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Transcript: Barry Davis press conference


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March 3, 2014

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MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin head coach Barry Davis spoke about the upcoming Big Ten Wrestling Championships, the pressure to perform and tough competition this time of year 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.


Coach Davis: I'm excited for the weekend as well as the guys are. I think it's great that we're here in the Kohl Center. I think it's a really great thing for our young guys. I think it gives us a huge advantage.          

So I think the -- we got all our tickets sold, a lot of Badger fans are coming, and should be an exciting weekend all the way around.

Question: Barry, what's the top of your personal marquee for this weekend? There's a lot of pageantry going on, you've got I believe some injured guys coming back, you've got a lot of interesting elements here. What's the top of your marquee personally?          

Coach Davis: It's funny, before I got here, some guy -- reading my e-mail, he says that pre-seeds are out. I didn't even know they were even out yet.          

My mind is on the athletes, making sure every guy is prepared. I was just texting my coaches earlier before the conference here, letting them know the pre-seeds are out. Got to get together before practice, making sure we're watching the film, kind of breaking things down.          

But just the main thing that being home, you know, all these people calling about tickets, this and that going on.          

But my focus is the athletes and making sure they're prepared to go and they have everything they need to be successful.

Question: A couple weeks ago, talking to Isaac (Jordan), he said that -- I don't know if this was a naive comment at all, but he said that his goals here were to win a couple national championships. You took more of the wait-and-see approach. After he knocked off No. 1 and No. 2 in his weight class, have the expectations for you -- have the expectations that you have for him changed since then?          

Coach Davis: It's not my expectations. As a coach, you're here for the athlete, help them be the best they can be. He has high goals. Our job as a coaching staff is helping to reach those goals.          

Everyone wants to talk about winning all the time, et cetera. The key is this, I tell the athletes this,we don't talk about winning. We talk about getting better, understanding the sport, understanding the skills and technique. Winning will take care of itself. I think Isaac understands the same thing.          

Still got -- he's got high goals, high expectations, and that's great, and he should have. But our goal is to give him every opportunity to win on the mat, et cetera. And that's what we're doing right now. He had a great weekend last weekend, beat the No. 1 guy in the country, defending NCAA champion, a great weekend.          

But, again, now we're back to the drawing board again, working on those skills in those situations where we were before, just to kind of tighten the skills up a little bit better yet and hopefully get a chance to score a few more points, if possible.          

But, again, it's coming down to making sure that our athletes have everything they need. Again, worry about them getting better. Because if he's not getting better, he's not going to win. So that's the key. It's not worrying about winning. It's about worrying about doing what you need to do to give yourself the best chance to win.          

I hope that answers your question.

Question: Barry, can you put yourself in his shoes with regards to the family legacy that's here? Dad was a pretty good wrestler back in the day, if I recall. I'm sure you saw him. But just there's a lot of -- I don't -- you could consider it pressure, but at the same time there's incentive there, there's pride there. What do you see if it you're standing in Isaac's shoes?          

Coach Davis: Well, I think -- his dad was pretty good. He won two NCAA titles. I think his uncle is a two-time All-American, his brother is All-American.          

I don't think really Isaac views it that way. I think Isaac looks at his dad did what he did, as well as his uncle Jeff and his brother.         

But I think Isaac has different expectations. I think he sees himself as himself. There's no doubt about it, he's got good ideas from his dad, good genes, et cetera. I don't think he looks at as -- as the word everyone -- probably throw the word "pressure" around all the time.          

We had a kid talk about pressure, real quick. We had a kid in our room that spoke to the team last -- week before the Nebraska dual. 31 years old. And I talk to the guys about pressure all the time. Everybody throws all these words around all the time, people use all these big words, et cetera. So fellas I want to talk to you about wrestling, how wrestling should just be fun, it's a part of your life, but not -- should not consume you all the time.          

But a lot of people talk about pressure. Here's pressure. The guy spoke to them. He's 31 years old. And that was two weeks ago. He's trying to make it to the Big Ten tournament right now through cancer. He might even make it. Now, this is pressure here.          

But I think Isaac views it as: I have my own goals, what I want to do in the sport of wrestling as well in life. And keeps it pretty simple, I think. And I'm sure him and his dad talk about wrestling, but not that much. I think kind of Jim does a good job of letting him do his own thing, which is nice.          

So I can't put myself there because my dad never wrestled, so no.

Question: So you got it from your mom, then?          

Coach Davis: Probably, yeah. She's a pretty intense lady. She's -- trust me. She's 70 years old and still thinks she's, you know, trying to tell me what to do. That's a mother, though, right?

Question: Oh, yeah. Rarely do coaches talk about rankings. You do. Shouldn't Isaac be No. 1 after beating No. 1 and No. 2?          

Coach Davis: In the NCAA or the --

Question: Yeah.          

Coach Davis: You could say that, but no. The guy that has never been in the NCAA before, the guy that's No. 1 took third last year, so, I don't know, I'm going to leave it up to the coaches right now.         

But I just think he had a good weekend last weekend. Hopefully can do the same thing again this weekend. And you watch him in practice, he's still like a little kid running around laughing and giggling and doing stuff like that. So I think he's thinking about -- I'm sure he's thinking about it, but not a whole lot.

Question: Continuing on Isaac Jordan, he is the No. 1 seed right now at 157. How does that set him up in this championship?          

Coach Davis: Well, I think, again, the higher seed you are -- if you're No. 1 seed, you've got No. 8 first round and No. 4 or No. 5 after that. So obviously the higher you are, you go further down in the rankings. So I think it does set you up.          

But knowing Isaac, again, like Andy said about his family background, I think he's not going to overlook anybody. I think he'll take it match by match, round by round, and go from there. But, obviously, he's put himself in a very good spot for this weekend, yes.

Question: How is Tyler Graff and will he wrestle this weekend?          

Coach Davis: I think Tyler Graff is back to 100 percent. I think it's good for him to be at home here on his home court. I shouldn't say that, Bo (Ryan) just walked in, his home mat.          

But I think he'll be fine. I think he's a veteran. I think he wants to go out on top. And we'll see what happens here. Should be exciting for him.

Question: This building was filled up all weekend for the sport of wrestling at the high school level. Having this college event here, do you think it's capable of drawing similar crowds?          

Coach Davis: I think we'll be probably 9- to 10,000 people for the Big Ten Meet. I know last they said that we've already sold -- for the last two tournaments at Purdue and Illinois, we've already overpassed those guys combined already. So I think we'll have 9- to 10,000 people here watching the Big Ten Championships. So it should be a good weekend overall.

Question: Coach, NCAA allocations came out last week. The Big Ten leads all conferences, but heavyweight is a tough weight. Can you talk a little bit about the heavyweight competition this weekend.          

Coach Davis: Well, I think out of the top eight guys in the country, seven guys are from the Big Ten alone. So that means Connor Medbery is the 8th guy in the country, he's No. 7 seed in the tournament. So I think every match there could be a NCAA final match or NCAA semifinal match.          

So he's got a tough road to haul. I think he has a chance to put himself in a better place come NCAA time, seeding-wise, but it's not going to much matter. You're also wrestle those guys during the season anyway.          

So I think you can do the same thing at 57. At 57 you have the top five guys or the top eight in the country. So I don't really care what weight you're at. You got so many ranked guys, it's just kind of a mini-NCAA tournament every round.          

So I think, yeah, hopefully, he can give himself a better chance to seed, but the guys who are a seed at the NCAAs anyway late in the rounds will be Big Ten guys no matter what.          

Thanks.

ON WISCONSIN
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