Ben Braun Monday Press Conference
March 11, 2002
Below are selected quotes from Cal head coach Ben Braun from his Monday press conference. The Bears face Penn Friday at approximately 3 p.m. ET/12 noon PT in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Pittsburgh.
What do you know about Penn?
I'm very familiar with Fran Dunphy and his program. They do an outstanding job every year. They're playing in a league that's getting better and better every season. We're very familiar with the Ivy League because we played so many teams from that league. I can't impress enough on everyone how competitive they are, and we have a lot of respect for their program and for their conference. They've got some players that can obviously play the game. They understand how to play and they're a tough matchup because they get good shots for one another. It's going to be a challenge for our guys defensively. We're going to have to play pretty good defense against them.
What do you know about Ugonna Onyekwe and Koko Archibong?
They're strong players for any conference. They can play. They're athletic, they've got good range and they're active. They're very good players, no question about that. And they play a lot of minutes and they're productive. They're active, productive players, so it's a challenge to play against those guys.
Can you compare the playing style Penn to anyone in the Pac-10?
I really haven't thought about that much. I'd have to think more about that. I don't know if I could compare them to anybody. They've got a solid group on the frontline and their backcourt. They're solid. They're just no holes and they're just a solid team.
What do you think of the Quakers' guard Andrew Toole?
He's competitive. I really like his competitiveness. And he's also very talented. And if you put those two combinations together - competitiveness and talent - he's difficult to play against. Those are good combinations. He's deadly from the free throw line, he can knock down shots from the perimeter, and he's a good-sized kid.
What type of game does Penn play?
They're a team that does shoot the three, but if you get extended out, they can go inside and hurt you. So they've got a good balance, a good inside outside presence. They're a solid man-to-man team defensively. I think that when you're looking at teams from a defensive standpoint, Fran's teams have always played solid defense.
On Penn's size in the frontcourt:
No question, they've got some good some size, which I've been impressed with. They've got good guards coming off the bench as well, so they're solid. What they've accomplished this year is through a lot of hard work and through their program. They've done a great job. I've always admired Fran's teams. Before we played them and certainly after we played him, I admired him even more. His teams have historically been good, not only in their league, but they've been good in the postseason. They've shown what a solid program can do.
On playing NCAA Tournament games in Pennsylvania:
That type of thing is always going to happen in the tournament - someone's going to go on the road. And everybody can't stay at home, so we're one of those teams that were sent on the road. So that's how it goes. We're not going to dwell on that. I think everybody would like to play close to home, but that's the draw and that's what you have. We're not going to make more of that than there is. We're going to play NCAA basketball.
Brian Wethers has been playing well of late. What has been that catalyst for this?
I think Brian, like last year for us, has come on. He's gotten over the injuries early on in the year. He's consistent, his energy, his effort, his attitude, he's really been working and playing with a renewed confidence. I think having confidence is something from within, but it's important that he gets the support around him and he may notice that more. I think players tend to notice that more when they're confident and when they're playing well. It's kind of a cumulative effect. He's doing a really good job right now.
What's the difference between this team as opposed to last season's squad?
I felt that, because our team was young last year and it was our first trip back to the NCAA Tournament in awhile, there was some jubilation and excitement to be there. I think our players now, having the year we've had and the battles we've fought this year, I think there is a concentration and a focus on now in our level of play - trying to play and trying to advance.
Coming into this year, did you expect to be where you are now?
We expected to be competitive in our league, and I think having a chance to play for the Pac-10 title down to the last day was a pretty lofty goal. We always had that goal, but when the season was ending, we were there. It was something we had talked about, but a lot of teams talk about doing a lot of things and it doesn't come to fruition. This team put themselves in position to battle for a championship and to put themselves in a position to play in the Pac-10 tournament and to advance. That's part of our goal. I don't know if our team should be surprised. It's something that we talked about doing and something we planned on.