QUESTION #1: Bo, what are the attributes that make a good chaser on defense?
BO RYAN: "Well, the things that we started doing a long time ago, before it became popular or anything else, we started doing some things at Platteville, and one of the rules is don't let guys change direction when they bury. That's the first part of it because if you get a guy to dance you around and change direction, he's always going to get at least two steps from the chase rather than one. As long as you're one step away from the chase, you're always a pretty good chaser.
We had one possession, on an out of bounds play, Jordan (Taylor) as a freshman allowed three steps. I just edited it out before coming in here. He allowed three steps. The kid gets a wide open three, and he buries it. First of all, you've got to be a worker, and you've got to learn the technique, and the longer you're doing it, you tend to get a little better at it. Jason (Bohannon) is a lot better this year than he's ever been, and Jordan's learning. Trévon Hughes' better. But it's not easy."
QUESTION #2: You mentioned once that Trévon had lost his mojo. Is it fair to say now, after the way he's played in recent games, that he's got his mojo back? And if so, what has sparked that for him?
RYAN: "I don't know. There are still some things that he could have done a lot better yesterday. So we'll see. I can't say one way or the other, because it's always the next 40 minutes. So you know, he did some good things, but there's some other things he let get away from him, so we've just got to keep working at those things. It's a constant. Nothing's finished until they tell you you can't play anymore."
QUESTION #3: Bo, you've been on a pretty good run defensively since the Illinois game here. What's all gone into that?
RYAN: "Well, I thought we played pretty well against Minnesota here defensively, at Iowa, because that was an overtime game, if you look at the total number of points. Purdue, we played them when they had everybody healthy and Illinois at Illinois. I thought those were pretty good defensive games considering who we were playing and who they had. So really it hasn't changed that much. The results move over to the other column in a string there, but I think sometimes it was matchups, but we haven't done anything differently. It's just they get to do it a few more times, and hopefully, you know, every other team is trying to improve too as the season goes along, so whichever team can improve the most will end up telling the story, because everybody has weaknesses.
"It's always easy to sit around and find weaknesses with teams. You can find that with every team out there. It's what you're doing with what you have and what they get out of it that's the most important thing, that the ones who are living it have to deal with, not the exterior. So the interior says we've got to do this, this, this to be competitive, and our guys have been giving that effort, especially on the defensive end to be competitive."
QUESTION #4: Is Joe Krabbenhoft a better defender than he was a year ago? Can you just talk about how he's improved as a defender?
RYAN: "Well, I think everybody that's been back a year has been better defensively. I don't see guys going backwards defensively. Offensively, you can look like you're going backwards if you've hit a slump, you're not shooting it, something wrong with your lift, your release, maybe your eyesight is going, maybe you need eye tests. But defensively, the effort and the being cognizant of a read and just looking at the way Marcus (Landry) and Joe played some of the ball screen stuff at times was really good. And Joe did a good job of releasing at the right time. Still some of our younger guys struggle with that. But yeah, Joe just goes hard all the time, so that's always going to get results as long as it's an effort to beat people to spots, to block people out, to cover a shooter. But he should be better."
QUESTION #5: What kind of progress do you see your two redshirts making?
RYAN: "Ryan Evans had two practices where we couldn't stop him. But don't get all excited about that in case you root for our team or think you'd like to see us win, because Ike Ukawuba had some really good days, to the point where a New York Knicks scout wanted his name, his number after he lit up Devin (Harris) for about 10 jumpers and had an unbelievable practice. The guy leaves practice, back when they could do that, and says who was that number, and I'm going . . . number? I don't know these guys numbers. He says, you know, the guy that was, I said, you mean Ike?
Back to Ryan, Ryan just lit us up a couple days where he couldn't miss. He's athletic enough to get his own shot off. And then other days we don't know if he's on the floor, but that's all part of redshirting. You're still trying to find your niche, and sometimes, as a scout position, he's the guy that's attacking. He was Manny a little bit. Mo (Cain), who is pretty good at attacking, but he's left-handed, gave us some good looks off the ball screens. Jared (Berggren), it's just a matter of strength and learning how to move his feet. Because we've had some big guys with slow feet who ended up being very good defenders, which was evident last year.
Now the younger guys are learning to move their feet. And I said this before, Jon Leuer and Keaton (Nankivil), as juniors and seniors, will be pretty good defenders. They're getting better now, but it takes time. So Jared is going through that, but at least he's using a year to learn some of that, and he'll have four to play. So those two guys, and on the scout team, they're great. They're perfect. (Wquinton Smith), Brett (Valentyn), Mo, Kevin (Gullikson), that's a fun squad to go against every day if you're the head coach and saying, ‘Okay, are the guys going to be challenged one through eight?' Absolutely, every day, and it will show up in the long run, and some of it is showing already."
QUESTION #6: Just a follow to that, do you keep track of how many times your red team makes the other team run, how many times they'll win a possession?
RYAN: "Yeah, we ran once this past week, twice the week before, maybe this year a total of seven times maybe."
QUESTION #6: Is that more than usual or is that typical?
RYAN: "There was a year where we had at least this many. Because if we get under one, on 10 possessions, or if the other team gets over one, so it can go either way, either from your defense or your offense, you're held accountable."
QUESTION #7: Can you just talk about what Marcus and Joe have done from a leadership standpoint for this team this year?
RYAN: "Well, it doesn't start during any kind of streak, winning or losing. It's every day. It's September. It's August. It's June, when they're working out, when they're working with the strength coach. It's not a sometime thing or an all the sudden thing. It's always been there."
QUESTION #8: Has walk-on Wquinton Smith played himself to a situation where, you know, as long as he wants to stay, you're going to be able to keep him?
RYAN: "He is so valuable to us I can't even begin to tell you, but so are the other guys. I don't want to make one guy seem more important than any other, because that's not how we build our team. But Q brings it every day. He hustles, he scraps, he's good with the ball, he doesn't turn the ball over very often. He's my kind of guy. He thinks that if Otto (Puls) calls him for a foul, and he didn't foul, he'll make a face like, me? So he cares. He doesn't say anything. You can just tell by his face. He's very competitive and quick, strong and he's playing basketball for the right reasons."
QUESTION #9: Do you feel that a short break going into this Minnesota game will be beneficial to keep your momentum going?
RYAN: "You know, you just have to do it. It's like anything else that we tell the players. Everything they're doing now as a student athlete will prepare them for what's coming later. People that have jobs now that are struggling or things are different with the business, and where you think you would get a break and you can't get the break now because this changed or you're forced to take a break because of layoffs, you know what? This is just basketball. And the things that other people I know, good friends, neighbors, what they're going through and thinking about what we're trying to teach as coaches and all that, it is what it is, and I don't say anything one way or the other. Let's just go.
They lifted this morning at 7:00. They'll be on the floor. They go to class. They'll be on the floor. They'll be ready to travel tomorrow. The subject isn't even brought up. It is what it is. So they know it, and they get used to that in life. They're not pampered. There's nobody making excuses for them at any time. This is what it is. This is the plan. Now if there are things that change, in no way is men's basketball, because of TV, ever, ever in any kind of routine. Every other sport is. Football, hockey, there's a routine. With us, we know why we're not routine, and we understand that, so we deal with it. We deal with it more than anybody."