No Change in UW's Preparation

Although he's coaching in his first Division 1 Final Four, don't expect Bo Ryan, or his players, to treat their time in North Texas differently than any other game this season.

MADISON - The quizzical look on Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan's face answered the question before his lips started to move.

"You sometimes hear about coaches going to their first Super Bowl. They turn to other coaches for advice. Have you done that at all?"

In Ryan's eyes, Wisconsin's next game is just like the other 37 games that preceded Saturday's national semifinal against Kentucky, meaning it's going to be business as usual from now until tipoff.

"Because it's the final two games, it's going to be different?" Ryan responded. "Heck, no. You've got to win the 40 to get the 40."

Although he hasn't appeared on the sidelines to a Division 1 Final Four in his 15 seasons as a head coach on college basketball's highest level, Ryan is far from a newbie when it comes to competing with a national title on the line.

As coach of UW-Platteville, Ryan's Pioneers made five appearances in the Division 3 Final Four, winning four titles and capping two off with undefeated seasons. He said coaches have reached out to him over the years asking for his advice.

"Whether it's Division II I or Division I, you're in five national tournaments," he said. "You're trying to win the national championship … It's not like we think we have all the answers, but we know our team. We know what we have to do. We're going to be ourselves."

For Wisconsin, which left this afternoon to fly down to Dallas in preparation for Saturday's game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, that meant getting caught up in class work and putting in the scouting report for the Wildcats, who are 6-1 over their seven postseason games this season.

The spotlight has shown brighter after each of the four NCAA wins for Wisconsin, which has included national media coverage and features. On Monday, a writer from one of New York's daily papers flew in for a feature on Ryan and the program – an unusual site on a non-gameday.

"All the off the court stuff, it's who handles it better," said junior Josh Gasser. "Once the game starts, all the media, all the nonsense throughout the week, it's kind of thrown out the window. It's not any more pressure. It's still a 40-minute game. It's still a 10-foot hoop. Everything's the same."

It's an approach that has come from Ryan. In the two practices open to the media following the overtime victory over Arizona last Saturday, one wouldn't know if Wisconsin was preparing for the program's first Final Four game in 14 years or an exhibition game in early November.

It also doesn't matter that the Wildcats have been labeled as 2.5-point favorites from the odds makers in Las Vegas. Wisconsin is 4-1 as an underdog this season, including the 64-63 overtime victory against Arizona in the West regional final.

"At the end of the day, it's just basketball," said junior Traevon Jackson. "We just go out and have some fun and play the game. I think it's more fun the farther we go. It's not more pressure actually. I don't feel like personally. We're just enjoying the moment and just try to get better every day."

Badger Nation Top Stories