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Badgers, Big Red look ahead to Sunday's matchup


ON WISCONSIN
ON WISCONSIN

ON WISCONSIN

March 20, 2010

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Members of the Wisconsin and Cornell men's basketball programs met the media Saturday as part of pre-game press conferences prior to the teams' second-round NCAA tournament matchup on Sunday.

See below for a complete transcript of remarks by Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan and student-athletes Jason Bohannon, Trevon Hughes and Jon Leuer, as well as Cornell head coach Steve Donahue and student-athletes Alex Tyler, Jon Jacques and Chris Wroblewski.

 

Wisconsin Student-Athletes Jason Bohannon, Trevon Hughes and Jon Leuer 

Bohannon and Hughes

(For any of you guys, just what have you seen from Cornell in your preparation, and how difficult are they to defend, particularly from the three point line?)
   
BOHANNON:  “Cornell is a very good team.  We watched them play a little bit against Temple yesterday, and you know, they do a very good job of finding the open guy.  They play very well together and they're a very smart basketball team.  So we're expecting a very tough match up, and we've got to come ready to play tomorrow.”
   
HUGHES:  “Defending the three.  We basically want to run them off the line, make them play on the floor and make some plays inside the perimeter.”

LEUER:  “Yeah, they have a lot of smart, talented guys, and like you said, they can shoot it really well, so we're going to have to try to limit that and just prepare as best we can.”

(Trevon, they used a little bit of one three one zone, they mixed and matched yesterday against Temple.  If they come out with that against you guys what's going to be the key to attacking that defense?)

HUGHES:
  “Making smart decisions with the ball and especially get it down in the post.  That's the key for the defense, so if everybody collapses we can kick it back out to our shooters.  Make sure we're not hesitant, make some crisp, smart plays, and we'll be fine.”

(Jon, yesterday you had a height advantage down on the low block, and if you're matched up against their big guy Foote tomorrow it's not going to be that way.  I'm curious what type of problems he might present you with that his length?)
   
LEUER:
  “Yeah, anybody you go up against somebody as big and tall and long as him, he's able to alter shots and do some things defensively.  But we've gone up guys that big before, and you just have to play to your strengths and just make smart plays. “

(Jason, Wisconsin has a great record this year, particularly when they're leading with about four minutes left and holding on to those leads and closing games out.  Can you talk about why you feel like you guys have been that good in those situations this year?)
   
BOHANNON: 
“Well, it's always key to close out games, and we've got to play smart all 40 minutes of the game.  You know, a lot of guys on our teams have experienced droughts where we haven't done so.  We've had those droughts where you don't close out those minutes or any four minutes throughout a game.  We've struggled with it.  We haven't necessarily won the game.”
   
“This year's team, we've been focusing on playing all 40 minutes, making every possession count, and we've done a good job of that so far, and hopefully it continues. “

(Jon, Coach Donahue mentioned he tried to recruit you.  Do you remember that?  And secondly, do you see those similarities between these teams and programs?)
   
LEUER:
  “Yeah, I think I remember talking to him, I guess.  But obviously there's some similarities.  I think we both are both fundamentally sound.  We both take care of the ball and just try to get good shots.  Any time you play a team like that, it's going to be tough to get what you want because they're going to try to limit us and play to their strengths.”

(Who have you played, or have you played anybody that reminds you of Cornell in any way?)

BOHANNON:  “I don't know.  It's hard to label one specific team, but you know, through the course of the year we've played a lot of different teams that have presented different things that Cornell does, and so I'd say that a combination of all those teams that we've played really has helped us prepare.”
   
“But Cornell is a different team than any other.  They're a very smart team, play well together, find the open guys, hit the open shots and play good defense, so they're a solid basketball team. “

(Temple obviously statistically is one of the best defenses in the country just like your team.  Is there something you can take away from the mistakes they made yesterday in preparation for Cornell since you both are defensive minded teams?)

HUGHES:
  “Just watching a little bit of the game yesterday, we seen a couple of mistakes Temple made, and that's going underneath a ball screen.  When you do that and you have a good guard, they're going to sit behind that screen and pull up, and we can't give them easy looks.  We want to chase them off the point line, and like I said before, make them make plays inside the perimeter.  So basically all we have to do is basically put a hand up at all times against their shooters, make everything tough.”

