Oct. 11, 2013
• Ryan News Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's basketball head coach Bo Ryan met with members of the media Friday at the Kohl Center to preview the 2013-14 season.
Video of Ryan's media session can be found above, and a complete transcript of his remarks is below.
Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about meeting up with UW-Platteville in the exhibition contest.
RYAN: "Well, it's our second go round. What I never want this to do is to never lose any of its purpose in playing the state schools. There are a lot of affiliations between the people in this state involved in athletics and a lot of people who work in offices who are all from different state schools, and they have their stories, they have their pride and their institutions.
So when we finally got it passed -- and we worked through the WIAC to get it passed. They sponsored the legislation -- to play Division I schools, along with any foreign teams, if you wanted to play them, or scrimmages or anything else. So we started with the state schools being one of the two games that we would play.
Now I've gone to a scrimmage for the second game. So now it's Platteville again. We've already went through the nine schools. It's hard to believe this is the 10th year of doing this.
But we're proud to be able to say that we have state schools that are pretty good. They know a little bit about the game. And they know how to play, and they have systems. And they have a lot of followers in the state. So I think it's just a natural.
We're excited again. My affection for a place like Platteville, as you guys know, runs pretty deep."
Q. Coach, you coached at that level for a long time. What are your thoughts on the coaches and the players that come in and play you? What can they take away from that experience?
RYAN: Well, as I said, the first year we did this, we would have crawled from Platteville to play the University of Wisconsin. You know, it's -- because they have 15 guys that practice every day, work hard, play off of one another. They also have a great deal of respect for the game, each one of the -- the coaches and the institutions in the state conference.
So for them to be able to do this -- just ask their players. I can't tell you over the last nine years how many times, after we play one of those schools, the letters, the calls, the e-mails. Never Facebook or tweets because I don't have it, but I do get messages in other ways -- how much it meant to them. And when I bump into people in the state, I hear it all the time."
Q. Bo, what did you learn about your personnel up in Canada? Can you quantify yet how valuable that experience was given all the new faces on this roster?
COACH RYAN: "The experience in Canada was great. I thought the two cities were great places to pick up some of the Canadian culture and how Canada is divided up and how their government works, especially being in Ottawa and Toronto.
The other thing was we had a little fun with -- when we saw the changing of the guard. How many here have ever seen that at the capital?
Well, all I did was I told Bronson Koenig and Jordan Hill to go get Ben Brust and Josh Gasser. That's the changing of the guard. I guess you had to be there. Most of the players didn't chuckle at that one either when I called them together.
It was fun. What did I learn about them? It's a good group, some great young men, great -- I mean, you just -- you had to enjoy being around these guys to watch the way they played off of one another, tried to learn together. They realized they had a lot to learn about defense.
Offensively, we could score. Defensively, they realized it takes more repetition than what we had had previously leading into those games and that the Canadians can score.
I would say the Canadian defense was about where our defense was. So we both scored. My whole idea of doing the trip was I was hoping when we came back and then we started our drills in practice, there was a frame of reference, why do we handle screens this way? Why do we handle staggereds? Why do we handle ball screens here, ball screens there, block to block situations? Well, this is why. You just found out why we do it this way. Because we got burned on some things that -- where we needed work.
So that's what -- that's what the Canadian trip meant to me.”
Q. Bo, at this point, how close is Josh Gasser to being a play -- playing at the level you hope he can get to in this season?
RYAN: "Somebody told me it was in the paper that he was 100 percent. So how do I know? They don't let coaches determine anything anymore, other than who starts and who plays. I mean, when I say determine, if a guy's nicked up, if a guy's -- we're secondary, and that's all right.
And the player -- because players will play hurt. As my old coach asked me the other day. I was talking to him on the drive home. He said, Tell those guys you never missed a practice or a game in seven years. Would you just tell those guys to toughen up?
I said, ‘Coach, this was an ACL. This was -- I said, Coach, we couldn't even spell ACL when we were in high school.’
We had sprained ankles and dislocated fingers and things like that. But nowadays, a guy doesn't practice if he's not cleared by the training staff.
So when you ask me, Where is Josh? I'm going to let him do anything he can -- if he's on the court, he's got to be able to do everything that's asked of any other player. If he's not able to, then he's not on the court. So he's been on the court, and he's done some pretty good things.
Sure, there's a little -- every once in a while, you'll see him reach down and grab his knee -- not grab his knee like it's in pain, but just kind of readjust his brace or just keep reminding himself that, ‘I'm okay, I'm all right, I can do this.’
