Oct. 25, 2011
Watch Ryan's Press Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's basketball coach Bo Ryan held his season-opening press conference on Monday. Below is a transcript:
QUESTION #1: Coach, before his season, Bret Bielema talked to us a little bit about what kind of athlete, what kind of student athlete he looks for when he recruits. I was wondering if you could, in general terms, share with us along those same lines. What kind of student athlete do you look for when you’re recruiting too.
RYAN: Well, I mean, you would look for somebody with a 4.0, you look for somebody that had college classes where they could come in as a freshman having 16 credits knocked out, you look for somebody with world-class speed, somebody who could jump out of a building, somebody that could shoot from half court as well as make layups. I could give you the perfect recruit.
But what you look for is you look for somebody that’s a good fit for this university and where this university can suit the needs of young man that’s coming in. You know, it’s got to be a fit. There are some people that we don’t go after for certain reasons. There are probably some people that don’t want to, or feel they don’t want to play here for either imagined or real reasons.
So what you look for is you look for individuals who are willing to mesh, blend, become a part of something bigger than themselves, and be able to handle that, and people who enjoy a challenge because it certainly is here. I mean, you’re going up against some of the best students in the world when you compete in the classroom here. You’re going against some very, very good world-class athletes when you compete on the court.
You’re also in a city that socially, for some people, might be considered, most people consider it fine, but for some people, it would be considered a challenge to be able to be a two-semester sport athlete and handle the rigors of the schedule, of the practices, of the workouts, which includes the summers. So what you’re looking for is the All American guy, I would think, because anybody that would have half a chance, or a fair chance, of making it here, they would have to have a lot going for them.
QUESTION #2: Coach, you were talking about replacing Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon last year and now three guys in the frontcourt this year. Will you talk about the guys you have coming in and maybe step in to replace the three?
RYAN: Well, obviously, with the players, we don’t say, ‘okay, you’ve got to, you have to give us this because Jon Leuer gave us that, and you have to give this because Keaton Nankivil did.’ We didn’t say anything to Josh Gasser that he had to be Jason Bohannon.
Of course, Jordan Taylor played the year before, but he understood his mission and he understood what our concept was for him to accomplish for the team, take care of the ball, take good shots, play good defense. So he went out and had an All-American year.
And Josh Gasser had, take a look at all the freshmen in the country that were talked about, and then take a look at the production of Josh Gasser. And he has to be one of the biggest surprises in the country to be a starter on the team that won 25 games, made it to the Sweet 16, as a freshman.
What’s going to happen with those other three spots in the minutes, that’s about 90 minutes a game, 90 plus with those three guys? I know there are guys that want to, and they’re trying to prove that now on the practice court. What kind of numbers they’ll put up. It might not be someone putting up Jon Leuer’s numbers, but we don’t ask for that… we just ask for making contributions.
We have to figure out right now where the points are coming from. There’s something about points. People usually step up and get them. If you run good offense, get good shots, you have guys that are unselfish.
And then defensively, you look at those three seniors and what they learned defensively, that’s quite an accomplishment. I think they led the Big Ten all four years they were here in points given up. So they understood our defensive system, they understood our offensive system.
Now we have to get guys who can fill those minutes, that understand the system better than what they did the year before. Because if they were better, they would have played more minutes. Now we’ll see if they can be held accountable for chewing up some of those minutes.
QUESTION #3: Bo, you mentioned Jordan Taylor’s mission going into last season. Has that changed at all this year, given the personnel losses or just more of the same or just tighten things up, do things better than he did before?
RYAN: Well, I just hope he doesn’t think he has to score 40 a game this year. I think we’re going to be in trouble if he does. He doesn’t. He wants to be even more consistent, he wants to be more inclusive with his teammates, maybe transition. There are some different things that we’re looking at and trying to get done with a different size team maybe on the floor. We might not be as big, we could be, but we don’t, then again, we might not be.
But Jordan just, he just wants to play on a team that has a chance every night to be on the left-hand side. That’s not going to change, so. And he has a role, but the role never, it isn’t in a box. It’s like right here, his role can expand. But his leadership won’t change. He’ll be an even better leader this year.
QUESTION #4: How do you feel Jordan will do with handling some of the expectations and carrying the load that he’ll have to carry?
RYAN: Well, I don’t think there’s anybody out there that plays this game, that’s ever played the point guard position that doesn’t want a load. You want responsibility, bring it on. Without being arrogant, if there’s anybody that’s ever been worth talking about at that position is someone who wants the ball in their hands, wants to get his teammates involved, wants to be successful.
So it won’t change, because there’s nothing in practice that we’re doing to try to make it seem like he’s got to do anything out of the ordinary. He’s a tough competitive guard, very bright, and a guy that should have another good year.
QUESTION #5: Last fall, during Signing Day, you were able to give some comments early on the freshmen who will be coming in this year. I know it’s early in practice, but now that you’ve seen them a little bit, what’s your early impression of where those guys stand and how they might be able to help this team?