(Is there any advantage to already having played a very close game in the tournament that came down to the final few seconds and having won that?)
   
LEUER:
  “Well, any time you're in a battle like that, it shows what you have in your locker room.  You know, we were obviously tested that game, and we had to handle some adversity, and we stepped up to that challenge.  So I think that says a lot about the coaches and the guys on this team.”
   
“But we're just moving on to the next round and trying to learn from our mistakes in that game and try to correct them.  So we're just going to keep improving and hopefully move on again. “

(Trevon, Wittman has been able to use his size over the course of the year to get shots off and over defenders.  What do you feel like you and your teammates need to do to get negate any advantage he may have in size on Sunday?)
 
HUGHES:
  “You know, stay in his grille.  Don't give him anything easy.  Like you said, he can use his size against us, but if we have our hands up in his face every time he tries to shoot and make everything difficult, it's going to be difficult to come away with something good on the offensive end.  Make sure to harass him, make him put the ball on the floor and see what he can do from there.”

(Since you all were able to watch a little bit of Cornell yesterday, what was it like just sitting there?  I mean, I don't know if you probably hadn't seen them on television all year, and then to watch them just take Temple apart like that.  Was it startling to you?  Was it impressive?  As you're sitting there watching, can you relay your thoughts about watching them yesterday?)

BOHANNON: 
I mean, watching them yesterday, you know, they show why they're in the tournament.  They certainly proved that they're as good as anyone.  Any time in the tournament right now is going to be playing their best basketball, and you know, that's what we strive for every game is to be playing our best basketball, and Cornell is certainly doing that.  They continue to keep playing well, and we have to come here ready to play tomorrow.

(Coach Donahue from Cornell talked about Princeton being one of the best defensive teams in the country, and he used you all in the same breath.  Have you looked at Princeton at all, their principles and your defensive fundamentals that are similar to Princeton?  Is there any comparison there?)

HUGHES:  “We have not looked at Princeton at all, but Bo Ryan, he predicates his style of play off of defense.  And if we can't get it done on the offensive end, he always tells us you never have an off day on the defensive end, so get it done there, and the offense will come.”

 

Ryan meets the media

Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan

“Well, needless to say, it's exciting for our players, our fans, the people who follow us all year, so I'm happy that they get a chance to see us for another 40 minutes and that our players get to play together for another 40 minutes.  I've always felt very strongly about the experience that postseason gives to our players in different towns, different teams you're playing, the excitement and to be a part of this is a pretty good thing. “
“And we know our opponent.  I know the coach very well, and it's going to be an extremely competitive game, and our guys are looking forward to it.”

(Steve talked about a, quote unquote, Philly coach.  What does that mean to you?)

“Well, you know, whenever you're in a town like, say, Cincinnati has Xavier and Cincinnati, and you look at some other cities and they have this school and that school, but from the time I can remember as a kid, five, six, seven years old and going to the Palestra because my dad would take me, my uncle would take me, you just grow up on that, and that's all in the Philly area, the playgrounds, all the competitive venues that people would play in and meet, and things. It just seemed legendary to me at a young age to want to be a part of something that was really good.”
   
“So if you could be a part of Big 5 basketball, be a part of Philly area basketball, and of course we always had the competitive match ups with the Celtics or the Warriors. I'm so old I went to Warriors' games and Sixers' games, of course.  But the college influence in Philly has always been strong, and (with) the high school tournaments I got a chance to guard and play against Geoff Petrie at the Swarthmore College tournament, played against Bobby Lloyd, Reggie Jackson, all those guys, which you remember me talking about a little bit.”
   
“But the playgrounds, some of the battles on the playgrounds, things like that, it's about a love for the game, I think, from the grassroots level all the way through. “

(Temple obviously had a very strong defensive team just like your club.  Cornell was able to obviously do some things to have a great degree of success.  What can you take away from what Temple tried to do and was unsuccessful, and what will be some keys for your defense having a better run at them?)

