On the Podium: Wisconsin

Before taking on Baylor Thursday in the Sweet 16 in Anaheim, Calif., Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan, along with players Ben Brust, Traevon Jackson and Frank Kaminsky address the media Wednesday.

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Q. Ben, for so long I think people might have envisioned Wisconsin playing one way, low scores, grind it out, even Coach Drew talked about that. But obviously, you can play all ways and this year proved it in terms of the tempo and the pace. Talk about how the program has evolved in that sense, in terms of being able to play up tempo, if you have to, and if you have to win 55 53 you've been able to do that?

Ben Brust: Coach Ryan does a good job preparing us defensively, and we work on all different types of skills at our practices. You look at our roster, down the line every guy that's out there on the floor is a threat to dribble, pass and shoot. So that's nice to have out there and to know that when you're going through warm ups, if you look around, you never know which guy's day it could be, and that's good to have.

Q. Guys for Ben and Traevon, I wonder if you could describe the challenge that Kenny Chery provides opposing teams from the point with Baylor as you've seen films? What exactly it is that he does well, and what are you going to do to do to be successful tomorrow night?

BEN BRUST: I think he does a great job of commanding the floor. He uses ball screens well, just kind of leads that group. Just his overall presence with that team has really helped after he came back from that injury. He's done a really good job with them. Just overall, their whole team. They've got a lot of guys who can play, and it seems that Chery steps up in the big moments.

Traevon Jackson: Yeah, he's just the leader of their team. He controls the ball a lot and gets the guys into the spots that they need to be in to score. He scores when he needs to, so that's a good point guard.

Q. Frank, have you guys seen many zones this year? What makes Baylor so effective?

Frank Kaminsky: We've seen zones throughout the year with different teams in the Big Ten a little bit and nonconference. What makes Baylor's different is obviously their length. They've got Isaiah Austin in the middle. He's one of the longest players we'll play all year. So just the athletes and the length combined in their zone is going to be tough to go against. But hopefully we'll be able to be successful against it.

Q. Traevon, the longer you play in college, has it been easier to shake the shadow of your dad? I know this is an old story, but we've got to revisit it. The further you go in the NCAA tournament, does that help?

TRAEVON JACKSON: I think that's really not a hindrance any more. I kind of got over that a while ago. I like to joke around and say because my dad's old some people forget about him. But that's something that my teammates have always been able to help me out with in terms of we depend on each other and we kind of created our own image. So we rely on that as well.

Q. Do you guys have any plans while you're here in Southern California? Anything besides basketball?

BEN BRUST: Just want to win basketball games. Being a senior, to be playing right now is a good feeling to go into the locker room on Monday morning and know I wasn't cleaning it out, and I get to keep playing. I'd like to have that feeling one more time.

TRAEVON JACKSON: Yeah, I'm with Ben on that. I just want to win. I think the best part about being out here is the weather and the community and how big the city is and stuff. But at the end of the day, we're here to play basketball and enjoy it while it's here and have some fun.

FRANK KAMINSKY: This is a business trip for us. We're here to win basketball games, hopefully two of them, and get to a Final Four. That's one of our goals and we'll do anything we can to accomplish that.

Q. Ben, Coach Ryan has had a whole lot of success there at Wisconsin, obviously. But how big a deal is it to get to the Final Four for you guys?

BEN BRUST: You know, Coach Ryan has been through a lot. To get 702 career victories, you don't do that off luck. It's hard work, and he knows what he's doing. So it will be smart for us to listen and learn from what he has to offer us. Obviously, everyone's goal this time of year, all 16 teams left want to make it to the Final Four, and everyone wants to go as far as they can.

In order to do that, I think you need to focus on what's at hand. The moment you start to look ahead is when you get yourself in trouble. So we focus on this Baylor team for the 40 minutes we're guaranteed.

Q. Lot of coaches do videos, I think Bo did maybe just an hour one time of just a practice that just went viral and every coach in the country watched it. Can you take us through a few things, maybe why your practices are so good and people would want to watch that, and what he does to impart to you in terms of a daily basis to become a better player?

BEN BRUST: Yeah, Coach Ryan is a teacher, and this is why he's still rocking and rolling. He loves going to work and getting to teach us young kids his knowledge. He loves to win basketball games, and he wants to instill his knowledge in us to help get to that common team goal which is to win. We're just looking forward to getting out there Thursday and seeing what we can put out there.

