Nov. 14, 2007
Head Coach Ben Braun
On the impact of DeVon Hardin's return to the court for tonight's season opener:
DeVon pretty much saved the day down the stretch for us, and think about what he did: he anchored us inside, he made it tough [for Southern Miss] to get to the rim and he did that with some of our guys out, not only in foul trouble, but injured. So DeVon really was a big key for us down the stretch of this game. I think his presence helps us hold a team to the 30th percentile [field goal shooting].
On his team's performance, down by six with under 6:00 to play before a 12-0 Cal run took back the lead for good:
I thought our team regained its composure. When Ryan went out [with vision problems], he's our leading scorer and rebounder a year ago, not even sure if he's going to come back in the game. With him out and our team fighting through some problems and obviously some fatigue trying to play some guys a lot of minutes, they made a really nice run on us. I thought [Southern Miss coach] Larry [Eustachy's] team did a great job of regaining the lead, but I thought our team did a great job of coming back, getting our composure back, getting a couple of very good defensive stops, and then turning those into transition scores. We did a really nice job in transition.
On Ryan Anderson's eye injury, how he was able to return for the end of the game and other players who had a big impact in the win:
Ryan sustained blurred vision where he really didn't have much vision out of his eye. He said he didn't recall being hit, he doesn't recall a blow happening, but in fact Ryan couldn't see out of the [left] eye, so doctors were concerned. Then slowly but surely, the vision started to come back. He says he feels better now. It's something we want to check, but boy, it was great to have him come back, because of his experience. He also knocked down a big three, a lay-up and some free throws. It makes it a little easier for our team. Patrick [Christopher] did a great job and Nikola [Knezevic] really I thought was an unsung guy today, holding their leading scorer [Jeremy Wise] and one of the top players in that conference to 3-for-15 [shooting].
On whether limiting Jeremy Wise the focus of the defense tonight:
Absolutely. [But] we knew that Courtney Beasley is tough player - he's one of those guys that gives you some match-up problems, too. He got the ball inside, hurt us a little bit. Their big guys got some offensive rebounds in the second half. When we corrected that we were better. But when I looked back at the bench, we had DeVon sitting out, and we had Ryan sitting out, so it was a tough stretch for us. Southern Miss made a great run and we came back and made a run of our own. So it was a great finish for us down the stretch.
C DeVon Hardin
On his excitement level returning to action after missing much of last year with a foot injury:
Real excited. I felt great. This was my first game back, and I definitely wanted to make an impression and help my team win.
On his energy level:
I've always been an energetic player. I have fun out there. I'm enjoying myself and happy.
On the two quick fouls called against him in the first half:
The first foul, I tried to take a charge. The second one I kind of had to do that on purpose; I couldn't let the man score. But I maintained aggression throughout the game, and if you're in the right position, you can either take a charge or make a play on the ball without getting a foul, so I believe that I wasn't really concerned about it.
On Southern Miss's second and third chances during their second-half run:
That was just a matter of us not being strong with the ball, not going strong to the boards, and we have to do a much better job of boxing out and rebounding.
G Patrick Christopher
On whether it was good to see Ryan Anderson return to the court after his vision returned:
Definitely. We wanted to see Ryan get it going. He got a little frustrated getting into foul trouble. Once he hit that three, the crowd got into it and everything was good from there.
On the challenge of defending a smaller, scrappy team like Southern Mississippi:
It was definitely a challenge. During film we saw that they have a lot of weapons. They can score really well, especially their perimeter players. With us being limited, it caused players like myself, Nikola [Knezevic] and Nican [Robinson] to be in there, play big minutes and lock down. It was tough, but that's part of basketball, the challenge.