“ I don't know if I can answer your question, but I can tell you this:  Some friends in coaching that I have, I don't have Facebook or Twitter or Tweeter or Tooter or whatever that is or anything else, but I got some messages from some coaching friends who said, a coach's worst nightmare is to prepare for this Cornell team one day.”
   
“So I guess you'll have to wait until the game is over to find out if we've come up with some things.  And Fran knows them probably as well as anybody else around, knows what Cornell can do, what they were looking to do, and Cornell just went out and did it.”

“You've got to find a way to just take them out of some kind of comfort zone offensively.  But they've played together so long and in such competitive environments with pretty much the same players, not just this year but over the past few years, their timing and how synchronized their offense is on their reads, it's as good as any team I've seen.  And I've been around a couple years. “

(Is there a team you've played that has any kind of a system similar to Cornell, or is their style just totally different?)
   
“We've played teams that had a system where they make shots.  Cornell makes shots.  They make them inside, they make them outside, they can make them off the bounce.  Northwestern does some things with their offense that's similar.  Some other teams with ball screens and fade screens, we've played teams that have that.  But the combination together with the same group, just looking at some of their games since yesterday, looking at them last night and this morning, they have a lot of different looks that they can give you.”
   
“So that's the dilemma on that end.  And then defensively they do some things where they try to take you out of your comfort zone, too, which is why they're in the NCAA tournament.”

(Just getting back to that Philly thing one more time, do you see anything in Cornell where you say, yeah, that's a Philly guy coaching them?)


“Steve is a tough guy.  I mean, he's a tough guy.  When I say "tough guy," it doesn't mean you're going to go into a fight and beat people up.  Toughness is measured to me in other ways, and he has that, that tenacity.  But yet the smarts, the basketball IQ, he knows what he wants, and he gets his players to do it.”

“So if you want to succeed, that's pretty important.  But I think what Steve can do is he can take his personality and put it into his players as well as his teaching ability, and so they buy into that, and just watching them make shots, watching them run their stuff, and if you make a mistake defensively, they're going to burn you with something or at least get a good look.”

“Now, if those shots aren't going down, they're like anybody else. We've had some of those where the shots don't go down.  They've had maybe one or two.  But if either team struggles through that tomorrow, then that will be the difference it would seem to me.”

(Bo, Jeff Foote, I know you haven't seen probably too much of him, but what you have seen on tape and what you saw yesterday, could you compare him to anybody you've had or appraise his skills?)

“Well, I don't like to compare players that I've either had or    either guys I've had to compare to one another.  But Foote has good foot work, and that's not    I'm not trying to be humorous    good balance, good poise, in that he doesn't rattle.  He can kick it out with the best.  He knows how to find post opposites, for guys who he hits the post.  And Jon Leuer is pretty good at that, at hitting opposite players at the post where he receives it.  And he's tenacious.  He's not a guy    sometimes big guys when they're young, they're a little moody.  They have their ups and downs.  I haven't seen that in him in the films that I've seen. “

(Have you seen many teams or any teams that can put four    an array of perimeter shooters around that hit threes?  Have you seen many teams like that?)

“Well, I'm sure there's some out there that we've (seen). There are times that Illinois when they're on the court with certain guys, there's certain lineups that teams can put out there, how often they've done it I can't really say, but we've faced some teams like that.  We're going to have to have our bigs guarding shooters, and people say that about us, that they have to have guys that can guard our bigs that can shoot outside as well as inside.  So I think it's a rarity, but we have seen it. “

(You had a game last week with Illinois.  You were down nine, I think, with a minute to go and you come back and you have a chance to tie in the Big Ten tournament.  What is it about the makeup of the last minute where a team is down by 10 or 12 and they're trying to scramble back in it?  How much do you try to influence who catches the ball on the inbounds for the team when you're trying to chase somebody?  Do you try to influence that a lot to get it to a poor foul shooter?)


“We mention in our scouting report or at the time out over at the bench who to foul if they're on the court.  Sure enough, as soon as you say, okay, foul Smith or Jones, Smith or Jones was substituted for during that last time out, and then the guys look over, well, who's next, coach.  So we say, look, if somebody catches it and there's X number of seconds, you've got to foul the person that catches it.”
   
