Jabari Bird has keyed Cal's play heading into conference slate

Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin and his team are coming off of a strong bounce-back win over Davidson, following an overtime heartbreaker against Virginia, and they'll host Colorado on Friday.

Select Quotes California Head Coach Cuonzo Martin

On 11-2 Colorado: "They're a good team, playing well, they rebound the basketball well. Obviously, Tad does a great job putting these guys in position to score the ball, and they get out and run, but there's more to it than just running in transitoin. They've got good quick hitters, and they also pound the ball inside to get easy baskets, double the post and find their shooters. They're shooting the ball well from the perimeter. They're playing some really good basketball."

On Josh Scott, who's shooting 62.3% from the floor, and averaging 18.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game: "That's expected. The other guys, the way they're shooting the ball, the things that they're doing, makes them a tougher team to defend, but we expect Josh to be Josh." 

Now healthy, is this the team they should have been a year ago? "Injuries are injuries. You count on certain guys, and they're not there, that is what it is. That's a tough thing to deal with. But, obviously they're playing healthy, and you have Josh, who's healthy. He was injured, and he was the biggest key, even though [Askia] Booker did some great things. He was the key to their team. When you have a guy that you depend on like that, who goes down, that makes it tougher to prepare and prep for games, because you count on that production. They're playing well, and they go through him, and their guards are playing well, their big guys are rebounding, scoring timely baskets. You've got to be able to defend [Scott] at a high level for 40 minutes."

Has coming off the bench affected Jabari Bird? "I don't think so. He's been great. His energy's been great. He's really improved, in my opinion, in his ability to lead. I feel like he had those qualities, but he's gaining more confidence to lead, and you can see that in practice, the things that he says in practice, even in games, in time outs, huddles, because he does have that ability to do that. He's playing with more confidence, and more relaxed, than anything. We still need him to score, still need him to do the same things he's been doing, but I would imagine it's the initial adjustment, from never having done it, probably for seven, eight years, but I applaud him for being a man about it, and understanding that, 'If this is best for our team, I need to do that.'"

http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1601727-jabari-bird-ready-... The ball's going in for Bird, now. Did he need to hear that message that he had to keep shooting? "I think so. My thing with his is always to stay aggressive, stay in attack mode. Again, the learning part, being aggressive, what's a good shot, what's a bad shot, he can take 15 shots, but they have to be good shots. I'm not saying that every shooter is going to take every good shot. One, is to be in attack mode -- that's what I always tell him -- to be an aggressive scorer, but understand that if two guys are in front of you and somebody's open, making that next decision -- because his abilit to shoot is great, but now, the next part is, 'I beat one guy, one collapsed, two collapsed, I've got to make the next play.' It might not be a shot. That's what we talk to all our guys about -- making the right play, more than anything."

How much better can Bird be: "The sky's the limit for him, because you see it in practice. You see him continue to grow, the things that he does, on both ends of the floor. His energy on the defensive side of the ball, you also talk about a guy that's been healthy since we started the summer up to this point. He's done a really good job at taking care of his body, stretching, weight lifting extra, so all those things, I just think, for him, it's just continue to do what you're currently doing to maintain a level of confidence, to be aggressive, to get out in transition. I think the thing for him now is to get easy baskets, to get to the free throw line, but not force it, to rip past a guy and shoot his pull-up, to get around the rim and make plays -- those sorts of things. Once he gets that down, he'll take it to the level where he needs to be."


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