On the Podium: Wisconsin

Ben Brust (USA Today Sports)

Following its 17-point win over Baylor, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan, senior Ben Brust, junior Frank Kaminsky and freshman Nigel Hayes address the media.

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Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan opening statement

COACH RYAN: As I told the guys yesterday, I thanked them for giving the staff and I the opportunity to make this trip and to have 40 more minutes of basketball. I seriously said that, and I thanked them again. We get 40 more minutes, and I'm awfully proud of them. They played hard, and there are a lot of areas we can improve on, but we'll talk about that later. I'm just proud of the performance they gave tonight.

Q. Could each of you say what it would mean to you guys personally to be the team that takes Bo Ryan to his first Final Four?

Ben Brust: Yeah, that would be a very special thing to do, but we also know that he's not going to let us look too far ahead. We also just know that we're going to get prepared for whoever we play, because in order to get to a point like that, we got to do all the same things we've been doing to get to this point, which is focus one at a time for whoever we have, and when that time comes, we'll handle it. I'd definitely like to do that for him.

Frank Kaminsky: I'd be honored to be part of that. I think anyone would for any coach. You know, we've got another game coming up on Saturday, and we'll be ready for whoever it is.

Nigel Hayes: I'll echo the same things they said. It would be a great honor to do that. Coach Ryan is a great coach, but we have to stay focused on A before we move on to B.

Q. Frank, can you explain when you got the ball in the high post in the zone, sort of what that did to sort of get the offense going?

FRANK KAMINSKY: That was one of our points on the scouting report, getting it to the middle of the zone, try to make some plays happen. They left the middle of the zone open a little bit and we were able to get the ball in there and get some easy baskets to the rim, some easy kick-outs for threes. So, you know, we just kind of hammered it into the middle and made some things happen.

Q. Frank, again, building on that, I guess, when you catch the ball in the middle of the zone like that, your composure was really impressive. It's not easy to catch the ball and have guys sort of moving all around you and swiping at you and be able to keep your cool and take your time and make a play. I guess is that something you work on in practice? Is that just part of your game you've always had? Where does that come from?

FRANK KAMINSKY: It comes from practice, you know, keeping your composure. Not turning the ball over and making the right play is something we always try to do. If you look at our team's track record, we're always a team that doesn't really turn the ball over much. So just practicing that throughout the entire season has really prepared us for now.

Q. Nigel, can you describe just kind of the atmosphere last week and what you guys went through in the second half to get to this weekend? Today it seemed like you guys were right on pretty much from the start at least defensively. I guess the way the second half went, did that carry over at all into this week?

NIGEL HAYES: I would say that it did carry over. The upperclassmen and rest of the team after we were down at halftime versus Oregon, we knew what we needed to do in order to come out and come back the way we did. We know if we wanted to beat a good Baylor team we had to put together a whole game, and I feel we came out and did that.

Q. Frank, you're going up against Austin. Can you sort of describe what looked like fairly easy baskets at the beginning, even though he was defending you?

FRANK KAMINSKY: We were just able to get into the middle of that zone like we said and get some easy baskets. I think that he got a foul early, so he wasn't trying to pick up another one early in the game. So we were just able to attack him. He was a great shot blocker, but we knew we needed to go at him and try to get him out of the game.

If they don't have that length in there they won't block as many shots. So it's just something we made a point of doing, and went out there and did it.

Q. For all of you guys, it seemed like Baylor was biting on a lot of shot fakes that you guys used in that game. Is that part of the game plan going in? Did Coach tell you guys when they close out on you or when they're inside or whatever, throw a shot fake at them because it worked again. There might have been three or four possessions in a row in the second half. The scoring possessions were all pump fakes. Was it practice or just how the game came to you guys?

BEN BRUST: Yeah, we definitely do some good stuff with Coach. He prepares us in did have situations in practice, but it's also just reading the game and read and react to what's happening out there on the floor. I think Coach likes having guys out there who read and react to the defense and make positive plays for the team. Really it's seeing what their tendencies are maybe a little bit before when watching them and putting it in live action, and we did a good job of that.

FRANK KAMINSKY: They had great shot blockers on their team. Isaiah Austin's one of the best shot blockers in the entire country. If you don't pump fake against a guy like that, you're not only going to hear it from the sidelines, but you're going to be mad at yourself because he's going to come away with a block. So obviously, coming into this game, we knew what we had to do.

Q. Bo, was there a lot of discussion or little discussion about the need to maybe start fast against a team that just kind of blew out Creighton last week and would be riding high? Was that a strategy?

COACH RYAN: No, you know, if you try to go into a game and that is the initial mindset, then what happens if you don't? It's still with us all about the 40 minutes and the progressive action. It's all about the present possession. So, no, we knew nobody makes more ball fakes and pump fakes than Wisconsin. It's just something that. The high school teams I coached, we did it then. We did it in Platteville. We did it in Milwaukee, and we do it in Wisconsin. Shot fakes, ball fakes work. Having played quarterback, pump fakes work. It's not that hard, and yet it's amazing how many people do not use them.

For us, quick start would be good. We've started quick in a quick fashion against some teams and had dry spells. I can't say I'd like to start fast, be really fast in the middle and end fast. That would be really good.

Q. Talk about Frank's early on performance, and as it was unfolding, is that something the way you kind of mapped it out?

COACH RYAN: Frank's had some games like that. We knew he would be critical against that zone. But we didn't put it on him like, hey, Frank, if you don't play well. I mean, we don't do that to players. But I think Frank knew from watching the film and going over the scouting report and us talking to him about certain things that he and Nigel, Sam, and Duje were going to be extremely important in that zone, and Frank set the tone. The other guys followed along with him. So Frank deserves a lot of credit for being the zone Buster.

Q. I kept hearing that this Wisconsin team was not the best defensive team that you've had in recent years, much better offense. Is that a lot of bologna? Because they seemed to play pretty good defense.

COACH RYAN: I had a lot more hair before this season started, Bill. Defensively we've done some things that I just know we can be better, but that's why we work at it at practice every day. We've had better defensive teams, but we haven't had many teams that can move the ball and play off of each other offensively like this group has.

So defensively at times some other things have happened this year. We've played with a lead. The other teams foul us and there are more possessions. So we'll give up 63, 64 points a game, rather than 65, 66, 67, because it ends up in a lot of those games there are more possessions because of the stoppages in play on teams playing from behind and fouling. So they're okay defensively, but we can be better.

Q. Coach, do you feel particularly confident against the zone? Do you feel like your guys because you use ball fakes, pump fakes, because they move the ball well for a lot of the team's strength, when you see a zone, do you feel like we can handle this? Not that you couldn't do a man to man, but still.

COACH RYAN: We prepare against both. Our assistants do a great job with the scout teams in knowing how they read and react in their zones when they do play zone. So most of the credit is if we're in practice and the zone we're playing against is not very good, we aren't getting as much out of it. But our assistants, if we're playing a team that's played any zone, they'll have them doing the reads that that team does. If they're a 1 2 2, or a 1 3 1, or a 1 1 3, high on the wings, low on the wings, doubling here, doubling there, that's all part of our preparation. We could be playing a team Saturday that's done nothing but man to man all year, and what happens if they come out in the zone? So we still have to do our reads, do our shot fakes, ball fakes, try to misdirect, work the angles. So we always prepare for both.

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