“At other times, you double hard, have the player with the ball think that you're going to foul.  And we had a perfect setup against Illinois where we were not going to foul, we double teamed, and it was a matter of opinion, and their opinion is always the right one, is that they called a foul.  We weren't looking to foul, but the guy held it for six, seven seconds.  We were going to get a ten second call or a jump ball, because we had the next jump ball.  It didn't work out that way.  But you still have to know time and score.  And there's situations that we've gone through in practice where guys have a good idea what we're looking for.“

“If I gave away all my secrets, then we'd have to go play out of the country maybe.”

(Do you think there's any situation in the last minute when a team is down by 15 where referees should have a discretion to call intentional fouls, that when it's obvious that's an intentional foul?)

“ Whenever that's asked of me I say, what was the record?  What did Maryland come back from?  Anybody in the room remember?  What was the deficit, how much time on the clock?”

(It was 10 and under a minute, right?)
   
“It was under a minute, I know that.  You know, play it out.  Just play it out.  If people don't like being at the game, they could have left by then, or if somebody is watching on TV and they don't like it.  But the kids deserve 40 minutes.  Players deserve that.”
   
“Were you thinking about calling it?  Is that what you were going to say?  Call the game early?”

(No, I was just curious what you thought about it.  I wanted to know if you thought that intentional fouls when it's an obvious grab in the last minute should be called intentional two shots with the ball.)

 
“Yeah, because I think you need to teach your players to be actors.  I think you need to teach them to go in after the ball.  We do.  We don't grab shirts, or at least we haven't that I know of.  I mean, go after the ball.  We foul going after the ball, not grabbing from behind or whatever.  We don't teach that.  If it happens, it's out of a player momentarily making an incorrect decision.”

(What would it mean for you and your team to get back to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome and play in the Sweet 16 again?)

   
“If we're in Syracuse, the NCAA paid for it, and that means we've taken care of business Sunday.  So I'll go with you to that point.  And would it be exciting?  Of course.  Good basketball venue.  We've had a chance to be in there before.”

“But believe me, my thoughts aren't up north right now.  My thoughts are south.”

(We have a little friendly debate about 96 at the end here.  You advocated it yesterday strongly.  My problem with it as a fan is that there would necessarily be a bye for the first 32 up top and you won't get any Ohio Georgetown games or any of those kind of games)

   
“You'd be surprised what you'd get.  You don't know what you would get.”

(You'd get a lot of Minnesotas.)

“When (did) they jump from 32 to 64?  You've got to remember the tournament has expanded in the past, and there wasn't this knee jerk reaction from media types and coaches and players. I mean, everybody is like, well, why or what or yeah, it should be.  I've stated this for one simple reason.  There are more teams in Division I now, basketball.  Our players are under the brightest scrutiny, lights, heat to produce in a sport that pays 90 percent of the bills for the NCAA.  Why not give the student athletes and basketball the same opportunity for postseason extension and practice and camaraderie and be with their mentors and experience postseason play while other sports have a higher percentage than men's basketball and volleyball and softball and so on.  Why?”

(Well, I can't argue against that.)
 
“That's my argument and I'm on the NABC board of directors and I'm speaking as a member, not for the NABC.  But for coaches, for student athletes, for all the right reasons, why not another week or two with our guys?”

(Well, if you wanted to go to 128, then fine.  But what I'm saying is you give the big boys a bye, all those 32 big boys, they never have to risk, I know it's not pleasant for coaches of big name teams to have to risk going against a Robert Morris.)

“It's a really good team.  Who cares about the name?  There's a lot of good teams out there.”

(That'll never happen.)

“That'll happen.  There will be plenty of match ups like you just mentioned no matter what.”

(Well, not in the first round, not for you, not for a really high seed.  That's all.  That's all I'm saying.)
   
“We haven't been a high seed every year.”

(Well, any high seed.)
     
“We were 12 last year.”

(You had four turnovers yesterday.  You said that was a little bit high)
     
“No, I said coaches would always say it's four too many.”