He hasn't done any 360 tomahawks yet, though. He's not there yet.”
Q. Coach, you've got six new freshmen. Can you talk about what it's like from a coaching perspective to work with so many young guys? And also, how have they acclimated so far to life as Division I athletes?
RYAN: " Well, I can tell you this. This is probably one of the brightest young group of freshmen collectively that we've had. Very astute, very perceptive, hungry. And they're grasping a lot of things, and I think it's out of necessity.
I mean, sometimes freshmen come in and see all these guys in front of them where they feel they have no chance of getting minutes. We have several guys who know that, if they continue to progress and do what we've asked of them, that they can get on the floor.
So I think, if you see that out there, if you see that light, may as well go full speed ahead. So I really like the group. I think it's -- and I think our upperclassmen will tell you the same thing -- they've added to practice.
They're going to push each other within their own class, and they're going to push all the guys in the sophomore to senior class. Not that we have a lot of seniors.”
Q. Talking to Sam Dekker, he said he's gained 30 pounds since he's come onto campus. What have you seen from him early on in terms of the evolution of his game?
RYAN: "He's gained 30 pounds?"
Q. He said he's 223 and came in at like 191.
RYAN: "Was that soaking wet?"
Q. I think so.
COACH RYAN: "See, when you see guys every day, you never really -- I would never have guessed that. That's -- heck, I haven't even seen the weights on our players. I couldn't tell you what anybody weighs.
So what have I seen different? He knows he has to get better with his feet. He has to get better defensively. He has to be able to finish better. He has to be more consistent with his shot. He has to -- you know, list of about 20 more things, but I'll stop there.
Just like every other player, he's learned a lot. He's in the process of really tinkering with being pretty special. And it's going to be on him how far he wants to take it.
Looks like he could use another 30, doesn't it?”
Q. Coach, you have a pretty young team, but obviously some guys with some actual experience. Do you think that that is going to surprise some people this year?
RYAN: "Well, I don't know. Halloween's coming up, and I've seen surprises. Some different costumes and different -- I don't know what you mean by surprises.
Does that mean people think we're not going to be very good?”
Q. With a young team, you know, losing so many big guys.
RYAN: "Yeah. I think surprises, as long as they're good surprises, not bad surprises -- I like good surprises.
Yeah, there's a lot of question marks. So with the young guys, every time we do a drill now, we put a young -- we put a freshman with an upperclassmen, and they help them through the drill, especially partner drills, and they've worked pretty well together. Pretty spirited group.
So will youth be served, or will the youth get served? I don't know. We'll have to wait and see. But it's fun working with guys who are listening and trying to grasp what we're teaching. It's a great group for that.”
Q. Is this the most depth that you've had in your backcourt, dating back to however many years, 42 years you've been coaching?
RYAN: “You think 12 guards is a lot? Well, if you ask certain guys, they'll tell you they're guards.
You know, it just panned out this way. It keeps a very high competitive level in the backcourt in all our drills and all our possessions. So I've never really heard of teams having too many, to where, if you have guys who are in it together and not worrying about just themselves so there's not, you know, guys jealous of other guys or envious in a way that it's detrimental.
But the guys who will be on the floor, the other guys who will be trying to get on the floor, they'll know why. I haven't had a problem with that in all those years that he mentioned.
Guys that aren't playing usually know why they're not playing and, okay, get better. Get better at these things. Usually, they understand.”
Q. You just have a lot of guys back there -- with Josh being hurt last year, a lot of guys got in, George Marshall and Trae Jackson…
RYAN: “Great minutes. Great minutes for Trae and for George, (Zak Showalter).”
Q. You lost a lot of frontcourt minutes. How is this team going to look different? Are you going to play a lot smaller? I think I know you well enough to know that doesn't really bother you much, does it? If you have to play small, big, however you have to play.
RYAN: “Yeah. There's certain things you would like to say, like I'd love to have a 6'8" power forward. I'd like to have a 6'11" strong -- a center with good feet. I'd like to have a slasher at the three, like a (Alando) Tucker. And then at guard, you'd like to have this and have that.
You take what you have and try to put them in positions to be successful, and I think, you know, Sam's already played a few positions, and he's a wing, and that could be a two or a three, but he can also play the four because, as a stretch four, as they call it now -- thanks to the NBA, I guess. A pick and pop guy.
