Women's Basketball Season Preview
Oct. 29, 2013
MALIBU, Calif. -- A coaching veteran with experience as a head coach at both the prep and professional levels, Ryan Weisenberg embarks upon his inaugural Division I assignment with his Pepperdine women's basketball team focused on what it can control, namely the present. The current group of Waves will grow with Weisenberg during the course of the year and, if all goes according to plan, the team fielded by Pepperdine in the season opener will bear little resemblance to the squad that competes in the 2014 West Coast Conference Championship in Las Vegas.
Weisenberg, the sixth head coach in program history, preaches the importance of making strides every day in all areas.
"Our players are competing every day on the court and in the weight room," said Weisenberg, who is assisted by Trisha Raniewicz, Mallorie Winn and Jordan Adams-Smith. "The girls have bought into the fact that we will compete at everything we do."
In the decade leading up to last season, Pepperdine was a consistent challenger in the league race and a perennial postseason contender. The Waves averaged 15.7 overall wins and advanced to five postseason berths, including two marches to the NCAA Tournament.
Last season Pepperdine suffered through a variety of maladies while tackling one of the most ambitious non-conference schedules attempted by a West Coast program. The result, unfortunately, was a 5-23 record. Still, when healthy, Pepperdine was a dangerous team. The Waves downed a pair of 2012-13 postseason teams, including WAC regular season champion Seattle and WCC foe Saint Mary's.
Pepperdine said goodbye to a two-member senior class consisting of guard Shay Cooney-Williams and forward Kelsey Patrick. The Class of 2013 combined for 17.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in their collegiate curtain calls.
This year's roster does not feature a single senior. There are five juniors, six sophomores (two of whom will have to sit out due to transfer rules) and a pair of freshmen in the fold for the upcoming season.
Pepperdine had its share of offensive struggles last season, and returners on the 2013-14 roster account for just 54% of the Waves' scoring output from a year ago. Fortunately, Pepperdine returns a starting junior backcourt that could emerge as one of the top units in the WCC this season.
Bria Richardson (Hawthorne, Calif./Serra HS) battled some health issues, but when in the lineup showed signs pointing toward a bright future on the Pepperdine perimeter. Though limited to 17 games, Richardson made the most of her opportunities, averaging 6.4 points, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals per contest. This season, Richardson will get the keys to the Pepperdine offense and will serve as floor general.
During league play, Richardson elevated her game, scoring at a 7.8-point-per-game clip to go along with 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals per night. Richardson reached double-digit scoring in four contests, including a season-high 12 points against Seattle, and dished at least three assists four times.
Ea Shoushtari (Los Angeles, Calif./L.A.C.E.S.) looks set to make a jump this season as the focal point for the Waves' offense. Shoushtari is the leading returning scorer for Pepperdine at 7.2 points. She also averaged 2.3 assists and led the team and ranked in the top 10 among WCC steals leaders with 2.1 thefts per game.
Shoushtari did a little bit of everything for the Waves last season and made 22 starts. In addition to leading Pepperdine in field goal percentage during league play, Shoushtari reached double-digit scoring seven times, including a season-high 19 points on 5-for-7 from the field in Pepperdine's 80-67 upset of Saint Mary's in the regular-season finale.
"Bria and Ea are the face of our program, and they will have to shoulder the responsibility of leading this team on and off the court," Weisenberg said. "They work well with each other on offense and are a double-headed monster on the defensive end."
Allie Green (Sacramento, Calif./Sacramento Charter School) will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact for Pepperdine as a freshman. A highly decorated prep player out of Northern California, Weisenberg believes Green will contribute right away.
"Allie is one of the most explosive offensive players we have and she will pick up where Shay Cooney-Williams left off," Weisenberg said. "She is adapting well to the speed and physicality of the college game. Allie is up to the challenge and she wants to be a starter as a freshman."
While Richardson, Shoushtari and Green figure to make the biggest impact for the Waves in the backcourt, Pepperdine does have solid depth on the perimeter and will rely on it throughout the course of the 2013-14 season.
