Nov. 12, 2007
At his weekly press conference, head coach Ben Braun discussed Cal's opening-night opponent, Southern Miss, and looked back as the Bears' exhibition win over Alaska Fairbanks.
On the season-opening opponent, Southern Mississippi:
"They're a good team, I like their team. They're athletic, they play hard, they have good size up front, and their guards are very talented. They're really strong players.
On Southern Mississippi point guard Jeremy Wise and the rest of the Golden Eagles:
"He's tough, he makes some big plays for their team. They've got a lot of experience. I've watched tape on them, too. Their juniors, those guys have played some good basketball."
On who will guard Wise:
"Their guards sometimes are interchangeable and our guards can be a little interchangeable, too, so we may mix it up."
Final thoughts on last week's exhibition win over Alaska Fairbanks:
"I thought our big guys had a presence, which is good. We're going to need their presence defensively and offensively. That was, to me, a good sign for us. We hadn't seen that in over a year."
On Jordan Wilkes vs. Alaska:
"I thought Jordan did a good job. He led us with 10 rebounds. I thought he looked pretty confident. He made a difference. I just think he needs some games under his belt. He just needs to continue to play, but he did some really good things in that game. It's a luxury we didn't have last year."
On the size difference of Cal's reserves this year, which does not force the Bears to become smaller after substitutions:
"[When Cal went to its bench vs. Alaska] we got big, bigger and taller, taller in Jordan and bigger in Harper [Kamp]. I thought both those guys gave us a big lift. A lot of times you go to the bench, you tail off sometimes, but with those two guys there, we maintain some pressure on our opponents."
On Harper Kamp vs. Alaska:
"I thought he was solid, too. He played within himself. He plays hard, positions well. He's got good fundamentals and he's a competitor."
On the evolution of Patrick Christopher:
"Patrick's made some strides since last summer and spring. And he's had a pretty productive fall so far. He's stepped up. It's good to see. He's been aggressive, he's been confident. I was pleased with his play [vs. Alaska]."
On Ryan Anderson, dating back to last year's freshman campaign:
"He came in here a pretty strong player. I don't think he ever stepped back from any of the challenges he had. He was physically able to compete in any and every game. And I think he's still has that -- he's a pretty durable, strong guy. He plays stronger than he might appear, and that's good. He's not afraid of contact, and that's a given, that he's going to get a lot of attention. He's responded to that fairly well."
On whether there are benefits from Anderson from having played different roles due to injuries on Cal's roster in 2006-07:
"I think so. He can score on the perimeter or in paint, and there's going to be times we're going to need him to do both. He did that for us early in the year last year, and he did that at times during the season last year, but we didn't have a big low-post presence last year when DeVon [Hardin] was out, so it was hard to do both. There were times when we would have Ryan inside but it would get frustrating because he'd get doubled a lot. I thought he handled the challenges well. I know at times it was frustrating, but I think he's a smart kid in realizing that was what we needed him to do: we had to have some post presence. Theo [Robertson] tried and Taylor [Harrison] came on late, and those were kind of the options we had. But I like the flexibility we have that Ryan can go inside and outside, and I thought he put the ball on the deck better [against Alaska]. That's something he's going to have to be able to do."
On Anderson's focus for improvement in the offseason:
"Off the bounce, off the dribble, he had to work on catching and knowing he's going to get pressure on the catch, so putting the ball on the floor, and he's gotten better at that. He's worked at that, and that's something that he'll have to do."
On whether opponents will attempt to limit Anderson's opportunities to catch-and-shoot this year:
"Yes, but I think he's pretty good at driving. He scored a couple of times the other night on moves where people pressured him out."
On changes to Anderson's game with Hardin's return in 2007-08:
"I'm not concerned about his scoring and I don't think Ryan's hung up on his scoring. I think Ryan's always going to be a scorer, he'll always have opportunities to score. He kind of had a quiet 23 [points] the other night. It kind of creeps up on you -- all of a sudden he's scoring points. He's a basketball player: when he rebounds for us, he's good; when he post defend, he good. He can do some things on the floor and I think he has the ability to get his teammates the ball, too, and that's something that he's taking on right now. The good players who are scoring options--Patrick [Christopher] and Ryan -- they have to be able to get the other guys going. He'll be a great benefit to DeVon, he'll be a benefit to Eric [Vierneisel], I think he'll be a benefit for our guards. Ryan, when he screens effectively, is good for us, because a lot of teams don't help on him."
On whether Anderson was better than expected in 2006-07:
"He ended up being more productive that we were counting on when the year started, but then as the year went on and as he practiced, I wasn't surprised. He led us in every category practice so when we got to the games, he had been doing that every day."
On Patrick Christopher's confidence:
"Patrick knows that his teammates and coaches have confidence in him, and that always helps. At the same time, Patrick has developed a lot of confidence by the work he's put in. He's put in a lot of work this summer. There's nothing like that, self-confidence, but it's reassuring when you see people around you that count on you and have confidence."
On Cal's situation at point guard:
Nikola [Knezevic] I thought did a solid job [vs. Alaska]. He got seven assists the other day and I thought he gave us some solid minutes. I thought Nican Robinson came in and gave us a couple of solid minutes as well, and he's going to have to play in Jerome's absence. David Liss has come in and played a little bit of a combo guard, because he's a pretty good shooter."
On Jerome Randle's abilities following his recent kidney biopsy:
"He can shoot. He can start running and shooting this week. He can start practicing the week of the San Diego State game [Nov. 24]. We're hoping he can back for San Diego State. That would be our hope. That would be the earliest he could probably come back. He seems to be progressing. But it's a big deal. That biopsy is no joke. He hasn't been able to run yet, but this should be the week that's he's cleared. We obviously would like to get him back as soon as he's healthy. He's a big part of what we do and he's got a big impact on the game, he's huge."
On possibility of redshirting a frontcourt player like Max Zhang:
"We could, yes. We have an opportunity to redshirt one guy, and possibly Max [Zhang], because he's a freshman and he's also had an injury. He really only practiced two days before he played [against Alaska]. He's a hard worker. He's a pretty skilled player, he's just got to work on his strength, his mobility. We'll take a look at Max down the line, see how that goes."