Nov. 27, 2007
Below are quotes from Ben Braun's weekly press conference from Tuesday, Nov. 27. The Bears next play at Nevada on Wednesday night.
On the possibility of starting PG Jerome Randle against Nevada:
I thought Jerome [Randle] really played well [coming off the bench for his first game this season against San Diego State]. I felt it was important for him to come back after a month off, not just come back right away - he only had a few practices under his belt, but he's had a couple more practices. I think he's kind of earned that right to get back in the lineup, so it looks like he'll get back at the point for us, and probably bring Nikola [Knezevic] off [the bench] at this point. And I think that'll be pretty good. I feel good about having those guys.
On the injury status of the Bears:
It seems like [Eric Vierneisel, ankle] is doing fine. He's come back pretty strong. Obviously, we're still waiting for Theo [Robertson, hip], Taylor [Harrison, knee] and Omondi [Amoke, calf]. [Taylor] hasn't been back [practicing] at full tilt yet. We're trying to bring him along slow. We hope to get those guys back. But we're making progress - we got Jerome back.
On his impressions of Nevada:
They're a team that executes well. [Head coach] Mark [Fox's] teams always execute well. They did a good job last year when we played them and they've got a lot of the same guys, some of the guys that when they're back, the system's in place. So they do a good job, they really do. They execute well, they're solid on defense, and we're going to have to defend against a very good team on their home court and they play very well there, so big challenge for our team.
On DeVon Hardin's progress this season, three games into his return from injury in 2006-07:
I think Devon's picked up where he left off last year defensively. He's been a presence for us, and that's been good. His energy's been good for our team. He's been a little slow out of the blocks offensively, but I anticipated that probably would happen with a year [off the court], and he's going to pick that up, there's no questions about that. But he's definitely given us a lift and he's a big anchor for us defensively.
On Nevada G Marcelus Kemp:
He's an impressive player, such a versatile player. He's a guy that can step out on the perimeter and knock down threes, he's a guy that can take you off the dribble - I mean, really beat you off the dribble - and he's a guy that can post you up. So, he presents a lot of problems for any defense, and I think a lot of what they do starts with him. He's awfully good and a big part of their success over the last couple of years. He's an explosive player and we're going to have to defend him, there's no question.
On his memories of DeMarshay Johnson dating back to when Johnson was a year older than Leon Powe at Oakland Tech HS:
DeMarshay was always quick, he was agile, he was always an impressive player. I do remember him. He's been in our gyms and I've known him a long time. He's stayed with it and I'm happy for him. I've gotten a chance to watch him, over the years, mature. You always feel good to see players that stick with it. I always liked DeMarshay a lot as a person. Through the years, we've always been cordial when I've seen him. It's good to see him stick with and have some success.
On the type of defense that might be effective Wednesday, such as pressuring the perimeter and denying passes inside, which has been successful for UNLV against Nevada the past two years:
You always look at tape to see if you can pick something up, but I don't know that as a team we're going to change a lot of the things we do. We try to put pressure on the ball, but we also try to play position defense, so ideally, as a coach, we'd like to do both. That's not easy to do, though.
On the challenge of playing at Nevada's Lawlor Events Center:
You look at the success they've had. Mark's teams have enjoyed a lot of success at home. You're not playing against the arena, you're playing against the team, but the team that we're playing has a lot of confidence because they play well at home. You've just got to go out and play. You know you're going to play in a tough place to play. But it's the same thing when people come play at Haas: you've got to be ready to play. It's a tough place, there's no question. It's one of the challenges we face this year and it's a big challenge, but I think that it will be good for our team. It's important that we give our players some tests and we have some pretty good tests right now. We play a good schedule.
On the value of Nevada as a home-and-home opponent, with the Wolf Pack coming to Berkeley next season:
I think it's important. A lot of teams schedule games all over the country, but I don't think you have to go all over the country to play great teams. That's one the reasons, and I think Mark would agree with me on this, if you can play teams locally that are very talented and very good, you're doing yourself a favor because you're still playing top-notch competition but you don't have to travel through three time zones to do that. That's a pretty high-caliber team.