UW's Week Includes Two Home Games

Bo Ryan (USA Today Sports)

Falling five spots to No.14 in the latest AP poll, Wisconsin looks to get back on track with home games against Northwestern Wednesday and No.24 Ohio State on Saturday. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan addressed the media Monday.

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Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan transcript

THE MODERATOR: The men's basketball team is home for a pair of games this week hosting Northwestern on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. on BTN and then Ohio State on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. on ESPN.

Q. How are you feeling?

COACH RYAN: All's I know is I wouldn't wish this on you, Brian. Come on. I was hoping it was a 24-hour one, and then Henry informed me that the 72-hour one is going on in Madison. I said, well, you can put me on that list. It just knocks you down.

I average six or seven hours a night. Saturday night, went to bed at midnight when we got back, and woke up at 11:30 on Sunday. I was afraid it was Monday. And then 9:00 last night and slept all the way through until 8:00. So you might say I'm well rested.

But I coach -- I'm glad -- I just hope the players on Saturday in the huddles I didn't -- there was no touching. I only asked for the trash can once. But the players played well, and that was what's important.

Q. You mentioned (trainer) Henry (Perez-Guerra). Were there any special instructions for Henry during the game? How helpful was he and the rest of the staff in making sure you're hydrated and keeping you upright?

COACH RYAN: Well, he knew the routine. Any time this has happened before with players or coaches, you put a towel over the person's head that has their head over the trash can. There's a -- and you stand around it. And you kind of look off in the distance like there's nothing going on. Henry's been through all that before.

But it was -- you know, it's -- with the travel and with the times and with the thing that happened to us Wednesday night and we get back three hours later than we were supposed to, all that kind of stuff, it adds up probably on coaches more than the players. Just hope the rest of my staff doesn't get it.

Q. I'm guessing the only way you wouldn't coach a game is if you were pulled away screaming and scratching and clawing? Is that about right?

COACH RYAN: 42 years, never missing a practice or a game. That's the only reason I'm here today, we have practice. Not to see you guys, no.

I did cancel flying back to Philly tonight for the favorite son award, and I told the guy, and he understood.

Q. On the Big Ten teleconference today, you mentioned talking to Nigel last week saying, I've got to get you more minutes. You've earned it. And you talked about his response. What exactly did he show you that earned the more minutes? Are you surprised by how casually he responded by he's ready for whatever you need?

COACH RYAN: It's not casually. It's just he's a matter of fact guy. He's one of those guys, I'm sure, 20 years from now, when I look back on coaching different people, he'll be one that will pop out for a lot of the right reasons. He's just one of those kind of guys you want in there with you.

It used to be we use the term the kind of guy you'd want in the foxhole, but people don't use that anymore. He'd be the kind of guy you'd want to travel with.

Q. We didn't get to talk to you after the Purdue game --

COACH RYAN: I know you missed me.

Q. We did actually.

COACH RYAN: I was lying on the floor. How about this? Purdue every year, as an assistant and head coach, we go there. Where they put the coaches to change in and all after the games for their locker room, there was the nicest couch you could ever imagine. Well, they did some things where they remodeled. All's I looked forward to was lying down on that couch, and it wasn't there.

So when Gardo came back from the press conference, he and Patrick, I was lying on the floor. The carpeting was okay. I just laid down.

Anyhow, were you asking me something?

Q. We'll get back to it. As Kaminsky got in foul trouble, both at Minnesota and Purdue, the first time you went without him in the first half of Minnesota. This time you decided to try to change strategy and go offense for defense. Why is it you handled it differently in Minnesota versus Purdue? I'm just curious.

COACH RYAN: He didn't respond real well by sitting, but also I didn't want him in there banging with (A.J.) Hammons. In Hammons, you have a guy who can take over a game, or if he gets in foul trouble and he gets on the bench, he didn't do anything in the game. It's kind of like, if Frank's not on the floor, he really can't help. But offensively, he really felt like he was in a groove because he can pass. He can knock down the outside shot, and he can still post. So we tried to use him on offense some so he didn't get too stiff on the bench.

But I'll tell you what, Evan (Anderson) sure did some nice things for us. The big E kept us in there in the first half and blocked out Hammonds. So fundamentally sound, Evan Anderson blocked out Hammonds. Hammonds could do nothing but reach over the top of him, and he got the foul that put Hammonds to the bench. So Evan went in there and neutralized their inside source, and that really helped.

But we were able to do that because of some stoppages of play, we could go offense and defense. It doesn't always happen.

Q. Bo, regarding Evan, does that show you, or does that give you confidence that in certain situations he's available, you can use him if you need him?

COACH RYAN: Yeah, but we really haven't had that many, and you know, sometimes are you playing from behind? Are you playing even? Are you playing with a lead? There's a lot of things that determine on who I can go to and when. But he's been working so hard. He's just glad he hasn't lost confidence.

Q. Do you feel like the defense on the defensive end, your team took a step forward on Saturday? The statistics would provide that that would be true.

COACH RYAN: He had a different type team than Purdue. All teams are different. There's still a lot of things that our guys need to work on defensively, as all teams do. We can tell you how we've broken down teams, and coaches saying, man, we've got to shore up this, we've got to shore up that. All through the year you've got to have that because points are being scored. How are they being scored? Who's not in position? Who didn't rotate?

It's not just one rotation in basketball with five players. If one player does one thing, that affects the other four players. So if one of those four players breaks down in any kind of penetration, any kind of screening situation, then it affects. You're only as strong as the weakest link. So if it's one guy breaking down on one play, could be another guy breaking down on another.

In football, if they take a guy and they've got a safety that can't cover, a corner, they keep exploiting the heck out of that corner. That's one thing. But in basketball with the different ways that people score, it isn't just one person. Sometimes you can go with a big inside and say you're going to do this, but as far as the outside perimeter play, it's different.

On the breakdowns, it's you're only as strong as the five guys that are on the floor at that particular time, and that's how offensively we've been able to be so efficient. We've been able to find the weak link in the other team for the most part, which is why our numbers are what they are this year.

So on one end we're better, but on the other end, you know, you can't talk about the three front line guys that play defense so well for us anymore. It's many will February. So these guys have to have improved to this point.

And not just the front line, it's guard play too. And they are working at it. But when I see a Minnesota put on the spurt that they did, when I see Michigan play the way they did against Michigan State -- of course, I didn't see the game. I was asleep on the bus.

Anyhow, I see (Nik) Stauskas do other things to people that he did to us. I see the other guy from Minnesota light up against Nebraska and make a comeback to where they almost win the game. And then (Yogi) Farrell do the things that he -- we've been beaten by some teams that can do some pretty good things. So here we are.

Q. Northwestern's clearly playing better than the team you beat four weeks ago or so. Do you notice a difference? Anything jump out at you?

COACH RYAN: Yeah, that first half we had against them. Since then, they have done a lot of things where they know they can play better than what they did. They have not had a spurt -- they have not had a spell like that since maybe the second half at Iowa. But try to play from behind against a team that's as deep as Iowa and as experienced. That's pretty hard.

So they're much improved. They're playing well. You take away maybe eight minutes, eight, nine minutes of that game against Iowa. And people will tell you in the league they're playing as well as anybody. We know what we have coming in here.

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