They were a good team then (Dec. 31, first meeting), and they are a good team now. They have some weapons, they are playing solid defense and they are used to winning.
Through the years we've been a pretty good defensive team when we've had our guys healthy and playing. I guess we surprised UCLA too, then. Maybe we just had a lucky weekend, I don't know.
I think we do deserve to be in the NCAA tournament. But I don't think my opinion matters much. I don't have a vote.
Young people do what they see. It has to be a priority from the coaches down to the players. Team chemistry comes from having the same goal and same agenda.
We felt if we had beaten UCLA, we would have won this thing (the regular-season title). So it's probably fitting that we're playing. I just hope we get our legs back.
That was probably the only time we made consecutive mistakes.
We're not sure of the extent of it, but he's definitely out. I thought he was making pretty good progress. He was able to log some minutes. This is a separate issue.
That's OK. He sure made things look easy for us. It's good to see him become a basketball player.
We turned it around in the second half on the defensive end. USC attacked the basket and we had to make adjustments at halftime. Leon is grabbing a lot of rebounds and that helps.
He was hobbling pretty good. Let's give it a day and see.
In my opinion, those were questionable judgments in those situations. If he had gotten a couple of those 'and-1s,' I think there would have been a different flow.
I thought he had a huge year. He took his team over the hump tonight. He put them on his back. He was phenomenal.
It feels pretty good to see everyone in the community. They're all so proud.
You feel bad for Rod and what he has been through. He was just getting over a foot injury, and I thought he was improving. He was getting more time and was more active. He was getting closer to coming back at full strength.
Leon is really a highly competitive person. When he was struggling shooting free throws earlier in the year, he was getting up at 5 in the morning and going to a gym near his home and shooting free throws. Then he came up with a couple of 10-for-10 games, 10-for-12, 12-for-15. I think that's a testimony to who he is.
At times, we played like a team that had 11 days off.
They're not going to give you easy baskets. They make it tough to get to the interior.
We've put in a lot of hard work and this is our reward now to see where we stand as a team. This trip gives us more time to solidify our team and work towards a positive direction.
We're fortunate Richard has been such a good defender through the years.
I thought Oregon defended him pretty well.
I'm pleased that we were able to extend a scholarship to Alex for this season. Nobody works any harder than Alex, and he is a great representative of a Cal basketball student-athlete.
They're both good basketball players. I like having those options with those guys.
Washington will be a similar challenge as Arizona. They have a similar style. This upcoming game is an opportunity for us ... We're ready to go right back and challenge our defense.
Rodgers, he did a hell of a job defensively. Boy, he's tough.
Leon is a smart guy. I have faith in Leon, in his decision-making process.
They've improved in that area. Those guys have given them their team a big lift, and there's no question that has helped their performance in the last few games.
It's a great position for us to be in. It's an honor to be able to play for a Pac-10 championship. I'm happy for our players that they're going to have the opportunity to fight for the championship. That's what you dream of as a player and as a coach.
They are tough defensively. They always have been. (WSU coach) Dick Bennett is at the genius level defensively.
If Stanford was going to beat us or tie us, Chris Hernandez wasn't going to do it. That's respect for Chris. Our players felt we couldn't give him a look. He wasn't going to beat us. He's beaten too many people over the years, including us.
We're going to be a little fatigued, but I wouldn't trade that at all. I'd rather be fatigued and in that game than be well-rested and not be playing anywhere.
Leon and I have talked a lot about his future and his options. He just had the best season of his basketball career, which is a credit to his work ethic and perseverance. I trust that Leon will ultimately make a great decision.
I didn't know that. But if anybody can do it, Leon is certainly capable. He takes pride in rebounding.
That's just disappointing because we had opportunities. We have to learn from this game. This is kind of a rerun in the rebounding department. To me it's one of the bigger indicators we have.
I thought there was some questionable judgment in those situations.
I feel good about our chances. I also feel good that in our league, 17 wins has been a formula (for the NCAA tournament).
It's tough. I thought our guys came out and played very hard. But give N.C. State credit, they played well. They didn't make a whole lot of threes like they normally do, but the ones they did make were some real momentum changers.
We don't have a lot of guys that have been deep in the postseason. (But) Richard is one of those guys. Our team has to understand that we don't have second chances now. It's going to be a huge challenge for us this week.
He can take a lot of pride knowing he is playing for a championship now as he leaves Cal. He has worked so hard over the years.
I can't figure all that out it's too complicated for me. To entertain mathematical possibilities, that complicates our job. We just want to play our best and grab a victory or two. That gives us a chance to grab a championship. That's the dream of every c
As hard as Leon was working, I thought he had opportunities to go after the rim a few times, and we came away with no basket and a foul. In my opinion, there were some questionable judgments in those situations.
When you shoot 11-for-24 from the free throw line, you're not brimming with confidence. It was the first thing we talked about in the locker room after the game. It's a different game if we knock down and convert some free throws. We have nobody to blame, that's us.
To be where we're at is great. But we still have a lot of basketball to go. We sure would like to be where we're at. That's a good spot to be in. But our next challenge is Oregon State.
When you're entrenched in principles, you're not thinking about streaks or standings. Staying in the present does take discipline and focus.
Our players were hungry. I can't ask our players to go out and play harder than they played today.
I thought we were tentative at times. The teams we're playing have to catch us. It's a nice position to be in. We can't worry about what the significance of a win or loss is.
We're healthy this time, that's the major difference.
He hit some unbelievable shots. That's one of the best halves of basketball anybody's played against us this year.
Leon deserves a lot of the credit for the impact he's made. He makes a lot of things easier for a lot of guys. He's also been a really good defender for us this year. he's really improved his understanding of the game.
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