UW Health Sports Medicine 

Courtside Bloggage by Matt Ryan

And Now Deep Blogs... by Matt Ryan

Well well well well well well well, look who's back.  I'm in a blog eat blog world and I'm a blog eat blog kind of girl. I hope I make Jack Handy proud.  

Courtside_bloggage_image.jpgWhat a year it has been. Not one pre-season list had this Wisconsin Badger team finishing in the top half of the conference and before the year started Sports Illustrated decided to leave us out of their projected postseason NCAA tournament of 65. Whoops.

Now I know our players and coaches don't look at that stuff... but the video guy does.

Yes, I have too much time on my hands hence this blog and the picture that goes along with it. Speaking of too much time on my hands; if any of you read my USA Basketball blogs from this past summer (nice self-promotion) you should know that if you want only basketball bloggage, see Patrick Herb's Badger blogs. Jam-packed full of basketball information. What you'll get here is whatever pops into my brain; a brain full of useless information, movie quotes and random thoughts. So I guess just useless information. Keep reading, it gets better?

Anyway, I'm not sure where to start considering I waited until the end of the year to write my first blog. But as I type I'm sure I will start remembering some good stories.

6 hours later....

Ok, so at the Maui Invitational earlier this season, my hair got so long that after our first game vs. Arizona I snapped and asked one of our senior managers, Cody, to cut it. In a gift bag I received from the tournament, there was an electrical razor included. So I asked Cody to use the razor along with a pair of HPG's (HPG = Henry Perez-Guerra... team trainer) scissors.

When Cody asked me where we were going to cut my hair, the only spot I could think of was the beach.

I have never been stared at so much in my life and the attention we drew was shocking at first but I quickly commented to Cody, "Wait, I suppose all the stares, laughs and pointing have to be because none of these people have ever seen two men cutting each other's hair on the beach before." Have you? Cody and I hadn't either. I also mentioned how great of a business that could become; cutting hair on the beach with such beautiful scenery, because I will say that was the most enjoyable hair cut I have ever received even though it ended horribly. He did a rather good job considering he had never cut Caucasian hair before, was using just a razor, some HPG trainer scissors and his fingers (seriously, nobody had a comb).

Conveniently, the razor ran out of steam on the beach (no electrical outlets in the sand apparently) as he was finishing up so I arrived in Maui looking like Chase Utley of the Phillies and now I'm k.d. lang? He also didn't get to finish my neck area so I had a mini ski slope going on in the back.

I really don't care much about my hair, but in this case I didn't want to embarrass my family and the University of Wisconsin as a whole on National Television.  So we headed back to the room and the attention I had been receiving continued but this time it was because I was all k.d. langy and all the skiers who needed a fix were focusing on my neck a bit too hard.  We were running out of time to get ready for our game vs. Gonzaga so our program assistant and my roommate on all the road trips, Luke Wainwright, charged up my razor and finished up my neck in the room. We then headed to the gymnasium, everybody as themselves, me as k.d. lang.

The following day I, myself, proceeded to cut my hair even more to look a bit more Matt Ryanee, but I botched it even further to where I can't even compare it to another human being. So during our final game vs. Maryland, their fans were chanting, "Fear the turtle!" So, I pointed at my head and said, "Fear this."

At least I got a tan. Ladies and gentlemen, the hair cut story.

Speaking of the Philadelphia Phillies, Shane Victorino was at one of our games in Maui, which is where he is from. Coach Ryan, Coach Gary Close and I are all huge Phillies fans and at halftime of our game, Coach Ryan saw Shane and asked me to track him down to come up and say hello in our meeting area for the coaches.

Knowing we are pressed for time, I sprint back down the stairs and begin my search. I looked everywhere, even peaked my head into the over-crowded men's room. "Anybody seen Shane Victorino?" "You, you seen Shane Victorino?" Nothing.  Just crazy looks but by now I don't know if it's my hair cut or the fact that I'm asking strangers where Shane Victorino is.

So I finally see Shane go back to his seat and I rush over and say, "Shane, hi, I'm Matt Ryan, Coach Ryan's son, he would like to talk to you up by our locker room to say hello and congratulations on your season." So he slowly gets back out of his seat and follows me upstairs. When we arrive, there really wasn't much communication at all between Shane and our staff. The coaches were finishing going over the 1st half stats and we all say goodbye to Shane on our way into the locker room and wish him good luck.