RYAN: Well, if you asked me last Tuesday, I could have given you an answer. If you asked me yesterday, I could have given you an answer, and you know what, eight practices, I could have given you eight different answers, which is not unusual for, but here’s what I do like.
They don’t like to lose in the drills. If you come in second, you come in last in the drills. So if there’s three teams of four, five guys, and you go against each other, red, white, black jerseys, there’s two teams that have to run because there’s only one team that wins. And it’s pretty competitive. That’s a good sign, because if you don’t have guys that are competing, you’re not going to get any better.
Again, for the 40th time since this is my 40th year of coaching, you tell them on the first day, and if you don’t go hard against me, you are being disrespectful to me. If I don’t go hard at you having possession every day, then I’m being disrespectful to you. So we just tell guys, if you really want to accomplish something each and every day, just try to beat the guy across from you.
And, you know, try to make sure that you’re making him have to work as hard as he can to get to the rim, to get a good shot, and make him have to move his feet to have to stop you when you’re on offense. So if you have those kind of drills going on, then guys will develop.
I got goose bumps when Petey Carril told me Saturday night that he doesn’t watch a lot of teams on television, but he watches us play. I said, why, because we’re slow? And he goes, no, because you move the ball and you play the way the game is supposed to be played. I thought, that’s pretty nice. Here’s a guy 80 years old still working in the NBA that actually had something nice to say about our guys. I told you, that was pretty nice.
So, but it’s because we get guys that want to develop. I mean, here’s a guy that everybody my age idolized since I was a coach because he was one of the best teachers ever. And his teams got better, and he always had upper classmen which you tend to do in the Ivy League more so than probably any other league. You’re playing with seniors and some juniors pretty much all the time. And he was such a good teacher, getting guys to understand their roles and how to play off of each other. So these freshmen are competing, we have a chance to get better.
QUESTION #6: Can you talk a little bit about Jared Berggren and Evan Anderson and what you see them, maybe their growth as post players?
RYAN: Yeah, Jared’s ready. Got a taste last year, and I would think that somebody would just have to do whatever to keep him off the court. I don’t know. We just have to keep him healthy, the shoulder is where it should be. He’s worked hard. Scotty said he’s one of the hardest working guys. He set some records, I guess, in the weight room for bigs with his feet doing some different things, and also his improvement with strength. It’s his time.
And Evan, still progressing. I mean, it’s amazing how big he is, first of all, and he’s even in better shape, and he’s just trying to hone his offensive skills, his passing touch, things like that. That’s where he’s a little bit behind. But most guys that size, that’s usually where they need the most development.
QUESTION #7: Rob Wilson talked about how hungry he is to get some of those available minutes. I’m sure he’s, has shown during the first week of practice.
RYAN: Well, yeah, when he wasn’t at a practice. You know, you can show you’re hungry if you’re on the court. If you’re not on the court, you can’t. He’s missed practices because of injury. So we’re just hoping that he’s, can be there every day. It’s hard. It’s hard when you’re, you’re on, you’re off, you’re on, you’re off. So he’s trying to fight through that right now.
QUESTION #8: . . . the same injuries issues as he had last year?
RYAN: No, different, different type of injury.
QUESTION #9: Coach, talking to a couple of the guys, asked how last season ended, a couple wanted to get back on the court ten minutes after the game, and then start playing again, and working on this year. Some needed a little bit of time and had to, you know, get in their mindset that, you know, focus on next year a couple days later. What were your thoughts after the game last year, and how it ended, and how anxious were you to get back in and start another season, and get a new group of guys going for the common goal?
RYAN: Well, I’m always ready. You have to remember that, as coaches, here’s what it’s about for us. We try to give young men a chance to be as successful as they can be. It’s their time, it’s their four years, it’s their senior year, it’s their. So, you know, they had every opportunity to continue to play, so did everybody else. Not everybody gets to keep playing because somebody is going to be sent home.
So whether it’s in high school that you’re playing and you miss sectionals or you have a tough game go against you in the semi’s, or whatever it is, there’s only one team that really, if you, again it doesn’t change in basketball. There’s one team in each division that gets to cut the nets down.
And if you’re not that team, the thing is, you have to, if you’re seniors, you have to leave with this. What kind of experience was it for me? Did I get the most out of my college experience? So, you know, if a guy has a tough shooting night, if a guy forgets on a rotation defensively on a key play, you know. The greatest part, like for our football team, is that they get to play again Saturday. When you lose at the end of the year, you’ve got to wait.
So me, I’m okay, I’ve got to work in the off season recruiting. We’ve got speaking engagements, you have camp, you have this, you have that, there’s always things for coaches to do. I’m always ready to play. I’m just always disappointed for the players if you don’t, if you’re not last team standing.
