Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan joined the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference Monday, looking ahead to his team's matchup Thursday with Iowa.
Ryan talked about his team's Jan. 31 loss to Iowa, redshirting players, shooting streaks and Jordan Taylor's "coming out" party as a freshman at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Below is a transcript of Ryan's portion of the teleconference:
Question: Hey Bo, I know you say you don't pay much attention to the RPI, but just given that it's a factor in helping to decide NCAA tournament seedings, is that something that you like? Or do you think it's a measure that's kind of outdated since it's been used since 1981?
Ryan: Well, I don't know about outdated just 'cause 1981. I don't know if you were born after 1981, it's not that long ago. It's one tool that's used. And the fact that it's been around a while means it's stood the test of time. Whatever a committee has to do, it's not an easy decision just to pick the final probably four, six, eight spots.
So any kind of information they have, but it isn't the sole determining factor. Because we've gone through as a conference trying to bring in people who have been on the committee to tell us exactly what it is and to what extent each factor is used, whether it's strength of schedule or last ten or things like that. It's just a tool that a committee has to use.
Q: With this game coming up against Iowa, the first time you played them in Madison, was there anything that surprised you just about the way the game played out?
Ryan: No, they're a good team. And then watching them last night, as well as they played against Indiana. They're kind of like us at times. If you're hitting shots, things are going your way, you can usually just feed off that. It seems like every team in the Big Ten is gone through stages.
When they played us, they made shots, they did a good job of taking some things away from us. And I just thought that they were a very good team then and they're a very good team now. Just like most of the teams in the Big Ten every night.
Q: Coach, Jordan Taylor's coming out party might have been a 3-pointer he hit to force overtime at Iowa as a freshman a few years back. But can you just talk about his progression as a point guard in this league since you've had him?
Ryan: He's a guy who really pays attention to the game. He's a guy who doesn't have real long arms, so what he has is he has strength. So he uses his strength, literally. And he uses his mind, which is pretty sharp. A very bright young man who keeps an even keel at practice every day.
His leadership. His shooting has been maybe a little off numbers wise this year, but part of that is due to a little different lineup that we have. Say in the past couple years, his sophomore and junior year, with two bigs who did a very good job of picking and popping in [Jon] Leuer and [Keaton] Nankivil. So he's doing some different things to, right from the beginning, blend basically a new front line.
And I think he's the kind of guy if you're going to bring along some inexperienced players when we started the season, he would be the guy to do it. And he's just so easily to everything. He's just one of those guys that you tell him what we need to get done, and here's what we… that makes him pretty good.
Q: I think that three that he hit to force that overtime in Iowa was the first made three of his career. Do you recall that moment? Did you deep down think, 'Man this kid's going to be a special player'?
Ryan: Alls I remember is we didn't get it done in overtime. And that's probably what he remembers. But what we did was, off of our sideline out of bounds, we have a read that if a guy comes on the ball side of the screen, we throw it over the top.
During the timeout, that was mentioned, sure enough, he broke back towards the other sideline. We threw it across, and he was open. But still the shot has to go down. So we felt pretty good for about two minutes during the timeout leading into the overtime, and just came up a little bit short. But he's a guy that's hit a lot of big free throws, a lot of big shots. He embraces the moment.
Q: Hey coach, you've favored the redshirt option much more than many other coaches, can you speak to how that's helped Ryan Evans' and Jared Berggren's progression? And how come you've been able to use that redshirt successfully in your time at Wisconsin?
Ryan: Well, I think we look at the person that we're recruiting and sometimes we see maybe some things that other people don't. We've had players who have redshirted who a lot of other people never even thought about offering a scholarship to. Now that either says we're not very smart or maybe it says that if we see something, go with your gut.
So, we've done that with players when we see the academic prowess that they have, the love of the game, the work ethic, and guys that -- when they get in, they're the ones that determine who redshirts. People have brought it up many times, 'How many schools have ever redshirted a McDonald's All-American?' Well, Brian Butch was not physically ready to compete at a high level as he would've been by his fifth year. Which he proved out. So Ryan Evans, Jared Berggren and other guys that we've had redshirt, it's paid off. It's definitely paid off.
Guys get stronger, they get acclimated to the university, to the regimen that you have to go through. College is not easy for these guys. Basketball is such a different sport compared to sports that only play on the weekends. These guys travel more during the week. There's the potential for more missed class time. Gettign adjusted to college, for a lot of these guys, sometimes that freshman year just goes by and they hardly even played, and they wish they would've had a fifth year.
So, we let the players decide. And they can do it right up until the end of the exhibition games. So it's better for the student-athlete to make the decision once they get here. Not so much before they get here, but once they get here because then it's a more intelligent decision.
Q: And then going back to that first Iowa game, can you chalk it up to anything other than shooting 3-for-28 from the 3-point line?
Ryan: Well, it's never just one thing. But there aren't too many teams that I've seen have any success when you do something like that. Could be the other team's defense forces you into bad threes. Having looked at the game, there weren't a lot of those. But it's, that 40 minutes was not something where, shooting wise, we can say we put any highlights from the game into any film.
But, we've had some other games where we've shot it well. Iowa's obviously had some games where they've played better and where they haven't played quite as well. We all have. So there's still more left in the season here. So we're just going to prepare for our next 40, and hopefully we can shoot it a little better."
Q: Bo, I doubt if you've spent much time philosophizing on this, but since you mentioned it earlier, you said it seems like every team is going through stages in its shooting. Why do you think that is?
Ryan: Well, this isn't the first time. When I coached in high school, I can remember talking about teams and the scouting report like, 'Man, this team's really been shooting the ball well. These two or three guys have really found their groove. It's been around since basketball was invented. Because it's like anything else, it involves an eye-hand coordinated event. You know, there's the rim, here's the ball, I've got to put this in there.
And it isn't something where you say, 'Well, he's at least going to make five out of 10. No, a guy could make two out of 10 and another game make eight out of 10. That's shooting. Now, the guys that can get closer to the basket, you go by percentage. The easiest shot, the highest percentage shot is obviously a layup. And then you work your way out from there, and that's why they added an extra point for the three, because it is tougher because it's further away from the basket.
If all you're getting are looks in the paint, if all you're getting are looks from the three, with your offense, whatever it is you're getting, you better be hitting them. At least with a decent percentage. So, I've just seen teams go through the stages that I was referring to, hot meaning 50 percent or over, cold meaning anything below 35 percent. And it happens.