Ben Braun Looks toward Golden Bear Classic, Pac-10
Dec. 29, 2000
Below are selected quotes from Cal basketball coach Ben Braun from his press conference prior to the Golden Bear Classic.
On coming back from a four-day layoff from practice:
'That was interesting to hear all the coaches talk about the time off because I'm feeling the same way. I've said it before, it's better for our team to play games than to have a long time off. I think everybody's in the same boat. You've been sitting around over the holidays and traveling, even if it's teams coming here to play a tournament or your own team with kids traveling back home, whether it's by car or by plane.'
About Friday's opponent Yale:
'I'm familiar with their players. (Neil Yanke), their center, is a skilled player. He's got very good skills. He's a player that a lot of teams would like to have. When he's playing well, he can be really tough. That's going to be a good goal for us, to keep him from having a big game. I like their guard, (Chris) Leanza. He's got tremendous range. If he gets an opening, he can really knock down the three. He's also a good ball-handler, so he gives you that double threat. That's going to present a good inside-outside threat for us to defend against. They've proven that even with a young team, they're ready to make their mark in the Ivy League.'
On Brian Wethers' recent play:
'Brian is remaining aggressive. He is realizing that he can always go out and control his effort. He really brings so much to us defensively. I really think Brian has a chance to be an explosive player on both ends of the floor. If he continues to improve, he should be able to dominate a game defensively. At the same, it always follows that if his defense is coming, he offense seems to pick up. He's playing both ends right now. A lot of it has to do with his aggressiveness, which is giving him confidence. I think he realizes he can play at that level night in and night out. I think he's worrying less about his mistakes, and he'll make less and less mistakes as he gets experience. There was a tendency earlier in his career that he would compound a mistake or stop if things didn't go his way. He's playing through a lot of that right now. I think he's a little more patient, a little more selective about trying to make things happen. His decision-making has gotten better. He's playing with a lot more confidence, and hopefully, the freedom we are giving him is helping that.'
On what Cal needs to work on heading into Pac-10 play:
'I think consistency still. I think every coach's goal is to play with consistency. If our team can play steady and consistently, we're pretty good when we do those things. I'm sure every team's pretty good. We just happen to be a lot better when we play consistently. I think part of the things we look at are when we took care of the basketball, that was a consistent way to play. Playing consistently on the defensive end, ball movement, good shot selection, those are things you want to work on and hold yourself to a standard. That's just discipline, I guess. It's not easy. That's hard for teams to do that. How do you get guys to play 40 minutes and not lose those things? The really good teams can do that. Watch some of the better teams in the country, and that's what they do. They play that way for close to 40 minutes.'
On Cal's depth at point guard:
'I think you'll see Donte (Smith) re-surging. He's practiced well. I think his confidence level has gone up. I really hope he'll be able to carry that over to the games. He's getting some more minutes now. A.J.'s (Diggs) been helpful to our team, too. He's been somebody's who has sparked us and given Shantay some minutes when he needed it. Shantay's (Legans) a more effective player when he gets rest. I think it's been a plus for our team. I think we have the ability to play people and use our depth. I still think that's a big key for us.'
On A.J. Diggs and the Cal walk-on program:
'A.J.'s a player that really wanted to come to Cal. He applied to Cal and got into Cal. He said, 'Coach, I'm coming to Cal.' And we were excited about that. We've been very fortunate to attract some student-athletes that really want to be at Cal. I think we have something very special at Cal. We've got a great school that attracts a number of students and now student-athletes. We're reaping some of the benefits. That's why we've made walk-ons a little bigger priority than most schools. I think we have that opportunity to attract quality student-athletes that may pass up a scholarship to come to Cal. Look at some of the players that have come here over the years, from Robbie Jones to Ryan Forehan-Kelly to A.J. Diggs - guys that have been able to step in and help us.'