Sam is a stretch four when he does play the four. And I like the versatility of some of our guys.
You know, Josh. Josh could play a one, two, three. Trae could play a couple of positions and so on. You can go through some of our guys, and you could say that.
The main thing is defensively you’ve got to know what your teammate's going to do on the screen. You've got to know what your teammate's going to do on a staggered screen, in transition defense, who has the rim, who has the ball, who moves when on what pass.
So all of those things in our drills, when we run our search and destroy drill, which is a transition defensive drill, you end up on guys that are bigger than you or smaller than you. So sizes have never really bothered me.
And maybe it goes back to my first high school job where everybody was all the same size, 6'1". 12 guys that were 6'1" out of the 15, but they were slow, and they couldn't shoot. And somehow, we won some games. You had to see these guys.
No, actually, they could shoot a little bit, especially our one-eyed guys, Mark Dublisky. I have coached more visually impaired players than anybody else in the country. My first junior high team had a player with only one eye, and he was my leading scorer. At UWM -- do you remember? Some of the older guys. Chad Angeli, glass eye. He had one eye, visually impaired. He was all-conference. He was All-Horizon league.
Marcus landry was legally blind in his one eye, at least for a while. I don't know if it came from a hit to the head -- where's the trainers when I need them? Do you remember Marcus had the problem where he had to wear the goggles because his one eye -- he really only had one good eye.
How did I get on that, by the way? Anyhow, we'll take guys that can play and can play any information, size. It's not the size of the dog in the fight but the fight in the dog. The guys hear me say that a lot. So hopefully, we'll have some of that."
Q. With what Frank Kaminsky did on the court last year, what do you see from him this year?
RYAN: “He's better. He was -- until he got nicked up here, he was playing really well. He's come a long way. We're excited about what he can do this year. He'll have a chance to do it.
And you know what Jim Carey said about that.”
Q. Can you talk about Jordan Hill having five years of experience, still a freshman? Does that add to his maturity on the court? Older than his 18 years.
RYAN: “Yeah. You know, he's still one of the more interesting phone calls, recruiting phone calls, as he has to excuse himself for a while and then comes back and says, ‘Coach, I can't believe -- I'm practically hyperventilating here. I can't believe you called me. Do you know what my middle name is?’ Some of you have heard this.
And I said -- oh, you know, when I was an assistant here at Wisconsin, I had this big notebook of every call that I made. I had every sister's name, every brother's name, every -- and I never made a phone call -- you have cell phones now. I never made a phone call off a landline where I didn't have the notes on the player that I called.
I'm on a cell phone. I'm on my cell phone. I don't have his middle name in front of me. I said, Jordan, you got me there. He said, ‘I'm Jordan Taylor Hill, Coach. I watched Jordan Taylor. He's my idol.’
I said, ‘Jordan, you don't have to work on minutes yet. Just be patient. You'll be able to get some.’ He's smart. He's wiry, he's quick. Love him at practice. I love what he's doing on the floor because he brings it.
Boy, I thought I hated to lose. My kids can all tell you the stories of how I never let them win. My own children. I hate to lose. And Jordan Hill might hate to lose more than I do, and that's scary, at that age. I've mellowed as I've aged. I'm not anywhere near as competitive.
But he's -- will that matter? He still looks young. Now he's grown a little (facial hair) -- either that or he's coloring it in. I don't know."
Q. Have you formed an opinion yet on this extended preseason? Your players too, are you sensing any antsiness or anything to get the real season started?
RYAN: “No, not really. With the workouts we were allowed to get in anyhow, with the couple hours -- of course, we're a school that adheres to the rules. So we would stick strictly to the hours.
But other schools were working guys out, you know, in different ways, using the hours differently. The guys were still playing. The guys were still conditioning. See, I can't take the guys to the Hill. It counts as one of the 30 days.
So what's happened is it's taken away conditioning days. So the conditioning is actually done with a basketball right now. That's the difference. That's the difference I've seen.
And we have it spaced here where there's days off. This is actually the first week where we've gone six days in a row, but then they'll be some -- because once October 15th came around, you always went six days in a row until your first game. But we have some days off in there.
The Shooting Down Cancer is a volunteer thing for the players. It's like a community service. So that doesn't count as a practice day.
But we'll find out how we feel going into the season. To have as young a team as we have, I'm trying to look at it as if they were telling me something like, hey, Coach, you're going to need all those practices. The sooner the better with that squad."