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March 23, 2011

Jon Leuer

Keaton Nankivil

Bo Ryan

Jordan Taylor


Q. Jordan, can you talk about how your confidence level has changed from that first year when you were a little more hesitant and kind of struggling to where you are now as a player?
JORDAN TAYLOR: Yeah, it's just kind of part of our program. You start out, you come in and try and just learn the ropes, which I think a lot of freshmen are doing across the country. I mean, obviously some are going to be one and dones or whatever, but we just try to learn the ropes at Wisconsin and try and find yourself more and more throughout the year, and as you go on in your career.

Q. Jordan, could you talk about your reaction when they left you off the list of finalists for the Cousy award, and then when you were I guess reinstated is the best way to say it?
JORDAN TAYLOR: I really didn't even know until the next day that I wasn't on the list, and I think Brett told me, one of my teammates; Brett Valentyn told me. We were having success as a team, so I'm really not concerned about all that stuff. Whoever wins it and the guys on the list are obviously all deserving, and I'm just out here trying to help my team win games whatever way I can.

Q. Jon, can you just talk about the way Jordan has developed as a player? Have you watched him grow over the last couple years?
JON LEUER: Yeah, I mean, I've been around him a lot and seen him work hard in the gym in the off-season. I think that's the main thing is just we've put in so many hours, and he's worked to get to where he's at. That has ultimately led to his confidence just going through the roof. He's shown that in his play.

Q. Keaton, what about Butler concerns y'all the most?
KEATON NANKIVIL: I mean, for me there's the experience I think goes a long way. Obviously they're a team that was here in this position last year. You just get the feeling that nothing is going to rattle them so we're going to have to play a pretty solid game and do whatever we do well in order to win this one.

Q. Keaton, can you just talk about the feedback you've gotten from students on your eye? It's almost like a badge of honor from last weekend. And can you also talk about just knowing that Butler hasn't had a lot of opportunities to chase five men out to the three-point line. Just talk about getting that opportunity Thursday night.
KEATON NANKIVIL: I mean, as far as the eye, we're only in school for one day before we had to leave again, so I didn't see a ton of people. But I think it's something that people can talk about. They watched the game, seen a little blood. They saw Jon. It gives them something to talk about.
As far as Butler, we know their bigs can do the same thing, so they guard it every day in practice. We don't know how they're going to play it against us, but it's definitely not something they haven't seen before.

Q. You guys have heard the depictions of Wisconsin's brand of basketball and those kinds of things, I'm sure you're probably getting tired of it. When you hear those things, do you dismiss it as uneducated people that are looking at something that isn't really there or do you point to the standings and the record and say this is going to speak for us?
JORDAN TAYLOR: Yeah, you know, we're just out here, just playing basketball just like everybody else, just having fun. We're not really paying attention to what people are saying. You know, we feel like our brand of basketball obviously works. It's accomplished.
Coach Ryan has obviously implemented something at Wisconsin that has been successful for a number of years now. We've just got a bunch of guys who bought into our system and we're trying to execute, so we're not really concerned about what everybody else is saying.
JON LEUER: Yeah, it doesn't really bother us. We don't think they're uneducated as you put it. Obviously people are entitled to their own opinion and they're going to say whatever they want. But know with the group of guys in our locker room and the coaching staff, what we have and what we're capable of doing. We're just looking forward to getting on the court every day and competing.
KEATON NANKIVIL: I agree with everything those two said. We play a brand of basketball that everybody in our program believes in. Any outside influences, it's really hard to rattle the system that we have in place, and I think that's why we've been successful.

Q. Jon and Keaton, Matt Howard from Butler, what do you see in him in the tape that you've watched?
JON LEUER: He's a great player, and he's proven that throughout his career. He's obviously a skilled big man that can stretch the floor and shoot it, but he's also effective in the post. He's physical, and he moves his feet well. He does everything right, everything that you want a big to do.
We're definitely going to have our hands full. But at the same time, we look forward to seeing him out there and getting a chance to go up against one of the best players in the country.
KEATON NANKIVIL: Yeah, I mean, versatility and tenacity are probably the two things I see in him. He does a lot for them. But the one thing that sticks out is he makes winning plays. He's already made a couple big-time plays in the tournament this year. So he has a history of doing that, and we have to be fully prepared for it.

Q. Jordan, the other day Coach Ryan talked about you being an excellent note-taker. Can you talk about how devoted you are to film work and breaking down the other teams?
JORDAN TAYLOR: Yeah, I mean, the coaches make it easy for us. They break down a lot of it for us, so just watching a lot with them is a big part of it. But then other times you just watch -- just watching basketball on TV, maybe not a team you're playing, but just the guys, even NBA guys or college guys and just watching how they play, maybe certain things they do is I think just a big thing about learning how to play basketball and learning different things about the game.