(What number are you looking for?)

“I don't set a number.  It's what you're teaching your players.  Be responsible.  If we're getting looks, let's make sure we're getting a good look.  That's all, just make good decisions, ball fakes.  We do a lot of drills around passing and catching like everybody else does.”
   
“But I don't say you have to have this number or you have to have that number.  It's just all about a point that you get across, that if you're going to respect the game, respect the basketball. “

(Can you talk a little bit about your senior class to get here four straight years, which is difficult enough, but then to win a game and at least move on, which adds another degree of difficulty and just your thoughts on that accomplishment to not only get here but win a game each of the last four years?)

“Well, I like their spirit.  I like their preparation.  I like the way they banded together.  There's so many things that can go wrong.  That's why a streak like this is really neat to be a part of, because I've seen so many good teams, so many good coaches be in a situation where things just went haywire in a year or any particular year or maybe two, and things (like) injuries, not go well, not make the tournament.”

“So for this group to make it four years in a row, that's great.  But we're also playing a team tomorrow that's been in it several years in a row with pretty much those same guys.  And so that'll be on both sides one heck of an experience and one heck of an accomplishment.”

 

Jon Jaques


Cornell Student-Athletes

(For either one of the seniors, a lot was said about how it would be so great if Cornell/an Ivy League team could win a game in the tournament, so could either of you talk about how that was just never enough coming into this season?)
    
ALEX TYLER: “I think we had high expectations for this season, and definitely getting that win was incredible for us and our League. But we know we have a job to do when we're here, and we're not satisfied with just one win. “
    
JON JAQUES: “Yeah, basically yesterday we were very excited with the win. I think now that it's a new day, especially we just finished our practice, preparing for Wisconsin, our mindset is completely focused on Wisconsin and we were really excited about the game yesterday. Now we're definitely mentally prepared for our next game.”

(For Chris, against Wisconsin you're going to be going against a guard in Trevon Hughes who's really good about getting in the lane, scores most of his points from inside the arc. Talk about the challenges going against a guard like that and what you think the match up is going to be like.)
    
CHRIS WROBLEWSKI: “Yeah, I think it's going to be    obviously he's a great player. He's a great talent. You know, he can score in a variety of ways, getting his shot off, whether it be pull ups or threes. Like you said, he's a really strong, explosive guard, similar to Louis in a lot of ways that he can get into the paint. I think going up against Louis every day in practice is going to help me a lot. But I don't think it's like a one man thing at all. I think it's going to be all five of us, and I think Geoff Reeves is going to have to step up, and he's going to do a great job on him, as well. But I think we play great team defense, so we're just going to have to do that again.”

(Can you compare Temple and Wisconsin? Do you feel like they're similar teams? And can you expand on which ways they may be similar, which ways they may be different?)

    
JON JAQUES: “Yeah, they're both great defensive teams, I think. I think from what we've seen, Wisconsin might pay attention to their three point shooters a little bit more. We'll have to work to get open shots, I think. They both have large front lines. And I guess Temple, we did a bunch of different things to treat that.  So I think they're similar, but at the same time different types of teams. One is A 10, one is Big Ten. It's a different game. I think our confidence more than anything from yesterday's game will help us in tomorrow's game. “

(This is for Alex or Jon. I mean, so much was a goal this year to win a tournament game. You've done that. What has the 24 hours been like trying to either breathe in that air or refocus on the idea that you've got another game to win here, to play?)

ALEX TYLER: “We definitely enjoyed that last night, especially with our friends and family all around. We took it in, but now we're here, and we're all focused on today and what we have to do. And I think that's where our mindset is at right now.”

JON JAQUES: “Yeah, pretty much the same thing. I think it's obviously a special moment for our program and I think for the whole league in general. At the same time, I think we know we're talented enough to advance in this tournament. So if we play well tomorrow, we should have a good chance.”

(This is for any of you guys. Is it helpful after having such a convincing win yesterday against a defensive minded team, is it helpful facing another defensive minded team instead of maybe a match up where it's kind of more of a run and gun? Talk about that as far as preparation.)

