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March 16, 2011
THE MODERATOR: For the University of Wisconsin we have Jordan Taylor, Keaton Nankivil, and Jon Leuer.
Q. Keaton, I'm sure you guys are all aware you are the trendy pick to lose here in the opening round. How do you guys feel about that? Is it amusing, insulting, or does it make you mad? What's your reaction to that?
KEATON NANKIVIL: We try to approach every game the same. We're going to prepare like we would for a Big Ten game or any non-conference game. And, you know, anybody can say what they want at this point in the year, but we're going to approach it the same way and do what we've always done.
Q. Jordan, do you feel you've put yourselves in this position a little bit? What I talked about just before with Keaton, because of the last two games. Really only the last two games.
JORDAN TAYLOR: I think you could say that maybe. Obviously, losing the last two games, it looks -- the team looks a lot better when you are hot coming into the tournament, you know. But, at the same time, it probably says a lot about Belmont, about what they've accomplished so far this year.
People can say what they want. And they're going to make their picks. But all that really matters is what happens in between the lines in the next 40 minutes.
Q. What do you know about Belmont? Watching them play and with your defensive dominated style, how does that compare to what they do?
JON LEUER: Well, yeah, I mean, obviously we're preparing for them and learning a lot about them. Obviously, they have proven success in the past. They've been here before. This isn't new to them. They've played a lot of good teams and, you know, have proven they can beat anybody.
So we're just preparing as best we can right now, and, you know, we're just excited to get out and play.
You know, the preparation is one thing, but just being here and getting a chance to play a team like Belmont is exciting for us.
KEATON NANKIVIL: I go 100 percent with everything Jon said so far. But we also know, I mean, they're playing teams like Tennessee and Vanderbilt and people will look at them as the conference championship of a smaller conference and say what they want. But they're a proven team. And they've been beating teams handily and playing against very good teams all year. So there's no reason to think they're anything less than one of the best teams in the tournament.
Q. Did you guys know anything about them, where they were or what conference they were in or anything before you found out you were playing them?
KEATON NANKIVIL: I mean, it's hard because we spend the majority of the second half of our season focusing on Big Ten play. Obviously that's consuming. So you get to this time of year and no matter who we play, Belmont or anybody else, kind of comes as a shock. And you have to learn all the stuff about them pretty quickly.
Q. Jon, this doesn't have anything to do with the game. You played with Brad Brown in high school. Tell us about him as a basketball player.
JON LEUER: Well, I know he's been in Portugal the last two years. So his game might be a little rusty, doing his mission. And I got in contact with him. We were going to try to meet up at some point. But, you know, he's a shooter. And he likes to -- whenever he gets it, he catches and fires. That is his game. And, you know, maybe we'll get a chance to play him, maybe not. But it will be fun to see him either way.
Q. What was your high school team like with you and him; were you guys good?
JON LEUER: Yeah, we were.
JORDAN TAYLOR: They got smacked, man.
JON LEUER: We did play Jordan and they beat us our junior year in a close game. But we had a good team. We were lacking in guards a little bit, I guess. I don't want to call out my old teammates. We had a good team.
We had a tough section. Jordan was in our section, too. Looking back, playing with Brad, it was a lot of fun.
Q. Jon, did the other three guys get a chance to shoot ever?
JON LEUER: Yeah, they did. Brad and I probably took the majority of the shots, but, you know, we worked the ball around and were unselfish. So, yeah.
Q. Do you like playing teams up tempo? Do you think that it maybe helps you because you are obviously a team that likes to control tempo?
JON LEUER: Yeah. Controlling tempo is huge in basketball. It's something we definitely try to do. If we can get out and get easy baskets we're going to push it and look for that. So, you know, at the same time we have to get back on defense and, you know, stick to our rules of getting back and stopping the ball and, you know, that's going to be one of the keys against Belmont, definitely, just as it is against any team.
Being able to control the pace and tempo is going be a crucial point for this game.
Q. Looking at this, when you won eight of nine games, what went wrong in those last two games? Offensive stagnation? Ohio State is Ohio State, didn't get a lot of offense there.
JORDAN TAYLOR: The Ohio State game, they're obviously the number one overall seed in the tournament. But I don't think you will see a lot of teams at 14 and 15 threes too often. They played a great game.
Penn State we just struggled offensively. But those games are behind us. We're not even thinking about this at this point. It's brand-new season. We're happy to be in beautiful Arizona enjoying the weather a little bit and getting ready to play. We're zero and zero as far as we're concerned and should be a fun game tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, gentlemen, thanks a bunch. Good luck tomorrow.
We have Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. Coach, if you want to give us some opening remarks then we'll open it up for questions.
COACH RYAN: Well, just Chamber of Commerce, pretty good job. The weather could have been a little better. But, wow, great city.
We're happy to be here. Hopefully we're saving our best basketball for now.
Q. Just seems like a lot of people are jumping on the Belmont bandwagon. Is that something that your team wants to hear, focus on, pump you guys up a little bit?
COACH RYAN: Well, I don't know how to answer that because I didn't know -- I mean, I don't know what people say. I just know how good our opponent is. And that's what we can prepare for. You know, I'm not saying we can control that. Because that's what you need to be concerned with, what you can control. But our preparation is what we can control.
So we know they're very good. And I've been around enough to know how good some teams are in spite of what the public or other people, what they might understand about teams or names or anything else.
So, being a grizzled veteran, I'm well aware of Belmont.
