BO RYAN: But those lows are highs.
QUESTION #1: Yes, the lows are highs, yep. Anyway, can you tell me what separates this defense a little bit from your past defenses and, you know, allowed them to shut down opposing offenses the way they did?
RYAN: Well, there's a lot of reasons. It just doesn't start with one person, but, you know, I don't think enough credit is given to what's say a Greg Stiemsma gives us off the bench. Sometimes people look at minutes and judge a person's play, but, you know, when you bring Greg in, and you've had Brian or Marcus on somebody, and then bring Stiemsma in, that's kind of discouraging to some guys thinking, well, wait a minute. Now they're bringing this guy in to play me.
And I think some of the other guys, the way they cover for one another is the key to how this group has played defensively, because we're not trying to hold the ball. It's not like we're taking 30 seconds off every possession. We go through possessions where we shoot it within seven seconds. We go possessions 15 seconds. And at times it takes us 30, 32 to get a good look at the basket. So I, it's just been mainly guys picking up for one another.
And I don't know how the regular season ended, I forgot to ask Brian, but somebody brought it up over at the overtime . . . did we finish the regular season as the, how did we finish the regular season defensively?
RYAN: Yeah, it was first? Okay. So they just took care of business.
QUESTION #2: You mentioned possessions. Is that almost a defensive stat more than an offensive stat? I know the offense controls the number of possessions in a game, so to speak, but does that kind of show how the offense has to work in concert with the defense to make it all work?
RYAN: Well, this group didn't create as many turnovers as some of the other teams that we've had, but shooting percentage-wise, I would have to think this would be the lowest. But again, I haven't checked with my guru. How does this rank as far as field goal percentage of the other teams, Brian? Okay. But how about over like the past X number of years or, you know how you guys always throw those out there, you and Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas
Okay. So I think shooting percentage-wise, I think our team has done a good job of maybe getting teams to not have as many of the good looks as they would like to have. Yet I look at film and see guys wide open and not hit the shots. That bothers a coach, but there haven't been a lot of wide open shots that the other teams have had.
QUESTION #3: Your team didn't have a record amount of steals or anything either, so it was more . . .
RYAN: Not only that, we never had an All Big 10 Player, we didn't have a Big 10 Player of the Week during the Big 10 season. That's something else Brian is putting his intern to work on, to see if that's every happened to a team that's won the outright championship and never once having a Player of the Week, during the conference season.
And the only reason Brian got it that one week is because nobody else played New Year's. Nobody else in the Big 10 played. Brian was our only guy to get Big 10 Player of the Week, and I think there were three games played that week, maybe four.
QUESTION #3: But getting back to . . .
RYAN: But it goes along with what you're saying. There's a lot of buts.
QUESTION #3: The bottom line of this defense is you just don't give teams good looks. I mean, that's basically the bottom line of your defense of what you're trying to do.
RYAN: I think everybody tries to do that. Some . . . are better than others for teams, but I think we're all trying to do that, not give teams good looks. Right?
QUESTION #4: I guess speaking of awards, you know, this afternoon or this evening, are you expecting your guys to be rewarded in some sense when, you know, these all conference teams are announced?
RYAN: I think our players would tell you they got their award and their reward, and that was a Big 10 Championship. So you know, the other things that happen, that's nice, but I think the first thing that they wanted was what they accomplished. And of course, all athletes want to go to the next stage and the next stage and try to get something else. So I don't think too many of them are worried about what's coming out later this afternoon or tonight. They don't strike me as a group that's worried about that. They're worried about Adidas sent Big 10 Tournament shoes, and they're in there trying those on now. That's the only conversation I heard. What do you guys think of these? And I'm thinking about the one pair that I had for four years of college, and our guys get another pair for the Big 10 Tournament. How about that? I don't know.
QUESTION #5: Also, you know, these last couple of weeks, well, you had two games last week, but, you know, you had a week off or a few days off before getting the Penn State game, and now you've got another stretch where you've got a few days off where guys maybe can heal up a little bit. I guess I'm just wondering your thoughts on, you know, these last two weeks and maybe what they're doing for your team from a physical standpoint in terms of being able to recover a little bit.
RYAN: Well, one of the keys is that we have remained in pretty good physical condition and shape, but, you know, you want that to continue. But you know, there are days like today that we'll do skill work, and some lifting, conditioning, that way, not chasing screens, not running into screens, not putting bodies on people. Because our guys, when they practice, they practice hard, like everybody else, elbows flying, knees to knees, knees to a thigh. There's a lot of contact out there. So on a day like today, it's going to be, you know, more skill work, shooting, free throws, lifting, and conditioning. And then tomorrow, we'll start on preparing.
