QUESTION: With five freshmen, can you talk about the accomplishment of achieving such a high team GPA?
RYAN: "I think the biggest thing, Mark, is they really made good use of the summer when they came in, all of them, and it was a group that stuck together, worked together and did a lot of things that way, and then had a really good summer, and it carried over into this past semester. And it is tough for freshmen. So, you guys know that have been through it, anybody that's been a freshman. So I think the summer really, really made it possible."
QUESTION: Do you think the regular fan, even the devout fan, understands truly what student athletes do besides just playing basketball games 30 times a year?
RYAN: "To be honest with you, I think most of them really don't care until it's a problem, until there's a negative, and then some people really accentuate the negative. Imagine that. It's just the nature of some people. Some people are petty, some people are not understanding, some people don't have their eyes open to what really goes on, and the good, the bad and the in between. But you know, it is what it is but that's what they're here for, so that's why to somebody like me, it's never been a surprise, because they're always striving. Just like if you get one on the left-hand side, you don't act like you've never been there. And if you get someone on the right-hand side, you don't act like you have no clue as to what you're doing. I mean, every day's a challenge, and you've got to go meet it. And I thought these guys seemed to be doing a great job of that, and balancing the things that were presented to them. So that's good.
But when I say people don't care, I mean, really, I think if you take, if I were to cross the street to a neighbor and say something to him, I think they would say, ‘Well, isn't that what those guys are supposed to be doing?' So when I say they don't care, I think most people assume that it's supposed to be a balance between the two, and (at the University of Wisconsin) it is very, very hard, and that's good. It's a good challenge."
QUESTION: Coach, some of the players are saying the best way to forget about the last game is just to get back out on the court and play the next one. Is it necessarily a good thing or a bad thing to have this weekend off for practice and no game?
RYAN: "My best answer, when a hypothetical comes like that is, it doesn't matter. I mean, you go to what's next, and I can't give you anything, I can't make up stuff. I think what I said the first couple years I was here, I would say right now. We put ourselves into a position where we play outstanding defense for 36 minutes. I mean it wasn't the defense necessarily as much as the offense coughing it up to give them the easy baskets. But we had our half-court five versus five set up. Our defense was not pretty good, it was real good, but it wasn't for 40. So that's like saying a team that plays a half well and doesn't play the other. So it's still the end result that goes down on a ledger sheet. So go to practice the next day. They went to practice the next day. If I ever catch anybody ever feeling sorry for themselves or coming to a practice too high about a big W or something, you know, I correct that. But we came to the next practice, and went over some things to get ready for Iowa. They were right to the point."
QUESTION: What are the main factors that Jordan Taylor and Rob Wilson have to address to get more playing time?
RYAN: "Well, that it's tough being a freshman in, not just the Big 10 but in any league. And the tough part is that when you get a game like we had in the last one, and two guys who are considered upperclassmen struggle, and for both of them to do it in the same game, that's tough. And Jordan and Rob are learning from those guys, because they're watching. They got a chance to be on the floor some. But still, it's a different level. And when that pressure came, who would you rather have out on the floor, you know? And so they're looking, they're learning and we went over the clips. We looked at spacing.
But what you do is, whenever you give somebody just a little bit of light, if you look at possessions. If we score on any one of those around the basket, Marcus (Landry's) two and Jason Bohannon's one, then you keep that little bit of a cushion. It makes all the difference in the world on what happens at the other end. Northwestern did an outstanding job of getting some points at the other end when Minnesota was stretched out, and it's real simple. Minnesota looks up at the scoreboard. Looks up. Wait a minute. That cushion's still there.
As our cushion kept going away, the way we came back against Michigan State twice and Tulsa, for example, or some other games, as you cut into a lead and things start to go one way, you have to go with your veterans. So Rob and Jordan will get time, but hopefully they're learning from situations like that what to get ready for as they're getting ready. It's one thing about getting ready, but what to get ready for."
QUESTION: How much do you think conditioning and having a short bench have an effect?
RYAN: "There were six or seven timeouts and that, no way. Fatigue-wise, no way. You're not going at a pace where you don't get a break. But unfortunately, we had to use some timeouts to prevent turnovers, but that also gave our guys a chance to come over, and you would think a chance to regroup, get settled. That didn't happen, but it isn't because they were tired on those turnovers. It was because of some situations where we just either mentally or physically, whatever it is, you just don't get it done. But at the offensive end, we convert on any one of those three, where we use pump fake.
