Monday press conference: Bo Ryan

Men's basketball coach talks about in-state opponents, free throw shooting and Tucker's face mask

Audio file 1 (3:48)

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Yeah, Coach, you've got a stretch of games against in-state opponents coming up. How important are these games for your team?

"Importance is something that I'm not totally sure of, but I do know this, is that every time we play, they're hard-fought games, they're games of interest. There's a lot of players that know one another. There's connections through the coaching ranks a lot of times too. And it's all good for basketball. I think it's helped promote basketball in the state. That's one person's opinion."

Bo, obviously you've got Green Bay this week and Milwaukee next week, teams that you play every year, but, you know, they play here more often than you guys will play at their place. Just can you talk about the philosophy of perhaps not playing Green Bay or Milwaukee a one-for-one or a two-for-one type deal?

"Well, we already went over that years ago, so to rehash it would just be the same old, same old. So it all has to do with scheduling. We need X number of home games every year. You can go back to the notes from years ago. I'm not talking about that now."

Coach, you have five more home games in this six-game stretch. Do you think that this is instrumental in gaining confidence for the younger players, the less experienced players?

"Well, I think there are times where if you play more home games it can be more beneficial down the road. Sometimes it isn't all by design. Sometimes it's just get what you can when you can. We knew we'd have games away from the Kohl Center, at least three early in the year. We've got two other away games in Wake Forest and Pitt.

"And so there are people that play a lot more home games than we do. Some people never leave home. They either play in some big gym in the area or big facility in a bigger city and the rest of them at their own place. So we do have a stretch of home games, and, like I said, it isn't always by design. It's just sometimes how it plays out and how you can get games."

Tucker is your leader in free throw attempts, yet he's only shooting 57 percent from the charity stripe. Is this at all a cause for concern?

"Well, I don't know. Free throw shooting just seems to be so streaky at times for some people. And, you know, he went through a stretch last year where he hit just about everything and other times maybe not. So it's something that's a little streaky. Hopefully he'll have his, he'll be very consistent here in the future. That's all you can hope for. He practices. He works at it. It's just free throws are something where you have to, there's a break in the action, you go to the line, and it's just you, the ball and the rim, and you've got to knock them down. But he's been streaky."

Audio file 2 (3:52)

Coach, can you talk about DeAaron (Williams') development now that he's had some in-game action?

"We've always said that in practice if you keep showing things and you can contribute and break through, there are some games where there are certain guys that we have that are better match-ups on the floor for what the other team happens to bring to the table. So some games, some guys might get two minutes, some games they might get 15. It's all part of how it plays out and you get what you earn. I've never given somebody something they didn't earn."

You know, your program, Marquette, and UW-Green Bay all have top-flight in-state freshmen on their rosters this year. And 15 years ago, it'd be lucky if one of them had an in-state kid that was going to play much as a freshman. Now does the better basketball being played at the college level create more interest and thus produce more talent at the high school level or is it something else?

"No, the chicken-and-the-egg theory, as anybody who's got the pen in their hand or doing the report, so whatever comes first, I don't know. All I know is, as a professional, I get to do what I'm doing in the state of Wisconsin for X number of years. While I'm doing that, I'm going to promote basketball as hard as I can for as long as I can because it's a great game for people to learn things about life and competition.

"And there are a lot of high school coaches out there that have the same philosophy I do. They're going to coach, and they're going to teach, and they're going to work life's lessons through a game. And the more they're playing it and the higher the level and the better the coaches get as instructors, the better basketball becomes and that's been an evolution in this state.

"I've only been here 30, this will be my 31st year, so it's been evolving, and that's great. I think it all leads to better basketball and better competition, and that's why we compete against the state schools. But 15 years ago, there were some top freshmen at Platteville I think you're forgetting about."

How has it evolved? How has it, in those 31 years, what are some of the biggest changes you've seen for the better or for the worse?

