Feb. 11, 2008
Below are quotes from head coach Ben Braun from his weekly press conference Monday. The Golden Bears next visit Arizona Thursday and Arizona State Saturday.
On the health of Jerome Randle (ankle, thigh, concussion):
He just took his x-ray this morning. I believe the preliminary reports came back OK. He's got a thigh contusion and an ankle sprain, and he had some symptoms over the weekend for a concussion, so he hasn't been cleared to practice yet. We're going to re-check him today and tomorrow to see if he's able to practice tomorrow. He has to be cleared to play. If he has a concussion, he's not cleared to practice, then he would not play (Thursday at Arizona).
On Oregon's hot-shooting night Saturday against Cal:
Oregon shot the ball extremely well. It's not like they had completely uncontested threes; however, we had some late run-outs at the threes because we were late getting off of some screens, we were late to communicate a couple of times, and also, with a team like Oregon, I think you want to encourage their drive before you encourage their three, and I think we were protecting against their drive. Someone like (Tajuan) Porter is probably not going to take the ball and finish as well to the basket as he is going to drive-and-dish, so we have to do a better job.
On how the Bears can scheme to help each other defensively.
We talk about helping. When you help off penetration, we prefer not to commit both feet. We prefer to help and recover so you're in position to do both. Obviously if you're getting all the way to the basket, now you have to make a full commitment - you can't let someone get all the way to the basket. But I thought in many cases with Oregon, I don't know that they were going to get all the way to the basket. I thought they were getting into the gaps. But we also were late getting out of screens; in other words, we didn't get the ball stopped at the point of a ball screen. As the post helped and recovered, we never really stopped the ball handler. Every time we got burned, didn't do an effective job (defensively), they scored. When we did do an effective job, we got our stops. Our best defense is when can stop the point of attack. Sometimes it takes two guys to stop the ball, but once the ball is stopped, we can scramble back and rotate.
On how a player like Patrick Christopher can help the team when he has an off night shooting:
That happens on occasion. What do you do when your shot's not falling? You still defend, you still rebound, you still help your team. You assist, you do other things. You know, that was a rare game for Patrick. He's been so consistent for us all year, but as I told him, any our players, if you struggle offensively, you've got to find a way to help your team defensively, and I think that was the challenge.
On whether Ryan Anderson's defense has room for improvement:
I think Ryan could step it up, and we talked about that this morning. Ryan, to his credit, is playing a lot of minutes. Ryan doesn't take plays off, but sometimes there's a point where players choose to rest, and my contention through the years is players usually don't take a play off on offense. They're not resting on offense, but they will try to rest a little bit on defense, and so I think whether it's Ryan, it's Patrick or Jerome, when guys are playing significant minutes, we have to guard against resting on the defensive end. We can't afford to rest. And what does that mean? It means containing the ball, keeping guys in front of you. We've got to be disciplined enough to stay on the floor and just really do a good job of keeping the ball contained, not create disadvantages for ourselves.
On DeVon Hardin's return to health and how his minutes might affect the lineup:
I thought DeVon has stepped up, not only in the game, but he had a great practice this morning. It seems like he's back now, he didn't seem tired. He was a little fatigued on Saturday, that's to be expected, but I thought the day off Sunday helped him and today he jumped back with great energy. Based on the energy I saw today in practice, if he strings that together, I expect him to be back in the (starting) lineup. It means we'll have to make some adjustments. But I'd rather have that dilemma than not. If DeVon can get back in the lineup and Jamal (Boykin) can play at the same pace he can play at, Ryan's playing the same pace he's playing at, we may have to make an adjustment in terms of starting a bigger lineup. That could be something we do. We'll see how that goes. A lot of it's match-ups, a lot of it's how your guys are practicing. (Against Oregon State,) those three guys on the floor seemed to bring us a lot of energy. We challenge our guys about rebounding, and I thought for two consecutive games those guys did a pretty good job rebounding the ball.
On the inclination not to relegate Jamal Boykin to the bench even with DeVon Hardin back at full strength:
I don't know how we can really sit him down when he's giving us energy. We may have to change a little bit how we play. But I'm willing to make an adjustment if it helps our team, if it gives us some plusses. Whether it's match-up zone or man, I think we can do both. I think Jamal's capable of defending on the perimeter, and I think DeVon's certainly somebody that's got pretty good feet, and he can get out there. I think we could make some adjustments.
On the possibility of playing zone defense against the Wildcats, and why zone didn't prove effective against the Ducks:
We did play Arizona some zone last game, which I thought was effective, so we could go that route, too. Believe it or not we started out the game (against Oregon) in zone. But we were kind of matching up. When they started knocking some shots down, we said, hey, we're giving them some easy looks. It's hard playing zone when you're behind. It's hard being down 8-zip and say let's go sit in zone. I'm generally not a coach that panics when a team hits a three, because again, if you look at the first shot of the game, which we did this morning, Porter's first three was highly contested. Eric (Vierneisel) comes over the top, he's 6-7, and he put his hand up. Porter kicks his feet out, leans back, throws it up and it goes in - I'm OK with that. I'm not OK if he's getting a free look because we didn't step out on a ball screen, or we get a drive and dish and he spots up and gets his feet set. Second half, we were giving up some shots that normally our team had not been giving up this year. Oregon, all they need is a run. Give them two or three (good looks) in a row, now the damage is done. They felt it. I watched them do it to USC last year. I remember Tim Floyd, who's a pretty good defensive coach, just shaking his head. They had no answer.
On the difficult trips Cal has historically made to Arizona:
It seems like we always get Arizona at a tough time. If you go back over the years, it seems like we've always caught them in either of two places: either when their team is playing at an all-time high, or they just took a loss and now all of a sudden we're catching them there. I think the point is that it doesn't make any difference. We're facing Arizona right now just as we're facing the team that came back off the Stanford game, in Oregon, so we can't worry about what game our opponents come off of. Do they come off of a game where they're playing at an all-time high of confidence, or are they playing a game where they're got a chip on their shoulder? If we start to wait to see what other teams are doing, we're going to be in trouble. The challenge for us is to say, what do we want to do? We want to play at a high level. I'm encouraged that we've played fairly well on the road, and I've been encouraged that our team has bounced back this year when we've come off a tough game. That's not easy to do, but somehow our team has done that. I've got to be encouraged that our players, our staff, we all felt we had opportunities to win that last Arizona game, and so we can go back to that game and say hey guys, when we do these things well, I think we scored a ton of points in the paint that game. Same with the Arizona State game. Both games we seemed to be in a pretty good offensive rhythm. But we never got in our defensive rhythm in those games. Against those teams, we have to get a stop.
On Jerome Randle's efforts to play more complete defense:
I think he's improved. He did a much better job (Saturday), he didn't get caught going behind. Jerome got over the top of those screens. So he's doing a better job there. He's learning how to bump cutters, when his man sets a screen, how to stay pressed against his man, bump and then get through screens. He's doing a better job, but he's got the ability to contain the dribble a lot more consistently than he is. He puts good pressure on the ball - he's really talented at that - but I think sometimes, whether it's lack of concentration, or whether it's doing it consistently, that's a challenge for him to do that at the rate we need. Containing penetration, guarding the ball - it's probably the hardest thing to do in college basketball, and I think he can do it. He's just got to do it consistently.