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Ben Braun Press Conference Quotes
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  02/04/2002

Feb. 4, 2002

Below are selected quotes from head coach Ben Braun from his weekly press conference. The Bears (15-5, 6-4) host Oregon State on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. and Oregon on Saturday at 5 p.m. in Haas Pavilion.

On Jamal Sampson
Jamal was a little bit under the weather on Saturday, and he is still feeling some of the effects. He was getting a little bit frustrated with the officials, but you've got to play past that. That's a learning experience and part of being a young player. You're going to get calls that you don't agree with. It's not something that you did or what the official sees, it's what the official thinks he sees. The official is going to make calls based on what he sees, and it's up to you to get the officials to dictate what that is. If it looks like a foul, it's a foul. It doesn't matter if you fouled the guy or not. We've got some guys with some pretty quick hands, so I don't want our guys to not be active, but you have to adjust to the calls. If your feet are in the correct position, you're going to get credit for having the quicker hands. If you're out of position and you use your hands, officials will penalize you ... and that makes some sense. It can be frustrating, but we've got to do a better job in foul discipline. We can be better defensively if we keep people off the line, move our feet and improve defensive rebounding.

What can you do to rebound better?
A couple of things. We do get pushed under the basket sometimes, so we have to correct that. We've got to go out and make contact with people. Sometimes, we make the mistake of going after the ball and ball watching, when sometimes you have to man watch ... and then ball watch. You have to ball watch when the ball comes off the rim, but you have to do an effective job. If our post guys are out on the floor and they're not going to be our primary rebounders, that's fine. Brian Wethers had eight rebounds the other day ... that's great.

You don't have a classic power forward on the team, can you talk about that?
We're not going to stand in the paint and absorb. We're not going to have a guy do that on a consistent basis, but Jamal (Sampson) may be the exception. He's a guy that can take up space and get in there, but it's a new experience for him. Solomon (Hughes) will end up rebounding better and Amit (Tamir) got some impressive defensive rebounds against Arizona State down the stretch. As a team, we have to concentrate on team rebounding. Our wings are good-sized wings, so there's no reason our wings can't rebound. You take some of the offensive rebounds away from Saturday (vs. Arizona State) and then we've done ourselves a big favor. If I'm playing against a team that's giving up 60 points a game and 38 percent from the floor, I'm going to try and get some offensive rebounds, too. You're not getting a lot anywhere else ... so that's what teams are going to do. That's the compliment other teams are giving us. They're not scoring a lot in the sets and transitions, so they're going to try and get offensive rebounds against us. That's got to be something that our players understand.

On taking the opponents' leading scorer out of games:
We've done a pretty good job of that. In essence, it's something that we haven't always done. We made that an issue that we were going to go after people defensively and take some pride collectively. If Ryan Forehan-Kelly is guarding their best player, he's not doing it alone ... it's a team effort. Our team has done a pretty good job of playing help defense and zeroing in on that. We've done it to Casey Jacobsen, we've done it to Philip Ricci, and Jason Gardner had zero baskets in the first half against Arizona. You put yourself in a position to win if you take away some of those things, and we've done that.

Is there a danger of placing too much emphasis on stopping one guy?
I don't think there is any danger in doing that as long as nobody else is going for their career high. It's easy to talk about stopping one guy, but it's harder in reality to do that. People talked about stopping Sean Lampley last year but it just didn't happen. We talked about stopping Eddie House a few years ago and that didn't happen. I think our team is making an effort now and we recognize in our scouting schemes where the points are coming from, what teams' tendencies are, and we're doing a pretty effective job at that. That is something that our team is taking pride in. As a coach and as a player, it's a pretty good point of emphasis.

On Oregon and Oregon State:
Both teams have guys that can knock down shots, and anytime you've got guys that can knock down shots, they are always a threat to me. At the same time, Oregon State has Philip Ricci who can go inside and make it tough on you. Oregon does a great job in transition. These are teams that will really challenge you defensively. There's a danger in putting a lot of attention on Philip Ricci because they have a lot of other guys that can knock down shots. Three-point shooting is a big part of their game. Brian Jackson loves to see his man helping out on Philip Ricci because he can knock down the three. In fact, he did it against us last game. In the Pac-10, unfortunately, it's hard to take away one guy because they usually have two or three that can hurt you.

When you look back at the game film, what did you do well against Philip Ricci the first time around?
Our post guys did a good job keeping him in front and challenging shots. Also, our outside defense did a pretty good job, our guards were in there getting ready to help. He's a solid player, he really is. He commands a lot of attention ... he's a strong player, he's difficult to defend on the block and he can step out and knock down the medium-range jumper. Oregon State has done some good things this year. They've played well on the road.

On Oregon's Freddie Jones
He's improved his shooting range. He's now knocking down shots, and he's an explosive driver. If you jam him, he's going to drive you, and if you give him some room, he's going to knock down some shots. If you foul him, he's something like an 85 percent free throw shooter. He's become a multi-dimensional player for them. Even when we felt like we did a pretty good job against him last game, here he comes at the end of the game and gets key offensive rebounds. He's finding ways to score, he's explosive to the glass, and he goes and gets the boards for them. He's a less predictable player now because of all the ways that he can score on you.

On Cal's offense:
What I liked about our offense this last game was that our team was very disciplined in terms of getting the ball to who we wanted to get it. We made an effort to really start inside and get to the foul line. Good things have happened when we have been a presence inside. Ball movement and inside presence has always created a balance. Ryan Forehan-Kelly is a better player when our inside people are active. The same goes true for a lot of our players. When our team has done this, we've been a lot better. We've made some aggressive mistakes ... but I can live with them. It's the ones that are nonchalant or mistakes due to lack of concentration and discipline that really get me. I like our aggression, we just have to make good decisions at the end of the play. Our inside-outside looks are getting better. Our post guys are calling for the ball a little more now, and we have practiced that. It's important to get position and call for the ball because it is a two-way street. There are times when the perimeter guys need to get it inside quicker and there are other times when our post guys could want it more. Solomon (Hughes) has gotten better at moving his feet and getting position. The best post players are really the guys that work hard on their positioning and Solomon (Hughes) has done that.


Cal Bears Men's Basketball


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