All everybody wants to agonize over is people actually asked me, ‘Coach, do you realize that was goaltending?' And I say, ‘Well, what difference does it make?' Now you look on tape, the trail official never got down and couldn't see it. A team's pressuring, you extend, you get something going to the rim, sometimes it might be the distance. But the ball had touched the white line, and the kicker, though, is the walk at the end, after they secure the ball and the change of the pivot foot. But you can't see all that when there are a lot of bodies flying around and all those kind of things.
So I just tell people, don't agonize over one thing when you have a bunch of guys that just didn't get enough done, and you move on. But it wasn't from the fatigue for those guys. You've got to finish on some plays and you've got to keep that little bit of cushion. We've been there, we've done it where we get a little momentum, How the heck do you explain last year's game in the Big Ten tournament? How do you explain it? I never tried to. I never tried to act like we did anything where we were smarter than somebody. Never have. So you either get it done or you don't. But I'd rather not have people go where you're going, thinking that because they had plenty of rest. There are a lot of athletes that played decades ago that with the TV timeouts and all go, ‘Shoot, I'd have played 40 minutes if I were playing now'."
QUESTION: Do you stress fundamentals a little bit more after two losses like that?
RYAN: "I just do what I do, and I can't explain it. I'm just me. But you know, it's really tough. I don't listen. When I'm doing my clips and educational DVDs that we put together after games, I never listen. But when you've got a weekend where you're checking games out on TV and you're always trying to expand your knowledge and look at things, to have a guy like Jimmy Jackson say that we were shocked or surprised with the 1-3-1 zone pressure that Minnesota gave us. There are three guys in this room that come to every one of our practices, and actually pay attention. You don't read newspapers and stuff, and you know what we do. How much did we go against pressure to prepare for Minnesota knowing that that was their forte? We've only got them on tape doing it against six or seven other teams, where they turned the game around with their pressure. And at times, we used six guys on the defensive end. To say that somebody surprises a team when you're a former player, that's ridiculous. I've always been a guy who's been honest, so I'm just saying it's not really true. So if it's not true, then I usually address things. But you guys watch our practices. Did you see us go against any pressure when we did possessions? Yeah, right?"
QUESTION: Trevon Hughes' assist-to-turnover ratio was well over 2-1 until the last two games. Has he just hit a bit of a rough patch, do you think?
RYAN: "Yeah. How do you explain it? I wish I knew. And that's why forever young is a way to describe anybody that's in teaching and coaching. You've got to stay young that way, because you're going to see things that don't normally happen, or just when you think somebody might have it, and he still is a very good guard. Good city instincts to handle, but sometimes if you think that you can beat people one-on-one or one-on-two, that can get you in trouble. He beat three guys to win the game at Virginia Tech. Now do you think I get into practice and go, ‘Okay, let's run three guys at Trevon. Trevon, you've got to get the ball up and here we go.' We always talk about attack, retreat and skip. The guys away from the ball, it isn't just one guy. It isn't just that. But he's lost some of his mojo right now. He's got to get it back. I don't want to turn this into an Austin Powers 4 or anything, but he's got to get that back. But if anybody can, he can. Maybe he needs some help, too, from the other guys."
QUESTION: As you look at the tape, are you looking at just a few minutes of poor stretches that really affect the team?
RYAN: "No, I look at cause and effect. I mean, if this is what creates the scenario. I don't just take one walking and say, come on, Trevon, or Keaton or Jon or Marcus or anybody else. You can't do that. There has to be, okay, well, what drill, what have we done in our drills to prepare for this, and then you carry it over. You don't all of a sudden become a team or a group that doesn't get it. I mean, that doesn't happen in athletics. The other teams are pretty good at doing some of the things they're doing. It's hard to simulate what Minnesota can bring. But the one thing that I saw differently, the spacing with Northwestern and the fact that they got some easy points at the other end of the floor. And what does that do to the team that's making the comeback? What does that do to a team that the other team's feeding into them? The appetite just gets stronger and stronger. They got it done, we didn't that game."