On the Podium: Wisconsin

Wisconsin's bench celebrates (Siker/14)

Following second-seed Wisconsin's 75-35 win over No.15-seed American, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, senior Ben Brust, junior Traevon Jackson and sophomore Sam Dekker address the media.

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Opening Statement

COACH Bo Ryan: I was just telling Mike, Coach Brennan, that I watched 23 games -- I have an assistant that knows the Princeton offense better than anybody, I think. But I never watched as many films of an opponent as I did this one, because every time I kept watching, I kept looking at some things that they were doing and I was extremely impressed with them. I have so much respect for an opponent. I think the players can tell you, we even had to go solicit the coaching help of one of our players who knows the Princeton offense very well, too, because he's a transfer from the Air Force in Zach Bohannon.

The thing about their team, you have a great year, you win the conference tournament, and then it ends so fast. And I heard in the back one of the questions you asked them about their season. Those guys can keep their heads up high. They had an unbelievable year, and I think Coach Brennan got every bit that he could get out of those players. I have a lot of respect for them. Q. In the first half when you guys got down by a few there, at any point did you think, "Oh-oh, it's the NCAA Tournament. How do we break out of this offensive funk? How do we stay level-headed and make sure we play through it?"

Ben Brust: You do the things you've been doing. We had a lot of help from our teammates. We had to settle in and guard with their running and made some good things happened as we got some stops and got out and ran a little bit, opened up the floor, and just stayed with what we were doing and touch the post and got some good looks inside out.

Sam Dekker: Against a team like that, the more you freak out, you know, try to play possessions ahead of yourself and being patient, they're going to really work you. So, we just had to stay disciplined and do what we do. Coach never got overheated, keep doing our things we'll be fine and it happened to work our way.

Q. Traevon, what was the Coach's message to you guys at halftime? You were on a 19-3 run to close off the half. You got the tempo and the leave. What was Coach's message?

Traevon Jackson: Nothing like do in particular. Coming out, just executing well, taking care of the ball, obviously, and really just, you know, stay aggressive and being smart. I think we did a good job in terms of getting the shots we wanted and one possession at a time. That's what we did, one possession at a time.

Q. Maybe go down the line as far as student-athletes. What was it like to have that sea of red support from the home fans?

TRAEVON JACKSON: It was great. We knew coming in we would have a lot of fans there. But, you know, at the end of the day, really didn't matter because we still -- this is an away game still for us. Even if we were a home game, we're still playing basketball. We had to come ready to play. And I thought they helped us out a lot and we executed well.

BEN BRUST: It was good to get the building loud. I heard them when we were down in the first half. Hey, we better wake up. We started to hit some shots and got going, and it will be nice to have that on Saturday.

SAM DEKKER: It was cool to see our fans come out and support us. Got such loyal fans and do a great job. They come and fill out the Bradley Center here in Milwaukee. It's great to have them come and support us.

Q. Ben, do you think it's helped you and the rest of the shooters down after you hit the first three after the first six-minute drought you guys had going on?

BEN BRUST: Once everyone sees one go down, it kind of spreads and everyone started hitting a couple. And Frank had some open looks that he normally hits, and, you know, he's going to hit them next game. Touching in the post inside and having some inside presence really helps open some things up. And as you said, got a couple to go down and kind of spread through there.

Q. Ben, your ability to get inside post touches, as were you just talking about with Kaminsky earlier, did that open up some of the perimeter game for you throughout the contest?

BEN BRUST: Yeah. There was a couple times where we through it in Frank and a couple guys would pinch or raid a little bit. It's also good to have a guy like Nigel who can come in there and open some stuff, too. Touches in the post help because our bigs make good decisions with it.

Q. It's the NCAA Tournament, but in your wildest imagination, did you ever think you're going to go on a 40-6 run and win by such a decisive margin today?

COACH BO RYAN: You should see my imagination (laughter). I woke up -- first time I woke up last night, we got beat back door. Next time I woke up, Wroblicky made two straight left-hand jump hooks and followed it up with a third with his right hand. I woke up again.

You know, to go on a 40-6 run, no, you can't -- that doesn't usually happen, but our guys, if you told them it was 40-6, I don't think they would -- they just took care of each possession and that's what you have to do, whether you're down or whether you're up.

You notice I'm really impressed again by what American did. They got down 20, 25, 30. They were still running their half court offense just the way they were running it when they went on that spurt in the first half. That tells you a lot about a team. I mean, they needed to get some shots a little quicker when you're playing from behind, but they still ran their stuff.

