Monday press conference: Bo Ryan

Men's basketball coach discussed Indiana, John Chaney and the academic performance review

You committed 18 turnovers down there against the Hoosiers, and they've been doing that to a lot of teams this year. Can you just talk a little bit about their defense and just what has to be done to combat their athleticism and the way they just get after the ball?

"Well, I mean, they're, they can cover passing lanes. They can close on the ball. They can create havoc with quick hands. They can cause turnovers in a lot of different ways. And, you know, that's a tough place to play in. It's still Indiana and it's still All-Americans that they have playing. So we went in and played a pretty good team on their home floor.

"Just because their record was what it was, you look at who they played and where they played them, nobody's played a tougher schedule than them, in our league. I think we're second to their schedule. So you give credit to them defensively because they caused the turnovers and they caused the disruption in what we were trying to do. And we've got to do a better job of that. But I don't know what else you're looking for."

That game followed the Purdue game where you kind of shot lights-out from 3-point range. Did you feel like you settled in that game for 3-pointers and, you know, unlike what you did yesterday, working the offense well to set up the 3-pointers? Is that kind of what was missing in that game?

"It's just two different games, two different teams. I don't think you can do justice to one night when you shoot it well, another night you don't as to pointing to one thing. A different time, a different place."

Coach, how impressed are you with [Indiana's] freshmen, how they've matured the last few months?

"Well, how impressed? Like 1 to 10? I'm impressed with them. Who isn't? I mean, anybody that's seen them, I've seen those guys play in summers in AAU basketball and all that, when they're 360 dunking on people, and throwing alley-oops all over the place and just drilling teams. They were all great athletes in high school, physically very mature. And if the guy that's in the pros was playing with them, holy smokes.

"That's the only break our league got this year was that Indiana doesn't have the other guy, (Josh) Smith or whoever it was. My goodness. You should have seen him in high school. That's, they talk about McDonald's All-Americans. They're talking about, they're not talking about a value pack there. They're talking about what Webber used to get at the McDonald's when he said that he felt bad paying for a meal when his shirt was selling for $45 across the street, whatever that was. Remember the time he said I can't believe I'm paying for these burgers when they're making money off me? Well, anyhow. That's how good Indiana's freshmen, everybody knew what they had. And they're playing. And you've got to give Mike (Davis) credit that they're playing well together."

Are these quick turnarounds ever going to change in light of how the TV kind of and their money rules a little bit, but has there been a talk amongst the coaches to maybe get that changed?

"The coaches' talk wouldn't have anything to do with it. What we would say on something like that really doesn't affect, they own the time. That's the other part of when men's basketball pays the bills and you agree to that contract years ago, it's not going to change. The NCAA gets what percent of their budget from men's basketball, the TV rights? Eighty-five percent I think was the last figure I saw. Why should they not be able to determine is I'm sure what they're thinking."

So there's nothing you can do as coaches to change that ever?

"Well, it happens so rarely. I mean, it's not like it happens every week. You know, your team might get caught in it how many times. So then it's kind of magnified and then it disappears."

Are you seeing from Bracey Wright kind of, you know, you talked a little bit about Alando (Tucker) yesterday coming off the injury and how when he came off that injury it just kind of put a charge into him. Do you see the same thing from Bracey since coming off the injury he's been playing awfully well.

"Well, because he's good. And Tucker's good. So, you know, that's probably a start."

Well, yeah, but I mean, going off what you said yesterday in Columbus about Alando and some players spend the time off -- they take a step backwards when they come back, some take a step forward. He took a step forward --

"Didn't I say that this morning [on the Big Ten teleconference]? ... Yeah, I mean, he's, Bracey Wright is just playing ball the way he knows how to play, and he's shooting it and he's shooting with confidence. He's off the dribble, pulling up, which he hurt us with, because we eliminated a lot of his 3s and then he turned the corner and put it on the floor and banking shots. I looked at this morning the game with Michigan State and he was hitting 3s from 30, pulling up on a couple bank shots, steals. He was scoring in every which way.

"It's funny, most of the guys that have scored well against us, you take a look at the [NABC] All-District teams and they're all on the first team. You know, most of them. They're pretty good players. And they're hurting other people too. For the same reason when a Kam Taylor gets 20-some, you think their coaches are going how the heck did we let that guy get off, who is that guy? Kam's not on the all-district team though.

"But sometimes, defensively, you know, a guy can, but you're looking at a guy like an [Alan] Anderson, who over a 40-minute period just, that's the quietest amount of points in that range that anybody on our staff could remember because it was just get one or two here, and then all of a sudden another one, and then the free throws.

"But Bracey Wright, I mean, he was tough yesterday and he was tough against us. Those two I know for sure."

You obviously have your own situations to take care of, but would you share your thoughts and did you have thoughts on the John Chaney situation?

"No. I mean, what Coach Chaney does is that's Coach Chaney. He's an emotional guy. He'll be responsible for his actions and he's not bashful about that. And, you know, he met with the family of the young man. Sometimes I don't know what that's going to -- what will happen as a result of that. But, yeah, the feelings aren't good right now in Philadelphia. The Big Five, I grew up on it from the time I could walk and talk, Temple and Villanova, LaSalle, Penn, St. Joe's, those games against those teams.

