Feb. 19, 2008
Below are quotes from head coach Ben Braun from his weekly press conference Monday. The Golden Bears next visit Stanford Sunday night at 6 p.m.
On the factors that may determine whether Cal plays postseason basketball this year:
What are the important factors? One is, how do you finish in your league? Usually the top five teams in the league are guaranteed to go (to the NCAAs), then you have to fight it out for six and seven, but I think that six or seven can go. What else is it going to take? Well, finishing the year strong is important - that's a factor. The NCAA does reward teams that finish the year stronger. How's your road record? The NCAA rewards teams that have a good road record. We have a chance to play Stanford, a top-10 team, we have a chance to beat Washington State, we'll play UCLA - can we notch a win against those teams? And if you can, that can't hurt you. So those are other ways, tangible ways, that our team has to think about. For those teams competing for a spot, the winning road record could become a deciding factor. So if it comes down to that, if we could notch a few more wins (on the road), that won't hurt us, it can only help us. If you're one of the teams in the middle (of the conference standings) fighting for a spot, that road record could - could - be a factor.
On Ryan Anderson's effort to record a strong outing at Stanford after being held to 11 points in the first meeting:
With Stanford's defense, you're not usually going to get easy shots at the rim. Ryan can usually get to the rim and get to the foul line. Stanford has presented a problem because they have 7 feet and 260-plus (in both Brook and Robin Lopez). They've been hard on the league, not just hard on Ryan. If it was just Ryan, I'd say gosh, there's a problem, but they've been hard on the league. They haven't given up a lot of points to a lot of post players. They make it tough on you. Can we look at different ways for Ryan to score? Obviously, that a possibility, as well. But they do a good job defensively, that's the strength of what they do. I think Ryan's sometimes rushed his shots against Stanford. I think he's got to take his time. I think (Ryan's) got to pick and choose some spots where he can trail the break, get some outside looks, and at the same time, pick and choose some spots to get post-ups.
On Cal's continued efforts to improve its rebounding since the last meeting with the Cardinal:
I think we've improved a little since (Jan. 26 in Haas Pavilion vs. Stanford), but again, doing it against Stanford is a different challenge because you can box out their players and they can still go over the top of you. Against Stanford you have to hold your box-outs a little longer. You have to gang-rebound. It's just not the guys boxing out - we may box out the Lopez twins, but now, while we're holding them off, we'd better get three other guys in there going to the glass. We have to make some headway there, and I think we have. Washington hurt us, but I think after that we settled down. But that's a challenge. We've got to be better at that.
On defending against Brook Lopez:
If we give up deep post position, we're making it easy for him. We've got to do a better job, and that's on us. It's easier said than done, but we've got to go out and do that. It's about doing your work early and being more aggressive. I thought we allowed much too deep position (in the last meeting). Taking away post space, you've got to do that earlier in the possession. Once you give up deep position, it's hard to get it back. So we have to do it early and we have to do it all the way. It's a hard challenge. Not that it makes me feel any better, (but) I look around the league and the league's having problems giving up that position. But we've got to find a way to do a much better job.
On whether their improved defense in the second game against Arizona State's Jeff Pendergraph last Saturday could be a confidence-builder for the Bears:
He had a great game against us the first time. The second time around we did a much better job of not giving him the position we gave him the first game, and I thought we did a better job of manning up defensively and being a little tougher. So yeah, that was a good sign, that was an encouraging sign. He's a tough cover. He's given the league fits. We made the adjustment on him the second time around, so we hope that we can make the adjustments on Brook - certainly offensively - and Robin on the glass, because those guys, it was brutal last game, that's the only way I can put it. Even though the game was a while ago, I think our players remember it pretty distinctly.
On the expected starting lineup for Sunday's game, and whether Jamal Boykin or Eric Vierneisel could be slotted as a sixth man:
We'll see. We've got all week to look at it and I really don't want to be locked into a lineup today. I want to see how we look in practice. I don't imagine we'll be playing a small lineup - I doubt that would be an option, unless the real small guys show me they're unstoppable this week. Whether it's Jamal or Eric coming off (the bench), both those guys are giving us a good effort. Eric gave us a great effort on Saturday. He's had historically some good games against Stanford. And Jamal did too (in their first meeting). The good news is those guys will be in the game. I'm OK if one guy's is coming off. They'll both be in the game, they'll both play.
On any wrinkle created by playing Sunday rather than Saturday:
We'll see what happens on the back end, because you can't really do much on Monday, especially with a night game on Sunday. They have classes the next day. I think Monday is pretty much a film day anyway. I really didn't mind scheduling it for Sunday because it's a local game.