    
CHRIS WROBLEWSKI: “Yeah, I think when you get a win in the tournament, you definitely have more confidence going to the next game. I don't think we were lacking in any sort of confidence. We played the schedule we did this year, so we would have the belief in ourselves that we could progress in this tournament. And I think we made Temple kind of play our style of game, and hopefully we're going to be able to get Wisconsin to adjust and adapt to what we want to do. “

(For any of you guys, this was a request from an outside source to ask this question. Could you guys elaborate on the tournament "Hatorade"? )

JON JAQUES: “Of course, I'd love to. I believe "Hatorade" is something you might either drink or absorb, I guess, that people outside your program might be, I guess, exposed to. I'm trying to give a scientific way of explaining this. “

“I don't know, it's just something people who don't respect your program, I guess (people) don't think you belong at this spot. I think we have proven, though, that we do belong here in the tournament, and hopefully no one is drinking any "Hatorade" against us. Yeah, that's about it. Can you guys expand on that? “
    
ALEX TYLER: “That was perfect.”

(Alex, can you kind of address the type of player Jon Leuer is for Wisconsin and maybe players that you guys have seen over the course of the year that are like him in any way and what will be important to containing him on Sunday?)

    
ALEX TYLER: “He's a very versatile big. He can step out and knock down a shot so we're going to have to close him down well. He also goes after the boards really well. We're going to have to do a great job in all aspects because he can knock down big shots, as we saw, and I think we are just going to have to play really overall very physical against him.”

(Chris, this is a follow up to your other comments. What is it that you all want Wisconsin to adapt and adjust to what you all do that might be different than what you got Temple to do?)
    
CHRIS WROBLEWSKI: “Well, the coaches discussed how the Wisconsin    all the teams they play in the Big Ten, they play in a great league and everything, but I think those teams are very different from ours. Whereas at one point in time we can have four shooters on the floor, I don't think the teams they play against, I don't think they're used to guarding teams that cut really hard and pass well and have five really skilled players on the floor at one time. So I think they're going to have to adjust to that.“

(Again, regarding your success yesterday, I was curious about all the national attention in the media that you've been getting. I'm wondering if any of you guys on the team have read coverage of you in the past 24 hours, like if you've seen the New York Post, the cover today, and any reaction to that? Or do you try to avoid seeing any of this coverage to try to focus on today?)

ALEX TYLER: “It's hard to avoid all of it, but for the most part we try to stay within ourselves and within our team. We've been getting a lot of coverage all year. Having a lot of seniors, having a veteran group like that has really done a lot for us in staying focused on what we have to do.”

(This is for Jon. Again, kind of dealing with the style that you're going to see, how much of preparing for Temple helps you prepare for Wisconsin since they are such    they're both such great defensive teams? )

JON JAQUES:
“It might help a little bit, I think. Well, they're both great defensive teams. They both have different strategies, I think both have different philosophies and that sort of thing. We prepared to play against a physical, rugged type of team from a big conference, but they both present different challenges. The keys for us will be probably the same against Temple, just to execute on offense.”
“Like Chris said, we try to make extra passes, cut really hard, set screens, that sort of thing, and hopefully that will do the job, because I think Ivy League teams put an emphasis on that, maybe not as much as the Big Ten teams do.“

(I guess for any of you guys, playing an Ivy League schedule, are you used to putting the emotion from one win away and playing on the next day? While it may be a bigger stage, do you think playing the Ivy League schedule for so many years is going to help you get ready for this Wisconsin game tomorrow?)
    
ALEX TYLER: I definitely think so. An Ivy League game, win or lose, you kind of have to put that in the past and move on to the next game as quickly as you can because it's coming up the next day. So I think having that the last four years, we'll be focused and ready to go tomorrow.

(Chris, with that "Hatorade" thing, I assume you guys play the no respect card a little bit. Did you kind of blow your cover a little bit yesterday, and with as complete a performance as you had, does that change things for you guys?)
    
CHRIS WROBLEWSKI: “You know, I don't think Wisconsin is coming into this game, second round of the NCAA tournament, I don't think they're going to take any opponent lightly, whether it be us or if they were playing another high major team.