"Well, I've answered that many times. A lot of coaches in basketball only coach basketball now, where 30, 40 years ago, guys were coaching two or three sports. There are better facilities at schools. There are better, high school coaches have, like us having to practice at the Nicholas Johnson here. There are times where maybe your facility you can't use. School districts have built better facilities for players and competitors in different sports. Those are all things that have contributed."

Coach, how is Tucker adjusting to wearing the face mask and about how long is he going to be wearing that?

"I really don't know. Can't answer that because I'm not wearing it, but you'd have to ask him. I think he was thinking a little bit about the "Phantom of the Opera" deal though, a little half mask here and a half, I don't know. I couldn't answer that."

Audio file 3 (5:30)

Is practicing free throw shooting different than any other part of basketball? And so as when you're on the floor in a game and there's a foul called, you actually have a chance to maybe listen or look or look around you, whereas, you know, everything else, you know, just kind of goes the flow of the game. Do you understand my question? Is it any different than any other part of the game as far as practicing that?

"Well, you just get your mechanics, mentally believe that when you step up there that you're fixing on a target and deliver. It's, these guys have been through this from the time they were playing bitty league, playing pee-wee, whatever they call it in towns where they come from.

"So most of the players that are playing at our level have been at the line in crucial situations and had to make free throws, where the game was on the line or whatever. So it's still the mechanics, and you've got guys that can shoot pretty well in practice but not everybody shoots well in games. But I think in life it's kind of the same way too. People talk a good game until they've got to deliver. Then when they've got to deliver, it isn't quite the same."

Bo, obviously Ray is your one senior on the team. And I'm just wondering from a, you know, a lot of times when people talk about this team and leadership, Alando is the, you know, probably the first guy that people, you know, mention. I'm just wondering from a leadership standpoint, how does Ray kind of fit in there, is he more of a quiet guy that doesn't maybe say as much or just can you talk about, you know, Ray from a leadership standpoint.

"Ray has been there every day working hard, trying to get his niche. And he's put himself in a position where there are things that he's doing very well and there still are times where there's some match-up difficulties for the type of player that he might be playing defensively. So he'll lead. He'll work it and mention things to guys.

"But I think you've got to remember that even though Tucker is listed as a junior, he's still been here the same number of years as Ray, and Alando is, you know, when we talk about his leadership, he's a little more excitable that way. But it isn't that Ray's not doing the things that people can admire. He's doing plenty of that. He's working extremely hardand doing it by example more so than by what he says."

And you mentioned, I think you touched on defensive match-ups. But at this point is he a little farther long offensively than defensively or vice versa?

"On both ends he's doing all right. There's just some players or some types of players that he's got to work at some things in order to be on the floor defensively against."

Joe Krabbenhoft looked for his shot a little bit more the other night. Can you just talk about his development and what it might mean to him to have a couple shots go down for him from a confidence standpoint?

"If they don't go down, doesn't mean if you're open that you don't shoot. We've got a theory on offense that if you get open, he wouldn't be on the floor if I didn't think he could make the shot, so you shoot it. And he hasn't turned down any open looks. I don't think any of our guys turn down open looks. But it might not be in the timing of the offense. It might not be in the position that they feel comfortable with. There might be something else that they're looking for. But I've never worried about that. I'll tell them if I don't want them to shoot."

Bo, Green Bay's Ryan Tillema was a player you had some interest in possibly bringing here. What did you like about him and what kind of player is he?

"I've never talked about other guys that way and anybody that's playing in this state or any other Division I program, obviously they have some talent. Over the years I've had a chance to be a part of a lot of lives of guys on the basketball court or through basketball, and those are really the only guys I can talk about.

"I don't, if you've noticed, I don't talk about other guys other than say they're good players and good people. But it's just not my nature. So Ryan would fit into that category, good player, good person. I admire anybody that can, from the time they're young work at something, whether it's in music, in academics, in combination athletics, academics and get a scholarship. More power to them, and Ryan is one of those guys."

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