UW Hoops Looking to Regroup on the Road

Bo Ryan (USA Today Sports)

Dropping six spots to No.9 in the AP poll after losing to a pair of unranked teams, Wisconsin looks to get back on track with two tough road venues on the docket, starting with Minnesota on Wednesday. Coach Bo Ryan addressed the media on Monday.

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Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan

Q. Bo, I think some of the players were asked after the first loss how they would deal with it. They said, hey, we're curious to see -- this is the first loss we had, see what we're made of now. What do you expect from these guys mentally after these two losses, heading up to Minnesota?

Bo Ryan: "You know, they've all played sports. I've seen some of them play in the -- play games as they're growing up, even if it's not just basketball, but where you're not getting things done, and then you have to figure out how to get things done better.

You know, you break the Michigan game down, I have not seen a team hit tough 2s as well as they did, off the move, having the pull-up. And then they had a guy kind of like John Lohr (phonetic) did against Michigan at Michigan years ago. Then they got hot.

But defensively we took away all the dribble drives along the baseline for the kicks to the corner that Michigan gets a lot of. We really only got beat baseline once. We forced guys where we wanted to force them. So they were working at the thing.

So whether -- you can't play a game and go, oh, if I don't do this, we're going to be on the right-hand side, and if I don't do this, we're going to be -- or if I do this, we can be on the left-hand side. When you compete, you're not thinking about anything other than right now.

When you practice, you're thinking about the practice. How can I take away this? What are we looking to do here? Just like anything else in life. If you don't get a good grade on a paper that you get back or a test, what do you do? You got to go work a little harder. You got to go figure out, all right, what does the professor want?

That's what's interesting. Early in the semester -- and even though I'm older than probably anybody in the room, I still remember trying to read my teachers, figuring out what they wanted. So when I taught in junior high and high school and I had essay questions with the -- whether it was world cultures or psychology, and I'd have essay questions, I'd try to get the students to understand what it is I was looking for.

Because those that wrote in all that stuff that didn't mean anything but look good, you know, the ones that try to give you an essay answer that was two pages long and it only needed to be four sentences, what teacher wants to read something two pages long? That isn't to the point.

So to the point here is that the players need to get, okay, focused on what it is that I want, the staff wants, and the teammates have to work things out together. And I thought they did a pretty good job of certain things that we worked on, blocking out, taking away dribble drives.

You know, just picked the wrong day to play Michigan. You know how those old jokes go. Just picked the wrong day -- from Airplane. Because Robinson and Stauskas, they can shoot it. I was watching the Michigan game up there. They weren't shooting it early, but Michigan shot it real well later. That's how they beat them up there. That's how they got us.

So come to practice and work and find out what it is we're getting ready for the next game, and here we go."

Q. It appeared Bronson (Koenig) tweaked his back in Friday's practice. Were you limited at all as to how much you could use him on Saturday? Was it still bothering him?

RYAN: "I don't know if that was bothering him as much as -- did you see him make an exit before the game? I thought that everybody -- I thought the way that you guys survey everything, you'd have that on tape, you'd have that on film, following him as he went out the concourse or whatever you call that -- tunnel. It's not really a tunnel tunnel.

Yeah, he had to excuse himself, and he was not himself, which everybody knows. You know we don't get into that very much, but since you asked."

Q. Bo, what would you like to see from Duje (Dukan) in the minutes he gets? How do you decide what situations you want to put him in, whether it's the first half or the second half? I don't think he got in in the first half.

RYAN: "We had so many time-outs. It seemed like every time you turned around there was a stoppage of play. Sometimes the pace dictates how many bodies go in and out.

Michigan and Wisconsin each used one, and we had the other four, so that's six stoppages. And we had a couple stoppages for checking a few things on the monitor.

But I expect everybody to go in and play defense, rebound, block out, make good decisions with the ball. When you got open shots in your spots, knock them down. That's all you can expect out of anybody, expect that out of starters. We can only start five, though."

Q. How would you compare getting a team ready to play after a loss as opposed to them getting ready to play after a win?

RYAN: "You know, I don't -- I don't know -- I guess it's a fair question because, if you haven't played, you don't know. So I don't know if you've played. So you have to tell me how you felt after a loss or after a win.

I can't speak for the players. I approach everything the same way: never too high, never too low. I've been around enough. You guys know me.

So the fairer question would be to the player. I approach everything the same."

Q. Bo, I think after the Indiana game you mentioned you needed a little bit more from your bench, I think, in a variety of ways. For a couple days, it looked like you looked at Vitto with part of that top rotation. Is he close to perhaps --

RYAN: "Vitto just needs to be there so he understands defensively how we exchange our reads, so if the time came, then he would know. I mean, you can't have a guy on the scout team and never -- and maybe he gets in in certain situations and not go through our rules.