Q. What stands out to you about Belmont when you see them play? What do you really notice right off the bat?
COACH RYAN: Well, good depth. They'll run people at you, and they'll do a lot of the same things. Their post players are very effective, can produce with their backs to the basket and somewhat facing.
Three-point shooters that they've had some games where if they're hitting those, there's probably not anybody that is going to get them. But you know how that happens in tournaments sometimes; you can be hot, you can be cold.
But inside, outside, the way they pass, the way they play, understanding of the game. Basketball IQ-wise probably one of the best teams out there.
And that's what -- if you talk to other basketball people, they would be the first to tell you that. It's not just this year. They've been pretty good.
I can remember when they were NAIA, the big clash between David Lipscomb and Belmont, having coached at an NAIA school before they went Division III. So, I mean, we'd always hear about those battles.
But they've played Tennessee twice, Vanderbilt, had a chance to win all three of them. Needless to say, it wasn't at their place. So they can play.
Q. Bo, one of the reasons people maybe think that Wisconsin is ripe for an upset is your last two games. Do you see that as just a little blip on the radar screen or any indication of a downward trend in any way?
COACH RYAN: Well, the way we played defense against Penn State, that, you know, I know Eddie DeChellis can say, well, no, his team played a classic game defensively. What we did defensively against them I was very, very proud of the team.
And just cut to the chase, we didn't make baskets. You got to make baskets. You can't come into the tournament -- there's no team that's ever advanced without, you know, getting somebody hot or two guys hot.
We didn't shoot it that poorly against Ohio State, but it was one of those nights.
You know, in the Kohl Center when we're at home, we've had 30-point wins or big numbers against teams you say how the heck did that happen. That team they just beat, they're not that many points better. So margin I don't get excited one way if we're on the good end or the other way if we're on the bad end, as long as we're trying to do the things that we know we can do.
So I see some tough shots going in for Ohio State. I see no shots going in for us against Penn State. So that's those 40 minutes. We got to play this 40 minutes.
And players just have to be tough enough to just move on, because they only get a small window. And this is part of that window.
Q. Penn State hasn't been to the tournament in ten years or some teams haven't been here at all. You have been here ten years in a row with Wisconsin. Did you ever lose sight of the fact how special it is or can you kind of almost say, Okay, we're going the NCAA's every year like some teams seem to always do?
COACH RYAN: Not at all. We're so proud of these guys that -- they paid the price. You don't get here if you didn't do something. So these guys have had a season where they have the right numbers, they've competed at a high level, but then once the cutoff and the teams are announced, everything else goes away. Because, boom, boom. Teams just are knocked off every Thursday, every Friday, every Saturday, every Sunday. And it goes very quickly.
So I hope they cherish -- we always talk about cherishing the moment and appreciating the fact that you played well enough, competed well enough to be one of the selected teams. I've never taken it for granted and I don't think I've ever had any players taking it for granted. I know they're pretty excited about being here.
The biggest "thank you" I got was from our spirit squad and band. This is the first time I've ever had them thank me for getting the team. I think it was because they were all at the pool and they were having a blast. (Laughter.)
Q. Couple coaches and players were talking earlier about how there's so much focus on the NCAA tournament that sometimes what you did before is lost. An example might be San Diego State, they're 32-2 and having their dream season, but everyone is expecting them to get at least out of this weekend and maybe even to a Final Four. Does it bother you that America in general puts so much emphasis on just one or two or three games in this tournament and kind of forgets about the rest of the season? And being a grizzled veteran you probably remember the days when it wasn't always like that.
COACH RYAN: Oh, I can remember. You know, you did make a statement there that is so true. But it only lasts for a short period of time. The disappointment when teams fall -- you know, I root for professional teams, the Philadelphia teams in particular. And when they get bumped, you know, you have that, oh, if this could have happened, if that could have happened. In college athletics it has become the same thing now. People are much more vocal about, well, this player didn't do this or this. What about a time-out here. There's always the second-guessing. But that's all the nature of the game.
But look at college basketball as a phenomenon. The NCAA tournament in this country and what it's done. And I go way back to when my running mate in high school was the top recruit for Texas Western and looking at what that game -- when they beat Kentucky in '66, well, I was one year ahead of him. So he gets recruited by Texas Western and what that game did, to the game of college basketball, Kentucky, Texas Western, everybody knows the story. And what basketball has done for young people to get ahead, to get a chance, to get opportunities. Look at all the jobs. I kid our SID, Patrick, do we have 16 people working in the SID or athletic communications. When it was one when I was an assistant. Well, two. You look at all the jobs and all the revenue that is generated from the college basketball game and how many sports -- how many championships are funded.
So it is a big deal. It does get a lot of attention. And therefore with that comes a higher degree of disappointment when teams are dropping.
And the expectations for the fans.
Q. Bo, Ryan Evans is a kid from Arizona who came out and played for you. Can you talk about the role he's played in your success this season?
COACH RYAN: Well, you know, he brings energy defensively. He is a pretty good defensive player and getting better every day. Shooting-wise he's struggled a little bit. But he's contributing. And that's the important thing.
You know, depth is going to be extremely important, number one, when you are playing in this climate, and you are playing a team that's pretty deep. So we're expecting Ryan to be ready to go and contribute the way he has been and, you know, how coaches are, maybe a little more than what he's been doing. Like to see that.
But he's worked and he's a bright young man. Has really helped us.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, coach, good luck tomorrow. Thank you very much.
COACH RYAN: Thanks.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports