|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
March 21, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We've got Brian and Marcus with us. And we'll start with questions.
Q. I know that you were asked about this the other day as far as having to sit out last year because of the injury. You guys win last night. As you think about just how things are unfolding and trying to get to the Sweet 16, I guess how much are you relishing this opportunity that you have to come back? And then I wanted to ask Marcus as well, obviously you're for all the team and so forth, but knowing what Brian went through last year, missing the tournament like he did, is there a little something extra for you guys as well as wanting to win for yourselves kind of wanting to win for Brian because of what happened to him last year?
BRIAN BUTCH: Well, it's just a great opportunity to come back and play. That's one of the reasons it kind of worked out with me red-shirting I had a chance to come back my senior year and take advantage of it.
So I do enjoy every minute of it, every minute you're out there playing. Every minute you get to do a press conference like this, all that stuff. Because you know it's going to be your last being a senior, too.
So not having the opportunity to go through it last year, you know, it was disappointing last year but we're really concentrating on the next upcoming games and seeing how far we can take this.
MARCUS LANDRY: Well, Brian's a very great player so as a team we're very glad to have him back. Knowing what he's capable of doing really helps our team offensively and defensively. So I'm glad to have him back.
Q. For both of you, I guess it's the $64,000 question, how do you stop Michael Beasley?
BRIAN BUTCH: Well, you can look at the schedule and ask all the other guys that have tried to stop him. It's pretty tough. I don't think you're going to stop him. He's just too good of a player for us we've really got to concentrate on playing good, solid team defense.
I think that's how we're going to have to get it done. There's not going to be one guy that's going to stop him. Or one team that's going to really stop what he does. You've got to really just try to slow him down. I think you can ask any of the other teams that have played them, I think the answer would probably be the same. I don't think there's a way to slow him down.
MARCUS LANDRY: I think, first of all, what we're going to do is we're going to stick to the rules that Coach sets before us. If we stick to those rules and we're going to play him like we do any other great player. Make him take tough jump shots and get him out of things that he likes to do, and hopefully by doing that, you know, things will work out in our favor.
So like Brian was saying, he's a great player. And obviously everyone knows what he's capable of doing. So we've got to really bother him and make him take some tough jump shots.
Q. Obviously last year you were No. 1 during much of the season and at the very top of the polls. Wonder if you can talk how rewarding it is for you guys to come out of nowhere after the Texas victory and what you've been able to do through the Big Ten to be able to emerge like this kind of team?
BRIAN BUTCH: Yeah, like I said, not many people expected a lot out of us this year. I think it just goes back to the team chemistry we have. As a team we want to be successful and we want to win. And I think it's a big part of -- is it believing in your success. And I think that Texas game everyone sat in the locker room started believing that got us going. Once you started believing and have momentum, it's tough to stop it. And I think if you ask the guys in the Big Ten, it was pretty tough to stop us this year.
So we're just continuing to try to get better here and play as long as we can.
MARCUS LANDRY: After a game like that, with Texas, it really brings the team together as a whole. We went into that game. We were away from home, far away from home. But we went in there and we battled and we played a great game. Came out with a win.
And I think it helps us as a team going into our conference to know that we can get some road wins during our conference. It really brung us together, as Brian was saying. It obviously helped us to build some momentum and get a run within our conference.
Q. Brian, if you could play the role of a television analyst here for a second, explain what the swing offense is, how it works and why it works.
BRIAN BUTCH: The swing offense is pretty much just based off of reads. You've got your five positions on the floor with one guy in the post. Then you kind of read what the defense takes. That's why it's so hard to guard.
With the team we have this year, you know, we have five guys out there that all can make plays. So you can't sag off and help one guy. You can't do that, that's why it's so hard this year especially to guard it, because we're reading what the defense is giving us. And that's kind of our main mentality is making sure we make good cuts, make sure we pass the ball and find open guys. With having five guys out there that all can make plays, it's pretty tough to guard at times.
Q. Both of you guys, do you see any similarities from the tape you've watched or games you've seen between Beasley and D.J. White and if you do, how much can you draw from the experience playing White twice this season?
BRIAN BUTCH: Yeah, to be honest we haven't seen much tape yet. We're going to get on the floor after this. We'll have a scouting report tomorrow on that stuff.
As far as what we do, we haven't changed anything all year long. And that's been the routine we've had all year long. So, for us, we've had a chance to watch a couple of games. I think they're similar in some ways. In some ways they're very different.
