Ben Braun Chat Wrap

Nov. 7, 2001

Ben Braun: Good afternoon everyone. I am here and ready for your questions.

cubby: Hi coach - What are your specific goals for this season?

Ben Braun: I think we would like to get back to the NCAA Tournament and competing for a Pac-10 title. To do that we have to show improvement and stay healthy. That is most important.

Jonathan (Berkeley): How important of a role would you say does the Bench (student fan section) plays in Cal's home games?


Ben Braun: It is huge for us. We feel we have one of the toughest places to play in the league and The Bench has a big part in that. There is a big tradition with the bench and our record at home as been pretty good and they have a lot to do with it.

Greg (San Mateo): Why have you had so many walkons recently? Are you 'saving' scholarships?

Ben Braun: The walkons came in because of limited scholarships we had because of sanctions that were in place before I got here. So we have had to rely on it but now it has become somewhat of a tradition. We have so many high school players that want to play here because of the tradition and because of the academics that we get a lot of quality walkons.

Tim (Oakland): Given the number of upperclassmen on this year's team, do you plan to have a more fixed starting lineup and rotation than last year?

Ben Braun: I would think so. We are gearing up for a pretty consistent lineup. We need to solidify a few things but that is what we plan to do and that is how it has been in the preseason.

Mike (Davidson): Coach, I have a good friend from Arizona who always talks about the west coast bias, being from the east coast I don't know if I see it so much. Do you believe one exists and if so to what extent? Thanks and good luck this season

Ben Braun: I think it is media based and geographically based. The west gets late coverage and that is why you see that. I don't think East Coast basketball is any better than basketball out here. It is just exposure and you don't see us as much out here. It is not because of a lack of great teams.

Josh New York: What is your favorite road arena to visit?

Ben Braun: None. There is no great place to play on the road, they are all tough

henry (chino): After the Fresno St. game last year, you said something along the lines of we must improve our ability to slash to the basket and create opportunities off the dribble. How have we improved in this respect?

Ben Braun: I think we have, our players worked very hard over the summer. It was an area we needed to improve. Putting the ball on the floor to create opportunities is very important.

Jeff (Oakland, CA): Coach Braun, I am a big fan of Cal and the PAC-10. How much do you think the departure of key players from Stanford and Arizona will affect the balance of power in the Pac-10 this year? Will the conference as a whole be weaker or stronger than it was last year, in your opinion?

Ben Braun: I think there will be more balance this year because of that. It will be every bit as competitive, maybe even more so.

I think the league will be ten solid teams and not necessarily one dominant team. It wouldn't surprise me to see five teams make the tournament from the Pac-10.

Colin (Cambridge, MA): Coach Braun, I think you are the best coach in the country! My questions are: Is it hard to coach at an academically-oriented school like Berkeley? And how are you able to win at such a place? Finally, how scared are you of the December match against Harvard?^-^

Ben Braun: If you look around the country there are several coaches that have had success at academically-oriented schools. We are no exception. We have a lot to offer and we are starting to attract top-notch student athletes.

Helena (Fresno): Coach - With this deep of a team, would you consider pressing opponents more?

Ben Braun: Yes, as our depth increases we will try and open the floor more and up the tempo -meaning more running and pressing.

CalGrad96: How do you think the addition of the Pac-10 tournament will affect Cal's postseason activity?

Ben Braun: I think it will help us nationally as far as exposure, awareness and excitement. I think all those things help the Pac-10. Also, we have several players from Southern California so they get to go home and play a tournament down there. So that is fun for everyone.

Ben Braun: That is all the time I have for now, I have to get to shoot-around. I want to thank all our fans for following us and we are excited about this year. The enthusiasm has been great. Getting to the NCAA Tournament was a big step for us and we now have been to postseason play four of the past five years. That is huge in continuing our program's development. We feel our fans have played a big part in that.

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