So, you know, we've had teams like that. I'm hoping that we don't get behind, but when we have gotten behind this year, our guys have sometimes got a little anxious and got away from the offense and tried to do things too fast.

So I will point that out to our players, and I already have, saying, "Watch how this team -- they're down, but watch how they still run their offense, still do the things that got them here." We don't concern ourselves with those runs other than they're nice to have.

Q. Obviously it was a tale of two halves. Struggled a little bit in the first half. What was the biggest difference between the way you started the game and that big run in the second half?

COACH BO RYAN: Hitting shots and stretching it and you stretch it a little more. Just for the players, they sense something, they felt that if they could do the things that we had talked about, then the assistant coach was right.

Fortunately for us, we felt defensively we could do a decent job against the Princeton offense because of the Northwestern teams of old. So, other than Nigel and Bronson of that first group, everybody else had faced the Princeton offense. That helped us. And we had days to prepare. When we play this game Saturday, in no way will we have the same number of hours with our players on the court to teach them things that we can do to help us Saturday. It's going to have to be fast, and our guys are going to have to be quick learners.

Q. Coach, similar question to what Dennis asked the players. A lot was made this week about you guys are playing close to home, but not at home in Milwaukee. Was there any extra juice seeing the red out there, and especially as things went well in the second half, hearing that crowd behind the guys?

COACH BO RYAN: You almost blew it for me with the question about the red. I told my team, "When we go to Indiana, they're rooting for us" (laughter). At Nebraska, I told our guys, "Hey, see those people out there in the red, they're rooting for us." Problem is, we took a bump at both places. It didn't work.

Of course, it helps. Of course it's great. What these players earned, it's good in return to have parents, relative, fans, alumni, everybody have a chance to make a short trip for a game for alums in this area and for the families in this area. So, that's what we went through the 30-some games for during the season to get this here. It's what the players say. I never care about the sea. They wanted to play here so we get another 40 minutes here.

Q. Bo, is it the mark of a good team, particularly this time of the year, that you can take a run or a bump like you guys did early and not get flustered, not get behind, and is that what you need to do to keep going forward?

COACH BO RYAN: Yeah. I'll tell you, having coached two undefeated teams to national championships, I only say that not to be vain, but going through those seasons as a coach really helped me for when like at Wisconsin we had a 38-game win streak at one time and we had this 16. So, I try to defer -- when people start asking when we were 14-0, can you guys go undefeated? Can we go undefeated? That's a heck of a question. We're going to go to the next game. So, I think we didn't panic when we took some bumps. Are you asking like when we hit the rough spot this game?

Well, it goes back to where we weren't playing well and we had to make some adjustments and guys had to get better and get them focused. On the mini level, rather than the bigger level with the parts of the season, in a game, in a half, you don't get flustered, you don't get down. You just stay the task. We've got some really smart guys. We've got some tough guys. So I think they've handled it well when we've gotten behind.

Q. Coach, every single one of your players got on the floor tonight. How special is that at the big game?

COACH BO RYAN: Are you kidding me? If I'm one of those guys, that's why they jacked shots right away (laughter). Right away when a couple guys took shots, they knew right where the camera was (laughter). Oh, it didn't go in. No. Turn them loose, play. The only time we don't shoot is when the shot clock is off and then we have the last possession, then we don't shoot. That shot clock and game clock are running, those guys in there can play, can shoot.

Q. Coach, going back to one game at a time, one possession at a time, how do you as a coach in the tournament keep this team focused, especially the young guys like Nigel and Bronson with all the other distractions like media and stuff like that that could potentially get in their heads and change their play on the court?

COACH BO RYAN: He said media was a distraction, I didn't. Put it on him (laughter). Inside their jerseys on these new uniforms is "next." You say one game at a time, one possession at a time. I know it might sound old, but to me it's still about what's coming.

So, we talked about that, we talked about being close to home, relatives around, friends around. I told them to treat it like we were playing an away game. And we have our times, we have our meeting times. We did our thing, and they've been real good about that. Good leadership with the upperclassmen. So I'm not concerned about any distractions. I get the distractions because I get a lot of media request. You said it, I didn't.

Q. How much of this next game do you have to personally pay attention to in live time? How much of this do you want to see?

COACH BO RYAN: The assistants are out there now. Coach Paris has one, Coach Close has the other. I'll watch the game probably when I'm done with my obligations, go back and catch the second half on the tube, and they'll have the game in my hands in my room and I'll have watched it by 7:00 tonight, 8:00 tonight, and have watched some other games of the winning team. I don't think I'll get through 20-some like we had time for with American. But I really didn't need to, like I said. I just enjoyed watching them run their offense.

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