TRAEVON JACKSON: Yeah, I just think that consistency is huge for him. He consistently does the same things and demands perfection. When you keep yourself at that high of a level demanding certain things to be done, you get the same results over and over again. It's up to us as players to exceed those expectations and push as hard as we can, because at the end of the day, we're the ones on the court. He's going to put us in positions to play well, but we have to take that next step.

FRANK KAMINSKY: He has those expectations for us. And it's up to us to go out there and kind of take that next step, like Traevon said. And I think we've done that at points this year, but, obviously, there are some points during the season where it's a little tough to do that. But for the most part this season, we've been able to do that.

Bo Ryan Opening Statement

COACH RYAN: Just, as they say, happy to be here, and I'm glad the guys brought me along for the ride. I've thanked them. So we're hopefully here to get some good things done. To play hard, play smart, and try to take it as far as we can.

Q. Coach, obviously you've proven this year that you can play at any tempo and any pace to win games. Even after all your success and all the years, as a coach and teacher, do you see yourself evolving? Do you each day evolve year to year with yourself?

COACH RYAN: Yeah, I tell you, I can't wait till I grow up. There are some really good things out there, I think. That's what they tell me. Yeah, if you look at my background playing wise, and coaching wise, as far as playing different styles, different this, different that, what goes around comes around. There's always different is it a real good free throw shooting team? Is it a better defensive team? Do you have a better offensive team? You know, you coach what you have. You recruit to it. You try to get certain kind of players, they say to fit a system. I've played so many different types of systems as far as the overall view.

But basically, you try to get good shots and you try to get more shots on offense, and on defense you try to not let teams get good shots and not get very many of them. So how do you do that? On offense you take care of the ball. You try to get to the free throw line because those are high percentage shots. We've made a lot more free throws than the other teams have attempted. I've had a lot of teams that in my head coaching career that have had that record of making more than the other team shoots, and that's a good stat. Taking care of the ball, we've been known to do that.

So at least that gives you a chance, and that's the way I've always liked to coach. The way I was taught growing up is, okay, if you want to have a chance, here are the absolutes. Here are the things that you have to do to give yourself the best chance, and that's how I've coached.

Q. Who taught you that?

COACH RYAN: Well, my dad first, without a doubt, because there wasn't a I was a quarterback for him in weight football. I don't know if they have weight football in California or out here. If you're 11 years old and 100 pounds or less, you play. Or 12 years old and 120 pounds or less. I was a quarterback, and interceptions weren't allowed. Fumbles weren't allowed. Making the wrong audibles was not allowed. So, you know, perform the basics well, and the team will have a chance to win.

I played baseball for him. One game because the guy that coached the team had to work shift work, so my dad didn't want the game because he didn't want to coach me. He said, okay, I'll take it for one game. So after the top of the sixth in little league you play six innings we're coming off the field to get our last at bats in the sixth. He tells this little brother of a kid that's on the team to pack the bats up, the balls, put the catchers equipment away. We're done. It's over. And everybody on the team starts yelling, crying. I didn't change expression. I knew what he was doing. We're down 11 5, and sure as I'm sitting here, we win 12 11. So I learned early sometimes you send messages in different ways and it can still be effective.

Q. Bo, what makes Baylor's zone so difficult? Why is it hard to prepare for?

COACH RYAN: Well, I don't know. You know, people asked us that about Syracuse's zone a couple years ago. You take what the defense gives you. You have to probe. But I've seen the way they're playing it, you know. That's simple. Put a DVD in and you can see it. But then attacking it and getting people to move a certain way and using your angles and misdirection and different things that good zone offensive teams use, we're going to have to put all those together. Because they have the quickness and they have the length inside to protect the rim. So that's why it's been pretty effective. They've certainly shown that here towards the end of the season, that's for sure. But I'm not going to tell you how we're going to attack it: Just kidding.

Q. Bo, what is it about Kenny Chery that makes him such a difficult cover? What has he done that's really helped Baylor over the second half of the season?

COACH RYAN: Well, I tell you, he's a tough player. He reminds me plus with the injury, we had a player have the same injury at halftime of our game with Davidson back in '08. It's a one point game at halftime and we don't have our point guard, Trevon Hughes, that got turf toe. Got the same type of injury and couldn't play in the second half. And we didn't do too well in the second half.

Chery, obviously, being healthy makes a big difference in that team. He's a leader. He takes care of the ball. He can break defenses down, and force people to rotate and help, and he makes pretty good decisions. So when you have somebody like that, that's like us getting Josh Gasser back after an injury last year. He's made a big difference in our team last year. So Chery is one of those guys that makes a difference.

