Cal junior Jabari Bird doesn't hold back after lackluster win over Incarnate Word

BERKELEY -- Cal junior Jabari Bird admits that the Golden Bears slept on Incarnate Word, which gave Cal a run for its money in a 74-62 win at Haas Pavilion.

California Junior Jabari Bird

On having trouble against the zone, and continuing to shoot against it, is there a bigger issue? "I don't think so. We go over the zone in practice, and we do fine against it. When we get into games, we're just thinking too much, we get kind of stagnant. We need to have some flow to our offense, play with some swag, shoot if they hit shots. Guys who flash, make plays in the middle of the zone. We need to get the ball to the middle more often. We keep playing from the top, and it's kind of hard trying to shoot over the top of them."

Is that the sign of a team that's still trying to find itself: "We've been playing together a lot. This is our ninth game of the season. We had exhibition games, we went to Australia together. Chemistry-wise, I feel we have good chemistry. We've just got to stop thinking so much out there, even myself. I've got to play with freedom. There's no need to stress out there. Just play basketball."

On Cal's 19 turnovers and not being strong with the ball: "We've just got to lock in as a team. 19 turnovers against anybody is horrible, especially a team like this. Give them credit, they made plays on the defensive end, but a lot of it was just us not being strong. We have to fix that."

Where does thinking too much come from? An idea of what you guys should be? "I don't know what it is, to be honest. I know it needs to stop. We need to go out there and play, and be the team we know we can be. We have so many talented guys on the floor at all times; there's no reason for us to be struggling against teams. Being tied at halftime, we should be getting out on the break, having fun and getting big leads, blowing teams out, but we're not. We've just got to find a way to get back to that."

Was it frustrating not to beat a team like Incarnate Word by more, and to be tied at halftime: "It should be frustrating, because you go into this game, hoping to get guys like Nick Kerr some minutes, so they can go out there and play, and you look up and you're tied at halftime. It's really frustrating, because we're better than that. We've just got to go out there and show it."

Why does the ball stagnate at times: "We get a lead, and we forget what got the lead for us. We get up by 12, we stop moving the ball and we have careless turnovers and the team gets right back into the game. It's a wasted time. Why build that lead up, just to give it right back? We've got to lock in more and pay attention to detail, and make the smart play, not the highlight play."

How big is the game against Saint Mary's on Saturday, so close to the start of Pac-12 play: "It's huge for us. Saint Mary's is a good team, coming in. We've got to be prepared for them and get locked in and ready to go."

What is one thing you take from this game: "Take every opponent seriously, because I think we kind of slept on this team a little bit, and it showed. You go into a game with a team like this, you expect to be up by 20 at halftime, and you look up, and it's 31-31. Treat every team like it's a great team and be ready to go."

Excited to play a local team like Saint Mary's: "It's another Bay Area team. It's another ballgame. We've got to get that W."

Freshman Ivan Rabb

"Coach keeps telling us that we need to find a way to build on these leads that we get. We came back in the second half and played with a lot better movement, and we made some shots. We started pressing. When we got that lead, instead of extending, we broke down, had more turnovers and the lead dwindled down. I think we just have to grow up and take care of the ball, and, when we get those leads, continue to do what we did to get that lead."

"I wouldn't say we were relaxing. We're pressing too hard, 'OK, we're up by 12 right now, what are we going to do to get 20?' We're trying to throw lobs that aren't really there, just making small errors. Maybe we're being too unselfish, and it leads to a turnover or a bad shot. I think we need to continue to do what we did to make that lead, and try to extend."

What was said at halftime? "I think, obviously, we didn't take care of the ball. We didn't take care of the ball, at all, including myself. We weren't making strong moves to the basket. We weren't letting guys who we know can shoot the ball, make shots. There was no reason for us to be that close with this team at halftime. They did a great job, but at the end of the day, we should have done a better job of handling this team."

Are the Bears laboring under preseason expectations? "It doesn't have anything to do with expectations. We've just got to take care of the ball, and find a way to extend these leads in these games."

How big is the game against Saint Mary's on Saturday, so close to the start of Pac-12 play: "We know they're a great team, and we want to go. We'll definitely pay attention to detail these next few days in practice, watch a lot of film, but most of all, just be prepared. We know against Saint Mary's, we can't make those mistakes that we made tonight. We have to make sure we take care of the ball, stay out of foul trouble and defend at a high level, because if you don't, they'll make us pay. Everything, from here on, is paying attention to detail."

What is one thing you take from this game: "I learned that it's vital to come out with energy. I thought we came out flat. I think if we play like we did at the beginning of the second half, for the entire game, we'll become a totally different team, because we were having fun out there. At the beginning, it didn't seem like we were having fun. I'm sure we had a little bit of fun, but we weren't enjoying the game. I think the game is just about moving the ball, scoring baskets, defending, but overall, just enjoying what you're doing out there, to help your team win."

Excited to play a local team like Saint Mary's: "It's all about winning. I never played Saint Mary's before, so I want to see what they're about, but I want to win this game."

On attacking the zone: "I definitely think I'm capable of doing more on offense, but it's not because my guys aren't looking for me. It's myself. Sometimes, I'm passing up easy shots, when I get the ball, when they tell me to be aggressive. Sometimes they miss me, but that happens in the course of a ballgame. At the end of the day, I have to do things to position myself to get baskets, like today, I got a few offensive rebounds, and I got stripped. That's on me. I got stripped twice. That's four points on the board that I need to finish. They can only do so much. I've got to help myself. Collectively, as a team, we can win and look good out there."


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