Monday press conference: Bo Ryan

Men's basketball coach discusses his team's upcoming schedule

I guess I'll start off with just can you give us an update on how Brian (Butch) is doing and is there any chance that he may be healthy enough to travel with you guys this week?

"Well, he's not practicing yet. He's going to maybe do some bike riding and try to… and then they evaluate from there, but he's not, he won't be on the practice floor."

Would today be the first day he's been on the bike or did he do some of that . . .

" No. I think he did some of that last week too. It's like a build-up that they go through. You know, there's different stages of mono, so obviously his is a little bit different than Taquan Dean's, or is it, who's the guy from Louisville that has, yeah."

I know you take it one game at a time, but you do have three games in five days. Is there a way you set up your schedule to accommodate that as far as just getting ready for it? What do you do?

"You just play it. And, you know, you have to grin and bear it. I mean, it's all TV and everything else that sets it up, so we don't have any control."

Bo, when we talk about Michigan State a lot of people think about their transition game. But they've done a great job on the boards, the offensive boards in particular as of late. Can you just talk about how that has kind of fueled their success and just how it's improved, what you're seeing from them on the boards?

"Well, I mean, we tell our guys every time a ball is shot it's a free ball. So, you know, a lot of coaches make a big deal about loose balls on the floor, which we do too, and go get it, it's loose. Nobody has control of it, why shouldn't it be ours. Well, it's the same thing with a rebound, both on the offensive and defensive end. Go get it.

"And, you know, probably the, and I've said this before, they've had success, Michigan State has, on the boards, but Tom Davis's teams, wherever he's coached, were really good at offensive rebounding, Boston College, Stanford, Iowa, now Drake. So I think it's, well, and Lafayette before Boston College. I don't want to forget them.

"So I think it's all about position and intensity and passion for the ball. Some teams will send more people to the offensive boards. So it's all in your philosophy, but it's also all in what kind of players you have and how aggressive they're going to be on any particular night."

You talk about with your team just trying to improve each day and get better as the season goes along. Do you feel like your team is a better team right now than when you last played Michigan State here at the Kohl Center?

"Well, that's all relative and what the other teams are doing too, so I can't, we won't know. And you wouldn't be just because of one game you can tell. But our guys have been working at everything that we've given them, so you would hope that that's the case."

Rob alluded to this, but what are the things that are important just in general against a team that is good in transition?

"Well, you've got to, it's like with any game, you've got to take care of the ball. You've got to get good shots. And if you're doing that, you can cut down on some of it. So that and making sure that you have guys back, that you're identifying with the ball, that you protect the rim, that you cover shooters, pretty universal.

"And what you don't want to do is leave a person wide open. If somebody's taking threes with a hand in their face in transition and they're hitting them, there really isn't a whole lot, you know, to change on that, because there's a lot of coaches who will say, well, they're going to have to beat you shooting those. But they've been finding themselves open in transition. They've been getting to the rim at times. And that's your goal defensively, is to not let people do that. And if we can get some of those, we'd like to get them too."

Did you have a productive weekend of practice and knowing that there are three games in six days. Do you think you're ready to handle that challenge, from what you've seen in the last couple of days?

" I thought the guys in practice, Friday and Saturday, it was, I didn't see any changes in their demeanor, in their work ethic. They've always given it to us. You know, coaching is a joy. It's a privilege. It's not, my God, it's, you know, so tough on us that we can't do this or do that. I mean, I had a blast Friday and Saturday. I was looking for things to do Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, Sunday. Did get Brenna into some Yahtzee games though. I came out on the left-hand side, it's all I'm telling you, yesterday."

"Got a book in, Good to Great. It's a good book, anybody read that? It's pretty good reading. If you're asking how I felt, I felt okay. You know, it's just a little different not having a game. I'd probably say quality conversation with my wife, but then you guys might interview her. That might not be quality. Seemed like quality to me, quality time. But Friday and Saturday the guys didn't, and then, of course, Sunday, because we play Sunday, we were off yesterday.

