Nov. 26, 2012
• Watch Ryan's News Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's basketball head coach Bo Ryan spoke about Wisconsin's upcoming Big Ten/ACC Challenge match-up with Virginia on Wednesday, among other things.
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: Bo, what stuck out to you the most about Tony Bennett when he was here as an assistant?
Ryan: He’s a guy that knows basketball. Gym rat, watched him play when he was in high school and college. Loves the game. He was great to have on the staff. He did a great job.
As I always said, the one story that always comes out is he and Rob Jeter were the two guys that led the scout team, and you talk about some interesting practices. After we had -- what did we get down to, seven or eight scholarship players with injuries, ruptured aorta, combination of a lot of things, ACLs. It just showed how tough he was.
And he wasn't exactly healthy. I think he got to spend so much time with Henry, that they got to know each other pretty well because Tony was always icing after practice. Those guys were definitely under salary that year. Tony was a great leader of the scout team, which shows he was taught by somebody who obviously knows the game. He knows how to score. He knows how to pass. He plays "D."
So when you're a coach and you have all the qualities, you tend to do a pretty good job. That's what I remember about Tony.
Question: Sam has talked about adjusting to coming off the bench for the first time in his career. Have you seen him get more comfortable in each game for the first few games of the year?
Ryan: I'm not sure what you have to adjust to. It's probably because he heard somebody else say it. You get into the game. You get on the floor. Does that mean in USA Basketball he started every game? I don't know. I never think about those things because in practice we simulate so much of what goes on in the game that he's not with that first group when we start our possessions. So he comes in in practice.
So if he's still adjusting, then he needs to concentrate a little bit more in practice on his role. But he's certainly doing a good job for us. But I don't see the word adjustment even being in the vocabulary.
Question: What were your impressions of Paul Jesperson when he was in high school versus what you see now that he's playing at Virginia?
Ryan: Well, he's a great player. A lot of times it's about -- people get a little confused sometime, and they go, oh, that's right, Wisconsin only has 13 scholarships. Sometimes people say that about players from other states or whatever, and they end up here. Hey, the other school only had 13 scholarships. So not everybody gets everybody that you want because you don't have enough scholarships.
So Jesperson was a scholarship player without a doubt, and Tony's not wasting scholarships on guys he doesn't feel can play. So that was obviously a pretty good move because Jesperson was sought after by other schools, and that's what's great about Wisconsin to have guys come out, some come here, some don't, but they get opportunities. Nothing like an opportunity.
I'm really happy for him.
Question: Well, we know what this game does for you guys in terms of scheduling, but what do you think this game has done for you over your time here in terms of giving you guys a real, good competitive game at home or away to prepare you for Big Ten play?
Ryan: What, the challenge? It saves coach (Greg) Gard having to make another 40 hours of phone calls trying to schedule a game.
But it's kind of interesting to go -- what do we have? Creighton, Arkansas, Virginia, California. Who's after California? Pretty good stretch here.
You ask about the Big Ten Challenge, it's not like the Big Ten Challenge game is the only game that we have. This is quite a stretch. And they talked about 40 minutes of hell with Arkansas. It was 80 minutes of hell. Creighton gave us something for 40 minutes, a team that's well-oiled right now, moving the ball well, playing well. So it wasn't just 40 minutes of that. We got 80 minutes of it.
Maybe it will help us on Wednesday.
Question: These are obviously two very successful defensive systems that have stood the test of time. How similar are they, what you do to what they call the pack line. Can you compare them at all?
Ryan: A lot of people call it help. A lot of people call it squeeze. You know, the terms never matter. It's about help and recovery, and obviously Knight was the guy that made it extremely popular because I can remember going to clinics, when I was coaching in junior high in the early '70s, and hearing him talk about it.
And then in talking with Coach Knight, he told me what he had learned from other coaches, and then everybody just learned from different people that they work with, people that they are around the most -- systems that they played in. But everybody in the country tries to have a secondary defender, which is called help. And you value the basketball -- people that watch his teams play, our teams play, hundreds of other teams play, they're all trying to basically do the same thing. Don't give up easy shots. Don't give up wide open shots. Don't put people at the foul line a lot. You're going to foul some.
And then on the offensive end, try not to give people the ball in open floor scoring positions, and that helps your defense. So what you see on one end is not the total picture. The picture, if you got guys shooting bricks and that ball's bouncing 15, 20 feet off of the rim, that's a first pass on a fast break. Or if you're sloppy with the ball, that's a first pass on a fast break.
So the way they play is the way I think everybody in the country is trying to play. It's just sometimes there are seasons where it's better. There are programs where it's better. There's people that buy in more on a consistent basis. Some years you might not be totally there, might be inexperienced, might be injuries, but you're always trying to do the same things defensively. But it isn't just that end.
Question: You're always seeking the next day's improvement of the game, but coming off two hard fought games, what is the progress this team has made? Did you like what you saw overall with the team?
Ryan: The second 20 minutes, we did a much better job of taking care of the ball and using their pressure against them. Their pressure did some things to us. And there's no way in the world we can simulate what Arkansas can do defensively. What do you think? You've seen us practice.
What they do -- and they're going to beat some people with that, and there are going to be some people who are going to counter that aggression and are going to beat them. So it was two different games. I did thank somebody here. I said, we need to give thanks to the person that invented halftime.
That first halftime, the guys sat on the floor, the first break between periods. Guys just sat right on the floor. How about that? I don't think my guys would have been real comfortable sitting on the floor at halftime against Arkansas because I think they needed to be hydrated and we needed to go over a couple of things.
Basically, the same things we talked about before the game. But Creighton, some really good things we saw there in the comeback that we made and then hit a wall. You can't do that.
But I saw a little spark there. I saw some things that hopefully we can build on, yes, and we definitely got something back by turning that thing around the second half against Arkansas.