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March 21, 2012
THE MODERATOR: Coach, would you like to start by giving us a little opening statement.
COACH RYAN: Well, having grown up in the Philadelphia area, Boston was always the other guys, but to be here and have a chance to play in this facility in a town that appreciates basketball in an area that appreciates basketball like this, it's quite an honor. So I am kind of glad I had a chance to bring my team here. I know some of you wanted Harvard, but we're here.
Q. It's a little bit closer to Syracuse than it is to Madison, Wisconsin here, so maybe a bit more of a home game for the Orange. Are you guys okay with that?
COACH RYAN: Well, just to be playing, the experience for our players, they play anywhere. I like to recruit guys that would like to play in a pickup game in Chester, Pennsylvania, or play in a facility like this. I just like guys that like to play. We've been okay on the road. You can check our record. Away from home, we've been okay. So when you get to this point, it doesn't matter.
Q. You were just explaining about being here in Boston and you grew up in the Pennsylvania area, but I just wanted you to comment how great the weather is during this time since you're familiar with the northeast weather.
COACH RYAN: Well, we had to bring our clothing for cold weather from Madison because it was 81 degrees three days in a row in Madison. Are you going to beat 81 here? I think tomorrow is supposed to be 83. But we had great weather in the Midwest, also, and we had great weather in Albuquerque, so it looks like it's following us. So that's a good sign.
Q. Are you surprised that Syracuse has continued good play, even without Fab Melo?
COACH RYAN: Yeah, because they have a system, and when you have a system and it's been taught for so long and the guys get into that system and it's passed on by the older players, whether you're older by a year, by a month, by three years, the athleticism and depth that they have, it really to me doesn't change how they play or the way they play. So we only prepare for who's there, not for who isn't.
Q. You know the tradition of the Bruins, especially the Boston Celtics here. Does it kind of ruin the aww effect when you say the banners were taken down, the Celtic championship banners?
COACH RYAN: I didn't look above the basketball court to be honest with you when I was here. We only get 50 minutes, so we tried to take advantage of every minute we were out there on the court.
We've been in a couple facilities where if you get intimidated by banners‑‑ I don't know how at North Carolina they can fit another banner up there in the rafters. It's so crowded. And we played at North Carolina this year.
But there's a lot of great tradition here. I'm so old that really there was only one game on a week, and a lot of times it was the Philadelphia Warriors and the Celtics or the Philadelphia 76ers and the Celtics. I've told a lot of people I happen to be on the Bob Cousy Committee, and it was the most exciting phone call I ever received was to be asked to be on that because every time I saw Cousy play, I would go to the playground, and if it was real cold find a‑‑ whenever I could get into a gym and always picked up one move every time I saw him play. So that's a connection to Boston.
Q. You've played a lot of zones with some success this year. What makes Syracuse's particularly difficult?
COACH RYAN: Well, they've just been doing it so long, it gets in the heads of the guys who have to face it all the time. It's kind of like Northwestern; some teams struggle with what they do with their zone. We've been pretty fortunate over the years to have hit some shots against it, but it's like anything else. If you're not hitting shots, it gets into your head sometimes, then it's kind of a multiplier effect on, oh, am I going to make this next one? Am I going to make the next one? We've watched a lot of‑‑ well, we've watched every game that Syracuse has played, and you've just got to work the ball, use good ball and body movement, and when you do get shots, just have to believe they can go in.
Q. Is part of the challenge of the NCAA Tournament getting ready or getting prepared for a team that does something different like Syracuse's zone or your swing offense?
COACH RYAN: Well, I imagine it does. It is a quick turnaround, but sometimes it's a lot quicker. Sometimes if you're fortunate enough to win the first game, you have one day to prepare for the next one, and at least this time there was a couple practices in here.
But a lot of the things that you do in your drills every day always keeps you kind of‑‑ we're still running man to man stuff in practice. Syracuse could play us some man. We tend to‑‑ but if a team is top heavy on minutes played a certain defense, then that's the way we'll divide up our practice offensively is if they're 80 percent zone, 20 percent man, then that's the way we divide up our minutes in practice.
Q. Dion Waiters, what kind of match‑up problems does he present for you with his strength, and how does he compare to the guards you've faced in the Big Ten?
COACH RYAN: Well, one thing I've never done in coaching is compare players or make a comment about a player that way. It's always better, trust me.
He's a very good player. Strength, scoring, rebounding, athletically as good as there is around. But he's not the only one on that team that you have to prepare for like that. So we do our thing, and we don't change a whole lot of what we do in principle. But we know he's a very good player.
Q. Following up on what he was talking about with Dion, when you look at a team like Syracuse that does have balance off the bench, there isn't one guy, does that present a special challenge for you knowing their offense could come from any one of four, five, six players?
COACH RYAN: First things first. At Platteville, we played in five Final Fours and lost one game. It was to Rochester. We were 9 and 1. And the reason we lost to them was Mike Neer is so smart that we had contracts with everybody in his league and everybody he played outside of his league that you're not allowed to pass on any tapes of any games. It's the only NCAA Tournament game I ever coached in where I didn't see the other team on film. Okay, I got that over with. And I'm still fuming. But Mike was smart.
