Ben Braun's Weekly Press Conference
Nov. 23, 1999
BERKELEY - Comments from men's basketball coach Ben Braun from his weekly media luncheon. Cal hosts Pacific in its home opener on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Haas Pavilion. A limited number of tickets are still available through BASS.
On freshman point guard Shantay Legans:
"Shantay really does take pride in his performance. It really is an advantage to have players on your team who are looking to get the ball to people. Nick Vander Laan doesn't score unless people are passing. Shantay distributes the ball. He finds people. It's hard to fault a player who's trying to get the ball to other players and trying to make other players better. He's able to play the game at a fast pace and still make pretty good decisions. A lot of that is going to come with time and experience. From the standpoint that he's looking for those things, I think is a plus."
On freshman guard Donte Smith:
"I think Donte's still a combination player. In my opinion, I think he shows a comfort level at both positions (point and off-guard). He's handles the ball well, and he's a pretty good post feeder. He's knocked some shots down. He's also a player who can take the ball to the basket pretty well. He gives you that element."
On freshman center Nick Vander Laan:
"What you see is what you get with Nick. He's just going to play hard, he's going to be very intense, he's going to battle you at all times. That's what he does. He uses his body and he's aggressive. When you're his size and height, it's nice to see people use their aggressiveness. He makes a pretty good second effort. All this is coming off of mono and limited practice time. It's really something.
"He's shown the ability to be a presence inside. My thinking now is that we want to get him on the floor as soon as possible. Nick is a battler, and we know that that's a positive for us.
"In addition to competing, I think he has a pretty good sense of the basket. He flashes to the high post. He's just an active player. He's one of the most active players we've had. When you're active, I think you're taking it to the other team. Nick doesn't wait for things to happen."
On freshman forward Joe Shipp:
"In addition to having the ability to score and shoot the ball, I think he's showed us some other things. He had nine rebounds in one game (vs. Houston). That was a good sign. I thought he also showed the ability, when he gets jammed, to take the ball to the basket. That's what he's got to learn how to do because with his shooting ability, he's going to get people pressuring him and he's going to have to be able to put the ball to the basket and finish.
"He's starting to improve his defense. He can play a forward, he can play a big guard. He's kind of versatile in that respect. He's got a very good court demeanor, too. He doesn't seem to get rattled very much."
On Saturday's game against Pacific:
I think Saturday is going to be a very solid game for us, a solid test for us. Pacific is very well coached. They're disciplined. They're going to be hungry. Bob's team's are always well coached. It's going to be a good test for us at home."