Oct. 24, 2012
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MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's basketball head coach Bo Ryan met with the media for the first time on Tuesday, as part of local media day.
Archived video of the media session is available through the link above, and a complete transcript of Ryan's remarks can be found below.
Question: Could you just talk a little about the "Make Bo Pay" campaign and what you hope to see out of this event?
Ryan: I think "Make Bo Pay" was done by other people, but that's ok, because (wife) Kelly's paying, she has the check book. We were pleasantly surprised with the turnout that we had for our Coaches vs. Cancer May outing and we also hosted in the state here up at Black Wolf Run in Whistling Straits the national Coaches vs. Cancer golf outing fundraiser. And some things happened there that were on the unbelievable side of giving.
One gentleman, to make a long story short, ended up donating $500,000 as a result of seeing coaches, and for some reason he's from Ohio and recognized me, and one thing led to another. This gentleman wanted to meet Herb Kohler and spend some time with him. He offered $100,000 for a half hour to sit with Herb Kohler, we made it happen and he spent an hour, so it was $200,000, not that we asked for it. And in the long run by the time he was finished talking to the Coaches vs. Cancer, American Cancer society committed $500,000. That, along with the close to half a million, four hundred-some thousand dollars we raised here.
Some other things had happened in our lives and Kelly and I, friends and relatives that had come down with different forms of cancer. That's a major part of it.
The final part was to get interaction with students and our players because I'm not into the rah-rah Friday night things - I really haven't been. We've done a couple things, but I kind of wanted to do something with the students that maybe was a little more meaningful, they get to take a shot or two. They get to meet the players another way, they get to be in the Kohl Center with the scoreboard on and the ring-beam and those types of things, so it's a student affair.
So Kelly and I agreed, we can combine the two - the students can come in and we'll make a donation to charity. It's something we felt, "well let's do our part" let's contribute more, let's give more back and so we're doing that through Coaches vs. Cancer. Our players are willing to donate their time because it's an off day for us, but what we'd like to do is see students come out. In spite of if it's raining, I know some showers are predicted, things like that but we like to see the students come out because they don't have to pay anything. They got $1 just for showing up, $10 for a free throw.
And, you know, the normal free throw percentage in college is around 70%, maybe college students it may be 50%. But if 40,000 students showed up and made half their free throws, that'd be $200,000. Nothing wrong with that, it's hard to get 3,000 students with so many things going on to do one thing in particular, we realize that. But, here's an opportunity, meet the team, raise money for a chance to be a part of beating this dreaded disease. I know there are a lot of other things going out there, a lot of other fundraisers and things like that, but what a great interaction this could be between students and our players.
Question: Bo, on the basketball front, what's going to be the biggest challenge in trying to replace Jordan, and are there things that Josh and George and some of the other guys even do better?
Ryan: Well the nice part about now being in my 41st year of coaching, when people say replace other people, I don't get as alarmed or excited or nervous. It is amazing how young men step up and I have all the faith in the world that that's going to happen with this group. But every player that's ever played here knows how much we appreciate them - you know the stats, the last two years with Jordan pretty much controlling the offense, 51 wins and part of some fun. A lot of things that he did with the ball there's a lot of guys who aren't as effective with the ball in doing that, but I'm not asking the next person that plays that position to be the other person that they're replacing.
So, I think what we're doing now with our offense with our ball movement, it's more scoring off of action away from the ball than maybe on the ball, but we're still getting some stuff done with the ball, off of ball screens, read and react, rim runs, replace, horns, back-doors, just basketball--read and react, read and react. It's still about taking care of the ball, still about getting good shots and I think the players that we have will continue to do that.
Question: I want to ask you about one of your freshman, Sam Dekker. You guys were obviously in Albuquerque when the WIAA tournament was going on here.
Ryan: And fortunately it'll still be going on here (in reference to the WIAA and UW coming to an agreement on extending the High School Basketball State Tournaments being held at the Kohl Center).
Question: Yeah, I'm assuming you've been able to see what Sam was able to do in the final minute of that state title game. What are your thoughts on his abilities and have you seen any of that fearlessness in him so far?
Ryan: I've had a chance to watch Sam for three summers, more than just a 32-minute high school game or on a highlight reel. And the reason I say that is because I know about his total game, we do, because we've seen him do a lot of different things. You talk about shots that were made, 12 points in the last x-number of seconds and I hear people talk about that all the time...to be successful it takes a lot more than just that, you have to rebound, screen, play defense and that's what Sam's here for.
