March 21, 2011
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's basketball head coach Bo Ryan, senior forward Jon Leuer and junior guard Jordan Taylor took part in a national teleconference Monday, discussing the Badgers' season and preparations for Thursday's NCAA Sweet 16 matchup with Butler.
A complete transcript of their remaks is available below:
LEUER AND TAYLOR TELECONFERENCE
QUESTION #1: Sort of reflecting a little bit on everything that happened in Tucson.
LEUER: Yeah, it was a tough, physical game and some guys got banged up, but, you know, the Sweet 16 makes you feel a lot better. So we got home, got some rest and we're back on our normal time schedule again.
QUESTION #2: Jordan and Jon, you guys both kind of personified Bo. You know, there's a lot of talk about, at times that the offense can be boring and things like that. But like you represent Bo even more maybe than some other players represent their coaches just in the style that Wisconsin plays, and just sort of, your attitude about it, just, you don't take a lot of grief and you're very straightforward?
LEUER: I think our team personifies what he's all about. And we all understand his system and what he's trying to preach since day one. And we've bought into that. I think our team as a whole resembles his character and the character of the guys on the team.
QUESTION #3: (Inaudible)
TAYLOR: Jon put it pretty much, pretty much covered it all. We just all try and, he's got a program that's put in place and we're following the system. And, obviously, it's proven to work. So you know, we just bought in, and it's a successful system.
QUESTION #4: Guys, if you could just put yourself in, pretend you're a college basketball fan for a second, and looking at BYU, Florida, and, if you're a fan, what's some of the first things you'd think about those programs?
LEUER: They obviously have been very successful, especially this year, and obviously, you think of BYU, and I think you got to think Jimmer Fredette first of all, but he also has guys on his team that can help him out. And Florida, they're kind of like us with an experienced group that has really proven themselves as the year has gone on. And both those teams are a force.
TAYLOR: Yeah, I mean, Florida obviously went to the Final Four a couple years ago, and did it well two years in a row. So obviously, same thing, two great coaches out there, Coach Rose and Coach Donovan, doing things to put their team in positions to win. And then, I mean, obviously, they have good players year in and year out who can execute their game plans, similar to what we do here in Wisconsin.
QUESTION #5: You've got the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the country. Can you talk about just how much you hate committing turnovers?
TAYLOR: " I'm pretty sure anybody on the floor, any team, doesn't like committing turnovers too much. Anytime you can get down the floor and you can get a good shot it's definitely a positive thing. But we've got a great team and a bunch of great guys who make it a lot easier than it might sound, it may look. You know, we got Jon (Leuer) and Keaton (Nankivil) and Tim (Jarmusz), Josh (Gasser), Mike (Bruesewitz), everybody on our team can come in and make plays and spread out the floor. And everybody's pretty good at making decisions so it makes it easy.
QUESTION #6: The other day, you were 2-of-14 at shooting. In a game like that, when you, did you have any idea that you were missing that many?
TAYLOR: Yeah, it was 2-of-16.
QUESTION #7: Well, 16, well, okay.
TAYLOR: You definitely know, but you just kind of stay in the game, keep playing hard, and you know, try and contribute in other ways if your shot's not falling.
QUESTION #8: And yet you took that 3-pointer at a very crucial time. Was there any hesitation or anything like that on your part?
TAYLOR: No, definitely not. We talk about all year just, if things aren't going your way, you've got to keep playing hard, stay confident, stay aggressive. So I am confident in myself at all times and my teammates, and my teammates have confidence in me I think. So we just keep playing hard, keep trying to make plays, and give it your hundred percent effort.
QUESTION #9: Bo was asked after the other night to describe Wisconsin's system of basketball. And he said, I don't know how to describe that. And you just used that term. What is the system and what does he mean by that exactly?
LEUER: Well, I think it's a couple things that, you know, we have guys that are just willing to work hard and do anything for each other, first and foremost. But then we bought into what Coach Ryan has been teaching us. And that's taking care of the ball, pushing it when we have a chance. And if not, then let's get a good shot. And also just being solid defensively, not giving up any easy buckets. You know, it's just doing all those things, and then, and adding in the hard work and dedication that we've done all year long kind of, you know, I think is the best way to describe how we play.
TAYLOR: Like Jon said, I think every coach has a set of philosophies that they think will make a team successful. And Coach Ryan has his, and obviously, they've been proven to be successful. So, you know, it's just taking care of the ball, getting good shots. And I wouldn't even say it's too different from a lot of other teams, but it definitely works.