Q. Could you ever see yourself wanting to be a coach one day?
JORDAN TAYLOR: I mean, yeah, definitely, if that's where life takes me, I guess. That's a long way off from now. I mean, you never know. I could definitely see myself doing that.

Q. Jordan, you didn't make the varsity team initially your freshman year. Can you talk about that experience and how you had to work your way up the ladder before you made the team that year?
JORDAN TAYLOR: Yeah, it was a good experience. I started out on the sophomore team, and actually one of my friends, my best friends, who was also a freshman, he started out on the varsity team, so just a good experience. You have to earn everything you get, and just kind of taught me another lesson in the value of hard work. I wanted to be up there with my friend playing on varsity, so every day in practice on the sophomore team I was trying to get better and better, and eventually I was able to get up on the varsity team.

Q. What happened to him, the friend?
JORDAN TAYLOR: He went to Tulsa, and now he's at Wright State actually.
COACH RYAN: Well, just happy to be here, and I know the cliché that goes around, but we are. We're happy that we've had a chance to play some more basketball and that our guys have had a chance to show what got us here in the first place. So I think now that we get another 40 minutes at least, then we're just looking forward to it.
New Orleans, great place. We went from Tucson where it was 80-some to New Orleans where it's 80-some outside. I've got a great view of the Mississippi. Watching the tugboats and the freighters and the riverboats go up and down. And in Tucson we had a great view of the cacti and mountains and part dessert. So our guys have had a nice couple trips here. We'd like to get one more after this.

Q. Is there any view you'd like to see in Houston, Texas?
COACH RYAN: Well, of course, but I take it that's where you go next if you're successful here. There's 16 of us left. We'll see what four end up there. Obviously that's what everybody is trying to do. It would be nice to get there.

Q. You went after Jordan Taylor pretty early, I believe freshman here, sophomore year. What did you see early in those years in high school that made you think he could be a pretty good college player?
COACH RYAN: Well, there's an old expression, bright eyed and bushy tailed, and my grandparents had used it. Jordan Taylor was bright eyed and busy tailed on his visits to Wisconsin when he would come down and I knew people at his school. He's just the real deal, and he was genuinely interested.
And then finally when it came time where he visited our academic people over in the business school and all that, he just blew everybody away on campus, everybody that he met. I did not have one person that met him that did not come to me and said, we've got to have that young man here. Just first-class, his parents have done an unbelievable job in raising Jordan, and the family values, the work ethic and everything else. So he was somebody who we felt very comfortable with.
You never know how productive a player is going to be, and you don't like to talk to the coaches who always say, well, I knew he was going to be a good player. He's actually a better player than maybe even what we thought as far as production. But it's not surprising because of his nature of his personality and his attentiveness to detail.

Q. A lot of people are noticing your success around the country as you've approached, let's say, middle age. I was wondering what you think of Brad Stevens, that he's had so much success coaching at such a young age and how he's able to do that.
COACH RYAN: Okay, he's a couple years younger than me. I'm happy for him because, you know, he's in a program where assistants took over the head job because they were successful. That's a pretty good thing to have at an institution where you have that trust factor in the so-called family of coaches and -- Collier was there when I first got to UWM, and then Thad and Todd Lickliter and -- it's a good situation where basketball is extremely important at Butler, which everybody knows, and it's a great environment. So for a guy like Brad to be able to jump in there and do what he's done, that's great. Not all of us got that opportunity because maybe we weren't in the right place, right time, whatever.
But there's a guy that got an opportunity, and he's not letting up on the -- he's putting the pedal to the metal. He's got those guys doing what he wants. The important thing as a coach is you want the -- you see a game a certain way, your players have to see it that way. And he's done that with his teams.

Q. I don't know if "defend" is the right word, but it seems like you've had to, I guess, explain your success as much as any successful coach seems to have to do. Is that something that gives you, I guess, a private laugh, or is it something where you say, this is crazy that I've got to kind of explain the way we win and how we win?
COACH RYAN: You know, I've never had to explain how we win to anybody that knows basketball. That's the best way I can put it. And you didn't ask me like you didn't know basketball, you asked me like you knew basketball because you were laughing when you were saying it, like how can they say whatever. And as I say all the time, there's nothing to defend but my players when I defend the fact that they take care of the ball, they play good defense, and they defend, you know, while they're playing defense. So if they're defensive about their defense, then that's okay. Did I lose anybody there?
Assist to turnover ratio of your point guard, the free-throw line, the fact that we'll commit the fewest number of turnovers again this year for a team, if that's basketball contrary to what anybody knows -- but I've never had to explain our program, our team, what we do to anybody who's played the game or been around the game. It's just the people that weren't, and they just were curious.