Grace Leah Baughn (Norcross, Georgia/Wesleyan School) enters her junior campaign after turning in a productive sophomore year. Baughn averaged 2.9 points and 1.4 rebounds per game in 27 appearances. Baughn turned in a huge night in an upset win against Saint Mary's, scoring a career-high 16 points with three three-pointers. Alisha Roberts (Burnaby, B.C./York House School) made five starts in 25 games as a Pepperdine rookie. The Canadian scored seven points with four assists against #18 UCLA. Jaya Schultz (Santa Clarita, Calif./Canyon HS) is another new addition to the squad as a freshman.
"Our perimeter play is going to rely on patience and fundamentals," Weisenberg said. "We are working on timing and creating scoring opportunities that will benefit the whole team. The goal is to see our perimeter play become more consistent."
Pepperdine returns two players who started at least 12 games on the wing and the post. Two additional wings played significant minutes in nearly every game last season. This unit will be tasked with relentlessly pursuing the basketball on the offensive and defensive glass, taking care of the ball and making good decisions on both ends of the court.
Keitra Wallace (Brea, Calif./Brea Olinda HS) may have surged late for Pepperdine, but the result was impressive. Wallace saved the best for last, scoring a team- and season-high 19 points on 7-for-15 from the field against San Francisco in the first round of the 2013 WCC Championships. The sophomore has impressed during the preseason and will be counted on to take a big jump for Pepperdine as a second-year Wave.
Amanda Lovely (Palo Alto, Calif./Archbishop Mitty HS) is one of just three returners to appear in all 28 games in 2012-13 and looks set to make a bigger contribution as a sophomore. During her inaugural collegiate campaign, Lovely averaged 3.5 points and 1.9 rebounds per contest. Lovely saved her best for the league elite, averaging 11.0 points in a pair of games against 2013 regular season champion Gonzaga.
Tessa Emerson (Santa Barbara, Calif./Santa Barbara HS) turned in the best season of her young career, averaging 3.6 points and 2.2 rebounds per game as a sophomore. Emerson showed signs of her potential by capturing all-tournament honors at Pepperdine's Thanksgiving Tournament, averaging 8.5 points and 3.5 rebounds. Emerson matched a career-high with 10 points against Santa Clara.
Kelsey Brockway (Rolling Hills, Calif./Palos Verdes HS) led all first-year Waves in starting assignments, making 22 in 28 contests last season. One of the top-rated recruits in California coming out of Palos Verdes High School, Brockway showed flashes of brilliance on the offensive end and led all newcomers by averaging 4.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and a team-high 0.9 blocks per game. Brockway reached double-digit scoring four times, including a season-high 13 points at San Francisco, and swatted a career-high eight shots against #18 UCLA.
Erica Chandler (Charlotte, N.C./George Washington) will look to contribute for the Waves on the low block after redshirting last season per NCAA transfer rules. Basketball runs in the family as older brother Tyson was the 2012 NBA Defensive Player of the Year for the New York Knicks and played for Team USA in the 2012 London Olympics.
"Our post players are going to have to own the boards and control the paint on both ends for us to be successful," Weisenberg said. "We work every day on rebounding like ferocious animals, and it is going to pay off. On the offensive side of the ball, the post players are learning how to be scoring threats, and with some hard work they will turn into scoring machines."
Weisenberg and his assistant coaches wasted no time in adding some big-time talent to the Waves roster, securing the services of a pair of Division I transfers to the fold from BCS programs. Both will sit out the entire 2013-14 season, but will play a key role in assisting the development of the young squad.
Haley Videckis (Bartlett, Ill./Arizona State) was the first to sign with the Waves and turned in an impressive debut season at Arizona State last year, capturing Pac-12 All-Freshman honorable mention honors. Videckis led the Sun Devils in three-pointers (28) and was fifth in overall scoring (6.7). The Illinois prep star scored a career-high 18 points in a double-overtime triumph against archrival Arizona.
Krista Pettepier (Ankeny, Iowa/Pittsburgh) appeared in all 30 games as a freshman at Pittsburgh and started the last eight games of the 2012-13 season. The Iowa two-sport star averaged 1.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per contest while competing in the elite Big East.
"Our transfers are going to help us every day in practice and then, more importantly, be ready to make an immediate impact for the 2014-15 season," Weisenberg said. "Haley is an excellent offensive player who has deadly range. Krista is a defensive anchor who will help plug the middle and make her teammates better. They are both true Waves - solid on the court and excellent students. We are really excited to have them in the family."