Q. You talked about points per possession on teleconference this morning. Has that been a stat you've worked out since you got into coaching?
COACH RYAN: Yeah, I started using that a long time ago, back when I was an assistant Coach here and talking to some different people who kind of use something similar like e okay, how many times do you get the ball and how many times are you making something happen in a positive way, or how many times are you drawing fouls? And then it comes down to points per possession. You get an offensive rebound, and that is the same possession. So if you score on that, on the stat sheet it says points after turnovers, points off turnovers. That's amazing how steady it stayed. This is before the three-point line.
But then with the three-point line, and I think now with we'll see by the end of the year if the mean changes, which I think it will in conference play, on how many free throws teams are shooting. So it's probably closer to 1.1 now. But, man, anything in the 70s, 80s, 90s, 1 was pretty much the magic number. Especially before '87 at the three-point line.
Q. You've beaten Indiana 12 times in a row. Is there one thing in particular you can look at and say this is the advantage that we've had over them the last 12 games?
COACH RYAN: No, not really. Because this is the next time we play them. So what you just mentioned, I didn't know the numbers, the players certainly never hear it from us. I just don't dwell on that kind of domain. We just prepare for the next opponent, and we don't say -- I don't try to get my guys ready to play somebody by using anything other than the facts, the stats, here it is. Here's what we've got to do. This guy likes to do this for them. This guy likes to do that. Here's what we have to do better. I've never coached from the standpoint of trying to use extraneous factors to get my guys to play. So, as I said, you telling me that number, it's the first time I've heard it.
Q. Josh Gasser talked about sometimes his knee still gets sore and that wearing the brace has caused his back to hurt sometimes.
COACH RYAN: Other than that he's okay?
Q. Has he done a good job of hiding whatever frustrations he's had about his body this season?
COACH RYAN: Yeah, he just works whatever he's called on. But there are times in practice where you can see where he doesn't complete something. Where I'll just get up next to him and say, now, Josh, I know in a game you're diving on the floor for that ball, right? And he goes, Yep. So it's never held him back in a game doing what he normally does. But there was one practice where there were two possessions in within like 30 feet of a loose ball, maybe 10. He didn't dive for it. I knew, No. 1 he realized his angle probably wasn't the best. But in games he's going after all the loose ones.
Q. You talk about not worrying about all those other things like winning 12 straight or anything like that, but obviously you guys are ranked third in the country, 16-0. There is certainly a bigger target on your back than maybe normally. Do you think the other team is talking about that stuff?
COACH RYAN: I can coach is one team, so I don't know. But I was thinking about this: Most of these high school guys or most of these guys when they were, they played on teams that had won 12 straight, 20 straight. Yours truly, my senior year, we were 25-0 until we were 25-1.
I don't remember anything other than the coach I played for getting us ready for the next team we were playing. A few teams I have been fortunate enough to coach did that, and I just kept trying to get them ready for the next one. So I know the thing about the target. I understand all that. Just look around the country. It's conference time. Anything can happen. Our guys know it. They're not practicing any different now than they did a month ago, I can tell you that.
Q. Obviously, you've focused a lot on what you were doing, but did you get a chance over the weekend to watch any of the conference games with Iowa and Ohio State and Northwestern and Illinois? Did any of those upsets surprise you at this point in this conference?
COACH RYAN: I tell you, there are just too many players in too many good teams. Iowa's win doesn't surprise anybody that I know. I'm just telling you the circles I travel in, and that's not a surprise.
Minnesota playing the way they are, Northwestern hitting some shoots and a team going cold in Illinois. I mean, all of those things, maybe because I'm older, I've seen all of this before. Whether it was 1998, 2006 -- I'm just making these years up -- or 1959, I saw a big upset in the Poe less that when I was 12 years old. They called it an upset. So it's conference play, and that's why everybody keeps coming back the next year. The fans, the media because you guys secretly that helps our job, that keeps us employed, that's great. We keep each other going, don't we because there is that much interest in a game of guys with T-shirts and shorts and sneakers. Can you imagine that? I think it's unbelievable. We love it.
Q. I'll preface this by saying in your eyes they have a lot more work left to do. But how have your post players, primarily Frank Kaminsky, Nigel Hayes and even Sam Dekker, helped open things up for you guys on the perimeter or other areas where you've had such balanced scoring the last couple weeks?
COACH RYAN: I think we've had balanced scoring pretty much throughout the year. It probably shows up maybe in some segments more one way than the other. But we've got to be good inside, we've got to be good outside in order to be sitting where we are. And if we don't keep improving in each of those areas, then we also know what else can come around.
So what we're trying to do, like in practice yesterday, is improve on certain areas of taking care of the ball, being able to handle pressure, being able to handle dribble attacks by somebody as quick as a Ferrell. All of those things you're doing every day, there is a purpose to every possession. It seems like they're trying to get better every possession. That's all I can ask for with the staff when we're out there working with them.
COACH RYAN: We've done it a few other times. The first time I started doing that was at Platteville because we got, you talk about a target on your back. We got to be the team that filled every gym, and everybody wanted to kick us, so they packed their small gyms. You talk about loud? People have asked about places in the Big Ten. Have you ever been Eau Claire in the '80s, and '90s, Stevens Point, Whitewater, our gym at Platteville at that time. So, yeah, w piped in noise a few times, we've done it here a few times. It was over the break. Actually, I was trying to have some fun with Otto, see what would happen with his hearing aids to be honest with you. He survived. A couple of guys said they had headaches though.
Q. What is the environment like at assembly hall down in blooming ton for people who haven't been there?
COACH RYAN: It goes straight up, especially on the one side because I walked to the top back in the '76, '77 season, my first year as an assistant, and I was afraid to lean forward. It's so steep. But it's loud, like the other places that we play in, as far as that goes. They cheer for their teams. Few times in the locker room I used the, ‘oh, hey, wait till you see all the Wisconsin fans out there in red.' I usually get the freshmen, but after that they all know. But it's challenging like the rest of them. I don't see it once things get going, I'm immune to that stuff. I hope your players just play and not worry about the other things.
Q. Some people look at Indiana's record and think they're down this year. What are your thoughts on this team you're about to face?
COACH RYAN: When you see how athletic they are and you see their freshmen, their younger guys and what they can do physically, their record might not be the same as it was last year. But teams get better. Their comeback against Penn State, Penn State's really tough at home. They didn't waiver. They did what they had to do to come back. So that shows they've matured already. It's not like we have the most experience in the league, that's for sure. But Indiana's a good team. We know it, and we know what we're going into.
Q. I know you don't like to compare teams, but what makes this team in particular special on the offensive side. It seems that it just comes more easily? Scoring comes more easily.
COACH RYAN: I wish it was easy. You know, they've stayed true to who they are. They're sharing the ball. We've said this so many times and I don't want to sound like a broken record. But they're doing a lot of things where they're helping their teammates get open, the dribble drives, the help comes on the decision on when to make the pass, when to ball fake, when to make the extra pass. To this point overall they've been doing a better job of than maybe some other teams that we've had, which has put them in a position to be sitting where we are. We're going to have to keep doing it.