Q. When you're a player -- and I'm sure there are times when you might have had self doubt -- how do you get through that?
COACH RYAN: I can't remember self doubt. I mean, I can't remember not believing that, if you did the right thing, stuck to the fundamentals, kept working at things, that they're always going to work out.
You know, what's the other alternative? You beat yourself up? I mean, if guys take a shot and they don't believe it's going in, it's like putting, and, well, there's no chance of this thing going in, it probably isn't going to go in very often.
But I don't -- I go into every game trying to give the players a chance to understand what it takes to be successful and show them things and talk to them about things. It's the same group that was doing some things earlier that -- and not doing some things earlier that we got away with, which is things I knew about as weaknesses. So they still have to keep working on those.
Q. Bo, in your experience, when good shooters go through stretches individually or as a team and their shots aren't dropping, what do you think causes that?
COACH RYAN: I think they have averages for a reason. Sometimes you're above the average, sometimes you're below it, and they revert to the mean.
Look at how tough we've been on free throws the last couple minutes of games, and then you go into a game that you take a bump in by one point, and you go, wow, those are the same free throws we made. Now, do you carry that over and start to get nervous if you're in the situation again? That's the individual.
But I think the fact that we took away some things defensively for the most part against teams that we played recently, I see some shots that are made by guys that hadn't made one of those in a while, and we've had it happen for us. I mean, we had some things happen in some of those games earlier in the year where we had some guys step up, hit some big shots, get some stops.
But they're 18 to 22 years old, and they're working at it. I can tell you that.
Q. I know being a head coach is a tough enough job as it is. Do you find it to be any more challenging as a coach when your team is going through something like this, just to try to find some way to help them out?
COACH RYAN: Well, what you're referring to then is that the coach -- it's -- you know, for me, when you say is it discouraging? Is that what you asked? Oh, well, because you're always looking for things that can shake guys out of the positions that they're in. But you can't, you know, all of a sudden, remake a team when you can take five possessions out of several of those games, and if they go the other way, four possessions, two possessions. You're sitting on the other side.
So they still have to believe in what they're doing. They still have to believe that, if they position themselves correctly, block out, take care of the ball, I can't fault them there. They're taking care of the ball. They're getting decent looks. A couple times we had to take a hurried look because of a deflected pass, but I think you just keep getting guys to understand that you're the ones that can make the difference. Can't go around and replace anybody. Not trading, can't.
This is what we have, and this is what we have to try to get the results that I think they can get back to. But I -- when you say a challenge, it's always a challenge. It's a challenge when you're 10-0. It's a challenge when -- because the challenge always is the next game. Now the challenge is Illinois.
Q. Bo, how much do you buy into vocal leaders and kind of the rah-rah stuff in terms of getting guys up? Or do you think it's more important to simply work on technique and, like you said, let the averages take care of themselves? What's more important to you?
COACH RYAN: I never said let things take care of themselves. You have to work. You have to be attentive. You have to look at the film, the breakdown.
Gave the guys a test yesterday, 28-question test, 28 clips, where I always talked to the guys about the teaching points in the clips. So I wanted to find out yesterday exactly what it is that guys see. So I took the 28 clips and just showed the clip. They wrote down what they saw. Second clip, they wrote down what they saw. Just like they were in the classroom.
Pretty perceptive group. They caught a lot of the teaching points, but you never know. At least it was encouraging to know that this player did not rotate or this player did not pump fake or this player did not -- and we did it without worrying about who, what individual it was, but the idea was, okay, these are the things that we have to work on. We didn't get back to this point in transition defense. If you're here instead of here, this doesn't happen.
So that's how players aren't. Some guys, they have to see it on video. Some guys they don't have to see it on video. They can see it on the court. Their moxie, court sense, basketball IQ, they see it. Some guys need to see it and go oh. Oh, is that what -- okay, yeah, I got it now.
But then you still have to go out and execute it. So what that has to do with anybody in the room yelling rah-rah, there wasn't any of that, but it's about teaching.
Q. How unusual is that in one of your clip sessions to quiz them in that manner? Is that something you do very often where they have funny answers on their own like that?
COACH RYAN: As I mentioned, it's the first time I've ever done it.
COACH RYAN: Ever. It was the first time, and they did pretty well. I was impressed.
But knowing it and doing it, I'll tell you, with the speed of the game and the fact that what really ticks me off is the guys on the other side. They're trying to stop us, and that really -- I wish those guys would get out of the way, but they're not.
Q. Bo, what are the specific challenges that Illinois presents tomorrow night?
COACH RYAN: Watching them play Iowa, they've improved in a lot of areas because we know how athletic they are. They just -- earlier in the year, there were just some things getting away from them. But now they're just more in tune with one another and their talent level is starting to show through. I mean, sometimes you can have talent, but it's not in sync. But they're playing a lot better together.
Q. After the Ohio State game, I believe you were answering a question about leadership on the team, the quality of the leadership on the team, and in the process of answering it, you talked about Nigel Hayes being quiet and just working hard and getting through it. Some people interpreted that as perhaps a dig at Sam. Was it?
COACH RYAN: Well, how could it be a dig at somebody else?
Q. Just because he had most recently come out and talked about he was very emphatic about some of the things he felt strongly about with the team, that you weren't doing well, that you were being soft, that you weren't getting things done.
COACH RYAN: Each guy has got to hold himself accountable. Nigel Hayes is the most improved player, and if that didn't come through with what I said, then he just gets it done. That's not a dig at anybody. That's me telling you that Nigel Hayes is a real find here, and without Nigel, we might not have anywhere near what we have.
And the results haven't been great on the scoreboard, but, man, the things he's given us defensively very rarely makes the same mistake twice. So for anyone to even think there's an insinuation that way just maybe tells me where somebody's mind was. That's a compliment, and he deserves it. Anybody that's watched us play knows that. Anybody that watches us practice. Yeah, practice. They know what he brings.
I just really like it when guys pick up things and show results. And he's done it better -- when I say he's done it better, it just means sometimes, when the tests are given back, some people get A's and some people get B's. But Nigel's been a big lift for us, huge.
Q. So going the other way, does it help when somebody like Sam did last week, does it help when somebody speaks out, whether it's through the media or whatever? Do you think there's a place for that?
COACH RYAN: I don't even know -- I haven't seen anything to even be able to answer your question. I don't know what you mean. If a guy says that he's got to play better -- is that what Sam said? He's got to play better? I hope he didn't hurt his foot when he put it down.
I didn't hear what Sam said. I just get the guys in there, show them what we need to do, work them, and everybody's got to answer to themselves, and they've got to answer to their teammates. So whatever goes on there, that's up to the players. I don't control that.