Q. Bo, you said how you haven't changed in terms of style, and this is how you play. Recruiting now in 2014 compared to many years ago when you go into a house, that your message? Has your message changed because of the kids now or is it just the same?

COACH RYAN: First of all, you don't get as many home visits now. They don't visit until later, and by that time a lot of them have already committed. It's usually visits they make when they come to your campus or they see what your players are like or what your school is like. So at Wisconsin, we recruit very good students.

So that part of what I do is fun because I'm not constantly worried about guys not taking care of business. If anything we have guys miss more practices because of class time. I have college coaches go, you have guys miss practice to go to class? I said, don't you at your school? And they said, no. So I've got to recruit the right kind of people. But I'm recruiting players. People say, do you recruit this? Do you recruit that? Good students, hard workers, good listeners. People that are pretty focused on what's going to happen in the next 60 years as well as they are focused on what's going to happen in the next couple years, because that's what we're preparing people for as coaches. We're preparing them for when they're in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. It's nice to have guys like we have that they can relate and we can relate to those types of teaching, not just basketball.

Q. We watch out here as Gregg Popovich takes these silly in game interviews and demolishes them. I've seen you

COACH RYAN: Only a couple.

Q. Rise to that occasion. Do you think that you guys can can you reach his level, number one? And number two, can you ever do away with these silly things?

COACH RYAN: How about the one where I thought I was talking to the camera and they're trying to tell me to turn around. I don't know if you saw that one. But the camera was behind me, and I just had to say I thought you wanted my better side. Boy, did I get a lot of messages back to me. That is your better side.

No, the one that I did with Ohio State cuts the lead from 24 to 12, to 24 to 23, and you're walking off the court and you get asked, well, Ohio State cut that lead. They came within one of you. How did that happen? I said they scored more points than we did. The question was asked, well, how do you plan on changing that? I said because we're going to try to keep them from scoring points. Now, I didn't know of any other way to answer that.

So Popovich I heard, but I don't get a chance to watch a whole lot of NBA games. But sometimes, come on. I know it's not an easy job to be a sideline reporter. Plus they're being told to ask certain questions sometimes. It's not always their questions. I understand that.

But you know, I'm old school. I've got some things running through my head as I'm walking off that court, and the last thing I'm thinking about is some of those questions. But at least I do them. I think there is a coach that doesn't even do them, or two, or three, I don't know. Maybe you have to be a certain age. I'm getting there.

Q. Coach, Wisconsin's one of, if not the most consistent program over the past 10, 15 years. Maybe there's not one thing, but if you had to give one reason for why it's been so consistent, what would you say?

COACH RYAN: Well, I think the leadership of each of the junior senior classes, the upperclassmen have been able to I'm telling you, in sports there are things that are said out on the court, there are things that are said in public, and then there are things that are said in the players' locker room. That's their domain. That's their home. If you don't have the right voices in that locker room, you're not going to be very consistent. You're not going to be a program that rallies around one another. You're not going to be a program that has guys that come out and work hard every day and practice for each other. You hear all the clichés. Be a good teammate, do this, do that.

Well, do the right thing. Respect your teammates. There's a lot of work that goes into this thing. The fact that we have a grueling hill that they run and some stuff with the training that they do where they come together. Having been an ex military guy and seeing what it did in basic training to some guys that I never thought were going to make it through those eight weeks, and then they slowly got better. They slowly got better in the service.

You scold to mold. You praise to raise. You've got to pat guys on the back at times to raise self esteem or whatever the term happens to be the hottest at the time. You scold to mold, constructive criticism. You have to be honest with them. You can't tell that kid sitting with the remote on the couch that's eating potato chips and bag by bag and telling him he's the greatest thing that ever lived without kind of mentioning that maybe you ought to get off the couch. You ought to do some exercise. You ought to. So you can't constantly tell them that they're the greatest. So there is a little bit in between of the scold and the praise, and a lot of it comes from the upperclassmen after a practice or before a practice, and that's what I was getting at. It doesn't just come from the coaching staff. It comes from the leaders.

Q. Bo, we're working on this is a little off the beaten path. I apologize. Working a Tom Izzo story and you've had a lot of goes with him over the years. Can you talk a little of your impression of how he gets it done, and his ability to endure as much the way you have as well?

COACH RYAN: Well, I don't know if this is the forum for that with the other people here from the Baylor papers and all that kind of stuff. Obviously I've known Tom for a long time, and I couldn't even begin to tell you all the good things that he does for the game and all that. So maybe at another time I could do that.

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