Ben Braun Press Conference Quotes

Dec. 4, 2006

BERKELEY - California head coach Ben Braun sat down with the Bay Area media for his weekly press conference Monday. Among the topics he discussed were Sunday's game vs. Nevada and the upcoming Golden Bear Classic this weekend.

Cal hosts is 14th annual tournament Friday and Saturday in Haas Pavilion. On Friday, Eastern Michigan plays San Diego at 5 p.m., followed by Cal vs. Chicago State at 7:30. On Saturday, the consolation game begins at 5:30 and the championship contest at 7:30 p.m.

Did you see anything on the film that you did not see last night vs. Nevada?
Well, I thought we had much better energy going in the second half - we made some plays. I thought we had some hustle plays. We had some second-effort plays. There are some days when you have to get those plays going early on. I know DeVon's play in the second half really sparked our team. I really thought he played hard. He got after it. Not only did he do a good job defensively, he ran the floor better and he got better post position. And as a result, he really helped turn things around for us. We played off his energy. And I thought Ayinde made some plays in spots that helped us. He penetrated, got a lay-up, penetrated and dished to DeVon, pulled up behind the circle for a three when they cheated the screen, and then he penetrated and pitched to Omar. It was four sequences in a row that, when Ayinde is doing those things, we really are a good team. Those plays stood out, but we just didn't have enough of them. Those kinds of surges can really help us. I do know that Nevada is a good team. Anytime we made a mistake, they capitalized, and that is what a good team does. Anytime we cheated a screen, we didn't switch out or defend out on a screen, they knocked down threes. That is what they have been doing this year, so there were no surprises there.

On coming back from an 18-point second-half deficit vs. Nevada:
A lot of teams could quit, a lot of teams maybe do quit. I don't think our teams have quit, that's for sure. We did bounce back. After the game, you can say it is a learning experience. During the game, you have to make adjustments. I thought we made some adjustments from first half to second half, but we found ourselves in a big hole. We had dug ourselves a big hole in the first half against a very good team. You can't do that against a good team. That comeback took everything we had.

What did you think of Taylor Harrison's play in the first half?
I think Taylor brings us effort and energy, and he is a guy that is going to play for us this year. He is like any other freshman on our team, or any freshman in the country, he is going to make some mistakes. But I think he plays hard and he works awfully hard. He is going to end up helping us.

On Jerome Randle's play:
I thought he made some solid plays for us last night. And he is one of the reasons we came back, as well. But then I think he tried to overextend a few times, and I think he tried to make a few too many things happen. Given the choice of a player who tries to make something happen to one who doesn't, you want the player who tries to make something happen. You can't fault that. I think it is going to be a learning experience about picking and choosing. Taking what the defense gives you, when Jerome can pick apart and take what the defense gives him. That is really going to be our advantage and his advantage. Same with Ayinde, when he does that, we are a good team. Those are the areas we have to improve. But (Jerome) does play hard, he puts good pressure on the ball, and he is constantly trying to make something happen for our team. He just has to make better decisions. That comes with experience and time. From that standpoint, I know he would like a couple of those over again.

On Ryan Anderson, who appeared to struggle for the first time this year:
It was hard for Ryan to get into the flow last night when you are coming in and out of the game with fouls. I think that hurts. He struggled a little bit early. But Ryan has a way that he gets himself back in the flow pretty well. He still managed to hit some shots. Every time we say Ryan struggled, he still manages to get to the foul line because he made a couple good post moves. I think all those things are still learning strengths for Ryan, but he still makes plays for our team. I think in the long run he will make a lot more positive plays for our team.

On expectations for Anderson entering the season:
Well, he does it in practice for us. People have asked that. He is a consistent player. He rebounds in practice, he scores in practice. He is working on defense, defending in practice. So to see him do those things in a game isn't surprising because he has demonstrated that in practice. I don't see any game out of Ryan that we haven't seen in practice. He has done a consistent case. When stats are done, he is at the top. If he is not at the top he is near the tops in points and rebounds.

On defensive breakdowns vs. Nevada:
Looking back, I thought about it during the game and I was confirmed by it watching the tape again, I thought we lost our positioning. We lost our position a few times, we were out of position. One time in transition, we didn't get back and that really took us back. If we just take care of not giving up easy points in transition, then we will play harder. Then in the half court a couple times, it was a lost rebound where we didn't sink down to the ball or we didn't get our positioning deep enough. And then we got out of position against the screens, we got caught on the wrong side of the screen. We tried to cheat a few screens, and we got burned every time we tried to cheat the screen. It cost us; we got caught in three or four screens. We haven't really been getting beat on those plays. You can't take the easy way out when you are playing against good teams. You have to work for a possession, you got to get good screens, you've got to fight, help and recover. Our communication could have been better last night.

On Chicago State, Friday's opponent:
I really haven't looked at any film much of Chicago State yet. I do know they have had some good wins this year. They are a balanced team, they are a senior team - so that is a challenge for our team. They went on the road and won at UTEP, that is a great win for them, a great win for anyone. That is a team that is going to challenge us. They have four guys in double figures, we know that. Much like we played a team last night, you can't cheat off anybody. They have good balance so we are going to need a good team effort against Chicago State. We are going to have to play really well, with a great team effort. Obviously, we have a few days to prepare, but it's a tournament setting - we are not looking past anybody. We are not looking past Chicago State. That is going to be our next game, and that is the game we are going to focus on.

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