Jan. 21, 2013
• Watch Davis' News Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin head wrestling coach Barry Davis spoke about the Badgers’ tough weekend on the road, success at heavyweight and Tyler Graff’s transition back to 133 lbs. in this week's Monday press conference.
Archived video of the media session is available through the link above, and a complete transcript of Davis’ remarks can be found below.
Davis: Last year was a difficult year, but the guys responded really well. (It was a) tough beginning. Since then, we responded well. I think everybody is starting to buy in here.
Got a good young staff, going through a lot of transitions, but overall it's been going well so far.
Question: Barry, knowing what happened last year, and to steal a phrase from Mike Eaves, was there just a burn your butt to get this thing back on track?
Davis: You know, I'm very competitive and loyal to the university, and I just want to do my job. We've got a good young staff. I've got two guys that are 25 years old, and people thought, what are you hiring two 25 year old kids for to come in and coach with you? If you understand the sport, they're Badgers, they've been through the program, and did a lot of work this summer putting things together.
I told the guys, here's the program. Here's the direction we're going to go. Everybody's bought in. The others have bought in, and things are going well so far. We've got 32 guys, and basically 31 have bought in so far. The other one is coming along. But it's going real well for us.
It's been a fun year. The young coaches are learning. The kids are learning as well too. Put together a good recruiting class back to back, and we're back on track. Not where we want to be yet, but from 0 8 to 3 2 right now and a chance to get two more this weekend, looks good for us.
Question: Could you kind of recap the weekend, Penn State and Ohio State, two very difficult places to go and wrestle.
Davis: Yeah, very difficult. I look at Penn State, just got outmanned a little bit. We're not where we need to be yet with them. Ohio State, Cole Schmitt comes in and beats a ranked guy. Connor Medbery beats another ranked guy. Had a chance to win at 157 (lbs.) and as well at 197 (lbs.), just couldn't pull it off.
We're in the hunt. Our guys are in the chase, doing some really good stuff. I think we've got some improvement to work on yet. I think the guys are willing to step up and get the job done. I think all year long, the guys each week they got better and better because, again, it's the detail work. Coming in with a work plan. (We) talk about that a lot. Guys, what's your work plan? What do you need to do to get ready for each and every week? Academically, athletically, the type of things there and it's working out well.
I don't think we're going to surprise people anymore. I think they'll be ready for us. But, again, I think our guys have a chance to make some big improvements yet.
Question: Are you at all surprised with the way Connor Medbery has been wrestling this year?
Davis: Not really. I think he did a lot of work this past summer. As a heavyweight, he got a little bit bigger, a little stronger. He's a great athlete. His attitude is all about winning, all about being successful on and off the mat. I knew, when we recruited this kid, he was a very special kid. I knew he had high expectations, high goals, and a great leadership. So I’m not really surprised by that.
You look at the Big Ten, they have eight guys ranked in the top 18 in the country or nine. So he's really wrestled this year probably close to 11 guys in the top 12 guys in the top 20. He's won them all but two.
He has improvement to do yet, but the kid is willing to do the work. He's great to work with, easy to work with. He's always looking ahead. So it's a good thing.
But side note here, him and Tyler Graff are from the same high school. It's unusual to have a smaller guy and a bigger at the same high school. He's doing well.
Again, I think Eric Bugenhagen, our strength coach, has done a good job with him. He's gets more mature all the time. But this tough back to back to back, it's done a lot for him. It's like, hey, Connor, it's going to be every weekend, so he knows what to expect. He kind of takes it in stride.
Question: How tough is the Big Ten this year? I mean, is it on par with where it's been previous years or tougher?
Davis: Well, I think it's tougher because I think you have you've got Penn State, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois all in the top ten or higher. I think you have probably seven or eight teams in the top 20.
Here's the deal, Brian. It's a tough conference, but I think it prepares you down the road for the big tournaments and other matches. You get in the NCAA Championship, you've got a guy in the Big Ten that may be accepted in the Big Ten, and you’re in for a dogfight because they know how to compete week in and week out. This forces you to be better and on your game every week.
I think it's good for you from a mental point of view because you can't slack off. You've got to be disciplined all the time. But it's the best conference, but it's a great conference to be in.
Question: Tyler Graff started the season at 141 (lbs.). Now he's back to 133 (lbs.). Is that a more natural weight class for him to be at?
Davis: I think so. He tried to go 141 to see where he's at. We certified him at 133. I think, as time went on, he realized for his body type, et cetera, 133 is the weight class for him. He's doing well with his weight. He's still got to make a few adjustments yet. I think it's the spot for him. I think he's bought back in with that. I think he's focusing on hopefully winning a National Championship there.