Jan. 17, 2000
BERKELEY - Below are selected comments from Cal men's basketball coach Ben Braun from his weekly media luncheon. Cal hosts Stanford this Saturday at 3 p.m. in Haas Pavilion. The game will be televised regionally on ABC.
On Dennis Gates and his status for the Stanford game. He is listed as questionable after being diagnosed with a mild right knee sprain after last week's Oregon game:
It was a scare at first because we weren't sure. It flared up right away and he was in a lot of pain. Now, it looks like he's going to resume some activity this week. We don't know if he'll be ready to play Saturday or not. He's going to come back on Wednesday and see what he can do.
On how Cal is playing at this point of the season, especially after struggling to open conference play:
I think when you get into the Pac-10 season, you're playing against some veteran teams. You're playing against some teams that are familiar with the surroundings. We're playing against the toughest part of our schedule. It's an extreme challenge to our younger players because they're in conference for the first time. I think our players are realizing that this is a tough conference. We'll make some adjustments as time goes on.
We're playing in a competitive conference. There are some awfully strong teams and some awfully strong players. It's going to take us going through a few battles to gain some experience. I think confidence is something you get by being battle-tested. One way you get that is by getting games under your belt. I think we gained some things out of the Arizona and Arizona State games. I think we gained a couple of things out of Oregon. But those are tough places to play. I think that's going to be part of the learning process for our team.
On this week's opponent, Stanford:
They're the top team in the conference and they're playing about as well as they've played all year. To me, they're playing as well as anybody in the country. That's a challenge.
They're a tough team to match up against. You think you can go down and knock their big guys off their game by putting a lot of attention on them, and their three-point shooters step up. When you go out and chase their three-point shooters, the big guys step up. That's a team that's very balanced.
On freshman point guard Shantay Legans:
I thought he struggled making the more aggressive plays (last weekend). Sometimes an aggressive play is simply an entry pass or penetration. Just simple plays, but aggressive plays. It didn't seem like he was very aggressive. He's been at his best when he's been more aggressive. We had to tell him to look for his shot. It's nice to have a player who's trying to get his teammates shots, but when you're one of the top shooters in the league, you have to look for your shot. You've got to be an aggressive scorer, and then life become a little easier for you.
You'll see Shantay bounce back. I have no doubts in my mind that he'll bounce back and play good basketball for us. He's had a couple of games where he hasn't played up to his own standard. The good news was that Raymond King was there to pick him up. I thought that was a positive. Shantay, like Lampley, can't play a lot of minutes without getting fatigued. He'll come back strong.
On freshman guard/forward Brian Wethers:
I think Brian's becoming more aggressive now. I think he's picking up and giving us a lift with his aggressiveness. His confidence is growing. It wasn't that way earlier. I think it's part of a natural growth pattern. You're going to have players going through that. It's kind of like getting the mumps or the chicken pox. You get it, you get rid of it, and, hopefully, you don't get it again. Freshmen are going to go through some ups and downs, I don't care who they are.
On freshman center Nick Vander Laan, who missed most of the Oregon State game with a stomach virus:
He's doing better. You've got to like Nick's attitude that he wants to play against the best team in the league. He wants to play against some tough guys. Nick says that with respect. He's saying that because competitors want to play against the best. I really appreciate that as a coach. Occasionally, you run into players that play well against everybody but the best. You'd much rather have players who want to compete against the top competition. It's an attitude you want your young guys to establish.