QUESTION #10: You mention that you don't think it's different from a lot of other teams, but I think the perception is that it is different. And maybe it's boring. Do you get the sense that some people view it that way?
LEUER: I don't really think so. I mean, we just know how to play to win games. And I think, Jordan said it best in the press conference a few days ago, there's a lot of other channels on television. So you know, if they think it's boring, then watch something else. We're just going to do whatever we have to do to get the job done and move on, because it's just been so much fun this year playing with these guys, and we don't want our season to end.
TAYLOR: Yeah, winning is pretty, winning is contagious. So, you know, we just like to win games, trying to produce results. And we got plenty of fans that come watch us play, and I'm pretty sure we entertain, so we're concerned about kind of helping out or entertaining our fans, but if you really think we're that boring, then I guess you don't have to watch us play.
QUESTION #11: Do you guys take a lot of pride in what you've built here at Wisconsin, hard to win at home, you always make the tournament? How much of that pride factors into what you guys do in the post-season?
LEUER: Yeah, we definitely pride ourselves on just hard work and getting better. And I think guys have proven that over their careers, that maybe they might not come in highly touted as freshmen, but they keep working and just get better, and can prove themselves as some of the best players in the country. And that's obviously, carries out in postseason success too. Just as the year has gone on, we try to get better every day during the season. And I think it's showing right now.
QUESTION #12: Talk a little bit, if you would, about Jordan and just the way that he gets everybody involved in the game.
LEUER: He's been great for us all year long, just making plays and making the right decisions. Like you said before, his assist-to-turnover ratio is unbelievable. But at the same time, he's always making plays. That's just a result of his great decision-making. And you know, when he's got his opportunity to score, he's going to take it. And if the defense collapses on him, he's going to find his teammates and make them better. And you know, he's also just been great for us defensively too in stopping guys. You can't measure how much he's done for us this year. And we're lucky to have such a great point guard.
QUESTION #13: What about him in practice and so forth? Is he a guy that gets on to everybody or does he, he looks kind of mellow to me, but?
LEUER: No, he's a competitor, definitely. And when you're not doing the right thing, he'll definitely point it out to him and help him out. I think most of us are just more lead-by-example and let our actions speak louder than words. And I think that's how we are.
QUESTION #14: We were talking about this morning a lot, but Bo mentioned the other day that it depends on the group of guys running it, and who, you know, building off your strengths and weaknesses. Since you're the guy who sort of is the front man in it, what is the swing (offense) to you, like can you explain, sort of 101 on what the swing does and what it allows you to do?
TAYLOR: It allows you to just kind of make the defense defend, really. It's going to make you really work hard on defense as a team and as individuals. And if you can find out, match up players for us, we can definitely do that. So it does a lot of different things, kind of hard to pinpoint one specific thing, but you know, it's not really different from the flex or anything like that, but it has a lot of different wrinkles in it that will, that allows you to be effective game in and game out.
QUESTION #15: Basically it does give you three options on any, anybody who has the ball basically has three options to make a play. Is that sort of the goal of it? And then when stuff starts to break down late in the shot clock, do you have a chance to improvise a little when it runs out?
TAYLOR: I think there's a lot of different chances to improvise even before the shot clock. I mean, there's different lanes for cuts and things like that. And quick isolations, and different things. But it's really, it's kind of a complex offense. It takes awhile to learn. I'm a junior, and you know, you're still learning different things about it every day. So it's definitely an effective one, and I'm just happy to be able to run it.
QUESTION #16: Jordan, could you talk about what Gasser and Bruesewitz have brought on the court, and also their personalities, how that contributes to the team?
TAYLOR: Mike and Josh are both two tough kids, definitely. And they respond game in and game out. They come up with big play after big play. Especially Josh, you know, as a freshman to come in and do what he's done this year has been more than we could have even asked for. He's been unbelievable.
And, actually, to be honest, I was pretty excited going into the K-State game just because he hadn't had his best game against Belmont, so you know Josh is going to respond anytime he doesn't have his best game. He's going to come back with a good game. So I kind of felt like we had that on our side going into the K-State game.
And Mike has been big play after big play all year long, against Belmont, against Ohio State, K-State. You know, he's a tough kid. He's relentless. You can't really hold him back.
QUESTION #17: One of the TV announcers referred to Bruesewitz as a "piece of work" during the game. What do you think they meant by that?
