UW Prepares for American

Before taking on American at the BMO Harris Bradley Center Thursday, Ben Brust, Josh Gasser and Frank Kaminsky address the media.

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Q. Frank, the big success you had this season, how hard was it waiting for that success to come the first couple of years in the program here, and how much are you your own toughest critic?

Frank Kaminsky: If you look back at this program and see the people who have come before me, you'll see it's a learning process with this program. You know, you come in here your first couple years and get some experience, and then as you get older, you're given more opportunities to play. And I waited for that time since the moment I got here, and, you know, like I said, I am my own toughest critic. I get down on myself a lot. I think it helps me in the long run.

Q. This is for all three of you guys, can you just give your opinions on what makes Bo a good coach, and what is your funniest Bo story, if you've got one?

Ben Brust: Coach Ryan demands a lot from you, and that's why we come here to play. We know we're going to play good basketball. He wants us to play tough and dive on loose balls and try to get 50/50 balls and try to do things to help make the team successful. Funny story. There's so many every day that I can't pinpoint one for you right now. I'll let them go and I'll brainstorm (laughter).

Josh Gasser: I think what makes Coach Ryan to special is he learns from the past but he's always looking at what's next, the next practice, the next possession. Just takes them one day at a time, one possession at a time, and doesn't get too high or too low. And Coach Ryan is a really funny personality. Not many people get to see him behind closed doors. He's got a great personality, funny. He doesn't know how to pronounce names. I think that's probably the funniest thing for me.

FRANK KAMINSKY: With Coach Ryan, I will tell you he's so detailed oriented. With everything we do, it's -- if we don't do it to the perfect details, you know, he's upset with it. He's just so into everything. He examines everything and really gives us the instruction from what he sees, and he sees everything really well. Like Josh said, I think his funniest is his pronunciation with names. It's pretty bad sometimes.

Q. Josh and Ben, kind of following up on Bo, now that he knows what Mario Kart is, are you going to challenge him? He had the controller upside down with Nigel. Didn't know what to do.

JOSH GASSER: I love to challenge him. He's a lot like us two. He doesn't like to lose. He would do anything in his power, even if he's not as good as us, to come up on top. That's just his personality. Hopefully we'll give him some time on it off-season.

BEN BRUST: He definitely sees me and Josh throwing controllers at each other. He would want to join right in with us. That's the competitive guy he is. And if he wasn't good at it right away, I'm sure he would want to get to our level, which can't happen.

Q. Josh, this question is for you. Being more of a hometown guy than these other guys, can you quantify a home-court advantage now that you're here and see all the Badger fans around your facility?

JOSH GASSER: It's awesome. It just means that you did something special during the year to get rewarded to play close to home. And it's great for my family, these guy's family, to be semi close. Just to be able to experience NCAA Tournament atmosphere is awesome for my family and friends and other people as well.

It's kind of a home-court advantage in a way, but, at the same time, once the clock starts, once you get between the lines, it's all what we do and we control that.

Q. This is for all three of you. What did you know about American University before you found out you were going to play them and what have you learned about them since?

BEN BRUST: Right away when we saw the matchup, Josh and I went to our phones and went to their schedule to see who they played, you know, what their guys were doing points-wise, rebounding-wise, just kind seeing their roster from what we could, and then got right to try to get our video coordinator to send us some stuff and just go from there.

JOSH GASSER: Yeah. Now we got better understanding, obviously the Princeton offense, which a lot of people notice right away. They run that really well. It's a tough offense to defend. It's pretty hard to simulate. You got to have time with it. They're going to be really crisp and fast with their cuts. I think one underrated aspect of them defensively, they're pretty strong even if you look at the schedule and scores, they limit opponents to a pretty low amount. That means they're a pretty good defensive team.

FRANK KAMINSKY: We got a couple practices under our belt now with them. So I feel like we're way more familiar with them than we were maybe when we saw who we were playing, and, you know, just familiar with their players, familiar with bunch of their sets. So it's been nice to be able the see them, watch the video on them. So we'll be ready for them.

Q. Frank, when were you high school and hit a growth spurt, how hard was it to adjust to that and how did you keep the skills that you had when you were shorter now that you're taller?

FRANK KAMINSKY: You know, just -- it was -- I got into high school at 6' 2" and left high school at 6' 10". I had a lot of growing to do both physically and mentally, and, you know, I just -- I wanted to work hard, because, you know, it didn't come easy. Sometimes I would just be running down the court and trip over my own feet because I was just getting awkward. And I think just growing into my body took a little bit of time because I did kind of have a later growth spurt than most people. Keeping those skills just came with hard work and trying to fine-tune everything.

Q. Can you guys fathom what it would be like to win 700 games as Bo got with the Minnesota victory? And do you think that enough people around the country appreciate him or know everything that he's accomplished?

BEN BRUST: Yeah. It's very special to be a part of that, and I think the number 700 just shows if you're getting that many wins, you're doing a lot of things right. As players we'd be smart to listen to a guy who has won that many games because he's successful for a reason. You don't get 700 wins with luck. He's doing something right, and, you know, Coach doesn't care what other people think. He's the type of guy who wants to get stuff done and get it done the right way, and we're just looking to continue what we can do.

