Monday press conference: Bo Ryan

Wisconsin men's basketball coach discussed his team as it prepares for the Big Ten Tournament

Audio file 1 (4:55)

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The other day after the game, Alando talked about, he was asked about, you know, just being tired and the quick turnaround. And he talked about being more mentally tired than physical. And I guess I'm wondering, as a coach is that a legitimate concern that you have with guys at this time of the year, and if so, how do you combat that?

"Well, you can't combat it because the schedule is what it is and that's the way it works out. Fatigue begins in the mind, I've always thought. I mean, your body is going to get tired, but adrenaline can usually overcome a lot of that. But if you think you're tired, you are. We didn't do some things as well as we normally do.

"In talking to another coach in the league who's been through this before too and talking to him this morning, there's no question that, and coaches have known this and players have known it, and the main thing is to talk about the players, not the coaches, because they're the ones that have to play the game on the floor. But defensively, this coach referred to us as one of the best chase teams and our chase was not very good.

"And if that's not very good, then guys are going to get open on some screens or coming off of some screens. And that's what we've hung our hat on defensively for years and that wasn't as good as it should have been. And if it was because of the turnaround, the bus ride, the this, the that, nobody is going to give that as an excuse, but it is what it turned out to be.

"It was not a very good performance in the second half. And if a player says that he was mentally tired, then you run with it. You don't dispute it. You can't debate it. But now we've got to get ready for the next opponent. So I don't know if you asked me a question or you just wanted to tell me that Alando told you that he was tired."

No. I guess I was wondering just in terms of, you know, as a coach, do you do things, are there things that you do that maybe to try to prevent, you know, from that mental fatigue, you know, from that, you know, from that becoming an issue.

"Well, and another reason why maybe mentally fatigued and physically fatigued is that Iowa was bringing it. That was as tough a game energy-wise on every possession, and we were matching them. Iowa played Wednesday. We played Thursday. Does 24 hours make a difference? Does all that stuff that people talk about a lot, all our guys know is they had to play it. So you get into the mix and you see what happens.

"But that was, and seniors, emotionally, everything else, that was a hard-fought game. And when you're coaching, you're right down on the floor and you can see on the screens, you can see on the block-outs, you can, that was an extremely physical game and an energetic game in that both teams are running pretty good offense, running people off screens, making a lot of cuts. And that was a big test of endurance, and we came in on the short side of the endurance test there. Iowa won the endurance test. And by doing that, they won the game."

Coach, you said that now you've just got to look forward to Indiana. Are you going to use the Iowa game as something to learn from or are you just going to kind of forget about it and just, not forget about it, but kind of move on from there without showing the players the film, or are you guys going to go over that game?

"Oh, no. We'll go over the film, I mean, because there's a lot of good things and there's some nice things that we did. It isn't just a film to show mistakes. Teachers don't teach and only talk to the students about their mistakes. When you do a review of a quiz when you teach in the classroom, you go over maybe some of the common mistakes that people made on it, but it also tells you the areas of strength and you don't want to get away from the areas of strength."

Audio file 2 (4:59)

Have you lodged a complaint with Barry Alvarez or have you talked to the Big Ten about the way you had to end your season with the, did you make a complaint about having to play two in three days on the road?

"There's nothing you can do about that. The last guy that did that coached his last game after it happened. Not coaching anymore. So you think I'm going to complain? Gene Keady had to do it last year his last two games, Illinois and here. And he's not coaching anymore. That's what I'm leading into there."

"Well, he's not coaching at Purdue anymore. So the rest of us, we're never going to say anything."

Coach, just your thoughts about playing Indiana in the first game, a team that you beat handily here at the Kohl Center not too long ago, but also a team that's on a four-game winning streak.

"Well, I don't know about handily and all that. I mean, I see where we were routed by Iowa and what was our score against Iowa? Was it like 66-52 or was that somebody else? (59-44) No. Okay. Good. See, now I got you right where I want you. What was our score here?

"Did we rout Iowa in that first game? That's amazing. So, we beat Indiana. We were on the left-hand side. They were on the right-hand side. You can't go by margin of score that says one team handled another team. We hit more shots. They weren't hitting shots. I don't even know what the final differential was. But you think we go into the next time we play a team thinking, oh, well, we handled these guys? Of course not. It's the next game.

"And we've got to go over their tendencies and we've got to do things like that. The media uses those terms for whatever fits or whatever you want to make an impression on, whatever you want to put into people's minds, so you say we handled them, you say this. I don't say it. We just get ready for the next game."

Bo, is there any question in your mind that, no matter what happens this weekend, you're in the NCAA tournament?

"I'm not even thinking about the NCAA tournament. And I don't know how those people think that make the decisions, Tom. I don't, I've never tried that. In Division III it was real simple, win the state conference. If you win the state conference at Wisconsin state schools, you go. And all those teams, once there was a couple more spots, oh, can we get two in, can we get two in. And I always said, well, win the league. So that's what we tried to do every year.

"Now this year they bumped it up to 59 teams and three schools went from the state colleges. I thought that was great. Now how can you have the Big Ten lead in RPI and be talked about the way it was, and the year they did the same thing with the ACC, the ACC got like seven teams in, correct? When the ACC had the highest RPI through the entire year, didn't they get seven in, a couple years ago when we got three? Okay.

"So if we lead in the RPI all through the year, I would think seven teams would be a nice number to have from an 11-team league, when I think there were seven teams from a nine-team league once, but I could be wrong. So I'll defer to the people that have the stats in front of them.

"So if there's seven teams, are we one of the top seven teams in the Big Ten? You'd like to be playing. Who wouldn't? There isn't a team of the 300 and some at the beginning of the year don't say, hey, boy, wouldn't that be nice. But I think with the RPI, strength of schedule, everything else, unless they change the math this year."

