Ben Braun Quotes From His Weekly Media Luncheon
Nov. 19, 2001
Assessing Cal's two wins last week in the BCA Classic:
I was pleased with some of the defensive pressure we were able to exert. I thought our effort was there. We had two teams we had to come up with strong defensive efforts to defeat. And we did that. This part of the year, you want to look at some areas your team can take some pride in and hopefully develop some things that will get you some consistency. I'm hoping we can build around our defense. It's early yet, but from the first two games, those were two pretty good efforts. We've got some work to do offensively. But it's hard to get it all right now.
On what areas Cal needs to work on:
I was disappointed in our break. We had some good stops, but we didn't convert. I was happy with the stops, but we have to convert some of the stops. I think we're converting some steals, but we need to convert some rebounds and get out on our break a little better. I'm hoping that's something that can evolve as the year goes on. Then, just getting our guys in sync. It's a daily thing. It's something that takes time. It's coordination, it's timing. I think we had such a defensive emphasis the first two games, we got away from offense. We didn't spend as much time offensively as we should have. I wouldn't have changed that because I think those are games you have to spend time on defense. And I thought it showed.
On Santa Clara:
This team executes. They're known for execution. They really are. They're known for discipline. (Dick Davey has) got some guys who can put the ball in the hole. This will be our biggest test defensively. At the same time, we're going to have to work on getting our offensive output up a little bit. His teams, year in and year out, they execute very well. They push you to the limits offensively and defensively.
On playing local schools, like Santa Clara:
I've never believed in going all over the country to play a high quality team when you have them right in your own backyard. I've always felt that way. Why would our team need to travel across country when we can play some very good teams who happen to be in the Bay Area. When we play Bay Area basketball teams, we're being tested on two fronts. We're getting tested because there's excellent coaching. You're getting tested by coaches that prepare their teams very well. And you're playing against teams who have players from this area. That makes it an emotional-type challenge. These are players that are very good players. That's a heckuva thing to do.
On Jamal Sampson's performance in the BCA Classic:
I thought he was very aggressive around the ball. Jamal was able to go up in a crowd and secure the ball. He's got a nose for the ball. I thought he stepped up defensively for us. He kind of took Solomon's lead and became a very agile type of a post player. He switched out on screens. I thought he was active. He still struggled in some areas. It's nice when you have a couple of 6-11 guys. Even Gabriel (Hughes) is capable of playing and is active. We have active post players.
Jamal is a gifted player. He's making strides. I think he's still got a ways to go, but he's coming in here with some pretty good skills and some pretty good tools. He's somebody that's used to winning. He's helped his team win. Wherever he's been, he's helped his team win. I thought he affected the game a lot, even without some statistics. He altered shots. He made some guys travel. He's a big presence. For a while when I saw Jamal and Solomon out there, I knew how (Mike) Montgomery felt with two 7-footers. It's an interesting thing. One guy's there and the other one's behind him. It affords us some luxury on defense.
On Dennis Gates:
Dennis' confidence is really high right now. There's nobody who works any harder than Dennis Gates. When you watch our practice, I can tell you that Dennis Gates' uniform is ready for the wash. Every inch of that thing is soaked. That's just typical of Dennis Gates. He gives you everything he's got. He gives you his heart. He gives you his energy. He's thinking, not just playing. He's a coach on the floor.
He plays at a high level. He demands that his teammates play at a high level. I think a lot of what you're seeing at the defensive end has to do with Dennis. He won't tolerate guys who don't play hard. When guys aren't playing hard, he lets them know. He's like a coach on the floor.