MADISON - Coaching some of the best college athletes in the country in the World University Games last summer in Belgrade, Serbia, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan was able to spend quality time getting to coach up and study future opponents – such as Marquette's Lazar Hayward, Purdue's Robbie Hummel and Penn State's Talor Battle.
Ryan also got to spent time with former player, former assistant coach and current Milwaukee head coach Rob Jeter, as Ryan brought his friend along as an assistant coach to help Team USA win a bronze medal.
"It was good that when we were doing stuff, there is always a familiarity with what you are saying and can easily be reinforced," Ryan said. "We didn't put in stuff that was that intricate with the time that we had. You do some things and do them real well."
The awareness of one another comes from Jeter having played for Ryan at UW-Plateville from 1987-91, captaining the 1991 National Championship team, and serving as an assistant under Ryan for 10 years at three different stops. Together, the duo combined for 339 wins to just 87 losses.
On Wednesday, Ryan would look to extend his perfect 5-0 record over Jeter when Milwaukee (8-4) travels to the Kohl Center to take on Wisconsin (8-2).
"It's like anything else," Ryan said. "We all did it, growing up, playing against our buddies. Once the game starts, I don't hear the crowd … it's hard to explain. You meet and greet, shake hands after and say, ‘hey, I'll talk to you later on.' He just texted me a ‘happy birthday.'"
With four starters returning from last year's 17-14 team, the Panthers were picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League in the preseason, but senior guard Ricky Franklin has boosted their ratings, being the catalyst offensively with a team-high 14.6 points per game, 43 assists and 15 steals.
Just like Green Bay, which had won four straight before knocking off the Badgers, Milwaukee has registered solid back-to-back non-conference wins at North Dakota State and at home against Miami (OH), and will enter the in-state contest with a full head of steam.
"They (Miami) go in and play Kentucky right to the end and Robby's team just took them out of everything they were trying to do," Ryan said. "I think you have to credit their (Panthers') defense. A win over Miami like that, and what they did to them, that was huge."
Free Throws: Ryan was able to call up former UW All-American Alando Tucker to get a pair of tickets and VIP passes for a friend who just received, ‘a big reward.' Ryan thought it would be impossible, but Tucker said Ryan had never asked him for anything before … Ryan think UW might set another record for GPA for the semester, saying guys were doing ‘real well' going in.
"When you say one guy is the glue then the other guys are going to feel bad or take it personal. I think they are all in that Elmer's bottle. I think it's true for our team."
- Ryan on having a bunch of ‘glue' guys