Jan. 7, 2008
Head coach Ben Braun held his weekly press conference MOnday afternoon. Below are quotes addressing this weekend's games at Oregon and Oregon State.
On the key factors that led to Cal's loss Saturday to UCLA:
It's very apparent that when you spot UCLA 10 points, then you play them even the rest of the way, that can be encouraging. But there's nothing encouraging about spotting a team and then having to play catch-up. That's just not really what you want to do against talented teams. Specifically, again, the two areas that really hurt us: transition baskets - we gave up points off turnovers, maybe a couple of ill-advised shots, being impatient, didn't get back in transition, that hurt us - and second shots. Those two areas really hurt our team: (Giving up) 15 offensive rebounds and transition baskets. Now we're scrambling offensively because we haven't done our job defensively.
On the degree to which UCLA's defense or Cal's lack of execution caused the Bears' struggles on offense:
If UCLA takes away our first or second look, we have to stay with it and be patient, and not be discouraged. We weren't taking the ball to the basket, we weren't being as aggressive as we needed to be, but I think a lot of too is we find ourselves down and we're trying to play catch-up. We're trying to get points back on the board in a hurry, and we didn't do that. We've been a good team at getting to the foul line, we've made people guard us inside-out - I don't think we did that. I don't think we've were as aggressive as we've been. And UCLA has a lot to do with it, but I think sometimes it's a mindset, and you've got to really stubborn, and you've got to carry your will as far as you can carry it, especially against the teams that really get after you defensively, and that what (the Bruins) do.
On his assessment of Cal's offense overall so far this season:
I think our balance has been really good. That's what was disappointing about Saturday. We've been a team that's prided itself on finding guys and not caring who scores, and suddenly we were not doing those types of things on Saturday. Of all the games to not do it, that was not the game. You really have to make the extra pass. I've been pleased with our assist totals. When we're good, when we've been successful, we've (been high in assists).We just have to get better at realizing that and going out there, but I really have been pleased with our assist totals, our balanced scoring. We've had a number of times this year five, even six guys in double figures. That doesn't happen very often in college basketball, but for our team to do that, that means that we've improved some things. We've got a group that does play (together) and trust one another. You have to have that. Eric Vierneisel didn't come out and get his career high (with 15 against USC) because we isolated him one-on-one. He got his career high because guys found him on the break, they screened for him, we established ourselves inside, they had to help off somebody, they decided to help off Eric, and Eric knocks down shots. So I think our team can play that way, but we've got to do a better job of that.
On Ryan Anderson "embracing" double teams and other defensive schemes opponents employ against him:
If you're the leading scorer, you're going to get double-teams, and probably triple-teamed, and you get fronted, and you get hit, and you get popped - that's part of the game. It's a good time for Ryan (Anderson) and all of our team to take the compliment and then do something about. That's a compliment. Bad players don't double-teamed, not that I've ever seen. If you're a good player, you're going to get double-teamed, you're going to get fronted, you're going to get high-lowed. Jerome Randle, same thing. He's not going to get a free look cutting off a screen. He's going to get trapped and our team has to be able to play out of those schemes. You're going to have to be able to be open to what teams are going to do and take what the defense gives you.
On the lessons Cal can take from the UCLA game as the Bears continue Pac-10 play:
We've got to learn from that experience and make the adjustments we need to make. I think we can take away that we really hurt ourselves in this game. Yes, UCLA is a great team and I don't want to take anything away from them, but I want our guys to know that we had something to do with that too. We'll give UCLA their credit and their due, but we have to also diminish some of the strengths and the things they can do. They already are good. We can't make them better than they are. I think our team has the ability to get better and we've got a long ways to go. I like where we've come from and I like where we're going, but still we've got a lot of things we've got to make up to get better. Defense is dirty, it's dirty work. Everybody grumbles if you don't score enough points, and you've got to have deaf ears to understand that defense is what wins games. You can't worry about how you look and you can't worry about if your scoring average goes down. You must worry about the team and holding the other team down.
On the schemes he expects to see at Oregon:
They're going to front the post a lot, we know that. They'll zone us too, they'll be physical and they'll be quick. They'll pressure you, they'll front you and they'll make it hard to get it in there, too. Oregon is another team that's very explosive offensively. So our challenge there is to not give up transition baskets, kept their guys in front of us, don't give up second shots. They're talented.
On where he ranks this year's team offensively so far, among the Cal teams he has coached:
Offensively, this is one of the better teams that I've had, that we've had at Cal. If we can become one of the better defensive teams that we've had, our offense will only get better. I really believe in our team's ability to score, but it will only get better if we defend. If we can defend better, commit to rebounding, commit to getting stops, then I think our team can really take a step offensively. We've proven that we can do that.
On trying to get off to a better start to games:
We dug a hole against UCLA, then after we dug a hole we played them pretty much even the rest of the game, but nobody cares. The only thing that matters is the final score. Their early start and our poor start ended up helping them.
On Jerome Randle's point guard play:
I think Jerome has improved. He's increased his pressure on the ball. I think he really taxes the other team's point guard. He and Nikola (Knezevic) put great pressure on the ball. In terms of Jerome, he's had some big games recently, not just scoring but assists. He's used his quickness to help his teammates. But being consistent is the key for Jerome. That's the area that he's got to battle. He's the quickest guard we've had. That's the good news. Now he's got to play within what he can play and use his quickness to be a positive for our team.
On the status of Theo Robertson (hip):
We wanted to give him through this week (to continue rehabilitation) and maybe into next week, but he's battling every day, out there working hard (in practice). He was on the gold team today, and boy did he look good. But it's not how you look in one practice, it's can he come back the next day and again. If he can come back and he can be resilient, then he's in position to play. But if he can't then it's going to be tough for him. It'll be the end of this week or early next week when we'll make a final determination, because at some point we have to make a decision that will help him and help our team.
On the future use of a big lineup:
If we can rebound out of that lineup and get matched up, it makes it tougher for our opponents. Defensively, I thought we gave (USC and UCLA) some pressure. We were bigger in man-to-man, I think we were a little bit bigger on the boards, too. So, I think that's a lineup we could see some more of as the season goes on.