At this stage in the season, I think any team is going to be giving it their all and playing    laying everything out on the court. And that's what we're going to have to do tomorrow, as well.”

(Forgive me, this is kind of a lighthearted question, but I don't know if any of you guys watch "The Office." There's a character on there from Cornell and who's very proud of that. I don't know if you guys watch the show, but how exciting would it be if there's a mention of what you guys are doing on the TV show?)
    
ALEX TYLER: “It would be kind of cool. I know they mentioned Nathan Ford on the football team once, so if we could get a shout out for our guys, we'd all enjoy that.”
    
JON JAQUES: “I don't watch "The Office" that much to be honest. I'm more of a "Lost" guy myself. But that would be cool, I guess.” (Laughter)

“Well, I think we obviously have a daunting task again to play a great defensive team in Wisconsin. Bo Ryan has done as good a job as anybody in the country in developing a program over the years that he's been there. This is one of his solid basketball teams, especially defensively. “
   
“We're going to have to do a lot of good things on offense to make sure that we get good shots, and you've got to handle what they bring offensively, as well."

 

Steve Donahue


Cornell Head Coach Steve Donahue

(You said the other day that Coach Dunphy was kind of the quintessential Philly coach. Kind of sounded to me like you were describing Bo, as well. How does Bo fit into that?)

     
“Well, I don't know if a lot of people even know that Bo is from Philadelphia, and I think I said yesterday, we're neighboring towns right outside of the city limits, and so I, being a basketball nut my whole life, I've known Bo. Bo has done an unbelievable job in terms of climbing the ladder of coaching and doing it in a way where he made great sacrifices early in his career to do what it took to get to the next level each time. He was a very good high school basketball player. You know, I almost say like Philadelphia has a couple things in common with coaches: Nobody likes turnovers, and that's a John Chaney thing, and I think it's a Bo Ryan thing, it's a Fran Dunphy thing, and obviously, I think they try to make things as simple as they can and grind it out and just be tougher than the opponent. That's something that we love to take pride in in Philadelphia, and I think Bo obviously does that in Wisconsin basketball. “

(How does your team reflect that, as well?)

     
“Well, when you're at a place like Cornell, I don't necessarily think you can recruit exactly the type of player that you're going to build your program around. I think you've got to build to the strengths of the personnel that you're able to acquire. So I would hope that we're the stringiest defensive team in our conference. It's not true every year, but I take pride in our defense. I think we take care of the ball. I think we play intelligently. I think we play tough. I think we compete. I think we can grind it out when we have to.”

“And I'm not Bo Ryan. I've got to play Steve Donahue basketball and try to instill that in my players.“

(You don't have a lot of time obviously to prepare for this game, but Temple and Wisconsin both kind of have the same identity, so how much does that help as far as preparation for this game?)

“I think that's a good point. I think they have a lot of things in common: The pace of the game, kind of a set team and kind of play until the end of the shot clock on the offensive end. Offensive rebounding is a key for both those teams. They guard you. They kind of guard you similar, but there's some distinct differences, trust me.”

“I think you've got plenty of time in the sense that my assistants had a scout all week. It was Wisconsin. He broke down them, got tons of film. You put a game plan    in the Ivy, we're used to that. We turn around and play every other night six times during the year. So I feel confident that we're ready to go.”

(Are there structural differences between the Temple and Wisconsin defenses, or is it simply the way the personnel is used?)
   
 “No, I think there is. I think there's different things that they handle ball screens, for instance. Wisconsin does something very different than what Temple does, and obviously we've got to make that adjustment.”

“The way they handle all screens are different and Wisconsin chases you off that three point line. If you look at the amount of threes that Wisconsin gives up compared to what Temple gives up, there's a dramatic difference. Don't think necessarily we're going to get 20 to 25 three point looks tomorrow like we did against Temple. We may, but I would think that the way they play, they're going to force you to beat them other ways.”

(Could you just discuss Jon Leuer and what kind of problems he poses as an offensive player?)
   
