Last In-State Battle Ahead for Wisconsin

Up four spots to No.4 in the AP poll, its highest ranking since March 2007, Wisconsin takes on a pair of tough mid-majors this week in Milwaukee (9-2) Wednesday and Eastern Kentucky (7-3) Saturday. Badgers coach Bo Ryan addresses the media Monday.

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Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan

THE MODERATOR: Up next is men's basketball coach Bo Ryan. At 10-0. They'll host a pair of games this week before finals on campus. Badgers will take on Milwaukee at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday night at the Kohl Center and play host to Eastern Kentucky on Saturday at noon. Thank you, Coach, for joining us.

Q. Bo, the other day I was talking to Bronson Koenig, and you had mentioned a while ago about the hamstring injury that slowed him really early in preseason. He said he needed to take a little time off before he could get back in the groove of things. How has he caught up, and what is he doing well to this point to get on the court? Defense, passing, what is he doing for you?

COACH RYAN: Well, a little bit of everything. And he pays attention in the video room, keeps a good notebook. He's pretty perceptive. It's amazing how tough a competitor you are, the more things you grasp in a short period of time because you figure out a way to be successful. I've mentioned this before, if you're playing tennis against someone, there's two things you find out, strength and weaknesses. The strengths you stay away from when you return the ball, and the weaknesses you go after.

So in any sport, in anything that you're doing, you're always reading and evaluating strengths and weaknesses of people, and it is really shown on the court in practice how he has moved ahead and done some really good things because he's learned, well, I need to be here on defense. I need to rotate here, pinch here, sink there. And those are all things that, if you want to play and you've got some ability, you've got a chance.

So he's picked up in every area, and the game was probably a little quicker, a little stronger for him in the beginning when you're looking at it, but he knows now that he can compete, and he's ready to get more. I like hungry people.

Q. Bo, were you surprised when George came to you and said that he wanted to explore his options for a transfer? How do you try and handle a situation like that?

COACH RYAN: That's all personal. That was done, and I made a statement with the release, and that's where that stays. We've got 16 guys I'm working with, and they're working hard. That's all I know.

Q. Speaking of which, do you plan on adding anybody to the roster? Can you hold a tryout and add a player?

COACH RYAN: Have you got eligibility? Is that what you're hinting at?

Q. I don't think you want me, but I'm just curious if you'll try to fill the roster right now.

COACH RYAN: We're okay, yeah. I think we're all right. If you know anybody that we're missing or somebody that we don't know about that's on campus, let me know. I still carry around that cartoon from The Far Side, and it's a picture of two parents talking to this huge individual, and they're holding the basketball, and he's holding their nuclear physicist, nuclear something book.

And the two parents say to him, ‘you know this little thing might help you be able to -- in case that physics thing doesn't work out.' Like the parents are trying to encourage a big guy. So if you know somebody on campus that might jump over tall buildings or 7 feet tall, send him our way.

I don't know if you've ever seen that Far Side. I think it's from about 20 years ago. I show it to all the big recruits and their parents when they come in.

Q. Back to Bronson for a bit. When you guys first started recruiting him, what were some of the things that you saw naturally on the court that he did that you thought would be helpful?

COACH RYAN: First of all, you have to understand the state of Wisconsin. Every fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth grade tournament that was ever played in Platteville, La Crosse, Madison, Stevens Point, Eau Claire. Every tournament that young man went to, people would say, hey, I hope I'm the first to tell you, but there's this little guard. There's this guard out of La Crosse that's just killing people.

So Bronson, it wasn't like he's someone that all of a sudden appears on the state scene. People knew about his ball handling skills and his ability to see the floor. And a competitor. Won a lot of games with last second shots, one and ones. That's just -- he's been around that forever. That's what I like about him. Good, tough competitor.

Q. When you moved into the top five of the AP poll in '06/'07, you stayed there quite a while. You had a veteran team. I'm guessing you like the way they handled whatever pressure or attention that came with it. What do you think about this team's ability to handle that extra pressure?

COACH RYAN: This team's attention will be on the clips from Saturday and the UWM scouting report. That's all we'll talk about. Now, what they talk about in the locker room and on campus or anything else, I just hope they understand that they've done some things that put them in this position, that they've been successful. You have to deal with that, but everybody's going to come at us the same way. Everybody's going to want to, even more so, try to get a piece of the Badgers. There's a lot of sports on campus that have been in that position.

I still have somebody gave me a copy of that we're number one. That lasted a long time, seven days.

Q. You said you hope that, once the players get on campus, they'll be good with the way things -- just follow the path that you set. But are you comfortable that these guys aren't going to worry about things like that, where they are in the polls?

COACH RYAN: No, I think, because of the leadership we have, I think the right things are being said in the locker room and the right directions being given out on the court with the players, with the upper classmen. Even though it's not a real old group at all. There's guys that have been around. You know, they've knocked off in years past teams that were highly ranked. So they know highly ranked teams are just as vulnerable as anybody else. It's the way of sports to try to rank people and rate people. But they understand it's 40 minutes of basketball Wednesday night, or at least that's how we'll approach it.

Q. So you're 10-0. You're No. 4 in the country. Have you scratched the surface of how good this team can be?

COACH RYAN: You know, you have to be fair and look at the fact that we had the summer trip, which I'm glad we had the opportunity to do because, if anything, as I've said a hundred times, it gave the younger guys, okay, these are the things that we're going to need to work on.

So when the drills started -- before, when we would start practice and there wasn't any contact in the summer, when you started the drills in September, you had to start really at a base level. And it's not that we skipped any of the fundamentals.

But at least the guys understood from the video clips we had from the five games in Canada, here are the things defensively you need to do. Here are the angles you need on offense. Here are some things, things that they might not have discussed in high school, especially because every young guy was probably the leading scorer on their team, and defensively they had to make sure they didn't get in foul trouble. Get to college, everybody has to play.

Not that they don't play in high school, but it's not quite the same.

Only time will tell what this group can do. We'll give them a chance every day in practice to get better, just like everybody else is doing.

Q. Bo, was there ever a time in your coaching career where you did pay attention to the rankings, where you did pay attention to that type of stuff, and it came back to --

COACH RYAN: It's funny you say that. Did you ever hear of the Dunkel ratings? Guys and ladies, when we were at Platteville, there was a time period where Whitewater, Stevens Point, Eau Claire, and ourselves, you had to beat somebody by 50 if you could, and that was the most ridiculous thing I had ever experienced in my life.

Everybody, hey, you know, Dunkel ratings. And so, you know, trying to work the clock or do things that you tend to do during games, it was ridiculous. It was if you could -- if you were in this rating, if a team was 25 points below you, you had to beat them by 26. That's hard.

So when you say ever pay attention, that was a time where it was brought up so much, I couldn't help but to pay attention because that's what everybody talked about. Does anybody remember the Dunkel ratings? I don't know if they did them for any other sport other than basketball.

We had a higher Dunkel rating at Platteville, several years higher than UWM, Green Bay, Western Illinois, Eastern Illinois, a lot of Division I teams. And it was like what?

Anyhow, that was late '80s, early '90s. I'm still looking for that Mr. Dunkel. I've got to figure out why they had to do that.

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