UW Getting Ready for Coastal Carolina

Before taking on 16th-seed Coastal Carolina Friday evening, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan along with seniors Josh Gasser and Frank Kaminsky and junior Sam Dekker address the media.

Q. Overall thoughts on the match-up and how much thought you put into what they did last year against Virginia, almost putting the scare in them down the stretch.

Josh Gasser: Yeah, I mean, they're in the tournament for a reason. They're a good team; they won their conference championship, and obviously that Virginia game stands out as something that we definitely realized, watched film on and understand that they're good. So we gotta come out ready to play, and we gotta play our best ball to come out with the win.

Frank Kaminsky: Well, we both got first-round byes in the NCAA Tournament, but Coastal Carolina is a good team; we've been able to watch some film on them. We know what to expect, and if you look at what happened today, you gotta come out and play your best basketball of the year if you want to beat anyone. Can't take anyone lightly. So we're going to go in and give them our best forty minutes of the season.

Q. Josh, when you look at that 0-120 stat that 16 seeds have, is there pressure involved with that for you guys or do you use it as motivation?

JOSH GASSER: Well, there is pressure because it's the NCAA Tournament, and if you don't come to play, that's your season and that's your career. So it doesn't matter what seed you are. There is always a little bit of pressure, but it's good pressure. It's something that you know you've worked for and prepared yourself for, so it's more nervous excitement more than anything. A 16 against a 1, it's going to happen sometime. We're going to go out there and just play our game. If we take control of the things we can control, we should be okay.

Q. On paper the height differential looks like a big factor. When you look at that how much of an advantage do you have there with your size against them?

Sam Dekker: Well, obviously we see it as something we can hopefully exploit. We have some size, like you said, inside. But we're confident with our match-ups against anybody. Frank is the best player in college basketball, so we can always go through him and Nigel has gotten a whole lot better inside and myself. We have guys that can go in there at any time, but like you said, we might have a little bit of size advantage, so hopefully we can use that to our advantage and get some easy buckets.

FRANK KAMINSKY: I agree with Sam. Our coaches do a good job of giving us the scouting report so we will have every match-up ready to go; we know what we can exploit, we know what we need to avoid. So whatever we see on tape or anything like that, we'll be ready.

Q. Obviously Traevon Jackson got back on the practice floor this week. What have you guys seen out of him? What would it mean for you guys to get him back?

JOSH GASSER: Well, it's psychologically really important, not only for what he does on the court, but it's his senior year. He worked really hard to get back to this point and help us make another run. I just feel for him really more than anything. I know all of us want him back just to play, just to give him another shot at it. He's been working his tail off in the training room, doing all the rehab, doing all the extra hours, doing all that stuff to get himself to a point where he can come back and play. He's still working through some things. It's not easy coming back from an injury, so he's got to take it day by day. Some days he feels better than others, but we would love to have him back. It's always good to have an experienced, talented body out there to help us out, so we would love to have him.

Q. First for Frank and really all three of you guys. You are riding high right now coming off a Big Ten Championship. Talk about areas that personally and as a team you think you can improve throughout the tournament.

FRANK KAMINSKY: I think we can just keep improving on everything, keep improving on defense, keep improving on offense, keep improving on how we play together. We know if we want to make a run in this tournament, we're going to have to play our best basketball of this season. Nothing from the Big Ten Tournament or the Big Ten schedule or anything like that matters now. We know that if we don't play our best basketball, we could be going home and that could be the end of our careers. So we're just going to do whatever we can to keep playing as well as we can.

SAM DEKKER: Yeah, it's really important this time of year not to get content with stuff that happened in the past. Yeah, we had a good year, a good regular season, but we can't just sit on that and say, hey, it was good, it was good enough to get to this tournament and just try to walk through it. Any night you can be upstaged, like you saw today in a couple of games, so we just have to stay on point and stay focused to the task on hand. And there have been times where maybe we didn't as much and that's where we kind of slip up. So if we can stay focused and stay playing together as a unit, we will be pretty good.

Q. Tell us what it means to you to have a team that's not a one-and-done-type team, that you guys are all together, been at the school for a while, how different that is.

JOSH GASSER: Well, I think what makes our team special is how close we are. Our team chemistry, our camaraderie, not only on the court, but especially off the court, so we have been able to develop some great relationships with each other, and that's what college is all about; that's what basketball is all about, having fun and obviously winning games helps. I think having Coach Ryan and the tradition and culture he's built here, this is why I wanted to come here is to win games and to develop these types of relationships with these guys.