Sam wants to come here to be a complete player. And the nice part is he knows he has a lot to learn. He hasn't come in here with the idea that he has all the answers. So he is a talented basketball player as are the rest of our guys who participate here. And what always separates, in the end, those that achieve at a very high level with individual stats, has a lot to do with the teammates around them, has a lot to do with their work ethic, their being able to fight through little things that happen when you're in college, bring other people up around you and make other people better around you. So, that's what we're looking for in Sam.
We know he has ability, we know he has talent. As my dad always said, "the woods are full of people who can sing, people who dance, people who can act, people who can play basketball, people who can play football. But, if the woods are full of them how come not everybody ends up being successful if there's that many?" So Sam is one of those guys that has unique skills for his size and that can enable him to be one heck of a player. Now, it's early, so he really hasn't
done anything yet but he's trying to do something and that's the good part, and he's listening.
Question: Bo, how, I guess, scary or gruesome was the incident with Bruesewitz and how have you liked how he has, I guess, put a positive spin on it, kind of embraced that he got lucky, that he's going to be back his senior year?
Ryan: There are things that happen sometimes where you just scratch your head and say all the wrong things...certain things had to happen in a sequence. And, it happened. So, Mike's handled it well. (Athletic trainer) Henry Perez is unbelievable, he should be the highest paid trainer in the Big Ten and I'm telling you because I've seen him handle so many things so well, and what he did that day.
Part of my function was to make sure I took care of Mike's head, shoulders and chest by kind of keeping him down and telling him as he asked me if he was ever going to play again and I said `of course, skin can be replaced.' I didn't offer up the land in Florida, but I didn't know. But I felt good about, it's Mike Bruesewitz, he's tough he can handle this he will come back from this. But what Henry did and of course Doc Irwin and the other people that treated him...it is amazing that he's going to be on the floor, he'll be out there, it's just a matter of how many weeks.
Question: Pretty sure you haven't determined yet how much Sam Dekker is going to play this year, but what does he have to do to really contribute to this year? What are his biggest challenges going to be to being in the rotation?
Ryan: Well I think he's already shown some strengths. He's been fouled more than anybody in all of the possessions this summer, this fall and the practices this fall since we started the 20 hours per week. Now, what that tells you is he's finding a way to get to the rim, he's getting offensive rebounds, he's drawing contact, that's a strength right now. He needs to keep filling out physically, you ask yourself well how did Josh (Gasser) find his way on the court as a freshman, well there are certain things he did where you say `ok.' I do reward performance, because we do stat everything and we do film everything.
So, Sam as well as anybody else, needs to do things that contribute to making our team stronger. If he can give us 15 minutes of that, 30 minutes of that or anything in between whatever it is always welcome, especially by his teammates. He's been accepted by them very easy because he'll pass the ball, he'll rebound, he's trying to play defense the way we play it. Like I've always said before, sometimes high school players that are the star on their team so to speak stay out of foul trouble. So maybe there are some things defensively where they're hidden, but in college you can't hide anybody in your defense.
So, to become more consistent defensively, to continue to be as active as he is and he's not afraid to make a play, he doesn't play tight. But there's one thing about guys who play loose that can't produce, he plays a little loose with the idea that he's trying to figure out how well he can do certain things and if you don't push the envelope a little bit in practice you'll never know. So, he's done some of that but he's also found out what I don't like: shot's I don't like, passes that I don't like. Because there is one thing about Sam, he will never be accused of not being a very bright young man because I think he figured out that I get to determine his playing time. It's amazing how many friends you get when you determine the playing time. So, good competitors, they find a way to get on the floor, it never fails."
Question: Bo, in the little bit we saw yesterday and today one of the things that jumped out was Frank Kaminsky looking physically different, slimmer, learner and that.
Ryan: It's his cousin.
Question: (Laughter) What do you expect his cousin will do this year that the other guy couldn't last year?
