Jan. 22, 2008
Watch for FREE: Coach Braun on Stanford
Below are quotes from head coach Ben Braun from his weekly press conference Tuesday. Cal next hosts Stanford at 4 p.m. Saturday in Haas Pavilion.
On the Bears attitude following consecutive losses last week:
It was a spirited practice yesterday, which was good. Our team responded and bounced back Monday morning. I was pleased with our effort. And their spirits were up and guys were playing hard, talking and communicating. We do what we always do: We watch film and we go back and say, hey, there are still some positives. We did some good things this past weekend. Unfortunately, though, they didn't spell victory, but we corrected a few things. You know, holding Arizona to two fast-break points - I don't remember the last time we've ever done that. That's a positive. We said transition baskets are something we really had to address, and we did. Rebounding was 32-20 in the last game, and we'd said let's use our post presence, and we did that. We had 36 in the paint. So I was pleased with some things. Obviously turnovers, though, was a big factor, and getting a couple more opportune stops.
To what degree Arizona's strong shooting from long distance, as opposed to Cal's defensive lapses, accounted for the Wildcats' victory:
Chase Budinger hit some big shots against us, and he was out there. He's a great player and he has great range, but we have to do a good job of trying to make a shooter (into) a driver and a driver a shooter. That's a part of scouting, that's a part of making intelligent reads. As Ryan (Anderson) said, sometimes in the heat of battle you've got to be able to make those decisions on the fly. Who's the shooter? Who's the driver? You get caught up in a screen, you've got to know that. Who can you over-help against? Who can't you cheat off of? You've got to know those things. From our standpoint, we've got to control those things as much as we can. That's what defense does. We've got to try and force teams out of those areas that they're comfortable (in).
On the things Cal is focusing on to get a win against Stanford:
We've got to do a better job of utilizing possessions, cutting down on turnovers and getting some stops more consistently. That's what we're really missing now, is to get a series of stops. We had a couple of possessions where Arizona missed a couple of shots, we got some rebounds, we went and built a lead, but if we can get some stops more consistently, I think we have an opportunity to build a lead, as long as we take care of the ball and get good looks ourselves. But we've generally done that - I think we've gotten some good looks.
On whether Cal's ability to score may tempt players to abandon defensive principles and try simply to outscore the opposition:
It's a mindset that you get maybe a little comfortable that, well, we got scored on but we'll come down and make it up. That's good, you have to have that mindset, but you don't want to depend on that. I don't think you to depend on winning games just simply outscoring your opponents. Our teams have never been really successful doing that over the years. Our best teams and most successful teams had a pretty good mindset defensively. Even our best offensive teams, we realized that in the end it was our defense that was going to really separate us.
On striving for defensive consistency:
We've had some good stretches where we stopped people, we've had games where we've held teams down, but we have to be consistent in that area. That's the challenge. Maybe it's five more seconds on the clock of containment. Maybe it's five more seconds of getting that hand up and challenging shots. Maybe it's five guys scrambling to a loose ball or a rebound. It's a collective thing. It's not any one person. I want our team to be very aware that when one person lets down it affects our whole team.
On the effort to tap into the team's collective energy level:
It's a great thing when our team has that energy collectively. It's fun. I think our guys see when our whole team has that collective mentality. We're going to miss an assignment. A guy's going to get beat. But if a guy can hustle to make up for a teammate who misses an assignment, it's a chain reaction, and that's the kind of thing we're looking for on this team, to be there collectively and not compound a mistake. It's a chain reaction.
On helping DeVon Hardin to find a consistent groove:
DeVon sometimes worries about getting into foul trouble, making a mistake and having to be on the bench. Then, sometimes, that affects his aggressiveness. I think he's kind of come to the point that it's OK, it's better to be aggressive, even if you pick up some fouls. We're going to go back to that mindset. If it's an aggressive foul, that's not hurting our team, that's helping our team. I want DeVon to be aggressive. If he's playing less minutes but he's being aggressive, then those are valuable minutes he's giving our team, plus he's setting the tone in the game. It's such a difference when he's playing aggressively. He knows the team needs him, that's one set of expectations. I know he has a high set of expectations. I think he knows he's being judged to help carry a team. So there are a lot of expectations to manage. At the end you can only manage your own expectations and put your best foot forward, and when DeVon has done that he's been a tremendous asset to our team. I think he's shown the ability to bounce back. It's the consistency, being able to play that way every time out.
On Ryan Anderson's level of frustration following two 30-point scoring outputs that did not yield victories:
I can never get tired of any player that was upset after a game. There's a lot of guys that can score 30 points and they'll be happy. That's not Ryan. He was down, he was upset. We watched film on Sunday, he and I watched the whole game. He's playing for 40 minutes, he's not taking plays off. He played hard. The message to the team was that he's stepping up. I think it's OK. You challenge your teammates by setting the tone. Ryan, to his credit, he's setting the tone. And I think Ryan can do even more. That's what competitors do.
On the play of Jerome Randle and other options at point guard:
Our practices are very competitive, and I can assure you that in practice, whether it's Nican (Robinson), David Liss, Nikola (Knezevic) or Jerome (Randle), these guys compete. If you get Jerome's best, that's pretty good. The challenge now is the consistency. With Jerome it's sometimes about trying to make a big play or a dramatic play, or put an exclamation mark on something. He's got that about him - it's a strength. He wants to help his team. You want that mentality. It's a learning curve and it's about being consistent. I really believe that when Jerome's on his game that we're a better team. I think Nikola is still working hard defensively - I'd like him to be a little more aggressive offensively, because he's very good at penetrating, finding the open guy. I want him to be aggressive. I don't want out players to play tentatively.
On the Stanford Cardinal:
I'm really impressed with what Stanford has accomplished early, especially on the defensive end. They have made it very difficult for their opponents. They're holding teams to 38 percent shooting and they're doing it against some of the top teams in the country. And look at their points allowed - holding teams in the mid-50s. (Teams are) getting worn down because they're physical. You're going to have to hit the pull-up shot, your medium-range game has to be on, and you're going to have to make an extra pass against their team. If you can play well defensively, you might get some looks in transition.