FRANK KAMINSKY: Having a program like we have where people have to work to get into the lineup and start playing, I think that really helps in situations like this, because you've seen the struggle, the things you've had to go through to get to this point, and you just have that in the back of your mind all the time about how you work so hard and how you want to continue to have that pay off for you. I know Sam and Josh and the rest of the guys on our team, we've really just worked hard together, starting at the end of last season and now it's the NCAA Tournament again. It feels like it's gone by really fast. We're just really excited that we have the opportunity to go out here again and do something good.

SAM DEKKER: Yeah, it's hard going third, but we've built a great group of guys here. Coach brings in guys that he wants, character guys that he knows are going to buy into his way of coaching; and the staff works hard to develop the players and get them ready for the situations like this. By no means is there really anything wrong with teams that have guys that go one-and-done. They recruit talent, and if they're ready to go, they're ready to go. We just haven't had guys ready to go one-and-done here, and we've had to take our time. You look at these guys and what they have built themselves into and when you have a bunch of guys ready to work like that, you build a pretty special group.

Q. Bo, last year Coastal Carolina gave Virginia a pretty good game. How much have you brought that up to your team as far as being something to grab their attention?

COACH RYAN: Well, our players are pretty smart. Even if they hadn't played that Virginia game, Coastal Carolina would have their attention, you know, with their games this year. I've seen the game -- I've seen the game more than once, and they played the way Coach Ellis has had all his teams play. They played smart; their spacing is great on offense. Defensively they'll get after you. How you can look around and start talking about 16 seed this, 15 that, 14, those guys have four starters back, I believe, from last year. Took care of their conference tournament, played nonconference games, played all of 'em, played some tough teams and played well. Our guys know we're up against a very good opponent, just like the other years that we've played any NCAA Tournament games. It won't be because we don't know about them or don't respect them, that's for sure.

Q. Coach, what is your familiarity with Cliff Ellis and his career and all his stops and where he's been?

COACH RYAN: He loves the game; he's a teacher. You know, a coach is a coach. You know, you can be at one place, go to another, do your thing. He's been able to put good teams on the floor no matter where he was coaching. He's my kinda guy. And not because we're about the same age, you know. He's a teacher, he's a coach. He loves the gym.

Q. The NBA talked about the age limit, should it be changed. The new Commissioner said he would like to see it two years in '20. You've been in this game for a long time. What would you like to see as far as that goes?

COACH RYAN: I really haven't thought about it, with the Tournament going on, with basketball, with my team, things like that. That's what I'd like to concentrate on right now, you know, the NCAA Tournament and our game. I really haven't thought that much about the other.

Q. Talk about having the Final Four run last year, coming so close to a National Championship, what that does for your guys, their hunger, bringing a lot of talent back from that team last year.

COACH RYAN: Well, again, I'll talk about this team this year. Maybe every once in a while a guy takes a moment to say, boy, wasn't that fun last year? But all the games we've been through this year to this point, with a little different lineup, what happened with Tra Jackson, breaking his foot and to be able to recover the way these guys did -- let's face it, Tra Jackson won a lot of games for us on last-possession shots, big free-throws, things like that. So what they're thinking about right now is their time, this moment. I hope that's what they're thinking about. When they get on the court, it's not like you go, oh, well, I've been here before so -- no! They understand that we have a routine that we go into before a game. They get out there, they have their superstitions on how their knee pad is turned, you know, how they -- whatever sleeve they have on nowadays. I just wish I had stock in all those accessories that people wear now! I missed that one! But hopefully they're just thinking about this game, the ball is tipped up, here we go; let's try to do something this year. See what we can do.

Q. Coach, couple of your players talked about the need to work their way in the lineup, how important that was, and also being so close as a unit on and off the court. Can you elaborate on that and how important it was to you putting this team together?

COACH RYAN: I know that they're very close. They do a lot of things together. They get after each other in practice, but then when you walk off and you go down to the locker room, okay, I got this class, are you going to this study table, are you going here to the library, so they do a lot of things together. I think they truly want to see each other succeed individually while the team continues to get better. Hopefully every game when they go out on the court, they're thinking, okay, how can we be better this forty minutes. And guys have had to work their way to minutes. I've never had -- the easy part for me in recruiting is I don't have to de-recruit 'em. Under promise and over-deliver still works! I don't have to worry about maybe what some other coaches have to do when they tell 'em how great they are and you're going to play 30 minutes your first -- I don't know if a guy is going to play 30 minutes. That's an easy job for me, to have these guys know that they gotta work their way into the lineup. That's the way it should be.

Q. Bo, I know you get asked this a lot, Traevon Jackson, does he play in this Tournament?

COACH RYAN: He's not ready yet. He really hasn't even done any possessions with us. He did a few passing drills and everybody knows how big I am on passing drills, so he's done some of those, passing and cutting, some ball handling stuff, some shooting, but not any possessions.

Q. If you guys were to advance out of Omaha, would there be a chance he could play?

COACH RYAN: We would have to address that at that time.


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