RYAN: "Just on the way in, I got a picture of our third grandchild here, a girl. Our oldest daughter, Megan, who has an Aoife, now Will, my oldest son, believes that they're going to call her Imogen. The only Imogen I remember is Imogene Coca. Is anybody here old enough to remember Imogene Coca?"
QUESTION #1: I read something on ESPN recently where you were talking about going home and having your wife remind you that this team is not going to be that good this year. I'm just curious, is that true or is that a little tale, and if so, where does she have you picked in the Big Ten?
RYAN: "She's quite the critic at times. It goes back a long ways. It goes back to one year when I came home from scrimmaging Loras. You know, she knew I wasn't very happy, and she didn't think much of the team we had. `You said this guy wasn't this and that guy wasn't that,' you know, typical coach talk. I know people think you go home and you always tell your wife how great your team is. We went 31-0 that year. So she said, from here on out, she's just always going to say that we're not very good.
I was just referring to the fact that she's seen us play and says, `boy, you're a little rough around the edges. This guy doesn't do this and this.' But it's all at home. She only says stuff at home. She doesn't go public with it."
QUESTION #2: Do you think your guys are playing with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder, even in an exhibition game? It seemed like they were pretty motivated to maybe prove some of these critics wrong, national critics.
RYAN: "I have no idea if that's the case, because they didn't do anything different than what they've been doing at practice. And you know, I don't really know if critic means criticism. I just think everybody has an opinion about teams and everybody kind of thinks with us they've got to wait to see who's going to pick up that toughness that was gone. I mean, people kind of said some of the same things after (Alando) Tucker and (Kammron) Taylor and then after this guys leaves or that guy leaves. I don't even understand it. I just know this, we've sold out all our games, and so fans I think are pretty interested in seeing what our guys are like. That's a good thing.
So that's all I'm hoping is they can bring the energy to the Kohl Center when we're at home, and then on the road our guys can find a way to get through some tough situations. But I don't worry about any of the other. If you want an answer of did I think they're playing with a chip? I don't think so. I just think they're trying to continue the tradition of Wisconsin being a pretty good team. That's what maybe gets forgotten in all this. Not forgotten by the people that know basketball. It's forgotten by people who maybe never played, don't understand what it's like and what these guys go through. And I can understand that part, because that's just out of ignorance."
QUESTION #3: Do you trust your wife's opinion, when it comes to basketball I should say?
RYAN: "Yeah. Her opinion is always welcome. Because we've been concerned about the baby coming here, we didn't even talk after the Bemidji State game about what she thought. We'll have to wait to see here the next couple weeks before we head to Hawaii, and then she can fill me in on the flight over, because we'll have some hours to kill."
QUESTION #4: Was that baby born today, did you say?
RYAN: "Like as I was coming down the steps. Pretty good timing, huh? And I got pictures to prove it.
QUESTION #5: One of the hallmarks of your program is your loyalty to your players, loyalty to your seniors, loyalty to everybody that works in your program. What is the genesis of that loyalty? Where did that come, is that from your parents? Is that from former coaches? Just talk about where that developed.
RYAN: "Well, it's hard to say because it just comes so naturally to me, out of respect for elders, respect for growing up when you have a grandfather that's decorated in World War I, your dad's decorated with a Bronze Star in World War II and you serve in the military. You know, traditional things. I'm just mentioning that part of tradition, of earning, paying your dues, earning your way. I just thought it was natural for everybody.
Yesterday at the house, we had the 1999 team that won in double overtime the national championship at Platteville. You talk about a great day. I just sit back and watch the guys talk and work the room. You talk about seniors, and the seniors were still the leaders in those conversations. So I just think seniors pay their dues all the way through, and there are seniors who don't want to leave a program where they've let the team down.
Now if you're not good enough to win a championship, if you're not good enough to maybe do this or do that, that's one thing. But you know, disappointment for seniors, I think it's always helped that we've had guys. I was kind of told it was expected of me, because the same coach had me as a senior in high school and a senior in college, that you're supposed to set the tone. You're supposed to be a leader. You're supposed to do things and lead by example. So I've just always come by that naturally. Some senior classes maybe are a little better than others, but they all try to continue any tradition that's established."
QUESTION #6: How hard is that sometimes? Because I got to believe when you have a player that doesn't meet your expectations or you have a senior that doesn't follow through like past seniors have done, how hard is that to remain loyal and just keep boring on doing what you're doing?
RYAN: "Well, I think if I would get frustrated, then why shouldn't the senior get frustrated with the underclassmen or whatever? So if you're leading by example, you're still teaching. You're still pointing out to your seniors the same things you're pointing out to your freshmen when you break down tape. Because if I'm a freshman, and I see that you're not going over the clips with the seniors the same way you're going over them with me, I would think, boy, that's not right.
So, I have expectations of seniors being leaders and all, but when it comes to teaching, they're all in that classroom together, and you don't only teach the seniors this and the freshmen that. It doesn't work that way with me. Maybe some people do. But when you get up on the court, when they're in the locker room, here's where you know you've got something.
When you're not in the locker room, and the guys come down from practice or they're getting ready for practice or when they go to eat a meal together, and they're amongst themselves and they're talking about how the team can be better, what can we do, we got to be better at this, we got to take that away. When you have that going on, then you know you've got something pretty special. But how would I know that if I'm not there?
But that's where, it just seems to me, that over the years, and even listening to that group yesterday, just some of the seniors and some of the things they said, they said, `Coach, here's a couple stories that we took care of that you never knew about.' Hey, what's the matter with finding out 10 years later? They know the statute of limitations is over. How some guy sprained an ankle. I thought it was done one way, and I found out it was something that had happened another way. How about that? Everything worked out though. Everything worked out."
QUESTION #7: Coach, curious if you were able to watch Marcus Landry play against the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night?
RYAN: "No, I couldn't because of another function that I had to do. I was going to go in and watch him practice, but they were playing the night before, so when I had talked to him about coming in to see him, their travel schedule wasn't such that I could."
QUESTION #8: Along those same things, you've always spoken very highly of him when he was here. Just how proud are you of him that he had to pay his own way to New York, show the Knicks what he can do, and make the roster?
RYAN: "It's Marcus Landry. To me, that's not a surprise. I know somebody said they saw where I said how proud I was of him. Absolutely. Who isn't proud of what he's done? Under the circumstances that he's matriculated here at the University and everything else, people would say, oh, well, what do you mean? He had a scholarship. He had this, he had that. Okay. But how many guys went through what he did for four years and to be where he is right now, that's a, that's why you coach. And I know people use that term a lot now, but that is one of the reasons why you coach. And not because he's in the NBA, totally. That's part of the picture, but not the whole thing.