COACH RYAN: It's certainly nice to be here. Anybody that drove yesterday to arrive here in Chicago, it was quite an experience. They had to get one of the bellhops to come out to my car when I arrived and they peeled my fingers off one at a time from the steering wheel. I've never seen or experienced anything like that. There was a truck that went up on all its wheels on the left side. Thank goodness it wasn't a unicycle car. But it actually came up and tilted. It was about 100 yards in front of me. So just to arrive here and be here to talk Big Ten basketball, I'm pretty excited, as you can tell.
Q. Asking a lot of coaches their opinions. July evaluation period, getting a lot of conversation. What are your thoughts? What would you like to see be done?
COACH RYAN: Well, for me, some of the best players that have ended up that I've coached I saw during the July period, because I've coached at every different level. So you have to remember that the Big Ten's a part of the NCAA basketball from one to 350, meaning there's 350 teams. I've experienced some good luck in seeing kids in July. Maybe not as long as the period is now. But I think some coaches, they can just snap their fingers and get whoever they want. So they probably don't want to be out in July.
I don't think you're ever going to eliminate third party influences simply by saying you're not going to have July recruiting. I think whoever had that idea definitely hasn't been with us.
Because you're always going to have elements in anything in life, any walk of life, that's going to be a little bit seedier or not ethical. But I think in July, for us, to evaluate talent, we'd like to see them with their high school teams a lot.
We like to see them. Some of the better players, as I mentioned, I got a chance to see when they weren't with their high school programs and ended up doing things where a Dylan Page at UW-Milwaukee, we had an assistant watch him play several times and say he wasn't good enough. He ends up I see him in an AAU game. We got him committed to UWM and he was Player of the Year in the Horizon League.
So there's stories both ways, I'm sure, but I like to stick with the basketball part of it and what it means to be able to see young men play rather than always talk about the negatives that might surround five kids.
So I like July. I don't like it extended. Because towards the end of it, in Orlando, for example, the basketball became very selfish, sluggish. Teams weren't executing the same way. It's not because they were in Orlando, it was a great tournament and all that, but the kids were just a little bit out of sync. You always by that time have the parents who realize that their kid who started the July period were going to be lottery picks; that by the time the end of July came around, they were hoping to be picked up. And that gets to be a little frustrating. So I think shortening it is a pretty good idea.
Q. The question I have is you lose (Jason) Bohannon, you lose Trevon Hughes, the college game is so much a guard oriented type game. Just talk about that transition, playing without those guys who have helped you win so many games the last four years.
COACH RYAN: Well, you make a good point. You sure have to have them, guards. And the fact that they accomplished what they did averaging 26 wins a year, those two put in their time wisely. They were very diligent about learning to play defense on the college level. That's the area right now. Jordan Taylor is the one proven guard.
The other guards have potential in some different areas, but for us, everybody will look at where you have to replace points, you have to replace this. We have to replace the defensive (Jason) Bohannon, you lose Trevon's intensity with which those guards played. And that's what I'm looking for now. That's not to say the bigs don't have to get better.
Q. With that in mind, how has Rob Wilson done and (Ben) Brust and (Josh) Gasser and Wquinton Smith? How have they been so far?
COACH RYAN: Again, I'm sure a lot of coaches can tell you it depends on what practice I can refer to or what intersquad game or what scrimmage or what set of possessions at any given time.
Josh is better than people realize. He's better than we even anticipated as a freshman. Ben moves away from the ball even better than Jason Bohannon did coming in, as far as knowing how to get open, how to read things, things like that. I'm not saying he's a Jason Bohannon. But there's strengths in each one of these guys.
Rob Wilson. He can attack. He's fearless going to the basket. He's wiry.
But, again, with all three of those names I just mentioned, and then along with Wquinton Smith, is the guys that are going to get the other minutes that were vacated at the guard spot are going to be the better defensive players. So right now, when we do our breakdown defensive drills, some days we'll do a little more possessions, 5 versus 5, other days it's more 3 versus 3 or 4 versus 4 with some defensive positioning drills.
That's the area where we still see the weaknesses, because we were spoiled by Jason and Trevon.