We have three days, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Tuesday will be one team for the scout team. Wednesday will be the other team, and then Thursday we'll know who won by the time we practice. If that's what you're wondering, what we do this week.
QUESTION #6: One other thing on that note, in terms of days like today where you just kind of are able to go light, you know, since that Michigan State game, how many chances have you had to give your guys, you know, days like today where it's just lifting and really, you know, non-contact type things?
RYAN: Well, it's not a lot because we have those couple stretches where it seems like you never have a day. That's just, you know, Barry was over at the Overtime luncheon, and I said how many times in football, because we don't play a Thursday, Big 10, they don't have a Thursday night game or Friday. Everybody plays Saturdays, 90 some percent of the time, correct? And everybody gets the same number of days off. Everybody gets the same number of preparation days.
In basketball, it's not even close, in our league, because of TV. Some teams get a week, some teams get one day, when the other team gets four. Some teams get three when the other team gets one. I mean, it's all over the place when it comes to preparation that way. That's why I think what we do there's an advantage in not having 4 different defenses, 87 different plays. In basketball, you just do what Bob Jeter always told me the Packers did, have X number of things defensively they do, not a lot, just do them well.
I remember him telling me that back in the ‘80s. I don't try to do a lot of different things, I think because it's not always fair in the preparation time and come tournament time, and Big 10 Tournament you play the next day, but they are teams that you've already played, so there's somewhat of an advantage. But then you get into the NCAA Tournament, and you're playing a team with one day preparation after a hard fought battle the day before. How much can you really do on the court the day in between?
So you pretty much are going to play with what you came in with, aren't a whole lot of new plays or different schemes.
QUESTION #7: Go back to the defense again, what you just said and how it relates to that. Have you kept your defense pretty much the same defense you had at Platteville or, other than the press, that part of it isn't here, obviously, but have you tweaked it much or is pretty much the same?
RYAN: You know, the chasing that we got into in the ‘80s, before a lot of Division I teams were chasing three-point shooters, came as a result of in Division III, there's a lot of real good three-point shooters that weren't athletic enough or big enough to get a Division I scholarship, but don't play horse with them, as I've always said. So we were, I'm not saying we invented, no such thing, but I know we were doing that before a lot of other teams, chasing shooters. So we've been doing that for a long time, hedging, either smothering or hedging, hard hedge, soft hedge, flatten out, switch, depending on the shot clock, things like that. It's not real intricate, but it takes work and timing and guys believing in one another and playing off of one another defensively.
QUESTION #8: Was Rainy a man-to-man guy, is that all he played?
RYAN: We played both. We played the Jack Craft(?) Villanova 1-2-2 where I was at the top and did a lot of sinking from the top. Got a lot of my steals on people going baseline and trying to dump it into the middle, into the paint. He always thought I had pretty quick hands. Wasn't because I ever took anything that I shouldn't have had, but I tended to get my hands on a lot of that stuff. So he would play this 1-2-2, and then tell me the things I had to do, so that's my experience in high school and college for the coach that I played for, but we also played man-to-man, and we did box and one on Reggie Jackson, and I played Reggie. Jeff Petri, who ended up scoring a lot of points, we had a box and one on him, and I got to chase him around. So I had a lot of fun doing that, but I have not coached a box and one.
QUESTION #9: You got a lot of the chasing concepts just from facing Reggie?
RYAN: You know, he's a pretty a good scorer, but we used to kill them in basketball. They killed us in football. Can you imagine trying to tackle him? Baseball was tight. We split. But yeah, Reggie, he was basically the only scorer . . . had, so. We used to do a pretty good job on him. I had a lot of help.
QUESTION #10: How much of your man concepts from people like Bob Knight's defenses and . . .
RYAN: Everything is from Knight's clinic man-to-man wise. The concepts of the five guys playing three, everything that I've done defensively has been off of that clinic in '72. And I kept saying, you know, if I get a head job, this is what I would do, this is what I would do, and the more I looked at it, I just thought that we could hang our hats on it, because there's a lot of zone principles in the man-to-man that we play, and I always liked that concept.
QUESTION #11: Some conventional wisdom that I've heard about college basketball is that it's very hard for any team to beat another team three times in one season, and I'm wondering, do you buy that argument and are you thinking about that as your team prepares to face Michigan or Iowa, who you have defeated twice already.
RYAN: It is hard to beat a team three times. And it doesn't matter what the scores were or anything else, and I've got proof of that, both ways. You know, it just, because you have the element of your players. There isn't a coach that changes their preparation very much, and we know how good the other team can be. We know what they present. Players sometimes, when they've beaten a team, it's usually from that aspect that sometimes players will underestimate the ability of the other team, but you won't find coaches underestimating that ability of the other team to be on the left-hand side.
