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Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Days: Cal Edition

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I had a chance to sit in on the Cal Men's Press Conference and also talk to Coach Martin and Tyrone over lunch, Here's what they had to say and what we talked about!

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Martin and Tyrone Wallace were the most popular individuals by far. Whether that was because of the hype of the program or Coach Martin's nicely groomed beard, the team was extremely popular among the members of the media. On to the quotes!!

Here were Head Coach Cuanzo Martin's best quotes:

  • "I think the most important thing to get better everyday is not about how many numbers you put up... it's about how many rebounds, how many steals, and are you being an elite defender."
  • "The key (with working with all this talent) is to have balance and really kind of talk about their roles. Guys embracing those roles, because the most important things have to be about winning basketball games, and I think our guys turn it up in terms of winning basketball games.
  • "I think the most important thing in recruiting is you have to make them understand they're student-athletes, they're students first, then athletes. When they become pros, they'll be pros. So you have to put a premium on the fact that you can get one of the best degrees in the world."
  • On his experience playing in the Big Ten, Midwest, and coaching in the SEC compared to the PAC-12, "I think they're all great conferences. I think the difference being out here in the Pac-12 is that its consumed with the academic piece, it's important to them. I think you see that across the board. Not that other conferences didn't, but I think in the Pac-12 they're consumed with you actually getting a degree being successful. And they want to win basketball games, but it's not the end of the world. I think that's the separating piece for me."
  • On preseason hype and rankings, "I've been in the league when we were picked 11th out of 12 teams, we finished second. So I don't think you get consumed with those type of numbers. I think the most important thing is to get better every day and try to develop your guys to post them to be the best men they can possibly become on and off the court, to try to be successful in the classroom, and to win games."
  • "I can't control anything outside of tomorrow. I just try to push these guys and make sure they go to class everyday and be on time. To not just get a 2.5 but manage to fight for a 3.0. That's what I'm consumed with."
  • "As long as these guys are making strides from young men to men, then I'm winning the game."

Here were Senior Guard Tyrone Wallace's best quotes:

  • On graduating with a UC Berkeley degree impacting his decision to come back for his senior season: "I think it definitely had a huge impact. As I mentioned before, it was a promise to my grandfather who passed away, so for me to be a first in the family to get that degree, I think it shows my siblings and my younger family and relatives that they can go to school and get a degree. It's not all about sports or anything like that. So I think that's why I'm getting my degree."
  • On off-season NBA evaluations and coming back: "The main thing was just for me to take a step back and talk it over with Coach and my family and think about what was best for me moving forward. So I think that I did that, and I think that we have a great opportunity here with our returners and new players coming in."
  • "We have a chance to do something special as long as we work and put the effort into it."
  • On celebrating recruiting victories: "I think the players do play a large role in getting those players to come, because we're going to be the people that they're going to play with at the end of the day. So I think if we can get a good feel for each other and get along well, it all works in the end."

My biggest take away from this press conference is about Coach Martin's recruiting approach and also to the preparation of the season. Coach Martin wants to help these kids grow outside of the basketball court, and thinks of the players as if they were his own sons. That is an amazing coaching philosophy and way to create long lasting relationships with the players and their respective families. In terms of preparation, Coach focuses on the defensive end and emphasizes that the commitment and effort given on defense is the only thing that they can control. As for Tyrone Wallace, he looks as composed as any senior guard can be. He looks comfortable talking about running the offense and managing the plethora of weapons and talent he has to orchestrate on the court. He took every question really well, and it seems that the NBA process has helped him mature and become an extension of Coach Martin.

California Love. California Rising.