Home Stretch for UW Hoops

Bo Ryan (Siker/14)

Continuing to climb back up the national polls, Wisconsin - up two spots to No.14 in the AP poll - faces a rematch with Indiana at home Tuesday before facing Penn State for the first time Sunday in State College. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan addressed the media Monday.

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Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan

Q. Always have a longstanding goal of always wanting to make more free throws than the opponent takes. When you look at this team in the game, did you think that was a team in terms of personality that could do that?

COACH RYAN: Well, you always work towards it. You always get guys who believe that, if you take shortcuts with your hands, you're going to be called for a lot of fouls that aren't necessary, play defense with your feet. So you try to limit the number of attempts the other team takes, but you can't play soft. You can't give guys things.

So you've got to find that happy medium. And then for your own team, you've got to have guys who can attack the rim and attack gaps in order to force other teams to use their hands. We don't have a blazer, so to speak, on our team that's been described that way, somebody that's really quick or jet quick, but we have guys that use their instincts pretty well to get to the line. And Nigel (Hayes) has really helped us in that phase.

Q. Bronson (Koenig) obviously got quite a few minutes in the last game. Is that just riding the wave in one particular game, or he just kind of earned his way forward?

COACH RYAN: He's a guy that's been playing minutes. Sometimes it's 10, sometimes it's 15, but he earned his way in. You've also got to remember that Ben (Brust) didn't practice. Ben was out for a while. Ben got most of his minutes in the first half, and that's because we gave him his breaks around the four-minute marks, which is -- you know, there's so many inactive minutes for players during basketball games anymore. You can really hide guys, hide their rest pretty well.

So Bronson was able to get some minutes while guys were -- some of the guards were also on the bench around those marks. So he got what he got for a reason.

Q. You mentioned Frank's development this morning. Is he doing a much better job this season, maybe not filling for three-pointers and using his strength to get to the bucket?

COACH RYAN: Well, yeah, he's earned -- he's gained some confidence on his ability to finish around the basket. Frank's maturing. He's a young man. That's what the guys are here for. They're going to college. They're playing a sport. They're in the moment. People are talking about Milwaukee? Are you kidding me? We're talking about Indiana. And these kids are in the moment. These kids are playing right now. These kids are trying to enjoy their college careers.

And I enjoy watching them develop. I enjoy being with these guys every day out there on the court. So that's what I do. You guys do what you do with all your projections and everything else. But it's simply maturation. Frank Kaminski is maturing on and off the court, and it shows in the way he's playing. But isn't that what they're here for? It's college.

Q. During the telecast of the Iowa game, Dan Dakich said something during one of Frank's moves, that, if he had tried that move a year ago, he would have fallen over his own feet. He tends to exaggerate sometimes.


Q. How much better has he gotten with his footwork in general post moves? He's made some moves that I don't know that I can remember seeing, even in practice at times.

COACH RYAN: Well, because we're usually done with our post moves by the time you guys get in. Seriously, that's not -- I'm not tongue in cheek in that. We do a lot of that work, that footwork, because we're afraid you guys might pass that on to other people. Now that's tongue in cheek.

Frank's strength, a guy with his size coming in -- his dad was a late bloomer, and his mom was a heck of an athlete as a volleyball player at Northwestern, and his uncle was a real good basketball player at Northwestern. That's been documented. That's been out there. But, again, he had to overcome beating himself up mentally on some things.

When Frank would get down on himself, he wasn't helping himself. Coaches give constructive criticism. Coaches will say, hey, come on, Frank, you've got to -- but when you do it it to yourself, there's much more damage done when you lack the faith in your ability than if somebody is trying to correct you.

I mean, some people take constructive criticism well. So sometimes they take it and just agonize over it. I think Frank has learned to just keep playing, absorb the information, and keep working in the weight room, keep working on his balance and whatever he has given him, and, of course, Scotty (Hettenbach) in the past. So physically and mentally, he's moved into another stage. Whether he can get the same results every night is going to be -- I mean, that's -- I don't have a Crystal ball for that.

But he has shown that he has been better in tight situations where balance is important, finishing, concentration on a target, moving his feet on defense. People always talk about his numbers offensively, but defensively he's positioned better on screens, moving his feet better, and he still has a ways to go. But I certainly like the progress.

Q. You mentioned that you might not always see the results, but was it important for (Kaminski) -- important for you even, given how he played at Michigan, attacking the basket, to show that same willingness and determination followed up in Iowa? I don't think he attempted a three-pointer at Iowa. It was all going towards the rim.

COACH RYAN: Yeah, and it's also where you receive the ball. It's also maybe some of the things that we saw in the scouting report or maybe some things we were trying to do. Some people take some things away better than others. So Frank took advantage of the opportunities that he had, and the guys got him the ball in some good positions. Sometimes you can't get him the ball there. Sometimes defenses will gear a little bit differently.

So the key is to have a team where you can, if somebody's hot, they can't just concentrate on one person, that you can get it from other places. I think this team for about 80 percent of the season so far has been able to do that very well.

Q. Is Josh Gasser starting to become Josh gasser before the injury, in your eyes? Is he back to where he was before?

COACH RYAN: Well, I don't know anything about the comparison other than he was pretty good in November and he's pretty good now and he was pretty good in 2012. So '12/'13, he wasn't playing.

Josh just likes playing. He just likes competing. He likes banging. He likes banging into people, making contact. And not all basketball players enjoy contact. Josh enjoys it. He doesn't mind it when people bang into him. He can give it, and he can take it. But he is just as important as his performance has been, it was what he did in the year that he didn't play that I think really opened the eyes of a lot of his teammates as to what a tough, dedicated individual he is because that was not the easiest surgery to come back from. There's knee surgery, and then there's knee surgery, and he had about as tough as you could have, and his rehab was a lot longer.

We just hadn't even talked about it. So is he where he was before? I don't know. I always like to think people are better.

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