Ask high school coaches. It happens every year. Chester is still alive though. I had all the players last week whose teams were not dancing still to do 20 crunches if your team was no longer playing because, who had just been knocked out? Well, Flowers had to do them, Tanner, but Randolph, Memorial, Oshkosh West, it was right when everybody was coming to State Tournament. And the Minnesota guys were like, our tournament is a week later this year, so they didn't have to do them. But it's tough to beat a team three times.
QUESTION #12: Kind of a different subject, because it's in the news right now and you're someone who has been on a lot of committees and seen a lot of rules changes over the years, what is the rule, why can you not shoot over a backboard that hangs out onto the court? I think it might even happen close once this year with Michael. Is that something you'd like to see changed?
RYAN: I'll tell you why the rule is in effect. 1960's, on the convention center and then the Spectrum, Wilt Chamberlain would stand on an out of bounds play right in front of the rim. The out of bounds guy would throw the ball over the backboard, Wilt Chamberlain dunked it. The rule was changed because of Wilt Chamberlain, as were a lot of rules, that it seems everybody else gets credit for now. So they said that a ball being thrown in, let alone being shot, and then the thing about a ball being shot over the backboard, I got a son that's mastered it from the corners of all the away games that we play. You don't want to play horse with Matt. He's got more shots than, I mean, there are guys that can make those.
There's a shooting drill that Coach Close does where you shoot off the corner of the court, and if you have the proper arc and rotation, you can shoot just off the corner and finesse or swish a basket. I don't know, the out of bounds play, definitely, you shouldn't be able to throw it over the backboard because there would be an advantage. A shot, I have no idea, because that adds a degree of difficulty. But if it's a rule, then you got to enforce it, so. If it's not a rule, then you don't have to worry about enforcing it.
So are you asking do I want it changed or would I like to see it changed? The rules committee is something I haven't been on yet. But you know what? It doesn't matter to me. I'm not going to have my guys shooting from behind the backboard. So it wouldn't matter. Just tell me though, before the season starts, when you can and can't do, and that's all we ever ask for is just tell us the rules. Never get in a game where you don't know the rules.
QUESTION #13: Bo, I know you're not a team MVP guy, but how difficult would it be for you to select a team MVP on this team?
RYAN: There is no way this year. There is no way. And you would say defensively, Michael Flowers, but you know what, Krabbenhoft, Landry, what they've added defensively, Trevon has gotten better defensively. There weren't too many people thinking, when Duke was doing what they were doing to us and we got our lineups kind of disjointed and everything else, who would have said that Wisconsin would have led the nation in defense by the end of the year. Michael was always the steadying force there though, but Joe's better defensively. Marcus played guys bigger than him and go right, so then you go, okay, offensively then who was the MVP. Can't do that either. So I don't know. I don't know where to start on that one. That's why I'm glad I don't do it at our banquets or our receptions or whatever it is that we have.
QUESTION #14: How much is there to be gained or lost this weekend?
RYAN: Well, I don't think you really lose anything. There are coaches, I'm telling you, they won't publicly, but have said, you know, if we get bumped in the first round, if they're already in the NCAA Tournament, I know coaches that go, yeah, afterwards, privately. My guys can get healthy. We can do this. We can get, but you know, I want to think like a 20-year-old. I'd rather have my guys playing. So I'd like to see our guys play three games, because every game they play, I think they have a chance to learn something.
So I don't think we can lose anything. We won't lose our self-respect, our dignity, our belief that we can still play, but come tournament time, 99% are left a home anyhow, so for most, for obviously the vast majority it ends anyhow too soon. But I just hope these guys can play as long as they can.
QUESTION #15: Bo, Wquinton Smith joined the team, there was no guarantee it was going to be anything maybe longer than this season, but what do you hope he's been able to take away from this experience and what does he gain from being a part of this, do you think?
RYAN: Well, I think he's the best one that can answer that, but if you see, when you go to put a guy into a game, and when I said Q, as soon as I say Q, he got up, his eyes were this big, and that look is something that's so priceless. They can do those commercials, a hot dog this, a pop that, but this happening, priceless. Just him getting up off the, if anybody saw that, I don't know if there's any video or anybody has that, it was something else. And what he does in practice now and some of the threes that he hit when they were doing, when he was . . . or Lucas, he's, you know, it's not all bad being on a scout team because nobody ever tells you you took a bad shot.
I think he's gained from it, and I think our players have gained and our program gained from having him involved in it. He's just, he's happy to be there, but not resting on any, huh, hey, I'm a part of the team, but he's every bit as important on this team as any other 15, of the other total of 16, but the other 15 guys. He's right there with them. That would be a good question to ask him, what he's gained from it.