JOSH GASSER: Yeah, 700 wins is just ridiculous. Like Ben said, I'm just honored to be a part of that, even a really small chunk of that. To help out in any way. Just shows the consistency of him year in and year out. He's always been successful, no matter how guys leave or coming in, what type of roster he has. He's always successful. And I think consistency is probably the best part about him.

FRANK KAMINSKY: Also, I think he's got the system that's worked for him and he's recruited people into his system and good people who he's always had a good Staff around him and they've always been there for him and he's been a great coach through all of that. And I think when you have a system like this that works and you can keep going with it, you'll be successful and get 700 wins like that, it's a great accomplish.

Q. Ben and Josh, when you guys went through that stretch of losing five of six, how did that help you mentally getting ready for this point, going through that adversity and still fighting through to get a two-seed and getting you mentally prepared for a tournament run?

BEN BRUST: Yeah, I think we did a good job of rebounding from that, but when we were -- during that stretch, I think we did an even better job of staying together and sticking together. And this group has stayed tight and didn't shy away from each other at all. I think that kind of brought us through that and is going to help us during this stretch right now.

JOSH GASSER: Yeah. Losing five of six is never fun, but before that we were 16-0, feeling pretty darn good about ourselves and kind of thinking we're on top of the world, can't be beat. Really, when you win 16 games, you think you're doing everything perfect, but there's a lot of things we were doing wrong. Sometimes losing a couple games can get your head back on track and realize you can learn more from a loss than a win sometimes. I think we were able to learn a lot about ourselves especially defensively, and I think that's where the growth has come with our team.

Q. Ben, last couple years Wisconsin basketball has kind of been known as control the tempo, slow pace. This year's team, when you've had to, you've been able to score in the '80s, '90s, even over 100 in one game. What's different about this year's team that allowed you guys do that might have been different from the past?

BEN BRUST: We're not changing too much, but it definitely helps having guys like Frank who can go inside and outside, guys like Nigel coming off the bench to give a good inside presence. That opens up a lot for all the guys who put out there, because every guy -- I don't want to say this to be mean to Nigel, other than Nigel can really step out and shoot the 3. So it does help to have an inside presence and be able to kick it out. Trae has done a good job of controlling of the tempo. If he sees the opportunity to run, we'll do that.

Ultimately when it's March, everyone is going to bring it. So got to get stops and then got to try to put the ball in the hole. Simple game, but whoever does it best will advance.

Q. Looking at your schedule, specifically beginning of the season playing against a lot of teams that are in the tournament now, specifically the one-seeds, has that tough schedule prepared you guys for this tournament or is it just the score or it's 0-0 going in here, the record?

JOSH GASSER: It is a brand new year, obviously, but definitely you play in the grueling season of Big Ten, playing road games at Michigan and a bunch of other teams, I could go on and on, and then you challenge us a tough nine conference schedule, you're definitely prepared for everything. We've been through a lot as a team. We've played everyone anywhere so -- like I said, it's a brand new season. All that stuff, we learn from it but it's kind of a start over, refresher now. I think we can take some things in the past but also we've got to be ready for what's to come.

BEN BRUST: If you look at where we started, we played a lot of games in different places. We played neutral site game to start off the year against Saint John's team from the East. We played conference champions early on at home and also we played Green Bay on the road. We played all these different types of games and again some high seeded teams now.

So you got to use all that of what you've been through. But as Josh said, you got to take what you can from that, but also remember that you got to move on and stay focused for this new season that we have and it's getting ready for American.

FRANK KAMINSKY: We've been prepared with a lot of different scenarios in games, too. We've been up in games with big lead where we have to maintain it. That there's been games where little bit of lead. There's games we've been behind and step on the gas and come back. All the games in the conference and non-conference schedule has really prepared us for what we can see in the tournament.

Q. Nigel Hayes, what has he brought to the team as a freshman and how do you see him contributing on the court and the team chemistry?

BEN BRUST: Nigel has done a good job of coming off the bench and bringing spark and energy. Makes a lot of positive plays, whether it be defensively getting a hand on some balls, or offensively when we touch the post with Nigel, usually good things happen. He can make a pass out of there. He'll get fouled or he'll score and get fouled. Pretty much when we're touching Nigel, lot of good things are happening. It's good to have some good energy off the bench.

JOSH GASSER: Nigel is a beast. Anytime he gets the ball something good happens, usually. As a freshman that's just a rare trait. I don't think he realizes how good he can be sometimes, but yeah, on the court everyone sees what he does. Off the court he's a great personality, fits in great with us. Fun guy to be around, funny. Pretty much everything you want in a teammate, he is.

FRANK KAMINSKY: He's done a great job of just playing with confidence and swagger, going out there and bringing energy off the bench and sometimes completely taking over a game, and when we needed him to, so he stepped in a lot of different ways this season.

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