Ryan: That other guy? It's just he's not a freshman anymore. He's moving his feet, he's more cognizant of anticipating what's next, he's not caught up in maybe if he doesn't do something well, he doesn't mumble to himself going back down the court or hang his head. As much as you try to tell people about these things you have to be a person who can continue on with the fight. If you miss a shot, it can't affect what you do defensively. If defensively a guy gets something or you didn't block out, just make sure it doesn't happen again and go on to what's next like we always talk about. Frank understands `next' so much better this year then last year. When I say, somebody asks me about when I say Frank is one of the most improved players I've seen, one of the measures I use for improvement is how quickly they get to `next.'
Question: Coach, a lot of attention on Dekker coming into the season, the other newcomers, Marshall, Showalter and Bohannon, do you see any of them stepping into the rotation early on?
Ryan: They're trying to; if they don't it might be a surprise in some areas. Obviously Zak (Showalter)'s a little younger than George. George has all the experience of going against Jordan every day, but Zach (Bohannon) played at air force, started some games, every once and a while I got to remind him to park his jet when he goes maybe a little too fast at certain things, but he's savvy. He's that moxy guy I refer to a lot.
Question: Coach, as you find your rotation and playing time with these guards, how important is the production of your post guys, experienced guys like Berggren and Evans, and do they know the expectations are a little bit raised to produce this season?
Ryan: We need Jared, with his minutes from last year we need obviously Mike, and Ryan is better than he was last year. It should be that way, sometimes it might not equate to better scoring on a statistic. For example, for Jordan (Taylor) between his junior year and his senior year, he was guarded differently last year. If you look at film and you see how people chased him off the three-point line, if you saw how the help rotated to Jordan so much more, his statistics were down a little bit but that also meant that Ryan, Jared and Mike had better years, and gasser had a better year. So, wherever it comes from it isn't all about individual statistics, so if Ryan has improved, his numbers might not change that much but maybe he gets more help defensively in scouting reports.
So what you always hope for as a team is that you're so well blended that they can't zero in on one or two players and that's what I like about this mix right now is that we have guys that could play well every night and be really good, but on the other hand if someone doesn't step up and take some of the scoring load then we could be the other way.
Question: With those guys like Mike, Ryan (Evans) and Jared, how have you seen them step into that senior leadership role with all the young guys on the team?
Ryan: Well a lot of times I don't tell guys "hey, it's your last year." Sometimes you'll maybe drop a hint saying "hey, you're not going to get to do this much longer so you want to make sure you get the most out of it,"...things like that. I'm not using that approach right now. The approach right now is I don't want them thinking about "oh, this is my last year." That's hurt a lot of players in a lot of programs across the country because sometimes you play desperately, or you play "this is the last time my significant other is going to see me play so I've got to really play well to impress that significant other," did you ever know guys do that sometimes? Or "I promised my parents I was going to be this by the time I graduated from college and I'm not there yet so I'm going to try to get it all in this one game."
I never want players playing that way. People have said "oh it's always easy to be a junior, you're loose, you got another year" well it's not easy being a junior, it's never easy being any one of the four years you're in college because the game is a challenge. So, senior leadership, we have, those guys have experience. Have you ever interviewed those coaches that have all the guys coming back? "The good news, the bad news is we have everybody coming back?" Well what's the bad news coach, "we have everybody coming back." I can't say that, I'm going with the good news, we have those guys back that have a lot of minutes, along with Josh Gasser.
Question: You mentioned Josh, he is one of those juniors who's played a lot for you. His defense has obviously been a constant, what's the next step for him in his overall game given the new make of the team with Jordan gone.
Ryan: I think he'll be a scoring threat. Now, whether or not those numbers are produced that way again, will he get the attention from the other teams, will he get the rotations, the help, that's a factor also. But by him being better as a scoring threat, that's going to help the other guys on the floor, But he's handling the ball well, the couple hours a week we had in the summer were tremendous. People always ask, "Well, are you ahead of where you were last year?" I'd like to say yes, in our minds, but everybody else had the two hours for that week. So what you're hoping is that your players responded to the staff better than the other schools did for those two hours a week. If you have that then you've got a chance.
Question: Bo I'm sure you noticed there were three Big Ten teams in the top 5 of the coaches' poll, another in the top 15 and then you guys, have you stopped and considered how tough the league will be this year?
Ryan: I started in this league when it was tough, I'm sure by the time I'm done it'll be tough and every year in between. It's just a matter of what other people want to say about it and that's the good thing about protecting opinions in our country, we've got to keep protecting them.
