting weren't pretty, but challenged the team both mentally and physically. It definitely took a toll on them, but in a good way. There were mornings where the opportunity for development on the track was so challenging, and the walk to the weight room afterwards was painstakingly difficult; but in the end they came out seeing the effectiveness in the program. Strength numbers skyrocketed. Court movement, footwork, and jumping numbers were visibly better, and the conditioning level was higher than ever.

More importantly, the team aspect took hold of them. They communicated, had energy, and were disciplined. I am proud of what they accomplished over the offseason, and their overall response has been great. They are seeing the benefits of their hard work through the first month of the season. The team chemistry is strong, and their overall mentality has improved. In addition to being physically stronger, the team is now mentally tougher as well. I am looking forward to seeing the team progress each week as the season continues.

The men's basketball team brought home two road wins last week, beginning with Wednesday night's UC Riverside game followed by an 88-71 win against Central Michigan on Saturday.

Head Coach Marty Wilson explained that the Riverside game was "the first road game for many of our starters, and was a tougher game in regards to the matchup because Riverside is bigger and more physical than us."

He continued: "It was a good experience for the team because even after our 13-point lead, Riverside was able to come back. We still managed to keep our composure and execute while making our free throws down the stretch. The game was a milestone for the team because it showed how they could stick together through the adversity and still pull out the win."

The team's win against Riverside helped further prepare them for their matchup against Central Michigan on Saturday. After a long day of travel on Friday, the team was able to get some well-deserved rest before their game in the early evening.

Wilson explained the team's plan going into the game: "We wanted to stay home when the ball was coming to them so they weren't able to make a lot of three pointers. The team did a good job executing the plan defensively, and offensively we were very unselfish, making 34 baskets and having 24 assists."

Wilson also expressed how valuable it is for the team to be able to travel all day, adjust to a time change, and still be able to pull out an impressive win.

He continues to emphasize that the team's chemistry this season is really great, and he's continuing to see improvement every day.

"The team is just getting started and we are going to continue building momentum in preparation for Wednesday night's game against San Jose State, and we hope that the support from the students and fans continues to grow as the season progresses," Wilson said.

After winning their second straight road game against Central Michigan, the men's basketball team is now 3-0 and officially has its most successful start since the 1998-99 season. As a team, the players are working well with one another, while staying aggressive, and effectively communicating on the court.

Stacy Davis has played a crucial role for the team thus far, having scored at least 23 points in each of the first three games, making him the first player to do so since the 1987-88 season. Davis discusses his feelings about the team's early success, his role as a leader and how his preparation for this season has given him the confidence to lead the team to victory.

Stacy Davis

Q:  As a player, you've had the best start since the 1987-88 season. Did you expect to do so well offensively this season?

A: I did set high expectations for myself as player, but at the end of the day I not only want to be successful for myself, but also my team. I put in a lot of hard work this summer to be sure that I was in the best shape possible, and having won the WCC Newcomer of the Year award last season, I came into this season pretty confident. With the departure of Jordan Baker and Lorne Jackson, I really knew I had to step up this season offensively, and make sure that I was positively leading the team in the right direction.

Q: Last season you were 0-for-2 for three-pointers and now you are 4-for-4 after having only played three games. What have you done to improve your shot since last season?

A: Last year I struggled a lot with my shot, and since last season ended, Coach (Bryant) Moore and I have worked a lot on my shot. Not so much on my release, but just on how I shot the ball. I did a lot of work on my own this summer. During the time when I was at home I shot a lot of jumpers and focused on changing my form and making sure that my shots were coming out clean. Last year my shot was like a slingshot, whereas now it's become more natural for me. Coach Moore put a lot of time and effort into helping me improve so I definitely owe him a lot, and my level of confidence this season compared to last season is at a whole new level. With the amount of time I have put into improving, I expect myself to be making these three-pointers, and I hope to continue being confident and making those shots.

Q: You have experienced a lot of growth since last season and you credit a lot of your success to the training you did over the summer. What was different about your summer training for this season?

A: Our strength and conditioning director, Matt Young, really helped me a lot. There was a lot of talk about him going into the summer about how tough he was, and he completely lived up to his reputation. During our training this summer we had what we called the "adjustment period" which was the time that our bodies had needed to recuperate and adjust to the new level of strength training that we were being exposed to. As much as I hated waking up at 6 a.m. and lifting all the time, it really has positively affected the team and the shape that we are in. I feel like I can run faster, jump higher, and overall I feel a lot stronger.

Q: Brendan Lane has been another key player this season, and you two complement each other well on the court. What are your thoughts about how you two work together as teammates?

A: Brendan brings a lot of size to the team, and he is actually very athletic. I depend on him a lot with rebounds, and that has helped me out a lot so far this season. We both are unselfish players, so we work well together in that respect, and right now we haven't been getting double-teamed too much so that has been really helpful in regards to scoring points. We also understand each other well and communicate effectively, which makes the game a lot easier for the both of us, allowing us to play at our full potential.

Q: How is the team different this season, and what's making the team so successful?

A: The people and the coaches this season are really great. Training with Matt Young this summer really started this new mentality for the team. Summer training forced us to be mentally strong, and rely on one another for support. The summer not only helped us in regards to strength but it also connected the team closer as a unit, allowing us to become a really a tight-knit family. This all has translated onto the court for us this season and we all want to see each other succeed and make this season a winning one.

On Wednesday the men's basketball team traveled to UC Riverside for its first away game of the season. After defeating San Diego Christian last weekend, the team was looking to bring more aggression and speed to the game. Pepperdine was able to defeat UC Riverside 69-66 and now has a 2-0 record.

