Men's Basketball Season Outlook
Listen to this week's Pepp Talk podcast with head coach Marty Wilson.
MALIBU, California -- The Pepperdine men’s basketball team gets the 2017-18 campaign underway this weekend as the Waves look to bounce back strong from last year’s injury-plagued season.
Pepperdine’s season begins at Oklahoma State this Friday, followed by the home opener against Cal Lutheran next Tuesday (Nov. 14), the first of four consecutive home games.
In lieu of a traditional season preview, we conducted an interview with head coach Marty Wilson for the Pepp Talk podcast, which can you listen to here:
Last year’s Waves lost one starter before the season began, another starter seven games into the season and a third starter toward the end of the year. There were a total of four season-ending injuries and the Waves lost a total of 99 player-games to injury or illness. After being picked to finish fourth in the WCC, the injuries were too much to overcome and Pepperdine finished 9-22 overall and eighth in conference.
But fifth-year senior point guard Amadi Udenyi (Oakland, Calif./De La Salle HS) and redshirt sophomore forward Kameron Edwards (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Etiwanda HS) are back and healthy and ready to reclaim their spots in the starting lineup. A group of sophomores gained valuable experience as first-year players due to last year’s roster upheaval. And this year’s squad included another talented group of newcomers.
Here’s a partial transcript with some of Wilson’s comments about the team on the podcast:
(on being picked seventh in the WCC) “When we first saw it I looked at Amadi and we had the same mindset, we nodded, like okay, we are going to have to earn some respect. There isn’t any reason anyone should pick us higher because we have so many new guys, so many unknown guys, and I shared that with our team. I pointed to certain guys and said they don’t know who you are, or how you are going to respond from your injury, or how we are going to put all of these new faces together. But we just have to go out and prove it … It is motivation. It is ammunition. Every once in a while in practice, it just kind of throws a little gasoline on the fire to get them redirected and say, this is the disrespect that we have been given, but we have to go earn it.”
(on trying to avoid injuries) “This is a tough time of year managing how hard to go, how long to go, how competitive and how physical to make practices. We have to be smart at the same time and be able to keep our guys safe and fresh from injury, where it’s affecting your team in a negative way. But we have 17 guys, which has allowed us to get guys in and out a little more frequently. Hopefully it keeps more guys out of harm’s way.”
(on being successful) “That we get better. We learned from our scrimmages that we have already had and we’ll get better this week in preparation for the start of the season. As we play games and make mistakes, we will learn from them, which will carry over to the next game and get better in those situations. Obviously winning is important but I would never put down a number amount because you can’t go through the schedule and say we should win this game or lose this game.”
(on Udenyi’s return) “It was disappointing having him go down but it’s great having the comfort level of knowing that we have a veteran point guard who has been through the ups and downs of the season. He can identify a variety of things offensively and defensively and be the floor general … He knows his role: run the team, be the front line of our defense, take care of the ball, and set up the best options for our best scorers.”
(on Edwards’ return) “Kam is physical, he’s strong, he’s tough, he’s explosive and we need all of that.”
(on what he likes about this team) “I think number is our depth. Our balance of seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen as opposed to being overloaded on one side or the other. We have a good balance of athleticism, a good balance of toughness. We have a good core of guys that we can completely trust defensively.”