"That is, you know, why Division I schools in the same city wouldn't play each other mystifies me. And I think all they have to have, anybody that grew up in Philadelphia, if they lived in a big city and there was another Division I team there or two or three or four playing, I mean, it's just the greatest basketball to be around. But that also means feelings -- what the point I'm making is also it means feelings are pretty strong both ways. So that's magnified this.

"If that was Temple against Dayton, I don't think it would have the same, the same feelings would exist right now. There'd be disappointment, there'd be all that, but this is St. Joe's-Temple and they work, all those people work in Philly. When they take their coffee break or go to the water cooler they're talking about, you know, the school they graduated from and they're saying, oh, this shouldn't happen or what'd he do that for and how come, oh, you've got to be tougher than that. You know, each side's going to say this against the other. That's why it's magnified even more.

"And it's Coach Chaney and Coach (Phil) Martelli, who because of a young man from Chester, I keep telling Phil he got his reputation because of a kid from Chester in Jameer Nelson. But he's a pretty good coach without Jameer. But the idea is it's magnified. And it's going to be out there for a while. This is going to hang around for a while.

"But, I mean, you look at some other sports and, come on, there are people who go out there and knock guys into the boards, in soccer guys that go after one another. In other sports it's accepted. I'm not telling untruths here. It's kind of accepted that there's some physical contact in other sports. It's the way it is.

"As I'm watching my son play soccer in Platteville and the coach is yelling to the two kids to trip him, kick him, bite him and do whatever they can to him. I was like, man, this soccer's a heck of a game. So what happens was they leave his little brother open and they win the championship because his little brother's wide open and gets a goal and they win 1-0. That was a great soccer match. You should have seen it.

"Yeah, it's unfortunate. How would you like to be a coach and have a player lost for the season. That's not good.

"And when we were talking about nicknames the other day, one of the nicknames I didn't mention was Dog. And Dog died of a heart attack Saturday. My co-captain my senior year in 1965 just died of a heart attack the other day. So there's one of the nicknames that we've got to, Dog. I don't know how he got the nickname, but he was a heck of a player. What made me think of it was I mentioned Chester again.

"But anyhow, John Chaney, good guy, good coach, good person, but that's very unfortunate."

Bo, you've been in a little win-lose-win-lose kind of pattern. Is that due to maybe a function of who you're playing and where you played them, or is this kind of a little more up-and-down team performance-wise at this point of the season that you're used to?

"No. It's been who we played, and sometimes it's when you play them. But I don't think that's unusual. I've seen other teams in the Big Ten go through that. I'll tell you what there are teams that are losing two, three in a row. I woudn't want to be there. So, you know, we're hanging."

Bo, I'm just curious what you think of the NCAA's new way they're measuring academic progress.

"Very unfair to men's basketball because professionally our guys can go make money. Our guys can sign contracts for more money than graduates are making coming out of the engineering school.

"Not fair, not, I understand all that. But we will lose points for guys that go play professionally. And [men's hockey coach] Mike Eaves has also mentioned that will happen with some of his guys. Look at the other sports, they're not leaving and getting paid professionally.

"And what I said in our meetings, before it even was passed, was if a person has a contract, a professional contract, do not count that point against the basketball guys because they're making money at a time when if they don't do it now they're not going to get the opportunity later. They might not get the opportunity later.

"So we lose a point for everybody that goes professionally. Now if they're academically ineligible, we lose two points. But if you don't retain one of those guys, you automatically lose a point.

"So here's the problem. Other sports that never lose anybody to the professional ranks, they've got a great fudge factor. They can have some people not do well academically. With men's basketball, you better have everybody do really well, do well academically, which is what we stress anyhow, but there's no fudge factor, because we will lose points [to] people professionally.

"It's pretty simple. Everybody that's looked at this said, yeah, you're right. They've all agreed. But you don't see them doing anything about it."

And I guess along those lines, you probably touched on it, but I think your score was 962, if I recall correctly...

"Yeah, we were okay. But what if we have some guys that decided to go, all of a sudden we've got five seniors this year. And a great example is when Devin Harris was declaring, and I know, and Andy's here and it's fine because I talk to him. Devin Harris was criticized for not finishing his education. A hockey player went hardship, never one word mentioned about him giving up his education.

"You know, I don't understand how one person can be on one side and one on the other. When for Devin for basketball, if a kid doesn't finish and get his degree and goes professional it is something to everybody. Oh, my goodness, why is that guy giving up his education, he should stay and get his degree. You know, it happens to other people too and they don't always leave just for professional reasons.

"And so if a young man leaves the school or if he decides to transfer, if they leave in good status, you know, there's different things that can happen now. We were fighting the graduation rates, we, meaning coaches that know that people change their mind. There are coaching changes. People decide, well, I can't play here. And, you know, when I came in here my first year and talked to some of these young men and some of their questions that they had about whether or not they were going to stay and other, it was like, well, let's talk about some things.

