Ryan Addresses the Media

After defeating Michigan State 57-42 last week, head coach Bo Ryan addressed the media at his weekly press conference. He discussed last week's game and took a look at the week ahead.

QUESTION #1: You talk about Penn State since Geary Claxton went out against you guys, and they've, after initial shock, they've come back to play some pretty good basketball down the stretch.

BO RYAN: Yeah, they have, and to their credit, they changed some things they were doing offensively. When you're missing somebody like him, it does affect what you're doing, but you have some strengths. They've got quickness in the back court now, compared to the past few years, in Pringle and, help me out here, the other guard, Battle, besides the three-point shooters, Morrissey and Walker, they're getting some. Cornley is so tough. He's a tough matchup.

Yeah, they got, they're, they got a lanky post player that can do some things defensively, and they found a way to compete with that group. And if you look at the first half against Minnesota, for those that didn't see it, I don't know, maybe Michigan State yesterday shot it as well from three, but it just seemed like they didn't miss. So they made up for what they didn't have in a way to where they're competitive. I know they'd like to have more on the left hand side, but who doesn't.

QUESTION #2: Coach Izzo, after the game, called Joe the bread and butter guy, the glue guy of your team. What do you make of those statements, those compliments?

RYAN: I don't know. It depends on if he was an economics major and he was talking about guns and butter that go with the bread or, only the econ majors would know what I'm referring to here. You know, a lot of things have been said about Joe, and they're all true. He's that kind of guy. He's the kind of guy everybody wants on their team. If I'm playing pickup, I'd pick up Joe, if I'm choosing. And because I was the little point guard, I got to choose a lot in those pickup games, so I'd say, I'll take Joe. He would be one of the first you'd choose, so. I'm glad he's with us.

QUESTION #3: How useful is having a couple extra days off this time of year?

RYAN: Well, I don't know. I spent most of the time, I don't know if you guys heard, but probably the greatest coach of all time had an injury here, and a fall, and broke a bone. You guys did hear about that, right? So I told the team that, and of course, right away, they go, oh, yeah, Coach Wooden. I said who? I said, no, Kelly Ryan broke her leg brushing snow of our daughter's car. She only coached one year, youth soccer, undefeated, championship. The guys thought it was funny, if you were in the locker room.

But anyhow, what did I do over the weekend? Tried to help out around the house. So I don't, we'll find out how useful it is when we play. Hopefully, for the players, they got in a chance to see Henry, because we had some guys nicked up a little bit that needed some tender loving care. Henry has been known to give that for the players to make them feel better physically. So if you're better physically, then you feel better mentally, hopefully that helped.

She broke her fibula.

QUESTION #4: Bo, as someone who has won a national championship, do you feel you're closer to winning one here than you've been since you've gotten here?

RYAN: You know, I don't know. It's, never thought about it that way. Just you got to get, you got to be playing well at the end of the year, you got to win six games. In Division 3 it was five for three of them, I think six for one of them. If you're playing well, and you get a few breaks, you know, how does a George Mason get to the Final Four? How does anybody get to the Final Four to play in a championship game? Final Four means you've got two games to play. The irony is, in Division 3, we never talked about it that way. It was kind of like, okay, we've got two more wins to get the national championship.

If you're in it, you can win it, and I'm not the first one to say that. So are we closer or whatever? If you get hot, you get a couple guys that are really shooting well from three-point range, that's how that group almost got there in '05, Hanson shooting it well, Sharif Chambliss shooting it well. Zach had a couple good efforts. Mike, of course, that group. But I think you got a chance. Defensively, our guys buy into what it takes. You've got to play hard on each possession.

And you look at UCLA play, they play hard on every possession. They're a pretty good team. Teams that I saw over the weekend, Washington State plays hard on every possession. Stanford has got the two bigs that defensively made it tough say for Tony's team. Can our bigs make it tough for other teams to score? I don't know. I just like where we are right now and I'm thinking Big 10. I'm not thinking anything past that. But the nice part is, players always get a chance to show, if it's possible.

So what I think, I'm always thinking we can get the next one. So once you get into the tournament, if you keep thinking you can get the one you're playing, then, yeah, you got a chance, but so do 64 other teams.

QUESTION #5: You got the Big 10 tournament and, obviously, the NCAA tournament too, but how important is winning the regular season Big 10 title to you?