The Waves were able to secure a 40-32 lead at halftime, but had 10 minutes in the second half where no field goals were made, allowing UCR to tie the game with under a minute left in the second half. Stacy Davis and Nikolas Skouen combined to go 6-for-6 from the line, allowing the Waves to secure the win in the final minute of the game.

Davis scored 24 points against San Diego Christian last week and had a game-high 23 points against UCR, making him the first player to score over 23 points in the first two games of the season since the 1987-88 season. This is also the second time in three years that Pepperdine has been 2-0.

This season's team is close-knit and relies on one another's energy and attitude to stay positive throughout the games.

For Davis, he believes that "leading by example is extremely important for the team this year. This summer I really concentrated on my mental focus and making sure that everything is in check."

He added: "There were times in the game against Riverside where I would get frustrated and wanted to get angry, but that's when I really have to step back and re-evaluate and make sure that the attitude I have on the court is positive, so that the team can feed off of my energy and we can stay together as a unit."

Being 19 years old and seen as one of the team's leaders is a great honor for Davis who says: "At first it was a little difficult for me to grasp because I see myself as a 19-year-old who is still just a kid, but on the court I'm realizing how my attitude effects my teammates, and how important it is for me to step up and motivate the team."

Davis recognizes that his mentality on the court is going to play a key factor in the team's success this season. He plans to continue leading the team forward, and hopefully bring home another win Saturday when the team takes on Central Michigan at 3:30 p.m. PT at McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

After a season-opening win over San Diego Christian on Saturday night, the men's basketball team is hoping that will launch the Waves to a successful season. Head coach Marty Wilson described the first game of the season as "a good learning experience for all of the new players, and it was a time to really show them what the pace of a college game is like".

Wilson added that the team's lack of aggression was a weakness in the first game, and stressed the importance of the overall energy of the players and how they each feed off the attitudes of one another.

"Once the team was more comfortable on the court and able to make quick moves, the players were able to adjust and continue making good decisions," he said.

Wilson's goals for Wednesday's away game against UC Riverside are to start off more aggressively and to keep better overall control of the ball, thus limiting turnovers.

Wednesday's game will begin at 7 p.m. at Riverside's SRC Arena. Fans can listen live via WaveCasts. The team's next game will be away against Central Michigan on Saturday (Nov. 16) at 3:30 p.m. Pacific.

The Waves have officially opened the 2013-2014 season after defeating San Diego Christian, 81-68, on Saturday night. The game featured the debuts of many new players, four of whom were in the starting lineup.

Freshman Lamond Murray Jr.. was the second-highest scorer for the Waves behind Stacy Davis, and Murray scored a total of 13 points. In regards to playing in his first college game, Murray said: "I wasn't extremely nervous, but I was pretty anxious to play, and really went into the game with an open mind".  

Freshman Jeremy Major scored eight points in his first college game and he explained: "I was nervous all day, but once I finally got on the court the nerves went away and I really just embraced the pressure".

In regards to improvement for Wednesday's game at UC Riverside, Major wants to focus on avoiding turnovers and not allowing the opposing team to score more than 30 points in the first period.

After playing a total of 28 minutes in his debut, freshman Amadi Udenyi scored six points with four defensive rebounds and four assists. Udenyi said that the biggest difference between high school and college basketball games is "the speed of the game. Now basketball is a lot faster-paced, so being able to make quick, smart decisions is going to be key for me".

Udenyi shared that reducing turnovers are his main focus for the next game and that he is looking forward to the team's ongoing improvement.

The team has their first away game on Wednesday (Nov. 13) at 7 p.m. against UC Riverside. The Waves plan to build upon their successful start and hope to bring home another win.

Name: Jeff Van Dyke

Jeff Van Dyke

Year: Freshman

Major: undeclared

Position: Shooting Guard

Hometown: San Diego, Calif.

How has the adjustment to college basketball been? I really like the team and coaches. Playing basketball in college is on a whole new level both physically and mentally. The practices are harder and longer, and the game is more complex. Overall, college basketball demands a lot both physically and mentally, and the games will be a lot bigger deal, and definitely a lot different from high school games.

How has the transition academically been? It's been hard not having my parents here to keep tabs on me and make sure that I'm staying on top of everything. I really have to become my own person and be an individual. I have a lot of schoolwork, so keeping up with that, as well as not having a set schedule is difficult. It's not like high school where you had the same day five days a week from eight to three; some days you I have early classes, some days I have later classes. Everything about school is different, and the tests are a lot harder as well.

What are you most excited about this season? I am really excited for conference play. I think we are in a great conference with a lot of talented teams, and I am especially looking forward to the bigger games we play against Gonzaga and BYU.

What is your favorite part about the team? The camaraderie, and everyone on the team is really cool, and we have a great overall team dynamic both on and off the court.

Favorite NBA team: Golden State Warriors. I like Stephen Curry.

Favorite movie: Rush Hour 2. Chris Tucker is hilarious.

Quote to live by: "Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny."

Name: Jeremy Major

Jeremy Major

Year: Freshman

Major: Economics

Position: Point Guard

Hometown: Pasadena, Calif.

What has been the most difficult part about adjusting to the game at a college level? It's been all about making quicker decisions. Everything about the game is different; the tempo is quicker. Being an effective communicator is really necessary on the court. I've been here since June, so the overall adjustment to the team has been pretty smooth. The team has a great dynamic, and we all have a mutual respect for one another. We have good camaraderie, and good chemistry both on and off the court.