Quotes from Ben Braun's Weekly Press Conference

Feb. 26, 2001

BERKELEY - Below are selected quotes from head coach Ben Braun from his weekly press conference. Cal visits UCLA Thursday and USC Saturday.

On UCLA:

'We expect UCLA's best effort on Thursday. Supposedly, their game on Saturday (versus Stanford) is not a factor, I would imagine, in their minds until after our game. That game doesn't take on any significance really for them unless they do well against us, so we're really standing in the way of them and I'm sure that their memories are pretty up to date (about the last meeting).

'You have to look at how they've been playing. There have only been a couple of games this year where they haven't played at a good level, so we're expecting their best effort. I'd be very surprised to see anything less.'

On Nick Vander Laan, who missed the Washington and WSU games with a right ankle sprain:

'Nick will be available. I think that was a good period of rest that he needed. I think he'll be closer to full strength. Today, we'll find out in practice.'

On Solomon Hughes, who had 12 points vs. Washington State:

'I thought Solomon stepped up and really gave us a lift. If Sean Lampley hadn't had a lot of the attention he had, you'd probably be talking about Solomon Hughes right now and what he did in the first half. I thought his first half was a pretty quiet 12 (points). He gets 12 points and (three) rebounds at the half. That's a pretty good halftime stat. He's shooting the ball at about 65 percent now. That's pretty good. He's really knocking down his shots inside. He's concentrating. Solomon has really improved and he keep coming on, which is good for our team.'

On attacking UCLA's press in the first meeting with the Bruins:

'I thought we were aggressive. They also double-teamed Lampley, and Lampley found open people. I thought we did a real good job of passing the ball. I think you have to do that against UCLA. You have to play a team game, and you have to make them work. I think Oregon State had some success doing that against them. They made UCLA work a little bit harder defensively, and they knocked some shots down.'

On putting Joe Shipp in the starting lineup last week:

'I talked to Ryan Forehan-Kelly and I wanted to take a little pressure off of Ryan, physically and emotionally ... coming into the game with a little more energy. Joe stepped up. He's been practicing pretty hard. I just thought it was a good time to make that move.'

On Brian Wethers:

'I thought Brian played hard. He was active. He got to the glass and made some big driving baskets. He's coming on, in a lot of respects. Brian's improved a lot elements in his game. I think his decision-making has been pretty good. He's certainly more confident offensively. And I think he's challenging himself better defensively. That's an area I think he can bring a lot to our team. When he's playing good defense, we're a better team.'

On UCLA point guard Earl Watson:

'I still think Watson's a big key to their team. He makes big plays, as does Kapono. Those are the two guys on the offensive end that make their team go. (Watson) makes plays against the shot clock. He directs the offense. He can get to the foul line. He just does so many things. He's really a good player. I think he's as valuable as anybody to their team as there is in the league. There's so much a load that Watson's carrying, and I think he carries it very well.'

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