Bo Ryan: "So my players think that I get a little excited? Yeah, maybe I do. I'm an Irishmen with a really bad temper when I was young, but what's really nice in life is that you can always improve. I think I've improved my handling of they way I used to lose my temper. I've kind of learned to control that and I think that's a positive because I've got players that have played for me, and are playing for me, that kind of lose theirs every once in a while. So we try to get them to focus in. My dad was probably as a coach the most firey person you would ever want to be around. His techniques back in the 50s and 60s and 70s with kids in youth programs in the Philly/Chester area — he showed a lot of tough love to a lot of kids, who helped out and kept from the streets. I saw the influence he had on young people and steered them in the right direction. And the time that he devoted to helping young people, he never received a penny for doing it. He was a pipe fitter who when he would come home would go up to the field or go up to the gym and help kids and I had a mom who was very understanding about our passion for sports, because needless to say I followed the same lines.
"I think my coach that I played for; I played for the same coach for seven years and it wasn't because I was a slow student. Three years in high school at Chester High School. I tell everybody unfortunately Jameer Nelson broke all my records. And then somebody had the audacity to ask me what my records were, and I really didn't have any but I know that he scored more points. And then [I] played for the same coach who took a college job at Wilkes (Pa.) University; played for him for four years there. So seven years with the same coach. He's been a great influence.
And then probably on the professional side my first clinic was Bobby Knight's. his defensive techniques I've used all my life in coaching. And Dr. Tom Davis, who coached at various places, but everybody knows him. Those two guys have probably been the biggest influences from the professional side."
Just to follow up what is your dad's name?
"It's Butch and my mom is Louise or Wewe as she is know. They will be in Syracuse because it is not that far of a drive from the Philly area. So they will be there."
And your college and high school coach?
"Ron Rainey. He was a captain at Penn State, baseball and basketball, in the late ‘50s. A heck of a player. He kept telling me he scored 40 some against Jerry West and those guys. The problem was Jerry West had one more when they played West Virginia…I think West had 44 and my coach had 43 or something like that."
What made your team successful defending the 3-point shots as well they have this year? And how important is that going to be against North Carolina State?"
"Well, in the tournament no matter who you are playing usually those teams can shoot 3s and North Carolina State is definitely a good 3-point shooting team. I think our guys work hard on closing out, on handling screens. And they've been fairly effective, but you know you are only as good as your next 40 minutes. If we are going to be able to compete with North Carolina State, we'll have to do the same thing. The guys, one, made the commitment in the practices to the technique and the physical effort and the mental effort that it takes to recognize taking people out of their comfort zone."
Could you compare your offensive philosophy to the way Herb Sendek runs the offense at N.C. State? Is it pretty similar?
"I think the similarities are take care of the ball, get good cutting action to the basket. We get a lot of cuts to the basket off of up screens and back screens. They get the same cutting action off of you dribble at a guy you backdoor him, you get some wraps off of some weak-side screens with the Princeton stuff. Fortunately, growing up in Pennsylvania Petey Carril had coached at Reading High School, I believe it was. I was playing against and coached against, when I coached in high school, some of the Princeton stuff back in the 70s. I'm so old, I was coaching back then, by the way.
"Come out here to the Midwest I'd seen that even before Northwestern started running it and other teams now. I've taken from Petey's stuff, some of the same actions, or reads. And I think every coach out there has. I think Petey Carril was such a brilliant man when it came to taking the talent that he had at Princeton and where he coached in high school and getting the most out of that offensively with selfless play, guys very unselfish. And moving the ball, moving bodies, and constantly trying to keep the defense on their heals. And all these other coaches that run whatever they run, there's still a lot of those principles in what we do and what they do, obviously, even though, our case, it might not be called the Princeton offense. We call ours the swing but there's still a lot of those same tendencies.
What is the origin of the swing coach? How far back does that go?
"To when I first went to Platteville. It was as a result being up in a window watching some action that we put in on up screens and back screens. I used to do scouting reports as an assistant. Now, you do it all by tape. But back then we could go see other teams play. So I was at Wisconsin and I would go watch other teams play throughout the country, do scouting reports, come back with them. Film was available then but it wasn't past around like videos are now, and DVDs.
"But I said, if I ever get to be a head coach I like this from the UCLA stuff that I've seen, I like this from some motion four-out one-in. I like this from Princeton stuff… So, it's kind of a mutt offense, with a lot of different things taken and put into one capsule. And the reason it is called the swing up in the window as would run it, it would like the ball was swinging back and forth. Pretty clever huh? It wasn't anything done by anybody that was real intelligent. It was just an observation."
So it is your offense then?
"Some games when I'm done I don't like to say that. But, yes. On good days and bad days the swing is kind of something we put together over the years."