So I know Bohannon knows our rules. I know Evan knows our rules, but Vitto is a guy who's been getting on the glass, doing good things, and maybe there's situations where I could have put him in. That's no secret.

But just because you guys at practice see a guy with a different color jersey and you write your stuff or do whatever, if a young man doesn't get in, you know, we try to make sure that they understand. You know, you guys don't get to pick who we play, I know.

But, I mean, it's -- but we do things for a reason. So a guy has an understanding of if you're thrown into action here, then maybe a guard we don't have to do that as much. But up front, it's like -- who was it? -- Marquette or whatever, we put Evan in, and Evan got a couple of fouls, and we put Bohannon in at the 5 spot, and we had four different guys play the 5 spot -- Frank, Nigel, E, and Z Bo."

Q. You've played against Rick Pitino's team before. Just from what you've seen of Minnesota, is Richard trying to have his team play similarly to what Pitino's teams have done?

RYAN: "Where did I play against Rick's team?"

Q. I tricked myself. That was Tubby Smith. I just had Kentucky in mind. You know how Pitino has played. Do you see similarities there with his son with the way he wants them to play?

RYAN: "He came into a situation where the guard play was a strength, and not that their front line is -- front line is not very far behind right now, but the guard play with Hollins and Hollins and the other two or three or four guys that have been rotating in and out of there.

So that's quickness, that's experience with the two of them. Both of them can stretch defenses. So, you know, you can pressure. He's got some bodies that play similar that are athletic enough to get the job done for pressure that they want.

So those teams are -- would be similar if you were to take them and not know who's on the sideline, but you would see a little more pressure, some run and jump, some traps."

Q. You've got some experienced guards and teams that pass pretty well. Are those two things that make you feel better against teams that press and can wreak havoc like Minnesota?

RYAN: "Well, sometimes people do things because nobody else does them. So if you have a team that so far has shown they can pass and catch pretty well, you never take it for granted. We have to go and practice here against different traps and different reads, and then the atmosphere and then the floor and then all the other things.

So you just got to play with the confidence that you know what's going to be next, because you're going to read and react according to what the defense does.

But if you don't feel comfortable, that's when people really struggle. So we've got to get our guys to believe that, okay, if we get these angles, if we Z the court, meaning get 45 degree angles from one another, things like that, trapping can be a bit tougher."

Q. Is there a difference? You know, they say tough times don't last, tough people do. Is there a difference between the first 16 and the last 2? Anybody in particular?

RYAN: "I don't look for anything other than, when we hit the floor or we do our clips today, attentiveness, get after it. I've been pretty fortunate, spoiled, that I've had guys that can't wait until the next time and, okay, here we go.

So I don't look for things to get on somebody about other than this is what we got to get done. So I haven't seen any difference."

Q. You said after Saturday's game that you knew what the weaknesses were with your team defensively, and I'm just curious, do you feel like there's enough time left to fix whatever those weaknesses are, or do you think you've got to kind of mask those things the next couple of months?

RYAN: "Well, we've been masking them. We've been able to do some things against some teams where we figured out ways -- and I thought we had figured out a way Saturday to still get that one, even as well as they were shooting. You have to get them out of those comfort zones. We started to. And if you noticed, the last shots that were hit by Michigan were tougher shots. I mean, we at least -- it's not that we weren't trying to make them make tough shots before.

But you got the one shot clock situation where if there's not the foul, then obviously we get the ball out of bounds, we're down one, and we've got a minute something to go and a good chance to take the lead. Then what happens to the other team when you take a lead? Who knows?

But you asked me if I saw a difference. Oh, it's up to them. We're going to work on them. What I was thinking is how do you make a difference? You teach. You put them in that environment, and then you hope that they can take that and use them in the game, use that knowledge in the game."

Q. Is there a certain aspect playing on the road in the Big Ten that makes it particularly difficult? What do you like about how your team maybe handles something like that?

RYAN: "Well, I thought we -- I think that we always have guys, because you look at the positive side, that have welcomed going on the road. I think our guys have proven that over the years, some years better than others.

But the reason in the Big Ten is because you lead the nation in attendance, and every environment -- you can watch games on TV in a lot of other conferences, and you don't see -- I mean, you'll see it at some schools, but not 1 through 14, 1 through 12 now in the Big Ten.

So you better be confident in your abilities -- obviously, not overconfident because there's never a reason to be that -- but you got to believe that you can go get it done. If I have guys that are going on the road and going, oh, my goodness, we've got to -- no. I think I've got guys that like playing home and away because, if it you don't, you're not going to be very successful. It's a mindset."

Q. How would you describe Sam Dekker's personality?

RYAN: "I don't know. How would you describe it? I try not to -- but I don't know the terms. Like do you have an A, B, C, D, E? Like all of the above?"