TAYLOR: I don't really know. I guess he probably meant he's a handful. He's tough to deal with on the court. And off the court, you know, he's got a heck of a personality. He's a pretty exciting kid to be around. He's definitely different. So it's fun to have him on the team.
QUESTION #18: Last year people kind of fell in love with Butler going to the Final Four and the championship game, and here they are again. You get to play them. Are you all kind of the bad guys in the scenario on this, and do you welcome that role?
LEUER: I don't think so. I mean, obviously with what Butler's done, a lot of people are aware of that and support them. But we have great fans that are going to come out and support us and don't view us as the bad guy at all. So we're just looking forward to getting down there and competing against them. It's going to be a fun challenge for us. And we're just glad we have another opportunity to play.
QUESTION #19: Did you enjoy Butler's run last year though?
LEUER: I watched it definitely. I'm a fan of basketball, so I try to watch as much as I can. And you know, they definitely just did all the right things, worked hard and made big plays down the stretches of games. And were a half-court shot away of almost winning a national championship. So, yeah, it was fun to watch.
QUESTION #20: Jon, on the topic of Butler, I see them in stories being referred to as an underdog . . . despite what they've accomplished. Do you guys view them as that type of team or a very formidable foe despite whatever their seeding is?
LEUER: Oh, no, they're not an underdog at all. I mean, they have talent all over their team. I played with Shelvin Mack this summer and know what he's capable of. And he's definitely one of the best guards. And Matt Howard is one of the best bigs that you're going to face. So they have guys that can really fill it up, and then they're well coached, too. So you mix that talent with the coaching they have and you're going to be in for a battle.
QUESTION #21: Jordan, you were Mr. Minnesota Basketball. What attracted you to Wisconsin and your relationship with Coach Ryan? Could you talk about that little bit? Is he a point guard guy?
TAYLOR: Yeah, definitely, he was a point guard in college. And he definitely talks about that from time to time. And, you know, a lot of Minnesota guys were going to Wisconsin. I had known Jon in high school a little bit. And Kam Taylor, who was here before me.
They're the best recruiter in getting you. Coach (Greg) Gard was always trying to help me out before they had even offered me a scholarship. He was trying to help me out and tell me ways I could improve my game. And this was before he knew if I was even good enough to come here.
So I took that to heart. But as well it was the academics here, I'm in the business school here. So, you know, it's a lot of different combinations. But overall, just the great academics and the program that Coach Ryan has built here is definitely the traction.
QUESTION #22: You were talking earlier about the assist-to-turnover ratio and going 2-for-16, as you corrected me the other night. If you look at the stat line, six assists, no turnovers, does that offset 2-for-16?
TAYLOR: I think the win does. I don't know. If we lost that game, I don't know so much if it would, but definitely winning the game does. But like I said, those nights are going to happen. Hopefully, that's going to be the last one, or at least for the rest of this year. You've just got to keep playing hard, trying to make plays in other areas of the game. My teammates did a great job of picking me up and making plays when I couldn't.
QUESTION #23: What do you do to get yourself ready for the NCAA after a night like (the team's 36-33 loss to Penn State)?
TAYLOR: "You've got to learn from it, but you definitely have to put it out of your mind. You've got to put it behind you. It's like that 2-for-16 night by about 10 guys. You just have to put it behind you, get back in the gym and start preparing for the next opponent like we did in Belmont. We looked at the NCAA tournament as the start of a new season. And for us right now, we're 2-0, and we get to face a really good Butler team coming up here.
QUESTION #24: One last thing. The fact that Belmont was kind of this trendy pick, everybody, hey, that's the 13 pick, a seed that is going to win. Did that give you a little incentive?
TAYLOR: No, no, I don't think so. I mean, they had a really good team. Any time you can win 30 games, I mean, that's impressive. And they had a good team. We didn't look at it like that, we're just coming out playing hard. And we have enough motivation just trying, wanting to win basketball games. We got so many competitors on our team that we don't even really need that motivation.
QUESTION #25: Let's talk about the consistent production that Jon gave you in Tucson, and just what it meant to the team.
TAYLOR: I kind of just expect that from Jon, you know. Like I've said before, I guess he was struggling in past games. But he does so many things that you don't really notice when you're struggling offensively. He defends well, he rebounds exceptionally well. He just does so many things that you don't notice. And Jon is Jon. He's the best player in the Big Ten in my eyes. And one of the best players in the country, arguably the best player in the country. It's just like it's an expectation from Jon now.
QUESTION #26: Jordan, do you think that Bo gets the respect that he deserves as a basketball coach?
