To prepare for the tip-off of another great year of college basketball, CHD is reaching out to coaches and players around the country to get the inside scoop on what we can expect this time around. Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Pepperdine coach Marty Wilson about getting to coach at his alma mater.
You lost both of your leading scorers from last year (Lorne Jackson/Jordan Baker). How will you be able to fill the offensive void left by the departure of these two stars? We will miss them both in different ways, but we have some other guys who can flat-out score. We will have more of a presence in the post that will command double-teams. I do not think offense will be an issue. I think we will actually play faster and have a higher scoring average this year.
Stacy Davis was the 2013 WCC Newcomer of the Year; How much pressure is there on him to be a leader this year? There is not a whole lot of pressure but I am giving him more of the responsibility. If I had to pick one guy as the voice of our team it would be Brendan Lane, but Stacy is definitely one of our guys on the TLC: Team Leadership Council. I am challenging Stacy how to be a better leader as a sophomore, and he will be ready to be the voice of our team next year.
Freshman Lamond Murray, Jr. has a father (Lamond Sr.) and cousin (Tracy) who each played over a decade in the NBA. Does it look like he got some good genes passed down through the family?! He is a very good shooter/scorer. He has the same skill set as his dad but is just not as big. He can shoot it from deep and post up and get put-backs, so he will have some good years for us.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season? We have a lot of young guys but I expect us to be better than we were last year because we have more guys who can do more things. We are unselfish and willing to create for others but can still score on our own. We will have some growing pains. But it is my job to put them in adverse situations in practice so they can be prepared for games.
You played for Coach Jim Harrick at Pepperdine; What made him such a great coach, and what was the most important thing you ever learned from him? I enjoyed playing for him because he gave us a lot of freedom within what we were trying to do offensively. He was great at taking advantage of our strengths. He had some great scorers at UCLA and put them in position to score. I just saw him last week at the Wooden Tip-off and praised him for all the things he taught us that we did not realize until later on in life, like to be on time. I preach a lot of those same things now to our team.
After making the NCAA tourney as a freshman and sophomore, you missed the entire 1986-87 season with a back injury and missed the latter half of the following year with a knee injury. How did those injuries affect you both on and off the court? It was a setback on the court: I would have been the starting PG for a very talented team if my back was healthy. Blowing out my knee was more of a setback mentally because we were probably on track to win 20+ games. It taught me to focus more on my academics in case there was a chance I could not play basketball anymore.
You graduated with 342 career assists (which remains in the top-10 in school history): What is the key to being a good point guard? Having great scorers on your side! I had a bunch of teammates who could score 20 points on any given night so I would just feed the hot hand. Hopefully they would not take 12 dribbles that would take away my assist!
From 1991-1994, as an assistant at Pepperdine, you made four straight WCC tourney title games and won three of them by three points each. Did it just reach a point where you expected every single postseason game to go down to the wire? We had some great players like Doug Christie, so I think we had enough confidence that we could pull out a tight game. We just realized that we were better than our opponents, and we were lucky in some games.
What are your memories of the 1994 NCAA tourney (Juwan Howard scored 28 points before fouling out in a four point OT win by Michigan)? It seems like yesterday! The one thing I remember the most is how the tide turned in the crowd. We hit several three point shots and the crowd just started chanting for us and turning on Michigan. We had a chance to win it at the end of regulation but Howard was able to get a finger on our shot. I just saw a photo from that game yesterday and had some flashbacks.
You were named head coach at your alma mater in 2011. What did it mean to you to finally get the top job after spending more than two decades as an assistant coach? It just shows that hard work pays off through the good times and bad. A lot of assistants think they have all the answers, but once you make the 18” slide to the head coach’s seat it is a world of difference. It is great to be back in southern California where I was born and raised, and to be back home at Pepperdine means the world to me.