Q. How about in essay format?

RYAN: "As a coach, you probably don't know it well enough because you don't see him in circles like in class. You don't see him at his apartment. You don't see him in the locker room when he's with the guys.

Really, when you think about it, coaches pretty much see guys when they come to practice. When you're on the road and they're on the bus, I'm in the front. And when we're on the plane, I'm in the back. Everybody knows why I sit in the back of the plane. And there's not a whole lot of conversation going on.

I mean, you get to know guys, but you really don't get to know them. So Sam is Sam. You'd have to ask the other players, I would think."

Q. The word "clutch" gets thrown around a lot on TV and things like that: This player is clutch, this player is not clutch. What do you think of the word "clutch"?

RYAN: "I always think of when I first learned how to drive. Man, that clutch was a problem. And then I realized, you know what, I can remember -- I saw -- I'm flipping through the channels last night, and Silver Linings Playbook is on. I'm telling you, that's us, us Philly people, Philly-area people, the superstitions and the things about who you're with, who you watch the game with, what you're wearing when the game is on.

So when you say clutch, I can remember going to games with my dad of the Eagles, the Warriors, before they were the 6ers, and he was like, oh, no, we got to sit here. We got to sit in these seats. I'm like why would we sit in these seats? Let's get down there closer.

Or we'd go to the Palestra for games. I guess they did something to the Palestra this weekend when we were playing. So when you say clutch, I think right away of if a guy throws an interception or a guy gets a turnover in a clutch -- in a situation, that's where I first heard clutch. But what I heard first was choker. Like my dad would always say, and my uncles, when we're at games, if home team didn't win, they're a bunch of chokers. So I think I knew chokers before I knew clutch because we lost a lot back then, the Philly-area teams.

So clutch is somebody who is known -- it's not going to happen every time, but you'd rather have the ball in their hands because they've proven they can get things done when the game's on the line. That's a clutch player, can hit big shots.

You asked about Sam. Sam's hit some. Sam's had some other opportunities where they don't always go in. But I don't call anybody a choker just because you don't hit a shot in a crucial situation.

But that's the first time I ever heard clutch was only after I heard choker ten times, then I heard clutch once. Bad years then."

Q. Since we're off on a little tangent, did you see Richard Sherman's post-game interviews from the Seahawks game yesterday? Could he play for you?

RYAN: "You know, I think he jumped up in the air, and he tipped the ball. That's pretty good play. How many guys in pro sports, college, how many defensive backs have done that? But he was clutch.

He also what? Oh, did he give the choke sign? Sometimes I don't know what that means. Guys do all kinds of signs now.

The rendition I used to do of how the high five came about. You know, it started out -- now, look at the old films. Seriously, look at the old films of when a guy in basketball hits a good shot, what's the first sign of emotion? That's what most guys did because that's what they were supposed to do. You know, it's like what's the difference if it goes in or doesn't go in. You'd better get back.

I saw a guy pat a guy on the way back down the court. Like that was a show of emotion. Then it goes from that to where they point it at -- you know, like the guy would point, like good pass, but not say it, but do that because they were getting back to play defense.

And then there was -- they would slide skin. It was one of these when you went down to the other end. Then it had to be more emphatic. Then you slapped skin, one-handed. Then the next year, as I'm watching games in the Palestra, it was two hands running down the court. Here, slide that. Slide over. Man, I just made a great play. I used to do this at basketball camp, talking about people on the court trying to get noticed.

And then it went from obviously that to slapping ten really hard, and that first guy that put his hand up and then slapped, you had the high five. And what year that was, not sure. Some people say it was Louisville. Some people say it was Houston. Some people say it was some different teams. I don't know.

Now what do they do? There you go, knuckles. So then it goes to this, then this, then jump, and then jump and twist so that you don't get hurt now. You've got to jump and twist because too many times, when they were doing this, they were coming down on the other guy's foot. You have to do it so that, when you push off, that the other guy doesn't land on and sprain your ankle. Or the guy that tore his knee, tore his ACL celebrating.

It wasn't a Chester Marcol celebration. Or who was the guy? Who?"

Q: Richard Sherman...?

RYAN: "Oh, that was it. You know, what people say and what they do, you know, there's so much fire in these guys. To play a defensive back position, to play a wide receiver, to play quarterback, play line, play any position anymore, all the hitting that goes on, all the controlled violence, I would say, if you know you're going to the Super Bowl, you might be -- it might get a little excited.

But I did see it, and I did the same thing probably everybody in this room did: Whoa.

Is it being played a lot? Is that what you're telling me? Okay. You can tell we don't have practice at 1:30. I'd have been long gone."

Well, just with our guys, we've got to keep working. Look how tough -- we're going on the road for the next couple, so we've got to keep working it, got to find a way.

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