Their depth, they have guys that clean up a lot of misses, so strength and length and balance are three things that if you have it, it's hard to take it away. Perimeter shooting, they have that, too, and they have guys who can attack with the ball as well as anybody in the country. So when you're asking me how you get ready for a team that has guys off the bench that can do this and are multifaceted offensively, it's team position, help, a lot of shrinking of the court, a lot of trying to take passing lanes away. We call our help side defense policemen.
The things that we do, we're trying to get people to take shots that are low percentage shots, like everybody else, but that's what kind of has helped us get here and has helped us over the years.
They have guys that could score 20. They have probably more guys that could score 20 than most teams that you're going to play.
Q. You mentioned ball movement when talking about going up against a 2‑3 zone. How much does it help to have someone like Jordan Taylor who's so efficient and doesn't turn the ball over much when going up against that zone?
COACH RYAN: Well, I really believe that Jordan is going to be a key, there's no question. And you know, fortunately, in my mind, having grown up in the Philly area which I mentioned before, as a kid I'm watching Jack Kraft, Jack Ramsay, Hal Litwack, Coach Litwack at Temple. You talk about zones, and you go to the Palestra and you're 10 years old, 11, 12 years old, and you're watching ball movement and body movement. Those guys were so good in how they taught and how they cut and how they used skip passes. So I'm fortunate in that I've been around that a lot, spent a lot of time with Coach Tom Davis, who is a zone guy, my coach that I played for for seven years. It's not because I failed in school; it was three years in high school, four in college. Very good zone guy that played at Penn State.
I've been around it a lot, even though our league is known for man to man in the Big Ten. But the great experience was coaching Division III for 15 years and going against all these chess players that‑‑ there isn't anything that we didn't see in Division III. We think we can help prepare the guys for what's going to happen, but is the ball going to go in? You're going to get shots. You've got to make some. You've got to make them have to do some things in that zone to maybe open up something else. So ball and body movement, if you don't have it, then you're really going to struggle.
Q. You mentioned Syracuse's athleticism, and on offense they've had a lot of success against man to man defenses this year. Are there specific things you've seen them do against man to man defenses that are going to be your biggest challenges with your defense?
COACH RYAN: Yeah, the referee tosses the ball up for the jump. And hang on, here we go. I can't give you those answers. That's the scouting report. You might be going to see Coach Boeheim after this.
Q. Obviously you know there's been a lot going around with the Syracuse program this season. How difficult is it to keep all that at bay as Jim has done, especially this time of year?
COACH RYAN: Well, I don't know. I don't know all the things that go on because I'm so challenged. No Facebook, no Twitter, Twatter, whatever the other thing is, and I don't go on the computer to look at things. So somebody will have to fill me in on what's going on at Syracuse because I really don't know. I'll be real honest with you.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, coach. We appreciate your time today, and good luck tomorrow.
Q. We can start off with you, Jordan. What do you know about the history of Boston and the Boston Celtics?
JORDAN TAYLOR: I know a little bit, probably a little young just for all of that. But I know watching ESPN Classic, I tend to cheer for‑‑ I like Magic a lot, but just watching that rivalry between him and Larry Bird is definitely fun to watch even on ESPN Classic, like 30 years later, 20 years later.
Q. Jordan, obviously Syracuse brings Waiters off the bench. They already have a couple of pretty good guards out there, but they bring him in. How does he change the game for you guys on defense when he comes in?
JORDAN TAYLOR: He's instant offense. He can fill it up. He might be‑‑ it's arguable he might be the best scorer on their team. He can hang 20 on you in two minutes if you let him get going. We faced guys like that this year, guys like William Buford and other teams. We've been preparing for that, but we definitely have to try and keep him in check and do whatever we can to disrupt him.
Q. Jared, they've been starting a freshman center the past couple games, Christmas. He hasn't played the position much this year, and he hasn't played a heck of a lot of minutes, even though he's started a lot of games. What are your impressions of him?
JARED BERGGREN: I don't know if it's an advantage or not. I know that they're still an extremely talented team no matter who they have on the floor. Everyone in that program is highly recruited players for the most part. They're all extremely talented and great players. Everyone they put on the floor can play, and with their 2‑3 zone, their length and athleticism makes it difficult for anyone to be successful, so we're going to have to stick to our principles, move the ball well, and try to find some open shots.
Q. Ryan, we're a little bit closer to Syracuse than to Madison, so it figures to be more of a home game for the Orange. How do you feel about that? Are you up for the challenge? Do you like being an underdog?
RYAN EVANS: Yeah, I think so. I think we've played well on the road this year. I think we have one of the best records on the road in the country as a matter of fact. Just being from the Big Ten conference, we're kind of used to being played against and just playing in front of a lot of fans. So I think it's something we'll definitely be ready for.
Q. Jared, Syracuse likes to get out and run a lot and push the tempo. What are some of the things that you guys need to do to limit those fast break opportunities?