But then they have to ask themselves, okay, what did I get out of the experience? What did I get out of the four years, the three years, the two years? Where are they after two for the guys that are going to juniors this year? That’s for them to answer. But some of them ready to play again, fine. If some of them weren’t, I’m always ready to play. So it doesn’t change for me.
QUESTION #11: Bo, I was talking to a couple guys . . . Jordan and Jared Berggren. They said, so far, there’s a new emphasis, or more of a concentration or focus on getting the ball inside and getting more touches inside. Can you just talk about that?
RYAN: Well, people that are hungry to get it inside. You always want to touch the post line. Good things happen when you go through the post. But I emphasize it every year. But, you know, some guys are just comfortable with their back to the basket catching the ball, and some guys aren’t. So without belaboring that point, it’s just, there’s not a coach around that doesn’t want to touch the post. And there shouldn’t be players. You know how tough Jordan is with the ball in the post, strong as he is? I don’t know if I’d want to tangle with him down there. And he seems stronger this year.
So I don’t mind getting guards along the post, bigs, plus again, I’ll give you the stat. The highest percentage three is the three that was received, the pass was received from the post because the player catching it is facing the rim in a shooting position, in a ready position, and you don’t have to worry about charting it. We’ve already done it over the years. The highest percentage three is after a post kickout. So why not touch the post? Now it’s hard to do, people are playing good post defense.
QUESTION #12: Bo, do you think, with some of the players you have now, you would be better able to get back to the free throw line, maybe more so than you have in the last couple years?
RYAN: You know, what the nice part was we got the right guys at the free throw line last year. The two guys who shot the most free throws were guys that shot over 80%. That’s how you lead the country. But if you’re not getting there as many times, who wouldn’t want to shoot 30 a game?
As far as number of makes, even though we didn’t shoot very many free throws, we were right in the middle. There were five teams above us and five teams below us as far as number of makes at the free throw line. So we got quality free throws. And there were some . . . quality ones towards the end of games that we closed out.
But I always like to get to the line. It has always been something that, you know, our teams have emphasized, and hopefully, we get there more this year. You always want to.
QUESTION #13: I know it’s very early, Bo, but among those freshmen, have you seen anything from Jarrod Uthoff, anything about him being, that he may challenge for minutes?
RYAN: He’ll play at the University of Wisconsin. And he’ll play early. He’s a player . . . but don’t tell him I said that.
I think the other guys have a chance to play. I’m just saying he’s, right now, kind of picking up things like Josh (Gasser) did last year. Coaches like good listeners, fast learners. And I’ve never seen a more conscientious guy in a . . . he’s extremely conscientious.
QUESTION #14: Bo, I was talking to Duje Dukan in a session here a little bit. He was talking about his experience over in Croatia during the summer. Just curious, from what you’ve seen both on and off the court so far this season, does that help his confidence at all?
RYAN: Well, he’s stronger. You know, that’s physical play over there, having been over in Serbia. And, you know, so he’s, he’s sticking his nose in a little more. And as a freshman, he’s trying to learn, pick his spots, that type of thing. But he’s better this year. He’s stronger. His shot looks more confident. Just like everybody else, they want to get on the floor for us, you got to get better defensively, got to stop people, you got to block it out, got to be physical, no room for country clubbers. That’s what we used to call soft players. But now, once I joined a country club, I can’t say it anymore.
QUESTION #15: Bo, some of the guys were talking about how the style of play is sometimes described here, but wins speak for themselves. I’m just curious to hear your perspective when you hear people talk about the style of play.
RYAN: Well, obviously, it’s not players that say it. So it’s people that don’t know the game. They don’t pay attention to the other team and how long it takes them to get a shot off against us. Our teams give up shots with more shots per second off of the shot clock than any other team in the league. So you got to credit defense. And the thing is, we’re going to, we’re going to take a good shot. So it’s kind of like whenever I’ve played tennis against guys who thought I was boring because I would just return everything. And they would get mad.
And they would be like, ‘well, don’t you have a, can’t you, you know, smash the ball, can’t you, you just always get the ball back over the net.’ And it’s kind of, ‘but didn’t I just beat you?’ I used to play like Pete Brye and Billy Pierson, two guys about 6’ 8”, and they just thought they were so good. Just get that little lob… they would be like, ‘why don’t you try to hit it real hard?’ I wanted to save my arm. You know, just try to win.
QUESTION #16: Bo, Zach Bohannon has said you called him J-Bo on mistake a few times.
RYAN: You know, he’s Z-Bo. So you know, I got to go further down in the alphabet.
QUESTION #17: I’m curious, he’s not going to play this year for you guys on the court, but how big an addition is that for you guys from a scout team perspective, a guy with knowledge?
RYAN: Oh, he’s already stirred the pot, he’s already been a guy that when we do our competitive drills, he’s already sent a few messages. He’s played a little bit in Division 1, played at Air Force. And he’s here because he wants to be here. And he’s got a clue about what we like to do and how we like to do it.