For us our principles and our rules aren't going to change as far as what we do. They're both post scorers. So I think our rules and what we normally do aren't going to change for either one of them.
Q. Brian and Marcus, there's some very talented freshmen in this bracket with Beasley, Mayo, guys like that, who may be one and done in college. And I wonder if you could speak to the benefits of a program like Wisconsin that cultivates the four-year, five-year players and keeps them together and has a chance to get this far and go on?
BRIAN BUTCH: Yeah, I think there's definitely an advantage to that. I think having the ability to have guys stick around four years, five years, you know, you know what Coach wants right away. You don't have to have that two, three months of wondering what he wants and ways of fitting in the system and stuff like that.
When you're around long enough, you know, in the summertime, when you play, you can get the young guys to understand what he wants, too. So I think that kind of gets us going a little bit. When the seniors can definitely help the freshmen out in the summertime and get them kind of used to what we're doing and how we play basketball, I think that helps us out when Coach can get his hands on us during the preseason.
MARCUS LANDRY: Obviously, by the new rule that was put in, there's going to be a lot of great freshmen coming in to play college basketball. And within our program, you know, we have great freshmen also. But guys like Michael Beasley and O.J. Mayo, like you said, they're possibly one and done. And for a program like us, you know, where we have guys that's staying four years, it brings, you know, a type of communication and a type of togetherness to that team. And it helps the team to go further.
Maybe not that first year, but the second year after that. So the bond that teams have with guys staying there for longer is always great.
Q. Brian, you talked about Beasley a little bit. Not that it would be easy, necessarily, but if it was just him, at least you guys would have a very clear target. But they've got a lot of contributions yesterday not only from Walker but from a couple of other guys, how much more challenging do they become to defend when it's not just their star player who does everything for them?
BRIAN BUTCH: Yeah, that's with every team. You know, I think they've done a great job recently playing here, at least the games I've been able to watch, of really getting everybody involved.
And that's why we've been so successful this year, is because we've had a bunch of people involved. So I think the way that they've been playing, they've been playing very good. And they've offered a lot of challenges based on how many people are scoring for them, playing for them.
And I think that's probably one of the things their coach is trying to install in them a little bit is get some more scorers out there, and they've been doing a great job of it. We've had our hands full.
Q. You guys have won 30 games each of the last two seasons but there's not a lot of people talking about Wisconsin being a Final Four national championship team. Do you all feel a little forgotten or overlooked?
MARCUS LANDRY: For me personally, I really don't care. It's all about what we do. If we make it and we keep going far they can't overlook us, right?
So for me and this team, I think that we just have to really focus on what we're trying to do and not focus on what everyone else is saying or what everyone else is not saying.
BRIAN BUTCH: That's the mentality we have in the locker room. It really is. People can predict where we want to go and how far you gotta go, but you still have to win.
If we lose tomorrow, it doesn't matter where people pick us. And I think that's the mentality that we have. We've got to keep on winning. We've got to keep on surviving. It's March Madness; anything can happen. You have to make sure you're on the top of your game.
At the end when things happen and you end up where you are, then you can talk. But right now we're just worried about trying to win basketball games.
Q. Last year you obviously had a lot of fire power from Alondo and those guys, but do you think you'll be harder to guard this season because you have different weapons out there?
BRIAN BUTCH: Yeah. With a super star like Alondo and Kam, we definitely were pretty good, but this year I think it's a different type of team. This year I think it's a team based on making the extra pass, finding the open guys. And whoever is out there, you know, we've got guys who can make plays. And that's a tough thing to guard.
And I think the best people to answer that question probably are the guys in the Big Ten that have seen us the most. But as a team and as a guy that's on the team, I think we are a pretty hard team to guard, especially when we're clicking.
Q. I was wondering what your impressions of Coach Ryan were prior to coming into the program and how much they've either been upheld or how much they've changed since you've had an opportunity to play under him?
BRIAN BUTCH: Yeah, well, before I got there, he won two Big Ten titles. So what I associate with Coach is winning. By no means has he let that down. And finding ways to win.
Since I've been here we've been pretty successful. We've been to NCAA tournaments. We've had set records for wins in school history, stuff like that. We've got Big Ten titles. All that stuff.
So for what I thought of Coach, he's lived up to everything and more. It's great to be in a program when all you care about is winning. That's what this program is about. We don't care who gets it done or how it gets done as long as it gets done. I think that's one thing that Coach really installs in us.
