Defense is the Name of the Game for Ryan

Looking to go 3-0 in the Big Ten Conference when the Badgers face Northwestern (8-4, 0-2) on Wednesday, head coach Bo Ryan talks about the Wildcats' improved defense, UW's defense and the supposed target on the Badgers' backs.

Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan -

full transcript

QUESTION #1: Can you talk about what Northwestern is doing defensively, and how they're leading the Big Ten in steals and keeping teams below 40% shooting?

BO RYAN: "Well, they're still doing a good job, as they always have, of anticipating and taking away passing lanes with the ability to cover for one another. I mean, that's still on the ball defense, your next line of defense is the help and then the final phase of defense is closing out and making the recovery. So they don't give up a whole lot of second shots. I guess Michigan State got a few, but they'll get you to take shots that you don't necessarily feel that comfortable with a lot of times. You have to be patient, you have to make the ball fakes and you have to make the reads. And that's what they've been doing a pretty good job of this year, not letting people do that."

QUESTION #2: Where do you think you stand in terms of defense and what kind of strives, if any, do you think you guys are making?

RYAN: "Well, our half-court defense was doing pretty well. The problem is when you get four consecutive threes. The amazing thing is they ended up with a point per possession, and that's worth 12 points on 4 possessions. So I thought that was pretty good defense, considering that of those four, there wasn't one that was a wide-open look. You know, they were pulls in front of faces and hands, so it wasn't as if there was a drive and a kick and a wide-open shot by (Stanley) Pringle or (Talor) Battle. So if people are going to hit those, you've still got to try to make people put it on the floor, you've got to crowd them a little bit. We crowded them once and we fouled them. Something that I know Jordan (Taylor) would like to have back, but you don't get them back.

So against Michigan, I thought we did a good job of closing driving lines, because they're pretty athletic with the ball. They can scoot with it. And Penn State can, too. So I thought we did a very good job on Battle and Pringle. They have a great ability to penetrate, but their strength was they hit some really tough threes."

QUESTION #3: Do you think your guys kind of raised their play on the defensive end over the last few games?

RYAN: "I don't think the defensive end was down, so I don't know what you're referring to. I mean, not points per possession, that type of thing."

QUESTION #4: As a team you're shooting better than 38% from 3-point land. Has the extended distance of the 3-point shot made any difference at all this year?

RYAN: "Again, we've never talked about it. We never talked about it when the rule went in. The only thing we told the maintenance people was to paint the line further back, and that was the last time it was ever discussed, until you guys bring it up. So no, it's not."

QUESTION #5: Joe Krabbenhoft said that he feels like teams are giving Wisconsin their best shot because you guys are the defending Big Ten champs. Do you feel teams target Wisconsin this year because you're defending?

RYAN: "Well, you know, I thought they played us pretty hard last year, and we came in second the year before to Ohio State. I thought the year we came in fourth they played us extremely hard the next year. I think the fact that Wisconsin has been towards the top of the Big Ten, I think you're going to get that pretty much every year now. I haven't seen a big difference, but Joe can only speak for the last three years and now this year. But yeah, you keep listening on, when you have to, only because I didn't turn the volume down, that in order for the Big Ten to be good, Michigan has to be good and these other teams, you guys have all heard it. I don't know if there's one particular team or two that has to be good in our league for the Big Ten to be good, but, you know, still beating Wisconsin that's done some things in the past year, not conversation. You know, the way they talk about some teams in the league, you'd have thought they won the championship every year the past five, six years. And then you go, wait a minute… that team hasn't won the championship in ten years. So I don't know. I don't know what people talk about when Joe says they're giving their best. I think we get the best shot every night, but that's how coaches are supposed to think. Players better get used to it, and they better tighten those shoestrings a little tighter because, you know, we're going to get the best shot."

QUESTION #6: When you broke down the tape and looked at Pringle's points, was it a hot night more than it was a breakdown defensively?

RYAN: "They were pulls, pulls right in front of a defender right in front of them. They've shot those shots before, and the differential was a little bit different when they weren't going in. You better hope those were going in, or Penn State was in deep trouble."

QUESTION #7: I'm talking about from beginning to end, and not just during that juncture when . . .

RYAN: "Yeah. Guys were within distance. It wasn't as if we were off, letting him get his or saying, you know, he can't beat us from there. We've seen him beat people, and we've also seen him cold. But we weren't going to leave him alone, but we were there."

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