Feb. 4, 2008
Below are quotes from head coach Ben Braun from his Monday press conference with Bay Area media. Cal returns to action this week when the Bears host Oregon State at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Oregon at 4 p.m. Saturday.
On the team's state of mind coming off its successful road trip to Washington State and Washington:
We're tired right now. We had a long weekend and practice this morning, but I think the feeling from our guys is that it's a good kind of tired - we felt that we put something out there, and that's OK. This time of year, you've been playing a lot of basketball, you're in a routine, you're traveling, but I really was proud of our guys. We didn't take a step back, we took a step forward, we competed and we pulled together. I think we've fought through some of the challenges we've had. That was a good feeling for our guys and I think it was important for our guys. We've been knocking on the door and it was really important for our team to get the wins because we've been so close.
On whether he and his team anticipated that they would reverse their end-of-game misfortunes this past weekend:
There are no guarantees - you have to do your best - but when the game was on the line, we got to the end of the game and we had been there before, guys drew on some past performances and just said, "Hey, this is time." And our guys made big plays down the stretch of those games, huge plays, really. If you think about it, we had some of our best defensive stops. I think our guys were on the same page, we executed pretty well, we knocked down free throws, we did the things that winning teams have to do to close a game.
On DeVon Hardin's health following his absence during the road trip to recover from a viral infection:
He's come back, (but) he's recovering still. You can hear it in his chest, he's still recovering from being pretty sick. But he was here this morning, he was the first one in the gym and he was working hard. But you know, it's going to take a little while for him to come back and get to where he was. I don't know how long, but he's missed pretty much a week of practice and he's just getting back from being pretty sick. I think it's too early to say about Thursday (for his return), but he did come to practice today. I could still see some of the effects (of his illness), but he's here and he's ready to roll.
On the play of Jordan Wilkes on Saturday against Washington:
I thought Jordan gave us a big lift. It was not just his presence on the court, but he had very good poise when he was there. I think maybe on one occasion he got pushed under (the basket), but he got four rebounds and they were big for us. He was involved in a real important stretch for us when our team made a run. He made a great post feed inside to Ryan and he challenged up on a couple of shots, made it a little tougher for their big guys. So I thought that was a really good stretch for Jordan. I like his presence, I like his improvement.
On whether there could be any dilemma regarding who gets playing time when multiple post players make a case for more minutes:
It'll be interesting. We've got to put the guys on the floor who are stepping up for our team. At the same time, if the post guys become very dominant, they could end up getting more minutes even at a wing position, but that's predicated on the post guys playing well and also match-ups. Let's be honest, if we're playing certain teams, sometimes it comes down to match-ups. We have to do what's going to help our team win and it doesn't necessarily mean putting X amount of post guys versus perimeter guys. It's about what will give us an edge in the game. If guys are playing well, then we've got to find a way to get them on the floor, and we'll do that. We have at times this season played a bigger lineup and that's been good for us; at times we've played a bigger lineup and it's been a little harder to match up. So depending on who we play, I think we can make those adjustments. We have a few more options that we did last year, so that's good news.
On the benefits of having a full-strength roster competing for playing time:
Our team has always had a healthy competition in practice. Last year, there were a lot of times we couldn't put 10 guys on the floor. Now we have that - we can almost put three different teams in a practice going against each other.
On the Bears' success defending the Cougars' Derrick Low and Huskies' Ryan Appleby:
I thought generally until late in the game we did a good job on Appleby. And we did a good job on Low until late in the game. But you're not going hold those guys scoreless. Those guys are too good of players, but I think we held them off their mark. We got them to play at a level a little less than what they're accustomed to playing, and I think they had to work just a little harder. We're trying to identify shooters - we'd like to take away what we know to be the other teams' strengths and points of attack.
On Ryan Anderson's play:
Ryan, boy, he's just battling out there. He works hard in practice and in games. He takes it, he gives it out. He doesn't take any plays off, he doesn't take any days off. I admire that about Ryan. People ask, "How do you get to be good?" You get to be good because you bring it every day. I get on him once in a while about his positioning and his rebounding, and I know sometimes he's fatigued. But he appreciates being challenged. He's come to appreciate that his coach and his teammates can look up to him and even ask him to do more, and that's a lot, but that's what we have to do with every one of our players.
On Oregon State:
They're aggressive, they get to the glass, they get the rim. They offensive rebound, something we're going to have to watch for. They've got good athletes. I like those guys and they're going to battle. We had to battle our brains out to play them that last game.
On Jamal Boykin's comfort level and contributions:
Jamal's a California guy. He is vocal and that's who he is. It's refreshing and it's heartfelt. He's earned his keep, he's earned his way, and he's earning his keep every day.
On the Pac-10 proving to be as competitive as predicted:
This league is tough. Every stop is tough, every team that comes in is tough, and we know that first hand. We understand how challenging every game is. There's not a great margin (for error) - we have to play hard and we have to play well.