MARCUS LANDRY: As Brian was saying, he obviously had a lot of success. And coming into Wisconsin, he brung that in with him, coming from Platteville and coming from the other schools that he came from. And he came in here. He turned Wisconsin basketball around for the good.
As he's been coaching -- the teams that he's been having has really been getting the job done. He's been doing a great job of coaching those guys.
Q. Brian, can you put your career in perspective as it's winding down here and what your mind-set was coming into this year? I heard you lost some weight coming into this year, getting ready for it. And what's your approach to your final season?
BRIAN BUTCH: My approach to the final season was to get a little lighter and be quicker on my feet help the team on the defensive year. Last year I felt I was a liability, where this year I felt I could play more minutes and help the team on the defensive end.
For us to be successful this year we needed to play some pretty good defense. And we have so far. The games we did lose is where we got away from that, so for us to be successful, first and foremost, we have to play a pretty good defense.
And for my senior year, I really just cared about winning and that's all I've really cared about since I've been here. So to win the Big Ten title, you know and tournament title, so it's been pretty good. That's all I care about doing. So let's see how far we can I guess continue to keep on winning.
So to answer it, I can't give you a full complete answer yet because hopefully we still have some basketball games ahead of us.
Q. Marcus, has Carl laid down the gauntlet and said, I did something special this year and now it's your turn?
MARCUS LANDRY: Well, he's done a lot of things this year. But especially coming out of the situation that he did. But he did some great things. But he hasn't won anything yet. Neither have I. We still have a lot of things to accomplish.
So hopefully we can keep playing a lot of basketball here.
Q. A lot is being made about how if this game is a high-scoring game, that benefits K State; a low-scoring is in your favor. How much of a benefit is it for this to be lower scoring, how do you see that?
BRIAN BUTCH: Either way we can play. I think a lot of people make a big deal about being a low scoring team and stuff like that.
What it really is, is I think because of our defense, teams are really taking a lot of time to make sure they get a good shot, because both teams value the basketball. They want good shots both times. So I think either way we can play, but our main thing is we just want to make sure we get a good shot on every possession and that we make it tough for them to get a hard shot.
So it seems pretty simple, but it's a lot easier said than done.
MARCUS LANDRY: Like Brian was saying, obviously what we do on the defensive end really matters. How we play defense and by making them take tough jump shots and us going down the other end and making hard cuts and valuing the basketball, obviously you can be a low-scoring game but one of the teams has to win.
So regardless of the score or how low of a scoring game it is, it really doesn't matter. As long as you do what you need to do on the defensive end and make guys like Beasley and Walker and the other guys take tough jump shots and get hard looks, then you'll be all right.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
Head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers now with us, Bo Ryan. We'll ask him to make a statement on getting to this round and then we'll go to questions.
COACH RYAN: It's always good to be back, because that means you get to play again. And I'm happy for our guys. They've worked extremely hard and hopefully we have more in us. I'll take any questions if you have any.
Q. I've heard probably an ignorant description of the swing offense being that it's kind of interchangeable, you get guys posting up that are -- get the defense to maybe do things they're not used to. Can you explain what it is and why it works?
COACH RYAN: 99.99, there's a DVD. I can give you the address -- come on, I put my kids through college on the money that I made from the videos that we put out. It was developed as a result of coaching in Division I at Wisconsin as an assistant, there was live scouting in the '70s. And I would go see Jud Heathcote's teams, McGuire's teams, Knight's teams and all those teams in person when I was scouting. And I always thought there's certain things I wanted to do when I got to be a head coach.
I ran some things in high school that I liked for the couple of years I coached there, but it didn't seem like it was a long enough period to really develop a personality on the offensive end. But you have ideas. You're 20-some years old, then you move into your 30s, you get a head job, and basically because of the way it moves with the back screens, I added the up screen, and we call it the UCLA cut because of what UCLA used to do. But we do the up screen for a different reason than what Coach Wooden did.
So it was kind of a mutt of taking these different offenses, some things Johnny Orr was doing and other coaches that I mentioned.
It's a motion but with a little more principles for comprehension to be able to pick up, and it's actions, three or four different actions, down screens, up screens, ball screens, fade screens.
And you play off of it. And it's about making reads. It's just basketball reads. We run it at our basketball camp with third and fourth graders. They're there four or five days. By the fifth day they're running it like -- they're doing a great job with it.