Audio file 3 (5:19)

Bo, you've gone on record I think last week in giving your thoughts on where Alando fits in in the Player of the Year race in the conference, and one of the criteria some people like to use is a player's value to their team. If you go by those guidelines, is there any question he should be the guy?

"We always prefer to have the guy who's made our team the best, I guess any coach that wouldn't push their player that's been the most inspirational, the best player, all-around player, everything else, I would think that any coach that didn't push that player from their team was trying to tell people that he was just a better coach, and I'm not doing that.

"I'm saying Alando is the most valuable player because he's done the most to help our team. But I also know that Alando knows that he's had some help, especially defensively, because you don't beat Ohio State and Minnesota, Penn State on the road when he's in foul trouble and doesn't get to play that much, you don't get to win those games without other guys on the team chipping in. So, and he appreciates that.

"And it's not that, he had a very, very difficult defensive game on Saturday for him, and people don't talk about his defense a lot. I've always appreciated his defense. He commits. He works hard at it. But if he's on record of saying he was mentally fatigued, then that accounts for the separation with (Adam) Haluska.

"When he guarded Haluska here and when Alando chases on screens, he's one of the best around. Michael Flowers, one of the best around, (Kammron Taylor). So, and that's something that we did not do a very good job of in the second half. The first half, we did an excellent job. You could see it on the game. Separation is a big thing when you're handling screens.

"But Alando, this is part of your question, this is the answer. Defensively, if he got a little behind, that's probably one of the reasons we take a bump along with other things, not just him or anything else because we don't do that. We don't take one guy and say, oh, this is why we, and you guys know that. But is he valuable to us, is he the most valuable? To me, yes."

Coach, where do you rank the, rank winning the Big Ten tournament championship in the realm of your preseason goals?

"Well, preseason, we just talk about trying to prepare the team to get ready to go play in the Big Ten, which means you handle the exhibition and the non-conference season, to handle your conference. And, again, I was asked this morning, and I would love to see us play 20 games and no Big Ten tournament, but that's never going to happen now. Once the Big Ten tournament was put into being, it's not going to happen.

"So I've always been a guy that's talked about the conference, and I'm not changing. From the time I played in the conference that I thought, only because we didn't get out much in Chester (Pa.), we thought our conference was the best conference in the world.

"And if you win our conference, now doesn't every high school kid, kids at Randolph think that their conference is the best conference. Do you know where Cambria-Friesland is, is what somebody would ask from another state, and you know where Upper Darby is, Lower Merion, you know. You probably never heard of them. Well, maybe you did with Kobe Bryant, with Lower Merion. But when you're in high school, you're thinking conference, boy, let's do this, because you had to win your conference to play in the state tournament.

"In Wisconsin, it's nice, everybody gets to play, so maybe that's why I've been a conference guy maybe more than people that grew up in some other states, because if you've grown up in Wisconsin, you always know you're playing postseason. You grow up where I did, the chances of playing postseason were slim. So your conference, what you did in your conference was the most important thing. Maybe that accounts for it. So where do I rank the Big Ten tournament? Right now it's the most important thing out there. It's next."

Where has Alando improved the most this year?

"Defensively he's better. Passing, you know, he's been able to catch the ball in the post or attack the paint and find people. He's done a pretty good job of that. Stronger with the ball when he gets it inside. And also as a leader."

Audio file 4 (4:02)

Bo, when you look at some of the bumps you've taken in the Big Ten recently, are there common denominators team-wise that you see in those things?

"I like the way our guys are executing and then it seems like when the opposition, you prepare, the assistant coaches have done a great job with the scout, we know what they're going to do, we know what they're going to do, and then sometimes if somebody is quicker, bigger, stronger, eventually they'll wear, they'll impose their will, especially on the road. And at home we've done that to people.

"So if this is the end of the year and we won three or four or all four, three of the four or all four of these games, like we did earlier in the year, it puts a whole different spin on things. So you've got to take the 16 games, don't under-react, don't overreact. And nobody finish the season on the two best away gyms in the league like our guys. What does that mean to our guys? Yeah, we knew we were going into tough situations, but we also know we want to finish in the top of the league."

With Indiana, it seems some people want to point to Mike Davis' coaching future as being something that's galvanized the team. Is there anything different that you see tangible on the court that they're doing better right now during this run they're having, or is it as simple as saying they're just playing with a lot more emotion because of their coach?

"If you go through the years and take a coach that this has happened to and towards the end, I remember talking to Brad Sellers when they won the NIT and he came to the all-star game in maybe Dallas, was it 1986. I think the Final Four was in Dallas, and getting a chance to talk to him, and how well, and that's back when the NIT, when the NCAA wasn't taking as many teams. I forget how many they were taking in '86. Tom, do you remember? Forty-eight maybe.

"But anyhow, you know, and they played well. Coach Miller was leaving. And I'm just trying to think of people who specifically you talked to and said, oh, yeah, we wanted to win it for him and we wanted, so, yeah, I'm sure emotions like that, they're talented. They've got players. That's a good team.

"You've got to remember what was being said about them November, December, and into January. What's changed? Okay, now what's happened is the coach is stepping down. But they can play. They can make shots. They've got one of the best big men in the country. What don't they have?

"So, but it's also been one of the reasons why our RPI is so high, because Indiana is Indiana, because of what they did in some games earlier in the year. They're just good and, like I said, I don't comment on coaches until after a season is over, but if that's all part of it, so be it. What we know is that 40 minutes between the lines is we've just got to do things better than them in order to get it done, in order to play again in the next game."

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