Q. Can you talk about the way Jordan's confidence level has developed from freshman year when he struggled like most freshmen to kind of the player he's become today?
COACH RYAN: You know, his confidence, we all get confidence the more we're in an environment that produces an experience, and whether it's good or bad, it's what you do with the next experience. So Jordan is one of those guys who is not going to get down about something, he's not going to pout, he's not going to -- we've all had players as coaches who go down that road sometimes. Nothing discourages him when it comes to that next practice, that next performance, that next -- he's as upbeat as any young man I've been around, and there's no question he's a leader on the floor.
Jon Leuer is a leader in a more unspoken way, but Jordan has just each year gotten better. We had Trevon Hughes -- I'll tell you how important Trevon Hughes was to us. He gets hurt, he doesn't play the second half of a one-point game against Davidson in '08 and we get beat double digits, so he was playing, not behind, so to speak, because he was getting minutes when we lost Jon Leuer for half of the Big Ten season last year, but that really helped -- Jon Leuer's injury last year has put us in the Sweet 16 this year because I went small with Bohannon, Hughes and Taylor, and that experience has really paid off this year.

Q. Do you guys find good foul shooters as a coaching staff or make them?
COACH RYAN: Well, I think foul shooting is so mental that -- most of these guys in high school were pretty good free throw shooters. We don't overhaul, we don't get guys to where it's so uncomfortable for them about all the things they have to think about, we just keep reinforcing a routine.
We play a lot of free throw games. In practice we give an extra point. If you swish a free throw, you get two. If you make it, you get one. If you miss, you get a minus one. So we have a lot of those, smalls against the bigs, old against the young. We go uniform numbers; the first eight uniform numbers against the eight -- I just constantly mix the teams up.
We do things with a championship basket where in order -- if you win at that basket, you stay, every other basket you move up one if you win, and we do that for X number of minutes, and then I get to blow the whistle whenever I see somebody at the winning basket that I think would be good in practice. It's kind of like musical chairs. So we do a lot of things that way, and kind of just keep them competitive about free throws. They've responded. But they're pretty solid young men who -- their technique coming in is decent, and just the more reinforcement we give them about different contests, different games, and they accept that and they do a pretty good job with it.

Q. It seems like maybe perhaps there have been times in Butler's tournament runs where their opponent was perhaps -- maybe without even the coach wanting them to, the players might have underestimated their opponent quite a bit. It seems like that's very improbable with Wisconsin this team. Does the fact that Butler made the national championship game last year get your guys' attention?
COACH RYAN: Well, first of all, I think Butler has won not because people has underestimated them. I disagree with that because coaches and players are pretty astute when it comes to recognizing success and what people do to get there. So I really don't think they've been underestimated. I think that's more from people outside of the players, maybe the fans or whatever you're referring to.
So no, Butler has always been a team like so many others -- when you get to the NCAA Tournament, I still have never understood why people could ever say that somebody was underestimated. But certainly it wouldn't be by our players because we get reminded all the time that we're the team that wasn't supposed to be here. But I go, well, why not? Why shouldn't we be here? Because you only scored 33 points against Penn State. Oh, that's right. Okay, well, that was 40 minutes. Now we've got another 40 against Belmont, we've got another 40 against Kansas State, we get another 40 against Butler. That's all we can say now is we get our next 40. As you can tell, I'm not the type of guy that gets overly (growls) about -- and that wasn't like Coach Knight's game face there. We compete at the game, and we'll compete hard, but we understand that there are a lot of good teams out there and a lot of good players, and nobody understands that more than somebody who's coached at every spot, junior high, high school, NAIA, NCAA Division III, so-called mid major at UWM, which isn't, that term is used by other people, and now at Wisconsin, and having coached so many different types of teams. No one will ever be taken for granted from our staff or from our team.

Q. Who's your player of the year, and would you like to be coach of the year?
COACH RYAN: Who's my player of the year? I'd have to -- gosh, right now I'd have to go with Opie. Opie with bad hair. Oh, I thought you meant our team. Opie with bad hair, Bruesewitz? I'm on one of those committees, and I'd rather not say because I've got one more vote to cast. I've cast a couple, but there's a lot of good ones out there.

Q. Who's your coach of the year?
COACH RYAN: I really can't say that, either, because that's confidential information.
But coach of the year? You know, any time somebody gets coach of the year, it's always staff of the year, and there's a lot of guys out there that have done a heck of a job to get their teams to where they were at the end of the season and to this point now. We'll let other people decide on that, but thanks. If you're casting a vote, thanks.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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