Bo's Badgers Open Against Bemidji

Returning a backcourt that has played a combined 201 games with 102 starts in their career, Wisconsin basketball has few question marks with seniors Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes. As for the rest of the team, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan will start to garner those answers in the team's first exhibition game Wednesday against Bemidji State.

Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan -

full transcript

QUESTION #1: Bo, can the Phillies win down 3-1?

RYAN: "Wow. I tried about four different hats last night, three different shirts, the towel in the right hand, the towel in the left hand. I wish I could have videoed all the things I tried to do yesterday to get them to get that one. You know, every once in a while, as a coach, you'd just like to be a fan and just be a little crazy. If you could have seen this act last night, my wife went in the other room, started watching other shows. But we kept trying.

I was going with this hat, I got a jacket from a player that played back in the '80s, a relief pitcher, who was at UWM when I was there as an assistant. That didn't work. I tell you. Last year's championship shirt didn't work. The Irish green shirt didn't work. The Irish green hat didn't work, with the Phillies thing on it. Down 3-1, I don't know what to try next. I can't tell you, but boy, if they could, it would be something worth talking about."

QUESTION #2: So far in practice, have your big men given you any kind of idea that they're going to be able to consistently handle the rebounding and the inside defense that Joe Krabbenhoft and Marcus Landry did so well?

RYAN: "Well, the only one way to find out is we've got to start playing people. You know, when you're going against each other, it's so hard to tell a lot of things, other than as long as everybody's working hard, you have a chance to get better. Then as you keep getting games under your belt, they get a feel of that next level, meaning outside of practice when you're going against the best that the other team has too. So you know, we'll just wait and see. But the effort is there. They're working on their footwork, their positioning, all those things, and I've seen some improvement."

QUESTION #3: Do you know how you went about getting Bemidji State for this game on Wednesday?

RYAN: "Yeah, it's real simple. There have been guys that have tried everything. They've petitioned. I didn't accept any gifts from anyone in order to play a team in the exhibition season. I've never accepted a free meal, no bribes, no anything. But Matt Bowen and my son, Will, were ballboys in the early '80s and used to sit there, and it was kind of neat walking in through the Field House coming in here, kind of get goosebumps every time I do. And then Rick Bowen, of course, coached in the league, in the state league, and I've known him for an awfully long time.

And the fact that Matt was a manager at Indiana, his dad was a manager at Indiana. Coach Knight and I have developed a pretty good relationship. So I mean, it was a natural for Matt to want to come back home. Even though the Kohl Center is not the Field House, it's still Wisconsin, so that's why we selected Bemidji State."

QUESTION #4: Coach, what do you hope to get out of these first couple exhibition games in terms of what you see from your team?

RYAN: "Well, I watched a little bit of another team in the Big Ten playing a Division II school or whatever. It's about getting guys on the floor, looking at combinations, score, officials. You know, you'll see some veteran officials, and you get used to maybe any new rules or any points of emphasis. A point of emphasis (this year) is where people are taking a charge underneath or around the basket. Some other things on block/charge, trying to make sure if any offensive player jumps into a defensive player, even if it's not a block/charge, that's an offensive foul. And I've been lobbying for that for a long time. So many offensive players will jump into a defensive player that's standing there and has position, and displace the defensive player, and they're going to call that this year.

So, you get on the floor, you look at the points of emphasis, you get combos. You can do scrimmages. You can do things like that, but if you do a scrimmage, one of the two years you have to take your players away from campus, for a day usually. And if it's on a weekend, maybe you're going away when there's a home football game when recruits are in. So I kind of like the exhibition games because it took us so long to fight for them, to get away from the AAU teams and for the exploitation that was taking place. So playing college teams with systems is still, to me, the best way to prepare for your season. So that's why we do it."

QUESTION #5: As far as the rules, you're saying when guys lean in on a jumpshot and try to draw contact . .

RYAN: "If the offensive player initiates the contact, it's either a no call or if you displace or bump back the defensive player, it should be an offensive foul. How many times have you seen it called? A guy can even jump straight up in the air if the offensive player goes into him. Verticality, principle of verticality. How many times have you seen that called? Never. So, we'll see. We'll see what changes. I have faith, though, that they'll try."

QUESTION #6: The NCAA also assured me that the arc that the NBA has . . .

RYAN: "Larry . . . said the officials aren't watching the feet. They're watching the play and the bodies. Everybody starts looking down, if you're an official, even in practice when we experimented with it, you start to look down, and meanwhile, you know, you miss a goaltending call or whatever. So I don't think a good official needs to have an arc to know the difference of being underneath the rim or not."

QUESTION #7: Doesn't it make it a little bit more subjective on the official's part?

RYAN: "Well, are you seeing the whole play though? It's still about getting it right on the play. So if you're just looking at feet, you're missing a whole lot of basketball."

QUESTION #8: Have you done a lot of lobbying on those kinds of rules with the NCAA?

RYAN: "Well, we discuss it in meetings. I discuss it when I see officials. And they're always interested in what I have to say. They told me, ‘Coach, no, we really would like to hear how you feel about that'. But this is in the off-season, when you can actually communicate. Because they're assigned, a lot of times you'll see Big Ten officials doing these tournaments. Cincinnati, Akron, not so much Vegas. That's another league, but see guys there, and everybody's friendly and smiles. Then something changes. I don't know what that is. I don't change. I'm the same fun-loving guy I am in the summer. Aren't I?"

QUESTION #9: You said after you got back from Serbia that the first thing you're going to do in your first game is go find the officials and hug them. Is that still on?

RYAN: "Yeah, I had that thought. That soon passed. But no, we went against each other with a little scrimmage Saturday at practice. Two teams, Coach Greg Gard had one team and Coach Howard Moore had the other. We had a couple officials out there, and Otto (Puls). You can quote me on that. And just trying to get those calls right. And then when I'm looking at it here yesterday and breaking it down and looking at some things to clip out, angles, boy. It's all about the angle that you have. Basketball is so tough to officiate. You know, every year I always say, ‘no way in the world would I ever disagree with an official.' In October."

QUESTION #10: How much of a luxury is it to have a fellow with Jared Berggren's length around the bucket, on the defensive end in particular?

RYAN: "Well, did anybody ever say he's a great shot blocker? That term has not been used. But you know, he is 6-foot-10 and he's fairly long. The way we teach defense, we're not great shot-blocking team. We've had a guy like Greg Stiemsma, who really used his body to send messages, which was one of the reasons we led the nation in defense his senior year, and also with Brian Butch. We had a couple bigs that kept people from getting to the rim and one of the best defensive players of all time.

I still think, and I just got an e-mail from Michael Flowers, you talk about one of the most under-appreciated players ever to play at Wisconsin, Michael Flowers. I mean, you just look at all the things he did defensively and the way he practiced every day, you know. So if Jared Berggren and these other guys just work hard every day and do the things that some of these other players committed to, then he might be considered a pretty good defensive presence. But it's so early that I can't put him in that category yet. But he's fun to coach because he comes out every day and works extremely hard. So he's got a great start, and now we'll see how he develops.


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