Finding the Enlightenment

Up to No.15 in the country in the Associated Press poll, Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan answers questions about his two seniors and what his former players reflect about Coach Ryan's program years later.

Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan -

The following is Monday's Q&A

Bo, regarding your two seniors, Jason (Bohannon) and Trevon (Hughes), people have talked about their improvement as players often this year. I am curious if you have any memories of how they have developed off the court, away from the game?

Bo Ryan: Doesn't it seem like yesterday people were asking those kinds of questions about two other players –Krabbenhoft and Landry? And still, you're talking about two guys from different backgrounds. I can remember recruiting both of them, first-time experiences with them. Somebody ask that today, on the one question that I got during my 10-minute period on the (Big Ten Conference call) … I still don't know why they do those … Anyhow, they asked about how I think my players experience was. Well, you have to ask the players, but from what I've seen is two young men blossom in so many ways on the court, off the court, the things they've had a chance to experience through being a part of a program, being a part of an institution, being a part of a rich tradition of student athletes that have worked extremely hard to give Wisconsin the image that it has. They have continued that. I am thinking that there experiences have been very, very good, and no matter what happens with the rest of the season, I am sure there are people that have enjoyed the past four years along with them. Certainly the fans have shown that. I am sure the opposing teams will be thankful that they are gone, because they have been a part of a lot of good things.

I just think watching these young men, they are no different in my eyes than other seniors for the obvious reasons. They are both individuals they played as part of a team. There are unique qualities and traits and learning experience that they have had that other seniors haven't had. I just think they can give you the best perspective of what they learned, how they feel about it. The truth is, seniors, you won't know much for another five, ten years. That's the way I was when I got out of college. It's amazing when I look back, and they will to and other players that have said to me over the years, those first three, four, five, six years I was out of college, I was busy doing my thing, trying to do this, trying to do that and then I looked back on the experience. That's when it will hit them.

When you look at those two guys, it seems like they have taken a real ownership of the team this year. Would you agree with that and at what point did you see them doing that?

Ryan: I think, the two of them were pretty quiet last year for the most part. Joe and Marcus in different ways as leaders did things. When we went through the rough stretch and how the two seniors, along with Mo Cain and Kevin Gullikson, handled coming to practice everyday and what must have been going on in the locker room because that's their sanctuary. I don't go in the locker room. That's where they get to talk to one another, or as Joan Rivers says, ‘Talk amongst yourselves.' So now it was there turn, so they talked amongst themselves in the summer. Conditioning-wise, strength-wise, our guys didn't turn into Charles Atlases. Our guys were definitely stronger than they were last year. I thought they were in better shape when we started in September, and that has to come from somewhere, some place, and it isn't always seniors, but I think those two definitely have led the way. I think they've seen some results, they want to see more, that's why it's tough on senior day talking where we are. With what they have contributed, I think they have more in them.

After the Indiana game, you talked about the good things the team did but you said that you'll find some things that you need to point out to the guys. I am just curious in general, since Jon's return from the injury, do you like the way the team is starting to play at this point with Jon back?

Ryan: Yeah but you know, I never approach it that way, like it's a different season because a guy comes back from injury. I always try to make those kinds of things seamless, although maybe they aren't on the surface. But the more you belabor the point, the more you, my gosh, some of these teams that have injuries and every time they make a statement about them, they mention the injury. You know they lost such and such for a … I've asked you guys (media) to never say a word! I don't want you to say anything. Who's it help? What's it do? So, we are who we are without any player at any given time. We are still Wisconsin.

Bo, you talked about the enlightenment guys that have gone through your program get 10 years or so after they get out of the program. Is there a common theme to what they learn? Have they given you feedback to what they've learn with that distance between their experience here and being in real life?

Ryan: Um yeah, players I've had at Platteville, players I've had in Milwaukee, players in high school that I coached. Yeah, and it's all personal. It is enlightening. First of all for them, and then all the feedback I get later, they've got me everyday in their head. The voice. Like parents. Then you get away and then you get back and go wow, and then if you are a parent yourself. Some get into coaching, go into business with where they have to work with people or are the supervisor. I have had so many guys that have said, ‘My Gosh Coach, I find myself saying the things you said to us.' I've said, ‘Is that bad?' Some guys have gone, ‘Yeah, but I didn't like everything you said to us, but I find myself, I have to say those things to the people who are playing for me or are working for me.' So it's not all bad that you are critical, trying to help or are using constructive criticism isn't the end of the world. The main thing is do they know how you feel about them overall? If people know that you have their best interest at heart, they will work so hard for you, they will overcome so many things whether it's in basketball or life. That's the enlightenment I get most times from past players. You can't be everybody's buddy. Friend for life, I always say, but you can't always be their buddy. I never wanted a buddy as a coach.

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