It's not that intricate, but you still have to have players that make the reads off of it like any other offense. Because I've watched coaches run the same offense for 30, 40 years, not very difficult, pretty simplistic, and yet get results, because the players understood it, which is the most important thing, not that the coach does, that the players do.
And they feel comfortable with it and get to the free throw line, draw fouls with the actions, touching the post. So that's basically the swing offense.
Then things we do in our zone are similar. And it just came from just working a lot of different other coaches' minds and nuggets you get from people and started doing it and this is what we have.
Q. How do you think Michael Beasley would do in the swing offense?
COACH RYAN: He'd be the same he is right now, an All-American, first round draft pick. Maybe a No. 1 draft pick. He's just a player. He could play in any offense. Most importantly he's playing in Coach's offense (smiling).
Q. Coach Martin was just up here. He said he looked at ten of your games since his game last night. He said what you see in front of you is what you get from your defense. Obviously they have a special player, but he said he'd be surprised if you did anything outlandish. How are you going to go about trying to defend Michael Beasley, without giving us too much?
COACH RYAN: We've got to stick to our principles, to our rules. And there's areas of help that are possibilities. When we practice today, we'll go over some things. There's emphasis and there's a little bit of shadowing or extra help or hard help.
There's things within our defense that we do in certain situations. But I think they have other weapons, too. And I'm never -- I'm too old to ever get caught in the thing about talking about one guy. There's a guy last night that went on for 30-some, but Cal State Fullerton had .79 on their points per possession. So that was okay.
And we're on the left-hand side when the game's over. Now, when I say we don't just focus on one guy and Beasley gets 56 and breaks Bradley's record, or whoever has the record -- who is it? Austin Carr from Notre Dame. That can happen too. Hopefully it won't. We'll work to see that it doesn't. But I don't think that the team that Davidson was playing today was planning on 40 from a pretty good scorer in Curry.
So our best laid plans sometimes don't work out. Sometimes they do. But so far our guys have committed to what we've been doing on defense, have done a very good job. Don't know what the future is going to bring. You just prepare for it and see what happens.
Q. Last season you had Alondo and Kam and you were a number one team for much of the season?
COACH RYAN: One week.
Q. For one week, but --
COACH RYAN: A fun week.
Q. Has this season been a surprise with the collection of talent you guys have had coming back, what you've been able to accomplish?
COACH RYAN: Well, I hear that from everyone. Coaches tend not to act like they're surprised. But I'm probably a bad actor. I'm thrilled. So let's forget the surprise thing. I'm just happy and thrilled for this group of young men to be able to do what they've done so far.
And as I keep mentioning, we don't want it to end. But for a lot of teams it does. And the idea is where these guys were early and where we are now, great strides. And I'm so proud of the progress that they've made.
I really am thrilled and happy more so than using the term surprised.
Q. Bo, what is your defensive philosophy and obviously leading the nation in scoring defense, how have you been able to get guys to really buy into it that much?
COACH RYAN: You know, we haven't been a bad defensive team the other six years either. And we're doing the same things. This group maybe out of fear of losing all the points that we did maybe in the off-season, the guys got together in a huddle that I wasn't aware of and said: Hey, guys, if we expect to do anything this year, we're going to have to stop people because we don't know if we can score.
You'll have to ask them. I don't know if they did that. But we've got some guys that are pretty tough and gritty and it spreads. It spread to the other guys. And it's kind of something they've hung their hat on. But yet there's those nights when teams can go out and get a little crazy and we just try every night not to let that happen.
But I just think it's a collective thing and the experience that Trevon Hughes, Bohannon, Landry, Krabbenhoft, the younger guys that are playing more minutes this year, what they gained last year and what they saw helped to go into what they're doing right now.
Q. You mentioned the other weapons that Kansas State has. What do you see from Walker and 40 Anderson and 0 Pullen, what do you see from those guys and how vital are they?
COACH RYAN: It's how they play off of one another. It could be one game some guy gets 15, and another game another guy gets 18 or a guy gets 10 rebounds, 10 assists and eight points, whatever it is, they're all contributors.
When we look at teams, we look at the collection, not the parts. And as far as what they do with one -- how is this guy better and if we can take away how he is better if we don't let this guy penetrate, then maybe this guy can't get his shots. All those things are always looked at and we try to attack and approach from the defensive end.
And for the most part this year that's been successful for us, but we've tried that every year. When I was at Platteville or in high school or anywhere else, it's always the same approach. It's just the results vary sometimes.