RYAN: Well, it's first, so here's what's first. This is the first thing where they allow you to cut down nets or to celebrate a championship or. You know, there's in-season tournaments, Hawaii, Virgin Islands, whatever. There's those types of tournaments, but the first real and the one that was significantly the most important when college athletics first started was win a conference championship, or else it would have been the other way around. Don't have conferences, just have a national championship.

But the public ought to wake up and go, wait a minute, wait a minute. It was conference championships first, win your region. Then somebody had the idea getting teams together and playing for the national championships. So how important is the conference championship? It's the most important, because it's what we're in right now.

QUESTION #6: Bo, your seniors have a chance to be the winningest class in Wisconsin basketball history. Do the wins define this class to you?

RYAN: Well, you'd have to ask each and every individual player what's most important to them. Who was it that said, Matt, was it you? They asked a guy from Michigan State, over your four years, what's the best thing that's ever happened, and it floored the person that told me. The guy says we beat Wisconsin last year. And this guy goes, who'd ever thought that some student athlete from Michigan State would say beating Wisconsin would be the most important. So you got to ask individual players. I'm sure that, for that young man, he's probably the only one that would say that was the highlight of the last four years. So you'd have to ask the players what they think is the most important or what they've cherished the most or what identifies them.

I just think this class has done an unbelievable job of coming together collectively, in which we said, early in the year, we go for this team to win, it's got to be done by numbers, by the group, and they've done that to this point. And we'll see what happens with the rest of the season. I just want them to be proud of when they're, every young man I've ever coached though wanted to walk away going I learned something. This was a great experience. I've enriched my life, made great friends, persevered, handled this, handled that, survived, whatever terms you want to use, and use what they take.

In talking to Steve Shoalwater(?) when they beat Vincent, you know, there's a guy that played for me that almost never got to play for me. He came a long way and became one of the best players down at Platteville. I talked about Pat Murphy last year, he's back in it, and what he did he take from playing with us at Platteville? I don't know, but he seems to have taken the good, and he gets to pass that on to the players that are playing for him. For them at Monroe, at Germantown, whatever high school, and they get a chance to play.

I just told those guys when they come in the state tournament, I hope they have straight lines on the floor. The coaches in the league laugh at us. They go, what were these guys smoking when they put this floor together, because the free throw line, the half court line is never lined up properly. So we were joking on the phone about, hey, Steve, I hope your players understand that, because they were here for the team tournament too, Monroe was here too for the team tournament that we have in the summer, and they joke about our floor.

You know, there's gaps in it. There's, the lines aren't straight. I'm like, hey, but we're getting a new one next year, so all that's going to be taken care of, because I worry about our guys sometimes diving across the floor. There's the little opening. So I'm the kind of guy that went out there and dove and rammed my hand across, the players didn't see me, by the way, because I don't dive like I used to. But anyhow, I just told them I hope they get straight lines when they play.

Right, Lis, we got to get a new floor. That thing is unbelievable. That's like the worst.

QUESTION #7: Bo, you kind of stole or answered part of what I wanted to ask you about. RYAN: About the floor?

QUESTION #7: Not about the floor, but about your seniors and what you hope. Is there anything you want to add in terms of what you hope, you know, a player, a senior, gets from playing for you, you know, what you hope they get out of that experience?

RYAN: Well, always remember, players aren't playing for you. They're in a group, a collection, of people who have come together for a common purpose. So I happen to be in a coaching position, and there are other coaches on the staff. There's other people on the staff that help quite a bit. We're all in this thing together. And it amazing though in life how some groups take a little bit more out of their experiences than others. I'm telling you right now this group has not been cheated. They grab things as they're going around. You know, they're on that merry-go-round, and for those that are old enough to remember, you reach up for a little brass ring, and they're trying. They're reaching. They're pushing their limits, and that's what I really like about this group.

QUESTION #8: Bo, you've got a first place team. Has having so many games on the Big 10 Network hurt you in any way this year, do you think, maybe in terms of exposure? Have recruits been able to watch your games, things like that?

RYAN: I think they have, for the ones that are able to get it. Down in Texas, the young man down there says he sees all of them. The only thing that might hurt us a little bit is having those late games when you're on the road and trying to get back for classes. That is a problem. And not only classes, but you also practice the next day. So your timing is, the time is valuable. When TV first started being a factor, way back when I was an assistant here, and Coach Knight made the comments about TV and getting back late and what they're doing to the players, I think, I think exposure-wise we still get plenty, but I think it's just the time on those late games that I don't know if they can ever change it or if we can work through it or do something about it.

