Provo • Pepperdine’s players don’t need any extra motivation when their school plays host to BYU in men’s basketball, but they got more anyway on Tuesday afternoon.
The Waves announced that seventh-year head coach Marty Wilson, a former University of Utah assistant, will not have his contract renewed next season. Wilson will coach in last-place Pepperdine’s final four West Coast Conference games, including Thursday’s 8 p.m. MST contest against third-place BYU at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu, Calif.
Pepperdine (4-22, 1-13) has won the last four matchups with BYU (20-7, 9-5) at Firestone.
How will Wilson’s release affect the game?
“That’s a really good question,” said BYU coach Dave Rose, who met with reporters just after the news broke. “We won’t know until we start playing. I don’t have an answer for it.”
Sophomore forward Yoeli Childs, who fouled out in last year’s 99-83 loss to the Waves in Malibu, said Pepperdine will “come out with even more fire.” The Cougars routed the Waves 83-63 at the Marriott Center last month, but Pepperdine was without leading scorer Kameron Edwards and is a totally different team when it hosts the Cougars, history has shown.
“As a player you develop a great relationship with your coaches, and if something like that were to happen, you would want to give everything you’ve got for that coach and play as hard as you could to finish out his season,” Childs said. “So, I don’t know how they are reacting. I don’t know their relationship with their coach, but I am sure they are going to come out and give us their best effort and come out and play hard. They are very good team and we got to be ready for everything.”
A former Pepperdine player and assistant coach, Wilson took over the program prior to the 2011-12 season when Tom Asbury retired. He has posted an 86-125 record, including a 9-22 mark last year.
“I do know that they have played really hard and I’ve watched the last five or six games, and Marty had his team ready,” Rose said. “They were just having a hard time winning, but they were executing and playing hard and competing right to the very end.
The Waves have lost three straight since thumping Santa Clara 73-59 at Firestone. They lost at Portland in overtime, lost by nine at home to Pacific, and lost 68-66 to much-improved San Diego last Saturday at home.
“I feel for [Wilson], because it is a challenge,” Rose said.
“Something that is special about having BYU on your chest, is everybody wants to give you their best shot,” Childs said, explaining why Pepperdine thrives against BYU.
The Cougars practiced at the Marriott Center Annex, the new basketball practice facility, on Tuesday to prepare for playing in a smaller place, Rose said. … Having committed 19 turnovers in Saturday’s 75-73 overtime win over San Francisco, the Cougars focused on making better passes and taking care of the ball in practices this week. … Gonzaga’s Johnathan Williams was named West Coast Conference Player of the Week after the 6-foot-9 transfer from Missouri totaled 22 points and 24 rebounds in road wins over Pacific and Saint Mary’s last week. BYU nominated TJ Haws for the weekly honor after the 6-4 sophomore guard totaled 40 points and 13 assists in home wins over Santa Clara and San Francisco.