"At this time of the year, you know, you're trying to stay sharp. We know what we have coming up. We know the caliber of the teams we're playing. We know the RPI. We know, you know, that's always out there. That's not, you're playing in a good league so you better know that every night you're going to be challenged. So the guys didn't come to practice thinking anything other than, all right, whatever he puts out there, let's do it and see what we can get out of it, and they did."

Obviously with a guy like Jason Chappell, he's out there working hard like your other guys. But you take that out of the equation, what is he showing you that makes you feel comfortable putting him on the floor for those few minutes that you have in these last couple games?

"It's a good sign when a light comes on, not when a light goes off. He's contributing on the glass, defensively. There are never any mysteries or any mind games that a coach plays with players. It's just we're always looking for contributions. And people give them in different times. People give them in different ways. Some of them are more consistent than others. But there aren't any mysteries with us of how a guy can get on the floor more and if you're doing something in practice and you're showing improvement then sometimes there'll be that opportunity there for you."

Because of the experience you have in your frontcourt and guys like Brian who've been able to come in and play as a freshman, has that kind of—at least to people outside the team—made it a little tougher to kind of gauge how Jason's been doing, or really to kind of in essence gauge his progress because there are so many seniors and upper-class guys ahead of him?

" I don't know. When you say outside the program, I don't know how to answer people that aren't with us every day. I mean, what is there to answer? What's the question?"

I guess I mean in terms of is Jason a guy that perhaps if you didn't have so many upper-class guys could be contributing more and that's part of the reason he isn't playing as much, or he . . .

"Well, there's always that possibility, that guys that have, I mean, and remember Andreas (Helmigk) for, you know, with the ACL, with the injuries last year, the nagging injuries, he hasn't really had a chance. We've only had two guys that have been relatively healthy for their four years, this being my fourth year that I can see, and that's Mike (Wilkinson) and Clayton (Hanson). So they've come a long way. They were able to develop.

"Sometimes these injuries that happen to people kind of curtails that development. So Jason's had some of that too. Jason had a year where he sat out because of an injury. Where would he be without that. I don't know. That's a hypothetical. But Jason's learning the system. And I could tell you that there isn't a program in the country if you take their juniors and seniors away obviously the freshmen and sophomores would be playing more. I mean, so I don't know how to answer that. If the seniors weren't here could I have Jason on the floor? Of course. I could have Jason on the floor."

I just meant more of your depth, the depth you have in the frontcourt, as opposed to as much seniors versus juniors or class standing.

"Well, we don't have a guy in the program that we don't plan on playing when he shows us that he can get it done on the floor, so every guy on our team is in that position, could be on the floor more. But if there's guys with experience then they have to wait and pay their dues. That's universal. So I don't know what you're searching for, because I don't know what to say to you, which is obvious."

It's just a follow-up on that, Bo. When you saw Jason play against Michigan and he got some playing time in there, what did he show you? Just talk a little bit about that and just he did a pretty good job of bodying up and maybe got some fouls, but it looked like he gained some confidence every minute he was out there.

"Well, sometimes when a guy like that gets fouls it's because of the nature of the game, what the point differential might be. And you can always say, well, that's not true, officials don't do that. And I'm not saying they do. But Jason, actually he was doing a pretty good job and maybe as people see him play a little more people will understand his body language and what he's doing. And maybe as he refines some of his game then those won't be fouls. So that's just a matter of time."

Did you like what you saw from him during that…

"Well, he did some good things."

Tom Izzo had said that Chris Hill really struggled after the first meeting between the teams and now he's been coming off the bench. What are you seeing from him just on tape that you've watched recently?

"That he's a good player. You know, he's a very good player. And he's already proven that. He's got the statistics to prove that. So there isn't any change in how we approach him. He's still a player."

Did you ever have a team in all your years shoot 82 percent from the line, just have a remarkable streak like that where they just get to make free throws?

"High 70s, which in college basketball is pretty good. But again, it's when you're shooting it. It'll still boil down to a lot of that."

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