Ben Braun, Sean Lampley Quotes

March 12, 2001

BERKELEY - Below are selected quotes from head coach Ben Braun and Cal senior forward Sean Lampley. Both of them discuss playing Fresno State in the NCAA Tournament and Lampley earning Pac-10 Player of the Year honors.

On Fresno State:
'We're familiar with Fresno State, having played Fresno State two years ago, and some of the same players from that game are still playing. I've really been impressed with their squad. We know they do a tremendous job in transition. They've got a very explosive team. I really believe this is the best team that Jerry Tarkanian has had since he's been at Fresno State. We believe they are a tough team who's had a great year. His team has demonstrated its ability to win games, and that's a big challenge for us.'

On playing close games:
'We were in a similar situation a year ago, playing in a lot of close games. But five of our top six scorers were freshmen and we relied a lot on those players and that's a tough position to be in with a young team. I think our players have really shown their ability to learn and to improve. We've found ourselves in many similar situations this year, and I think our players responded, and that's what experience, learning and growth are all about. I think that's been the biggest difference between last year and this year. We've got guys who are a little bit older and wiser and have the experience and been in those games before, and it's always important to have played in those games.'

On Fresno State's style of play:
'I think their team does a great job pressuring the ball. That's a Tark trademark. They really pressure you. They can force turnovers and speed you up, they do a great job of that. That's been a trademark for them and a big reason for their success. You need to be strong with the ball and decrease your turnovers. We've been a team that likes to run as well. We have to be opportunistic and look for opportunities to run and take care of the ball at the same time. We've got to make good decisions on the floor. Fresno State really comes after you and pressures the ball. Melvin Ely has really been a force for them inside. Defensively and offensively, he's been very active. We certainly know Chris Jefferies. He's been a great addition to their team. He does a lot of things for them. He's got the ability to knock down the three-point shots, take the ball to the basket, and he's tough from that point. Tito Maddox really makes a huge difference for them. as well. because the ball's in his hands so much. He's had nearly 200 assists on the year, that's a pretty good stat. He's really been a tremendous addition to them. He's very explosive, especially off the dribble. He's one of the best players I've seen off the dribble. He really handles the ball well.'

On Shantay Legans:
'I think Shantay has improved as the year has gone on. He's benefited from experience. He's been a guy who's learned to make adjustments from one half to the next. He's also a player who's become more aggressive in the second half for us, and that's really helped our team. Shantay's first look has always been to help his teammates and now he's become more aggressive with the ball and it's happening at a good time. When he's aggressive we are better.'

On the distractions of playing in the NCAA Tournament:
'You try to paint a picture of what it's going to be like, but there will obviously be some distractions. It's a great atmosphere, and I want our players to enjoy that atmosphere. I've always wanted our players to enjoy the atmosphere but then once its time to practice and to perform, I want them to be able to concentrate and focus. We did that in the NIT a couple of years ago. When we were in New York, I wanted us to enjoy the atmosphere, but then when it was time to play it was time to play. This team has done a better job of focusing as the year has gone on and I don't have a reason to believe that will change.

'I think there's a potential with every team, when it's the first experience for them, to maybe be a little wide-eyed. But the good news is that some of these players have at least played in postseason and I think that considering some of the places we've played at in this conference, you've kind of created that tournament atmosphere in our own conference. Three of the last four teams that we've faced were teams that were ranked, good teams, and playing those teams was like being in a tournament atmosphere. I think we've simulated it. We've had the experiences of the NIT and playing in our conference. Those are the two best things we have going for us.'

Senior Forward Sean Lampley:

On earning Pac-10 Player of the Year honors:
'I'm pretty excited. I think that it would have been better if we had won a Pac-10 championship, but as far as that goes, I am pretty pleased with that honor.'

On the season and his game:
'I think that consistency is a big thing Coach (Braun) has been riding four years since I have been here, and I think that finally this year, I have played consistent. Coach Braun talked to me before the season about my consistency, and then once the Pac-10 season started, he talked to me again about my consistency. I think that has been the key for this team all year long. As long as I stay consistent throughout the NCAA tournament, then we should do well.'

On rebounding better as the season progressed:
'Midseason, coach said something to me about my rebounding when I was averaging five or six, and I have gone up a couple of rebounds since then. I think, to be honest with you, the day after he talked to me, I put up double-figure rebounds the next day. It is something that I have been focusing on later in the season since we have been getting pounded on the boards, so that is definitely something that I will be focusing on in the tournament.'

On playing Fresno State two years ago when he had 28 points and 14 rebounds:
'That gave me confidence going into my junior year, and I think that might have been the start of me beginning to play well.'

On being more of a leader this year:
'Being a leader is something that I have never been confronted with. My senior year in high school, I went down with a broken ankle and I was out for the whole regular season, so my leadership wasn't there. Last year, I stepped into the role and I don't think that I did a good job with it. And like I said, this year, I went the opposite direction than what I did last, and I think that I have gotten better and I still continue to improve.'

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