"And two or three of them were so happy that I talked to them and laid things out and explained some things in a way that maybe they hadn't been explained to them before, and I let them know how I felt about things, how if you want to stay you'll have an opportunity. If you think that this might be a good time to go, then it might be a good time to go. And, yeah, when a new coach comes in, these are the things that can happen. They don't always happen. But have some dialogue.

"And so what we wanted with the graduation rates and with everything else, dialogue about, okay, people leave for various reasons. And you can't always control that. But if they go and graduate from another school, that's what we were pushing for years ago, and if they're leaving in good academic standing and go to another school and graduate then it's good. Then now it's good. Where before that counted against you."

That said, is this new system a step in the right direction or is it a step backward from what, how they counted graduation rates before, do you think?

"Well, I mean, anything that goes with giving people the opportunity to move, if they're allowing coaches to move, if they allow you guys to take different jobs with different papers or stations -- people move. Things change. So if things change then you have to allow for that. But you can't say the coaches are running players out of the program simply because people are transferring. That's not true. There might be instances where that comes out, but that's not in the majority of the cases where people were leaving and transferring to another school. The coach was not running them out. It's all how you spin it."

How much does this hurt the borderline academic kid?

"Well, there are young men that, you know, have a situation where in order to make it in college they're really going to have to work hard. There's nothing wrong with that. Those people, a lot of those people that have been given opportunities have taken advantage of them. And the thing is, the way they have requirements now and everything else, people that get in have a chance. I mean schools aren't taking people that have no chance. But they're taking people who, there are some that are a little better off coming out of high school than others. Well, are you going to make the most out of your opportunity? And if you don't then it's points against that program, and that can happen. But how can you say this guy guaranteed he'll make it, this guy can't make it, if they both had the same ACT.

"How about all the students that are admitted top 10 percent of their high school class and all that have problems here and fail out and get in trouble. It happens to the other end of the spectrum too. Obviously not as much, and if it does happen you don't see it. You don't read about it. You don't, it's not on TV. It's not because that's just the way it is. And coaches understand that, and we understand the reasons for it.

"And the young men that we have, we explain what our expectations are and every other coach does too. There are advantages to people taking care of business. But when they don't, you know, the fault usually goes to one place. In reality. And that's to the individual. Because you can do it, you can do it. Because there are people who have come in here and done it with the same kind of grades, same kind of ACT or SAT, and done it and have gotten it done."

With all these changes then could you ever see or envision a day where it would impact you in recruiting a particular player, say like you were sitting down with a LeBron James in the next couple of years, that type of player, as to whether you'd be able to recruit them to come here knowing they might go pro early?

"Well, you know, I've never, in spite of what you might hear from other people, there weren't a whole lot of people worrying about Devin Harris coming out of high school leaving early for the NBA. I hate to disillusion anyone. But there are people who are late bloomers, people who listen, people who work at what you tell them, and they get better quicker. So, but when you're recruiting them, you figure they're going to be there the whole time. And, you know, I don't know why you wouldn't recruit that player.

"I talked to Mike Eaves about this in hockey and he said, well, we might have this guy for a year, might have this guy for two years, and it's kind of accepted. Well, that's the nature of the culture. And in ours it seems to be the same thing at times now with people going early.

"But you don't recruit going, oh, I'm only going to have him one year, or I don't. You just say, well, you know, if you want to be here and this is what you want to do, even though you might leave in a year or two, and you might now. But we'll help you. You can help us. So we would take LeBron James for a year."

If the NBA adopted an age cap, so to speak, or, you know, an age limit into their draft and somehow that got through, wouldn't that, make it like 20 years old or whatever and forcing a lot of these kids to go to school, wouldn't that actually thoroughly work against the colleges for the reason that more kids are going to be going into school and then leaving early?

"I don't know. That's been argued both ways. And sometimes a young man gets into college and realizes this is pretty good. I remember talking with Tim Duncan over in Japan, we were on that trip, and knowing that a guy like him could come out early anytime and be a No. 1 draft pick. 'No, I'm going to go to college, I'm going to graduate, then I'll go in the NBA.' For Tim Duncan it was this is what I'm going to do. He knew exactly what he wanted to do. So he didn't leave early. He got his degree and he's doing OK.

"But now then you talk about some of the other guys who maybe waited too long, their shooting percentage went down, they had a tough year, they were double teamed more, you know, how about in baseball. If a guy can come out early and he batted a certain average, you know how those statistics can fluctuate. And then the next year they're pitching around him or he's not getting as many good pitches to hit and then he can't come out for the same amount of money. He won't be drafted as high.

"So with basketball now, if somebody has a good season, then they tend to want to go when they're hot because they can. So how are we going to stop them -- at our level? But as far as an age, if they're in there and they have good seasons, the temptation's always going to be there.

"And I don't know how, as you're telling everybody get a college degree so you can make money to support a family and pay your bills, and then somebody's going to be able to pay their bills, support about 20 families.

"I don't mean that the way that it just came out, support 20 families. I mean have enough money to support their extended family, grandparents, parents, children and all that. It's not, I didn't mean anything. This is live. I think everybody knows what I mean."


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