The concept is obviously very good. I mean, I think the conference, because there's other conferences that are trying to do it, so it can't be all bad. Andy, you're laughing. Did I cut into the, did you have another question? I saw you had the mic though. It's like the spoon, for those that grew up in families where if you had the spoon, you were allowed to talk at the table. Now tell me there's not somebody in here that used to have that with their family. No? If you had the spoon in your hand, you were allowed to be the speaker. Maybe because the Ryan's talk a lot that it was just a problem in our family. I don't know. All right, who's got the spoon? Go ahead.

QUESTION #9: You're talking about Platteville, and you're talking about your seniors. Where would Tanner have been on one of your Platteville teams? Would he have . . .

RYAN: I got my all time, my all time scout players, my all time scout captains. It's funny that you're bringing this up about Tanner. At Platteville, Sol Phillips, the all time scout player. He actually believed, as I told him for four years, that he was one injury away from being the starting point guard, and he believed that for four years. He was ready. And it's true. Matt Ryan at UW-M, all time captain of the scout team, and right here, Tanner Bronson, all time captain of the scout team, and that doesn't mean anything other than every day he came ready to do the job.

And when he's on the bench, he's coaching. When he's sitting there during the game, you think I kneel down just because whatever. Actually, I try to kneel down in front of Tanner and wait for him to tell me who to put in and what the other team is going to run. I'm kidding about putting in, but he knows what the team is going to run, and he'll yell it out. Our coaches do too, but that's pretty good. Tanner is pretty sharp.

QUESTION #10: Would he have been a pretty good . . . guard for you at Platteville? Would he have gotten some . . .

RYAN: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And so would have Matt, and so would have Sol if he wasn't playing behind Ernie Peevie(?), one of the best ever. We had a big win over Oral Roberts, by the way, North Dakota State. That was a big win.

QUESTION #11: Bo, just out of curiosity, what are you doing around the house that you perhaps hadn't had to do before with Kelly laid up? RYAN: I keep the wheels on the, Kelly is getting around the house. Thank goodness we have hardwood floors. She's got one of those office chairs with the wheels. I keep the wheels oiled. I oiled those before I left. You know, sometimes it's, Kelly has a lot of friends. I don't have a lot. But Kelly has a lot of friends, and they're bringing meals by. How about that? So we got meals coming, so I don't have to cook. That's the only, I'm answering your question by saying I don't have to cook because there's, food's available. We got the, Brenna and Mairin went out and got about four, five more boxes of cereal. We won't be having eggs and bacon, but a lot of cereal. But she's a trooper. She's handling it pretty well.

QUESTION #12: Okay, Bo, two questions. One, how did anyone get the spoon away from your dad? And second . . .

RYAN: I can answer that.

QUESTION #12: . . . secondly, could you just talk brief, very briefly, about your impressions of your three other seniors, the three who are in your rotation and what they've shown you in their career?

RYAN: Yeah. You know, if you take each one of them separately, I could say a bunch of things, but when you do it collectively, it's probably a little easier, but I'll go separately.

Greg was a guy coming in high school, the injury that he had set him back some. And when you have what he had, and that operation and the whole thing, he's come back from that. He's handled some things, that he's talked about publicly, with how he feels every day to give us what he's given right now. So I, I mean, I just love to watch people grow in those kind of areas. He's more mature, more disciplined, more focused, and he feels he has something to offer, and I think that's good, because when you're done playing basketball, you know, as a father, as a community member, as a worker, whatever job he ends up taking, I want him to have that same feeling of I'm a contributor. I'm somebody that can help.

Brian, we've talked about Brian so many times, in so many ways, I don't know if there's really anything left to be said other than what you see is what you get and look what he's accomplished, considering the other things that have happened to him personally and away from his own personal life.

And then Michael, for the competitive drive that he's had, the fact last year he was known as a defensive player, he didn't take a back seat. He was very important to this team. Some people said, well, you know, Michael kind of took a back seat. He didn't take a back seat. And this year, he's in the driver's seat. He's just doing so many things to help this team win because I still have yet to see the day that Mike comes to practice, the hill, weightlifting, any, where he doesn't just go all out. I've never seen him not do that.

So you take those three things coming into this time period, and if they can just keep the ideals that made them who they are right now, continue to do what they're doing, and they'll leave here, I would think, with a very positive feeling about what they've been a part of. I think they've been a part of something pretty special, and it's early yet.

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