Monday Press Conference: Bo Ryan

Men's basketball coach discussed his team's upcoming exhibition season

Since you are so gracious, could you just explain again, I know you said this before, but being able to play these two teams, this is something I want to use for our pre-game show on Wednesday night, for those that may not have heard your thoughts on playing Parkside and Platteville and what it means to them and you.

"Well, the short version would be that times change, and the European teams, the South American teams, the Asian teams from 30 years ago are not the teams that are coming to the United States now, for one thing. So the exhibition games with foreign teams, the talent level went way down. Then with the Marathon Oil those guys have been doing games for a long period of time, and they pretty much had the same cast of characters and somewhat played together.

"Then it got to be AAU teams where they knew the coach or one of the players had played for the coach and they kind of, hey, Coach, why don't you play us, our program needs X number of dollars. So the AAU teams, and they would start picking guys, practice maybe one day, if at all, and then just start playing teams. The caliber of basketball was not anywhere near what it should have been as far as organized offense, defense.

"And so basically years ago we started talking about why don't you play, when I was at Platteville I asked, well, why don't you play us. And that didn't meet with a whole lot of, okay, sure-type answers. But it was with, well, why shouldn't Division II and Division III schools play in the exhibition games if what they're looking for, and we need them, is dress rehearsals, how to go to the scorers table and report in, make sure you have your towel when you replace a player. So exhibition games are needed.

"The caliber of competition changed. Plus there were some AAU teams that were saying basically if you don't play us I don't know if any of our players are going to end up at your program. This is what other people said. It didn't happen to us. So why not play Division III, Division II, organized teams, teams with a system.

"Plus in the state, to have the money for guaranteed games stay in the state, knowing what it was like to try to put a budget together at Platteville and raise money. And hopefully down the road all the coaches that are forced to play in these doubleheaders where the men and women travel together, hopefully with the money that maybe we can put into the WIAC coffers that they can have the men and the women travel differently, separately, people don't have to stay at the gym for as long a period of time.

"For those that aren't aware, that's what they did. I haven't seen them do volleyball and football together yet to save money, but I did see them do it with men and women's basketball, where you have to leave earlier for class and you stay longer, and that's very difficult. So maybe now that money will go in there and help them travel separately, which I know the coaches and the players would like to see."

What kind of a player and a coach is Luke Reigel?

"Very hard worker. Very good shooter. Probably one of the slowest athletes you'd ever want to see. Really had a tough time getting open when guarded by people that were a little quicker, but he was able to get by in Wilmont because his dad was a great coach, used him, utilized his shooting ability very well. But when it came time to getting his shot off against the quicker guys he ran into some trouble.

"So what he did was he worked harder. By working harder he ended up hurting his back, so he ended up not playing for us at Platteville because he got injured. So if you can't play, coach. And as in School of Rock they say, if you can't do, teach, if you can't teach, teach P.E. Did you see that in School of Rock? So Luke ended up coaching, helping us his last year, and then coaching at the high school. He coached my youngest son.

"Very good coach, get the kids to play hard. I mean, you watch his teams play. I noticed against Loyola they maybe didn't find the basket as much as they would have liked to, but he knows the game. Great background, dad being a coach and they're always going to games together. They've got a great relationship, he and his father. He's a basketball guy.

"Probably because you're going to throw me out of here, just something to file away for next year. The Red and White game yesterday, next year will be on the schedule and we will have it out in plenty of time because it finally hit me yesterday, I'm slow, but all the people that were there, all the kids and all the parents that said, hey, Coach, this is the only time they'll get a chance to see you play because we can't get tickets. So next year we got, I mean, there were, that was a nice crowd yesterday. Our players really appreciated it. We signed for a long time afterwards with the autographs, about twice as long as last year.

"But, you know, it is, they made a great point in that a lot of people had a chance to see us play yesterday, to see the faces up close and to see the guys. They don't get a chance to get into the Kohl Center because they don't have tickets. So that point was made yesterday by several families. And so next year we will put it on the schedule as a Red and White scrimmage, have the date out when we get the other parts of the schedule out and give those people that don't get a chance to see us a chance to come in. That was a lot of fun."

So besides handing out, or working on the towels and the dress-rehearsal part, what are you looking for from your team against Parkside?

"Well, you know, you're looking to find out how we're playing off one another offensively, off our screens, our cuts, our ball movement, if we see zone, what to recognize against the zone, what type of zone, if the team's trapping, if they're full-court pressing, if whatever. Just to make game adjustments while the game's going on.

"And also, you know, being able to straighten things out when a guy throws a half-court lob and the ball goes about 30 feet out of bounds from an alley-oop, you know, or a guy throws the ball off the backboard for a pass on a breakaway, and I got to practice what to say to that player when I get him out of the game and bring him over to the sideline. I think maybe it was because they saw scrimmage next to Red and White that maybe, but, you know, those types of things in the game, just get a feel for it. And the timeouts, and get them over, down, just first buzzer. Get the team, things that you think, boy, you would think players are, that's so natural. Well, it's not.

"The other thing we have to get used to is we're going to have to figure out what to do with that ring beam while the game's on. And I think they're figuring that out now. You know, if I had controls I would sit back there and when the other team's shooting free throws, can you imagine how much fun a guy like me could have if I had that? I think it'd be better than those circles that the students were doing when guys were shooting free throws. I think it's something that we have to take a look at as we play these exhibition games."

Bo, could Parkside beat Wisconsin? Could Platteville beat Wisconsin? Could Stevens Point beat Marquette? And would that be all bad?

"Well, it wouldn't be very, when you say is that all bad, I think for the team that loses now that the D-II and D-III teams are playing, I have a feeling that would make things uncomfortable for the team that took the bump. But it certainly wouldn't be the end of the world. And what it might be for some of us is a wake-up call about certain things, and if they are coming in and knocking teams like us off, we better figure out what it is they did and how to counter that because everybody'll get that film and say, okay, what did they do.

"But I've never gone into a contest thinking anything other than you're going to be successful, so I'm sure Parkside and Platteville are thinking that. And that's how they prepare for it, and I think it has to play out. But I know this, again, with some of those other teams, there were times there where you could name your score and they had players that were all-conference two, three years before maybe for the Horizon League or something else, but they weren't, the games weren't that challenging. So the things we talked about before we hope will play out, that it's a system that you're playing against."

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