TAYLOR: Yeah, I think so. I just don't really pay too much attention to who's saying who the best coaches are. But anything we hear up here, anything I hear is that he's one of the best in the country. I guess that's a little harder to gauge I suppose, but I mean, we all have tremendous respect for him. He's a great coach. He's a proven coach. He's obviously done a lot of things over the years, dating back to even the days of Platteville that are successful. And he definitely knows basketball.
QUESTION #1: First of all, doing a story on Jordan, and he was talking about you're a point guard guy. How much, how important was he to you in recruiting, and was he the guy that you zeroed in on saying this is the guy that can deliver us to where we want to be, and how has he fulfilled that promise?
RYAN: Jordan Taylor's one of those guys, when he first came, when I first met him, not a very imposing guy, not long and lanky, not, physically short of stature, vertically challenged, as we say, but his eyes never left mine. He spoke very clearly, very succinctly.
I could just tell the way he carried himself, and it's the way his parents were, how eager they were for information academically. He blew the people away here in the business school when he went over and met with them. He just grew on us the more times he came around, and, evidently, he must've liked what he saw the first time and the second and the third and the fourth when he would visit unofficially. And we made the commitment to a scholarship, because we felt he could be a heck of a leader, and he certainly hasn't let us down.
QUESTION #2: And in what way, how has he brought his game even forward this year?
RYAN: Well, I, sometimes you realize you are the guy, that we had Trevon Hughes the past couple years, who kind of was the lead guard. But Jordan was a backup lead guard, but also played on the floor with him, with Trevon Hughes, but he just kept getting better in his court decisions.
He keeps a very good notebook, you know, a student of the game. And his basketball IQ is just probably one of the highest I've ever coached, or a young man that I've been around as far as what they anticipate, and he's just a tough sucker. He can take a lot of hits. He can, and just keep coming back for more, so he's got the full package.
QUESTION #3: You know, it's, in the press conference out in Tucson, you mentioned at times you get offended or something like that when people mention Wisconsin basketball like it's a bad thing. Can you tell us about the uniqueness of the swing and just why it's so effective in your eyes . . . Platteville?
RYAN: Well, first of all, there are a lot of people that don't even bother to understand the most important thing about offense is to be efficient. And there is a service out there that charts everybody's offensive efficiency, and I think we're No. 1. So I never get offended about anything, I just try to educate people who aren't as committed or spend as much time around this game as maybe others do.
So I'm never offended, I just try to educate, taking care of the ball, getting good shots. Now if they don't go in, which has happened a couple of times, if you're not hitting good shots, or if you're just not making something happen, you deal with that. And, but you have to give yourself a chance.
So if you're not turning the ball over, and you're taking high-percentage shots, that's the best way your teams, year in, year out -- because you're not going to have the same talent, you're not going to have the same chemistry, nobody, no team ever is an exact duplicate of the one before or five years before, and I treat all our players and their, and each team as its own personality, but there are constants.
The constants are good screens, good cuts, try to get to the free throw line, and if people don't see a lot of high-flying dunks, that's too bad. I'm still about substance, not flash. I like my players to be that way. So, and it's out of respect for the game. I think the game of basketball is something that needs to be respected, so, and one of the ways it can start is by the way teams try to play it. And the best way to pay your dues is to try to do it the right way, so we just try to do it the right way. Doesn't happen all the time, but it's an attempt.
QUESTION #4: Coach, how much improvisation is there for Taylor in the offense? And, you know, you talk about every year you have a different set of players, but the swing evolves in that way as well, doesn't it?
RYAN: Sure, it does. There have been coaches out there that for 40 years ran what was called motion offense, and people never went, `Oh, my God, a motion offense. That's terrible, or that's this, or that's that.' What is motion offense? We laugh. We don't get offended. We laugh when people thing that the swing is just an up-screen and a back-screen, but that's okay.
Then if people are guessing, that's to our benefit. But it's nothing that is too tough to handle, because we have third-, fourth-, fifth-graders in basketball camp running it. But if you have a good point guard that can come off the screens, can make good reads, has a little extra jet to get by a corner, can beat you baseline, can beat you across the top, can use throwback action, have good pick-and-pop guys with them.
If there's a good guard out there, he certainly has never been retarded in his development playing what we play. But that's people using it to try to keep people down, and that's the history of the world. There's always people who want to keep certain people down. So that's okay by us. We just keep playing.
QUESTION #5: Keaton said that that was about as excited as he's ever seen you Saturday. So was that about as excited as you've been for a while? Just talk about that a little bit.