Question: Coach, you talked about the development of guys, is there anyone that really surprised you and jumped off the charts in their development this summer besides Kaminsky, and also, with this mix of guys do you feel there's anything special or different this group brings compared to other years?
Ryan: I think that's a question I'd rather hold off on. The only reason I mentioned Frank is because he's different, he's made a commitment to maybe being on `Dancing with the Stars' where last year he had no chance, meaning his feet are better. Evan Anderson is better, he played really well today on the screens. For me to say a guy played well...look at the screens, look at the rebounds look at some other things. Today was a good day, who was it that did that song...Ice Cube. Opposed to Ice T. Today was a good day. I can hear it now, it's reverberating. I did hit some people with, how fast without googling, the lyrics `I swear there is no heaven, I pray there is no hell.' C'mon...(press is silent)...it's Blood, Sweat and Tears...get it off of YouTube somewhere, it's one of those you sing in the shower. You looked like you were stumped there for a question so I thought I'd get that in.
Question: Bo, your nonconference schedule is always a challenge, this year it's no exception.
Ryan: Wow. Tell me about it. (Assistant coach Greg) Gard and I have had a talk too.
Question: Can you just talk about what this nonconference schedule is really going to do for you guys heading into Big Ten play?
Ryan: Well again, I thought the nonconference last year really helped us because I really felt, and the period before school, I don't know what our record was after the students got back on campus, I thought it was pretty good, we got better. And I still credit Jordan with the fact that how that front line developed as probably the most significant part of that improvement. I'm hoping early, we're going to need to play better than we played earlier last year. When you replace the three starters up front, there was a little growing, some bucking up against this or that or picking up little things, but I thought our guys did a great job of doing that by the end of the year.
Again, I've said this before, we thought we could play with anybody, so it sure would be nice if we could get our rotation and get some things established maybe a little earlier because against some of these teams we're going to need that. But yeah, I think [the nonconference schedule] challenging, and again, in scheduling, I'll go through all the factors so maybe it won't even ask, who wants to come north in November and December when you could go south? Teams want to play on weekends, our facilities tied up on more weekends than any facility in the country, but we share with another sport or two. Used to be three, but now they use the LaBahn, which is great.
The other thing is an assistant goes to a head coach "hey, you want to Wisconsin and play?" For some reason there are coaches they look at record and they kind of don't want to come here because of what the players have done. So we're trying to find the home games for revenue, what we're required to have each time, so that we can support the athletic program. It's hard, again Greg Gard is the hardest working man in America, it's trying to get people to come in here and fill the home schedule. But I think he's done a pretty good job at it. Just hope that Cornell doesn't have the eight seniors again. Whew, were they a handful.
Question: Another question about the newcomers, they seem to have an eventful offseason, whether it's using social media to recruit or set up a meeting with the President or to engage a Brewers' relief pitcher in a conversation, or what have you...
Ryan: Really? You're telling me things...I know a couple of those things. But I hear that Internet is catching on, so I'm going to get into that.
Question: It might. You use the word loose in your description of Sam before. Is it fair to say this whole group has a looseness, air of confidence about them coming in. It seems to be, the outside looking in, as a fun group.
Ryan: Well there's a difference between believing and confidence. You might go "What?" It could be debated. But sometimes when you say confidence it's not for a reason. Beliefs, you have a conviction to that belief, "I believe I can do this" rather than "I can do this." I like the belief part of it when you say is it their nature to be overconfident, no, but I do think that this group is trying to find itself and an identity that we'll only know once we start doing our thing. With the DePaul scrimmage, with the Red/White game, with the state school coming in, the ninth of the nine schools, so that's all to come.
This is an opening press conference and there's a lot of things I could say after yesterday's practice that I couldn't say after today's, I could've told you something else last week and today couldn't tell you the same thing, so I try to not overstate. I might dance around things I've been known to do that a couple times and I understand, but I really can't say right now if that's an air, a-i-r, or a belief, but they do enjoy going against one another, they do enjoy competing. There's no lack for bodies flying around, charges being taken, diving on the floor and putting their face on the ball as I always ask, I see a lot of that. And then the more they do of that the more they can believe, and then maybe confidence can come as a result of production. Confidence should not be empty; you should produce to be confident. I'm not rewriting the Webster's or anything; I don't know what it says for confidence in there.