 “Yeah, I saw a lot of Jon in high school, tried to recruit him. He's an academic kid and a talented, skilled big. Probably the last time I saw him was his junior year in high school, now I see him in person yesterday. Just real impressed with his strength, quickness, ability to step away from the basket, plays hard. He's a terrific basketball player, as good as there is in terms of being that step out four in college basketball. He can make shots, and he's a guy that's obviously a force in the low block. It's hard to figure out how you're going to guard him. You're going to guard him with a big guy, then guys are going to have to be able to guard him on the perimeter, and obviously you if guard him with a smaller four man, but he's going to take advantage of you down low. I think you've got to be ready to guard him with all five guys.”

(How is Foote defensively out on the floor? I noticed he went out there some yesterday and didn't look totally out of place.)
     
“No, Jeff is a terrific perimeter defender in terms of getting out on kids. He guards a lot of Jon Leuer type of players in our league. He'll step out and guard guys who use the three point line.”

“I think the surprising thing that people don't realize about Jeff is that he's a very good athlete, and he's getting better every day as his strength gets bigger. He moves laterally very well, he gets off his feet. He's coordinated. My fear is I don't want to get him tired or in foul trouble, so we've got to pick our chances of when we're going to put him on the other team's best player. But he's a very good defensive player in all aspects. “
   
(Some of the players were just talking about this in the locker room, how this season they've played against so many different teams with different styles, but they did say in the regular season in the Ivy they did face Princeton with the physicality that you're going to see tomorrow. Is that something that gets you ready for Wisconsin, or is there physicality on another level?)
 
“No, I would say to you, I think Princeton is as good a defensive team as there is in the country. I mean that. They're physical. They're throw a line up out there, 6'10", 6'9", 6'8", switch everything, chase you off the line, grind it out. You feel like you're getting fouled on every catch, and it's kind of what Wisconsin is going to feel like. We played two really hard fought games against them. It's almost like you've got to understand it's going to be you go ugly at times and fight through that. It's not going to be a pretty game. We're not going to win any points for beauty here. Let's try to figure out a way to score a basket and then get back. But absolutely, more like Princeton than Temple. “

(So what was it about those Princeton wins that you can use against Wisconsin?)
 
“Well, there's an ability that both teams have of getting in you on screens, for instance. Like we said, numerous screens we're rotating the ball back and forth across, both of those teams just are dedicated to making it difficult to come off there clean, and not all teams do that. I think most teams try to do it, and it lasts for 20, 25 minutes, possession here, possession there. Princeton and Wisconsin do as good a job as anybody of physically getting in you so you don't feel like you're ever comfortable.”
   
“My sense is that those games helped us. I think it helped us yesterday, and we're going to see that kind of stuff where if it's the first time you've faced anything like that, there's a period of adjustment. I think we're better off that we faced that in our league getting into this game. “

(Could you describe the way Jeff Foote looked when you first brought him in?)

 
“Wow. I love talking about this because it's a lesson for me as a coach. But I saw him in our gym senior year just briefly, and I was sitting with a couple Division III guys, and he was probably 6'10", 170, and shaved head. It was hard to imagine him being a college basketball player at any level. And true, none of those Division III coaches were willing to give him a look. You see so many big kids, you always hope that maybe one has a chance, and you take a flier on him. You see it all around the country, all the programs that the kids really unfortunately never really develop what you would hope.”

“So Jeff went and did his academic. He was a great student and went to Bonaventure and came into our gym when we finally did get him. He was pretty good then, but he was still extremely thin. And what he did is he just dedicated himself, and I think it comes to basically what you just told you. I think he had a chip on his shoulder about how he looked, how he felt, awkward being as tall as he was, and he wanted to prove people wrong. That's kind of how he plays now.”

“And to coach a guy like that that has an attitude, and then you fall back on he's intelligent, there's times where I map up a play and I mess it up and he grabs the board and he redoes it. That's your seven foot center doing that, that's not your point guard. So he's just been an incredible delight to coach and be with. The stuff he does on the basketball court, I always say if he was 6'7", he'd be good. He'd be a really good player. That he's seven foot makes him very special.”

ON WISCONSIN
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