Ben Braun, Players Comment on NCAA Tournament Selection
March 10, 2002
Head Coach Ben Braun
On the reaction of the players about the NCAA Tournament bid
I don't think there was any doubt in our players' minds that we were going to get into the tournament. I think our players came to see who we're playing and where we're playing. I think this is the most exciting time of the year, and you don't really appreciate this until you're left on the outside. There are a lot of teams this year that have played hard, they've prepared, they've battled, yet they're not playing in the NCAA Tournament. That's tough. We're very fortunate to have that opportunity to play and advance in the NCAA Tournament.
On what the selection means to the Cal basketball program
I think making the tournament is a standard that we'd like to establish, and I think we've done that. We've still got some young guys competing and that's good because that's only going to help us for future years. I'm most happy for our seniors. This is important for them to be able to go out like this. Playing in tournaments, that's what it's all about. So for Dennis Gates, Solomon Hughes and Ryan Forehan-Kelly, that's the great reward, just a good way for them to go out as seniors - to be playing for a national championship.
On how rewarding the tournament selection is to the team
I think there is a lot that goes into a season, and every player and every coach and every team is challenged throughout the year. But when you run through a whole season, you're team has established themselves as one of the top teams in the country, that's a great feeling and something you should be proud of. And now, it's an opportunity to take that a step further and challenge the top teams in the country. What more can you ask for from a competitive standpoint.
On Penn, Cal's first round opponent
I'm familiar with Fran Dunphy, and we played them a couple of years ago in the Golden Bear Classic. They're a good basketball team. Fran's an excellent coach and as I've always said, the Ivy League is getting better and better every year. I've got a lot of respect for Fran and what he's done there. He's a tremendous coach and his teams are always tough to play against, as the rest of the Ivy League found out this season.
On facing Princeton earlier in the year and if that helps the Bears against Penn
They're different styles, but our players should get a good feel for it. That this is a very good team and their league is good. We've also played Harvard this year in our tournament. We played Yale a year ago and played Penn a couple of years ago. We're familiar with the league and we have a lot of respect for the Ivy League. I think it's a league that's coming on every year. The coaches and the players are getting better and better every year.
Senior center Solomon Hughes
On the team's attitude towards the NCAA Tournament
Obviously the guys are a little bit older and we're a little less wide-eyed about it than we were last year, because we've been there before. I think (losing last year to Fresno State) has matured us a little bit. Our main focus now is playing this game against Penn.
Freshman forward Amit Tamir
On this season and what to expect of the tournament competition
We feel that we had a good season this year and we can play against any team in the country. We just know that if we play our game, we play tough, we can win these games.
On the tough losses to Arizona and how that will play into effect
At the end of the season, we had a tough loss and at the tournament, it was tough as well, but we just have to forget about that and go for the bigger and better things coming up. We know that this loss (against Arizona) didn't mess up the whole season. We still had a good season, so we're still confident.
Junior forward Joe Shipp
On the difference between this year's NCAA Tournament squad and last season's
I think with us having more juniors as well as having more depth, we have a better chance. I think we're a lot more athletic this year. And also, for Shantay (Legans), Brian (Wethers) and myself, this is our third year playing together, so we're playing better together.