RYAN: No. Not really. My excitement comes from watching young men figure a few things out and getting excited themselves. That's like me passing out tests when I coached and taught in high school and I give the test back, and some kid gets a test back and gets an A on the test, and he starts smiling, and then I start smiling.
I get excited, too, when people learn a few things and do a few things correctly, and you get good results. I mean, I was the same way in the classroom as a teacher as I am as a coach. I just like to see young people figure things out, have the lights go on in their minds, and they grasp concepts, and they come together. That's what excites me. So I don't know. I think there's more excitement out there for this group.
QUESTION #6: Well, on that note then, just talk about the satisfaction of getting that team ready and prepared to play as well as they did coming off the loss to Penn State.
RYAN: Well, you know, the best example is the paper that you write for. Just go to the crossword section and see what it says in there today in the cryptograph, in the, just to the right of the Sudoku, I think. It says problems aren't a stoplight. You know, if you run into some snags, if things aren't going the way you should, they're guidelines. You don't stop. You just keep moving forward.
So that's all we did, what everybody else in the country does when you, or you should do. When some things just aren't quite exactly the way you like them, you definitely aren't going to stop. And the fact that we had a chance to play again, we said it a lot, that was pretty good, that we got a chance to get back on the court again.
There are teams that don't get a chance to do that. But there are also teams that have two-game, three-game streaks or parts of their season where things get away from them, and I mentioned that before. It could be in the middle of the season. It could be in the beginning. We just happened to be in two contests that got away from us, but it happens.
QUESTION #7: What makes you most proud about what your program has accomplished over the last 10 years?
RYAN: I never stepped back and looked at it that way. The precious present is, I've got 17 guys here and coaches, managers, and I'm just trying to help them have the best college experience that they can. And whether that's being on the left-hand side more than the right-hand side, or how deep you get, whether you get to the NCAA Tournament or not, I'm way too young to be thinking about what, how I look at things that way, because that's not my job.
My job is to make these guys, give these guys an opportunity and create an environment for them to have the best experience they can, and that's the only way I look at it. And these 10 years are only small part of the years in teaching and coaching that I've spent, so that I'd have to step back and look at four or five decades.
QUESTION #8: Were you impressed, I guess, with, you know, you preach toughness a lot, but to actually have your team personify that toughness between Keaton and Jon and just the lumps that they took in that game, and, obviously, Bruesewitz coming off the sprained knee, I mean, it seemed like your team had to give a beyond and above effort to sort of overcome that physical play and thrive at it.
RYAN: Well, to tell you the truth, I thought that with Jon and Keaton it was a sympathy red dye, that they were trying to look like Mike Bruesewitz. They happened to be in the wrong place, wrong time with an elbow or hand or whatever it was. It wasn't anything intentional.
But Mike Bruesewitz is a guy who can stir the pot. I call him the mixer. And, you know, it's obvious that he really doesn't care what other people say, because I've said so many times anybody that would wear his hair like that obviously isn't concerned about his looks or anything other than how he plays. He concerns himself with the most important part of life, and that is what can I do, and I'm going to try like the dickens to do it well, and that's just the way I live my life.
So he does it in the classroom. He does it on the court. He's an inspiration to all the guys on the team that way, because no one, no one has outworked him. It's just a shame that the two of them couldn't have been here at the same time, Joe Krabbenhoft and Mike Bruesewitz, there would have been some really interesting practices.
QUESTION #9: You were talking about looking back. We're doing a story on the, how the Elite Eight could be to the Final Four or be a heartbreak round. You've been in that position one time. Can you recall your emotions after that game against North Carolina? And just the abruptness of the season ending like that, was that as tough a loss as you've ever endured?
RYAN: No. There are losses that we're all going to have that are going to be a lot tougher than a loss in a game, but it's, the thing that I care about at the end, when I know a season is over, that you have to put the uniforms away, I talk to my players, whether we've won the national championship, like we did at Platteville, I always tell the players that there's more out there, that life has more to offer. Thank the people that helped you get here.
I don't want to see my players leaving the locker room in tears where the parents and their friends and their significant others or whatever are the ones picking them up. I always tell my players I want them to leave the locker room thanking the people that made all of this possible and to pick them up.
Because if you think about it, in life, a lot of times, it's not the player the takes it the hardest, it's those of us in the stands. I've had kids play, my own children, and you get the, you get angry at the officials. You get angry at, you think this should've happened or that should've happened, and you're the one who's upset.