Feb. 14, 2000
BERKELEY - Below are selected comments from Cal men's basketball coach Ben Braun from his weekly media luncheon. Cal visits second-ranked Stanford Saturday afternoon.
On Cal's ability to make runs vs. Oregon last week:
I think a large part of that is the adjustments we make. Also, our players have shown the ability to go at teams when we found that there are some weaknesses. We talk about that specifically. We wanted to get to the foul line in the first half (vs. Oregon last Saturday). We didn't. So, we have to make more of a concerted effort to get to the foul line in the second half. It sets up a press. It gets them in foul trouble. It gives us an opportunity to, hopefully, get some easy baskets. We did that. It seemed like we slowed ourselves down enough in the second half and put ourselves in position to make a run. We didn't want to be in a hectic game where we were missing opportunities. Yes, we'd like to take transition baskets. But at the same token, we've also gotten ourselves in trouble this year by rushing ourselves on the offensive end. I think if we can avoid that, that would help.
On Cal trying to be more patient on offense:
We're taking fewer bad shot early, but we're still taking enough, in my mind, that we're still hurting ourselves in stretches in a game. I say bad shots, but whatever that means - quick shots, off-balance shots. We have to do a better job of just being patient. It's one of the hardest things to learn. If we can work on our patience, we're a lot better team offensively.
On Cal's defense being ahead of its offense at this point of the season:
Usually it takes longer to sell defense. I think, for whatever reason, defense is the hardest thing to buy. I think there have been times this year when our young guys are worrying more about their offense and their defense. Nobody's going to go up from their family or friends and say, 'Boy, what a great charge you took,' or, 'How many charges did you take?' or, 'How many deflections did you make today?' They're not going to say that, but a coach in a film room on a Monday afternoon is going to point it out. It's a sell job, but it's a belief that you really have to want to do. We're working hard enough defensively that we'd now like our players to enjoy being on offense a little bit.
You want to get consistent, and sometimes, it's about leaving a certain group on the floor to get consistent. At times this year we've done that. Other times, it's been difficult. For us to be in games, we have to play defensively. If we defend, I think we can be in every game and have a chance to win. If we don't defense, I don't think we want to ever get in a game and just try to out-gun our opponents. Not yet. We don't have that yet. Very few teams do.
On how to play defense against Stanford:
That's a heck of a question that a lot of coaches are still trying to answer. I felt we defended them fairly well in the first game, especially in the first half. I think your players have to be committed to really answering more than one challenge. In other words, can you just defend their perimeter? Yeah, at the expense of their post guys scoring on you. You can just crack down on their post guys. You can do that at the expense of their perimeter guys having big nights. I think you have to challenge your guys to attempt to do both. You've got to play inside-outside. If you're a perimeter man, I've got to play my man and give help inside and I gotta get back and I gotta help. You've got to be able to do more than one thing. If I'm a post guy, I've got to defend in the post, but I also have to help out on screens. You've got to be at your best defensively when you're playing Stanford.