Ben Braun Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 23, 2004

Below are selected quotes from head coach Ben Braun from his Nov. 22 press conference heading into Tuesday's Southern game.

On the 10 days Cal had off between games:
The practice time was very valuable for us. Our team benefited from the time we had to practice. That's always a danger with early games, that you end up preparing for a team instead of preparing your team. That's a dilemma you have. You're prepared to play in a tournament and you know you're going to be playing a specific team. Obviously, we did a great job preparing for UC Riverside and probably weren't as prepared for Saint Mary's. And it showed. That's when you hope your team is along further - so you're not really depending on preparing. Our teams have always done a pretty good job preparing for a team with time. We'd like to be at the point where our team is getting into a groove and establishing some of our base principles and our habits are settling in - roles, inside play, where we go to get an easy basket - we'd love to find that out. We got a few easy baskets against UC Riverside. We didn't get very many easy baskets against Saint Mary's. And that hurt us. The game is always easier if you can find some easier ways to convert. We've traditionally done that off of our defense. I didn't think we had an opportunity to do that against Saint Mary's.

On why post production dropped off from the UC Riverside to the Saint Mary's game:
We got down early and tried to come back in a hurry. We played with some frustration and those things usually happen early in the year. We've got to avoid that pitfall. We've got to understand the game is 40 minutes. We even came back to cut the game to three. You have to understand that's going to be how the game goes. It's not always going to go the way you envision it or the way you'd like it to go. So, we have to understand that.

Did the guards stop getting the ball into the big guys inside or did those guys not perform the same way?
I thought we didn't really take advantage of what, I think, could be the way for our team to get some easy baskets. One of the things you do, whether it's an inside score or an inside foul attempt, is that you've got to get to the line. You have to have that mentality of getting to the basket. Either on the post-up or penetration or in transition - there's a lot of ways to get to the basket. There's a lot of ways you can get in there. It doesn't always have to be a post-up. Our best post-up guy is sitting next to me (Leon Powe). That's not an option right now. What is an option? What are the options? The options are getting there in transition, creating 2-on-1s in transition, 3-on-2 advantages, disadvantages, ball rotation, inside out, back inside - those all get you baskets. Obviously, we're not knocking down our jump shot. Suddenly, the lane gets a little more crowded. We have to work on that type of thing. It's early in the year and we're playing in game No. 2 and we don't have a lot of experience.

On the developments of Cal's inside game:
We've given up a lot there, but we've got some options to develop and that's our goal right now. We understand we're going to have to develop some other options, some other ways to score. We're not going to concede that, because we're missing Leon, that we don't have a post option. I thought Marquise got the ball and scored pretty well inside. (Dominic McGuire) is going to have to use his quickness in there. David (Paris) will have to work on his consistency. I thought Kevin Langford showed that he can get the ball to the rim. DeVon (Hardin), when he settles in, is going to be a strong inside presence. But these are things that are evolving - they're not established right now. These are going to be things that are going to be in progress.

Watching those first two games, how much can you say that these games started a bit earlier? Not to make excuses, but you started the season earlier than usual.
They're really early. They are early. The advantage is you get to know a little bit more about your team when you play early. You have an opportunity to play early, and I think most coaches would take that opportunity knowing that you're going to give up some practice time and get some game experience. The game experience lets you know where you are. I liked some of the things I saw against Riverside. I wasn't as happy and didn't like some of the things I saw against Saint Mary's. So that tournament afforded us the opportunity to see what we needed to work on. `Hey we felt we did these things fairly well, but we still have a lot to work on over here.'

Do you think it's a reality that you're going to be up-and-down for awhile?
I think there will be things we need to iron out and get consistent in. Until you develop consistency, you battle inconsistency. I don't go in there conceding we'll be inconsistent. I can't do that. That's a bad message for our players to say, `Guys, we're going to be inconsistent.' I think we're going to take the positive route and say, `Let's develop consistency. Let's try to play one half the same as we did the other half. Let's establish consistency. Let's have your effort in practice carry over to the game.' That's the biggest consistency you (reporters) don't get to see, but we do. Only we know what we do in practice. If we can establish our habits in practice and see those things carry over into the game so that they're habits, then I feel good about this team. Then I think the consistency will overcome the inconsistency.

Did you see that leading up to the Saint Mary's game?
I saw some areas we improved. I saw our consistency of effort. I thought our effort in practice was good. We had some pretty long practices. I'm not a guy that usually goes for a lot of long practices. We may have had some of our longer practices, but we needed them. I don't remember having this many practices this long.

We didn't go a lot of days. We actually gave our guys two days off this past week. One of our practices was three hours-plus. I normally don't do that. But again, I want to reiterate, we gave our guys two days off this week. So, I feel that going three days on, one off, three days on, a day off, you have to go hard. Usually, the front end of that time is the day you go hard. But we needed the time, we really did. Part of it we had a morning workout. We got up early Friday morning when we had the gym to ourselves and got a little more concentration time. That was a day we got them up early and played. We had a little surprise. We actually made them get up and scrimmage early in the morning. That was good for our team. I don't want our team to be a team where they know every time what's coming because in the game you don't always know what's coming. You want to get in a consistent routine of what you do and accomplish but sometimes you have to throw things at your team they have to respond to.

Are they ready to play in a game again?
I think our team is looking forward to playing again. Every player wants to play. Practice is not the first choice. To a man, though, our team realizes we needed some work. In that regard, it's great.

Are you changing your roles or assignments?
We have guys who, during the week, we gave them an opportunity to step in with the first team. We gave them different looks. That was good. That was another thing we were allowed to do without a game. We were allowed to look at different combinations and have guys step in. It's hard to experiment in games.