JARED BERGGREN: There's no secrets really. The same thing we've been preaching from day one with Coach Ryan, taking care of the ball, not turning the ball over, getting shots every time down there on the floor, and that's‑‑ when we get away from those things that's when teams can really get out and run. We've seen it all year long. There's other teams that we've played that get out and run, too. This isn't the first time we've faced a team like that, but obviously they are extremely good at it and extremely athletic, and they run with the best of them, so we are going to have to do a good job of sticking to our system, taking care of the ball, getting good shots, and that's the things that help us be successful.
Q. Can you guys remember one of the more hostile environments you've played on on the road and maybe how it prepares you for some of the things you've seen in the tournament?
RYAN EVANS: Indiana has always been great, Illinois, Penn State. I mean, you could go all the way through the Big Ten and say they're arguably the best conference to play in front of you. I think that's all the Big Ten schools that have prepared us pretty well for a game like this. But this is a one‑and‑done, so we're definitely going to have to come in here with a different focus and get the win.
Q. Jordan, this is for you. How many other teams and which teams played zone against you this season? And did maybe Vanderbilt do you guys a little bit of a favor by throwing it at you last week?
JORDAN TAYLOR: Yeah, we've faced some teams that played zone. Obviously the Big Ten is a mainly a man‑to‑man league, Northwestern, BYU, even Illinois threw it at us a little bit. It's nothing we haven't seen. We've all been playing basketball years now. I know the 2‑3 zone is a little different with the length that they throw at you, but it's really no different. Like Jared said, we just have to take good shots, stay focused on offense, and Vanderbilt, I think they kind of caught us off guard when they threw it at us. They played man the whole game, and I think we got a little stagnant. I think we've been preparing for it, and I think everybody on our side will be ready to go against it. It's definitely going to be a challenge, but we're looking forward to it.
Q. For Jordan and then for Ryan, when you came into the Garden and you didn't see the championship banners and there was no Larry Bird retired jersey up there, did it take away from that wow effect walking in?
JORDAN TAYLOR: For me not at all. To be honest I didn't even notice that until somebody said something to me afterwards. I wasn't really looking for that. I think just being here and knowing, like you said, the tradition and the history behind the Celtics, I think that's the wow effect already. Obviously not having the banners doesn't really take away for us. We know what although guys have done. We grew up hearing about guys like that and then obviously seeing them on the classics and stuff like that, so I don't think it took away from it.
RYAN EVANS: Like Jordan said, I didn't really look for it at first, but it's something that you obviously want to see. But I mean, yeah, it doesn't really take away from what we have to do here. But I did look for the green court. I wanted to see the green. I didn't see that.
Q. Everybody is asking about Syracuse's zone, but I was wondering if you guys had thought about throwing a zone at them because I guess Asheville threw one at them and they got kind of puzzled.
JORDAN TAYLOR: I've never played a second of zone defense since I've been at Wisconsin. I've heard coach say one time he played it one possession and he got scored on I think he said, so he won't go back to it. I don't think you're going to see that tomorrow.
Q. Jordan, as the guard, tomorrow how important is it to set the pace early against an Orange team that likes to get out and run?
JORDAN TAYLOR: It's important, but we've got five guys on the court who understand what we're trying to do at all times, whether it's the eighth guy on the bench or the ninth guy on our bench, we're going to have five guys on the court that understands what we're trying to do as a team at all times, so that definitely makes all our jobs easier. We feed off of each other, and we just have to stick to what we do well and play hard, and I think the team that comes out and plays the hardest is going to come out on top.
Q. Ryan, I can start with you. With Cincinnati, Ohio State, Syracuse, last year UConn was the hottest team. In this regional here, which team do you feel is the hottest team?
RYAN EVANS: I haven't looked into the region that far to be honest with you, so I feel we're the hottest team. We're scoring at all five positions on the floor. We've had five guys in double figures the last couple games. It's going to be tough to stop us, I think.
Q. Jordan has a really good assist turnover ratio, and I'm wondering if you can discuss why that is, how he's able to take care of the ball so much?
RYAN EVANS: Really good. I think he's the best in the country, or he's got the best‑‑ what's the stat? Might be the best of all time. No, he's just a real focused person. He's real determined, and that's what we need in order to get the wins. You know, coach really emphasizes that, but Jordan is a different person, and he's just‑‑ to have the best of all time, that's just huge. We all stand behind that. He's our leader, and that's been big for us all year.
Q. Jordan, I want to ask you about Ryan. What is it with him and the last two games, just in the first ten minutes of the game? Can you just give your impressions of how he's just played lights out?
JORDAN TAYLOR: Yeah, it's something we've been saying all year we feel like we've got a lot of guys who are capable of scoring, and I think especially Ryan. Stepping in for John this year, he had big shoes to fill, and he's done a great job all year long, and I think for him it's just playing‑‑ just playing free, playing loose. I know he's not shooting a great percentage from three, but I don't think that's really indicative of how good a shooter he is. It's really about just him stepping into shots and taking them with confidence and knocking them down. I think he's got a whole 'nother year here. So for him he's got‑‑ the sky's the limit for him, just keep improving, and definitely going to need him tomorrow, too, but I know he's going to be ready.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys, very much for taking this time out of your day to spend with us, and good luck tomorrow.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports