April 5, 2008
"This is an exciting time. First of all, Ben Braun was a friend of mine, and I think a lot of him as a person. Any time there seems like there is good fortune for somebody, there's always misfortune for somebody else. I acknowledge that. I've been in the coaching profession a long time, and I'm always sensitive to that. I want to congratulate Ben on the job that he did and the way that he represented himself and this university over the years.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for me. I started missing coaching. The TV stuff for me pointed out that I miss it more than I thought I did. It's what I do; it's what I do best. The more I did TV games and watched others and watched others practice and watched other teams go through their stuff, the more I found that I was missing the day-to-day interaction with kids, my fondness for the officials and all of the other things that go along with college basketball. I think I belong in college basketball. I think I proved that, although I would have liked a little longer to prove it. Nonetheless, this is where I belong.
"It's really unusual for a guy to work at two of the premier institutions in the country. The fact that they're 35 or 40 miles a part...we talked about it in the interview. Let's talk about the elephant in the room. There's a relationship that Cal and Stanford have had over the years. I think it is a fierce rivalry. I talked to a number of people, including some of my players at Stanford, some of the kids I could get a hold of, people who I had respect for. To me, it was more about trying to do at Cal maybe what I have done in the past. I want to try to build a quality basketball program that will build on the foundation that they have and to try to win basketball games. It's no more complex than that. Let's be honest. I would not have left Stanford to come to Cal, more than I would expect anyone to leave Cal to come to Stanford when you're coaching. But, I've been out of coaching for four years at the college level.
"I think as a professional, Sandy's (Barbour) job was to look for the best person she could find who she felt fit her situation. I think the same thing holds true for me. This was clearly a great opportunity. I like the kids in the program. I like the players that exist that are here now. I think there's a good nucleus to build on. I'm excited about it. All of the times I came over here in the last couple of years with radio and TV, people were very welcoming. They respected me for the job and the fierce competition that we had. It just made me feel a lot more comfortable. And, I can't tell you how welcoming everyone has been during the time that I've been here since I've met with Sandy (Barbour).
"This is all good. There's just no down side I hope for anybody. All of the rhetoric, all of the wins and past accomplishments, we all know go out the window with that first loss. That's the reality of the business for you. And, our job is to get this program to the top half (of the conference) and heading towards conference championships. We want to get to the NCAA Tournament consistently and do it the right way.
"I'm excited. My family is excited. Everyone I've talked to that I consider to be good friends are really excited for me. All of my Cal friends are excited for Cal. So, hopefully, it works for everybody."
On the prospects for success at Cal next season
"If everybody stays intact...that wasn't very subtle was it. (referring to Ryan Anderson possibly pursuing the NBA). We should be pretty good. I don't see any reason why we shouldn't be pretty good. When you take a job, anything you say almost seems like you're criticizing what's gone on in the past. I want to try to avoid that. We have to do the same things that I've always done. We have to play sound basketball, be very good defensively, have to win the rebounding war, got to take good shots and got to have guys who play for one another. That's the way that I've always done it. That's what we'll do here. Getting Theo (Robertson) back and staying intact another year, a year of maturity with the kids that we have and their off-season program, I don't think there's any reason why we can't compete with everybody in the league. That's what our goal is going to be. I don't know that we'll go to the top of the league, but I don't know that there's any reason why you don't. We're not going to restrict ourselves in any shape or form. I expect us to be winners. I expect people to look at Cal basketball as we're walking through the airport or these kids walk across camps. I expect people to look at them with a little bit of respect and awe."
On his appreciation for college coaching after coaching in the pros
"The professional thing was explainable to some, not to all. It was something I had to try. When do you ever get a chance to do something like that? There are an awful lot of guys out there that would have liked to have been in my position but were not fortunate enough to be in. It didn't work for me. I'm not saying it couldn't work, but it didn't in the period of time that I had. It's an experience that I'm glad that I had. My personality and what I believe in and the things I think need to be done works a lot better in college. It was pretty obvious. There are a lot of good things about the NBA, but for me, this is better. This is where I belong. To have the opportunity to work at arguably the best private institution in the world, and now to have the opportunity to work at the best public institution is pretty good stuff."
On his impressions of the Cal team after his meeting with the players last night
"We had a meeting last night. I haven't talked to them individually. I think they're hungry. I've watched them. I had four or five of their games on Comcast I believe (last season). So, I've had a chance to watch them. The thing that I like about them is that they're really good kids, for lack of a better term. I know they're young adults. They're solid people. I'm excited to help them reach their goals."
On how he's changed since being away from college coaching and whether he'll be nicer to the media
"How can I be? (everyone laughs). I have probably changed a little bit since I've matured in my understanding as to what everyone's job is. I have a little better understanding of the whole situation. I want to win. I've never done a lot of losing. I want a bunch of kids who feel the same way about what it takes. That's the way we'll recruit. The league is tough right now. There are no easy games. The thing is that I would like to take this thing as far as I can. I have a little more patience perhaps. What I don't have a lot of patience for is careless mistakes, lack of effort and selfishness. The same things that I've always felt. That won't change."
On choosing his staff
"I haven't formally asked anyone. That's going to be a key thing. If I have one thing that I'm concerned about it's getting that done, so that we can move on and take care of spring recruiting. We have to stay on top of that. That's first and foremost on my mind. If there's someone on the current staff that I think can help with the transition, I'll take a good look at that. I have a pretty solid list of people who I know would love to come here."