Q. Did you recruit Mike Flowers with the intention of him being the stopper and guarding the best player every time or is that something that kind of evolved?
COACH RYAN: Basically Mike just wanted to be at Wisconsin. So I said, sure, why not.
Q. In that role?
COACH RYAN: I knew he was a tough athlete, tough player, recruited his older brother at Platteville. He ended up going to another school. But Michael was one of those guys I just saw as a potentially, as someone who really wanted to be a Badger, someone who wanted to be successful, somebody who was an athlete, somebody who wanted to do well. He was just driven.
And, yeah, defensively, definitely. And offensively he's improved quite a bit, too. I was only kidding when he came and he said -- we recruited him. But he wanted to be there. And that's the best part. You don't have to twist somebody's arm.
Those guys tend to be better players for you when they want to be there.
Q. Wonder if you could talk about with this collection of talent you had coming back, how much the Texas game was kind of a turnaround or a building point for the season of what they've been able to accomplish when they went into a tough place and won on the road like they were able to do?
COACH RYAN: It wasn't anything different that we prepared for when we went down there than some other games. But I could see that we were getting better as a result of taking some bumps earlier and things getting away from us and trying to bring them back into focus.
And the timing. It's probably the timing more than anything else. Right before going into the Big Ten is our game at Texas. And for us to get that win, I know guys believed in themselves, but guys aren't going to talk about it. They just accomplished a heck of a feat. It was a great win for the program and for this group of young men.
And they took that and won on the road at Michigan and had a pretty good Big Ten record. And that led to the Big Ten tournament and now this. About you that Texas game was obviously a good stepping stone into jumping off point into the Big Ten.
Q. You mentioned a couple minutes ago about Michael Flowers wanting to be at Wisconsin. You mentioned yesterday that a lot of the players you recruit maybe have a passion for wanting to play for Wisconsin. Can you just kind of expand on that answer a couple minutes ago and how that makes your job as a coach easier?
COACH RYAN: I think growing up on the streets of Chester I've learned to detect phoniness pretty well in people. And when I'm recruiting a kid, I can usually tell if he's serious, if the parents are serious, what they really want, what is it they're looking for. And 90-some percent of the time we've been right on. So I'm happy about that part of it.
And I'm always looking for people that you don't have to beg, that you don't have to do a song and a dance for. That's what I recorded that Superman move on the DVD for, for those guys that wanted that.
I just think that recruiting the way it's become, I just really want to have people that are in that locker room when the coaches aren't with them to be guys who the other players can talk to, they're all talking about pretty much the same things. I hope they have different opinions, because that makes it better about certain things in life.
I'm not looking for robots. I'm not looking for all guys that are kind of like machines. But I want guys who really want to come together as a group, get the most out of their experience in the classroom, on the campus, I guess that's kind of hard in Madison not to enjoy the campus, but in the right way. And just be there for the right reasons, not so much: Are you going to get me -- when an uncle or AAU coach or somebody says, are you going to get him to be a first draft round pick, will he start as a freshman? You don't see any of those guys talking to me, because they kind of know what I'm like. Too old for that. But if a young man wants to come, we'll give him a pretty good experience.
Q. I'm not sure what the universal understanding of what an 11 seed is supposed to look like. Did Kansas State look like an 11 seed to you last night?
COACH RYAN: I don't know about seeds. I never have. I've never really gotten into that. I just know they're a good team. And at this stage, when you're down to 32, they're all good. I mean, why do they keep a top 25 if you're going into the second round and you're going to be playing a team and it's like, well, this 11 seed -- well, wait a second, it's only a few more than the top 25 that are listed out there every week.
So, believe me, I saw something on Phil Martelli, he's a good friend of mine. He would never vote any way other than his conscience. I don't even know what the flap was about. But that was interesting, when they had all the coaches and how they voted each week. That's the first time I ever saw that.
Was that the first time that was ever published? Does anybody know? These lights are on, I can't tell, is that a yes?
That was pretty interesting. Now, do you think I would really sit there and go through each coach each week and see who was the first one that ranked Wisconsin? I did. (Laughter). And who was the last to put us in (smiling)? No names (chuckling).
I don't know how I got to that. I was just thinking about something, about seeds and that's what I meant about the rankings. So when you say 11 seed, come on, Kansas State is a good team. They have good players, they're well coached. And hopefully people are saying that about us and then we play. Or at least about the good team part.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
End of FastScripts