Long story short, on the last day of the trip, at the airport, Coach Ryan and I were reminiscing on our stay in Maui and Coach Ryan said something to the effect that Shane must have wanted to get away from autograph seekers, or something, in order for him to come BACK up to our locker room. I thought, wait a second, so these two had already spoken to each other before I went and got him out of his seat?! Which is why Shane was a little slow to get up when I told him Coach Ryan wanted to talk to him?! THEY ALREADY TALKED!! I'M SO AWKWARD!!

So Shane, since I know you're reading this along with the rest of America, I'm sorry. We weren't trying to mess with your head... and my hair doesn't always look like that.  Go Phillies!

The Maui Tournament helped our team tremendously throughout the remainder of the season. We started the tournament by closing out a tight game against a tough Arizona team. We lost eight games last season when leading under the 4 minute mark in regulation and this season we were a perfect 22-0 in those situations. It's all about how you finish, and that's exactly what this team did all year, they finished games when they had a late lead.

Gonzaga, the second game of the three, really prepared our guys for the stronger, more physical team. Gonzaga aggressively took it at us from the start which created foul trouble for our starters. We saw foul trouble in the first game as well, giving our bench players some very beneficial minutes and facing the Zags really showed our younger guys what the Big Ten was going to be like.

We followed up the loss to Gonzaga by beating the ACC Champs; Maryland, only to come home from Maui to beat the other ACC Champ, the Dukies. Beating Duke was one of those games you will never forget. I'm not a fan of media favorites in general, even though I respect Coach K and his program and quite frankly, I really like the man and I coached with one of his former players at Brentwood Academy in Brentwood, California. That fine gentleman's name is Greg Koubek; first player to ever go to four Final Fours all four years of college. I think Christian Laettner was the second. Good trivia.

I also got to know Jason Williams this summer and even though he beat me in horse, he was a great guy. So really, it's not Duke's fault. I'm also naturally not a fan of  the Lakers, the Yankees, Notre Dame football... ya know, the sports teams that the media crams down your throat and brainwashes society to fall in love with them? Plus, the fact that we finally got a home game in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and it was against the projected ACC champion (which I can confidently say was earned on our part over the past decade). Then to make the victory even sweeter, we were the team to break the tie in the challenge giving the Big Ten its first-ever win over the ACC. The atmosphere was amazing and our fans stormed the court afterward showing me once again that we have the best fans in the country.  

I will stop there because most of you probably have school work, jobs, bills to pay and/or families to take care of. Reading my direction/structure-less blog probably isn't exactly a high priority for you. Or maybe it is? Or maybe you all feel like you're hanging from a cliff my blog is so riveting and suspenseful? Oh take a hike. Or as my mom used to tell me, "Oh go scratch." I never fully understood that one.

Stay tuned for another edition of Courtside Bloggage where I will pick up with stories and some insight from the Big Ten Regular season.  I will continue to blog from the Big Ten Tourney and beyond. Later peeps, I'll holla.  

Random Stats This Season:
1.)    The "slow it down" Badgers scored 67.9 points per contest this season while holding their opponents to 56.1 points per game. One of the best differentials in the country.
2.)    The Badgers committed a mere 8.1 turnovers a game in Big Ten play this season, shattering the Big Ten record... which UW set last year at 9.3 turnovers per game.
3.)    Wisconsin led the entire nation with the fewest overall turnovers per game (9.0)
4.)    The Badgers were #1 in Big Ten play in offensive AND defensive efficiency, scoring 1.1 points per possession while giving up only .94 points per possession
5.)    Only 3 BCS conference teams currently have been over .500 in their conference 10 years running; Texas, Kansas, and Wisconsin
6.)    Jordan Taylor was 3rd in the nation with his assist to turnover ratio of 3.03 to 1
7.)  Wisconsin had the 3rd best defense in the country allowing their opponents to just 56.1 points per game.

Missing Jon Leuer through exactly half the Big Ten season speaks volumes for this coaching staff and more importantly, the players. Coach Ryan is our coach of the year and our players deserve all the praise and respect in the world. They certainly have earned my respect and I applaud Pat Forde, Jeff Goodman and Dan Dakich on your knowledge of the game.

Until next time... Matt Ryan