Quotes from Ben Braun's Weekly Press Conference
Jan. 2, 2001
BERKELEY - Below are selected quotes from Cal basketball coach Ben Braun from his weekly media press conference. Cal opens the Pac-10 season Thursday at Arizona and continues on the road at Arizona State Saturday.
On the fact that Cal is 7-0 since a loss at UC Irvine:
I don't know if that game has any special significance or not. I think that anytime that you come off a disappointing effort, you hope your team bounces back and learns from it. That's what good teams do. Every team stumbles at some point, but it's what you do about it when things aren't going your way. We seem to have come back into a stride of some sorts. I think our consistency has improved. I think our effort has improved in terms of trying to maintain a steady effort. We've played some pretty good basketball in stretches. Even though we were behind against Yale (at halftime), I thought we started out well early then picked it up in the second half. LaSalle, the same thing, a couple of fall-offs. But we've made some strides.
On recent play of point guard Shantay Legans:
I think Shantay's been solid. You look at his assist-to-turnover ratio, that's pretty good. With the ball in his hands so much, that's a very telling statistic. He truly is an unselfish player. Sometimes, that can hurt us because he's also, arguably, our best shooter. I think sometimes Shantay wants to do well, doesn't want to make a mistake, he doesn't want to take a bad shot, he doesn't want to get a shot blocked. We're trying to tell him, 'that's OK.' To get to the foul line, you're going to get your shot blocked a few times. You've got to be a little more aggressive. Certainly, pick and choose where you go, but I'd sure like to see him get to the foul line. I'd take our chances with him at the line. He's a pretty darn good free throw shooter. And it makes him more difficult to guard because you're afraid to foul him because he shoots the ball well. Those things are just starting to come to him. He's really hurt some of the teams we've played. I just remember him pulling up and just nailing some shots that really seem to take some steam out of the teams we've played. Once he starts getting it going, and you've got (Sean) Lampley and Solomon (Hughes) and other guys scoring inside and our wings playing pretty well, that's hard to match up against. He's a key component for us.
On Thursday's opponent, Arizona:
They've played some pretty good teams. I think they've turned the ball over a little bit more than they're used to. But Arizona seems to get back in the league and hit their stride. They seem to play really well in the league at home. Just like us, probably, some of these losses will end up helping. That's what good teams do. They learn from them. They've hit a few bumps, but I still don't think they've got a lot of broken things. You know what they can do. They're explosive. They're always solid in the Pac-10.
Is it hard to imagine what Arizona is going through right now?
That's the other factor that I don't think you can ever measure. We're still human beings that play this game. We're not machines. Your emotional welfare and well being does affect your approach, it does affect how you play. I know that's got to be a very tough situation for their team and for their coaching staff. It's hard for anybody to imagine what that is. I knew Bobbi. She was quite a lady. You hear about how instrumental and how supportive she was to Lute and to the team and to Arizona basketball. I feel for Lute and his family.
On Arizona center Loren Woods:
He's played really well in stretches. He has not hit his consistency, yet. I think he's still searching for that consistency. He was out early for a stretch, and I think that's going to take some time. But when he does, he's scary. He can really take over a game. He really affects the game. Defensively, he's a factor like no other factor in our league. He doesn't allow you to go to the basket very often. If you do go to the basket, you're thinking about him. He's a force in there.
With Loren Woods, I don't think you want to avoid going at him. I think that's a mistake. You still have to be strong and willing to take the ball to the basket. I know Nick (Vander Laan) did last year and had some success. Hopefully, we've got a couple of guys who can go at him. But it's easier said than done. You take a chance when you do that.
On having a consistent staring lineup and playing rotation this year:
I think what has developed over the last several games is that the consistencies are starting to come through. I think Shantay (Legans) has consistently been our best point guard. I think Ryan Forehan-Kelly has consistently been our best off-guard. Brian Wethers has been our best wing guard. (Sean) Lampley is Lampley and he's playing better. Nick's (Vander Laan) been hard and solid. He struggled a bit in our tournament, but I anticipate Nick bouncing back. Solomon's (Hughes) been coming on, too. That's been a good role for him to come in and really give us a lift. It's like having another starter coming off the bench. There are times when I see more of Solomon and more of Nick playing together now and into the Pac-10. They've done that in stretches this year. I see that happening more and more now because of some of the bigger teams, the Stanfords, the Arizonas. That's going to happen more, not less.