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March 19, 2014
THE MODERATOR: From my left to right it will be Ben Brust, senior, Josh Gasser, a big reason for their success this season is he came back from injury and first team all Big Ten member, Frank Kaminsky. Questions, please.
Q. Frank, the big success you had this season, how hard was it waiting for that success to come the first couple of years in the program here, and how much are you your own toughest critic?
FRANK KAMINSKY: If you look back at this program and see the people who have come before me, you'll see it's a learning process with this program. You know, you come in here your first couple years and get some experience, and then as you get older, you're given more opportunities to play. And I waited for that time since the moment I got here, and, you know, like I said, I am my own toughest critic. I get down on myself a lot. I think it helps me in the long run.
Q. This is for all three of you guys, can you just give your opinions on what makes Bo a good coach, and what is your funniest Bo story, if you've got one?
THE MODERATOR: Start with Ben and go right down the line.
BEN BRUST: Coach Ryan demands a lot from you, and that's why we come here to play. We know we're going to play good basketball. He wants us to play tough and dive on loose balls and try to get 50/50 balls and try to do things to help make the team successful.
Funny story. There's so many every day that I can't pinpoint one for you right now. I'll let them go and I'll brainstorm (laughter).
JOSH GASSER: I think what makes Coach Ryan to special is he learns from the past but he's always looking at what's next, the next practice, the next possession. Just takes them one day at a time, one possession at a time, and doesn't get too high or too low. And Coach Ryan is a really funny personality. Not many people get to see him behind closed doors. He's got a great personality, funny. He doesn't know how to pronounce names. I think that's probably the funniest thing for me.
FRANK KAMINSKY: With Coach Ryan, I will tell you he's so detailed oriented. With everything we do, it's -- if we don't do it to the perfect details, you know, he's upset with it. He's just so into everything. He examines everything and really gives us the instruction from what he sees, and he sees everything really well. Like Josh said, I think his funniest is his pronunciation with names. It's pretty bad sometimes.
Q. Josh and Ben, kind of following up on Bo, now that he knows what Mario Kart is, are you going to challenge him? He had the controller upside down with Nigel. Didn't know what to do.
JOSH GASSER: I love to challenge him. He's a lot like us two. He doesn't like to lose. He would do anything in his power, even if he's not as good as us, to come up on top. That's just his personality. Hopefully we'll give him some time on it off-season.
BEN BRUST: He definitely sees me and Josh throwing controllers at each other. He would want to join right in with us. That's the competitive guy he is. And if he wasn't good at it right away, I'm sure he would want to get to our level, which can't happen.
Q. Josh, this question is for you. Being more of a hometown guy than these other guys, can you quantify a home-court advantage now that you're here and see all the Badger fans around your facility?
JOSH GASSER: It's awesome. It just means that you did something special during the year to get rewarded to play close to home. And it's great for my family, these guy's family, to be semi close. Just to be able to experience NCAA Tournament atmosphere is awesome for my family and friends and other people as well.
It's kind of a home-court advantage in a way, but, at the same time, once the clock starts, once you get between the lines, it's all what we do and we control that.
Q. This is for all three of you. What did you know about American University before you found out you were going to play them and what have you learned about them since?
BEN BRUST: Right away when we saw the matchup, Josh and I went to our phones and went to their schedule to see who they played, you know, what their guys were doing points-wise, rebounding-wise, just kind seeing their roster from what we could, and then got right to try to get our video coordinator to send us some stuff and just go from there.
JOSH GASSER: Yeah. Now we got better understanding, obviously the Princeton offense, which a lot of people notice right away. They run that really well. It's a tough offense to defend. It's pretty hard to simulate. You got to have time with it. They're going to be really crisp and fast with their cuts. I think one underrated aspect of them defensively, they're pretty strong even if you look at the schedule and scores, they limit opponents to a pretty low amount. That means they're a pretty good defensive team.
FRANK KAMINSKY: We got a couple practices under our belt now with them. So I feel like we're way more familiar with them than we were maybe when we saw who we were playing, and, you know, just familiar with their players, familiar with bunch of their sets. So it's been nice to be able the see them, watch the video on them. So we'll be ready for them.
THE MODERATOR: Other questions?
Q. Frank, when were you high school and hit a growth spurt, how hard was it to adjust to that and how did you keep the skills that you had when you were shorter now that you're taller?
FRANK KAMINSKY: You know, just -- it was -- I got into high school at 6' 2" and left high school at 6' 10". I had a lot of growing to do both physically and mentally, and, you know, I just -- I wanted to work hard, because, you know, it didn't come easy. Sometimes I would just be running down the court and trip over my own feet because I was just getting awkward. And I think just growing into my body took a little bit of time because I did kind of have a later growth spurt than most people. Keeping those skills just came with hard work and trying to fine-tune everything.
Q. Can you guys fathom what it would be like to win 700 games as Bo got with the Minnesota victory? And do you think that enough people around the country appreciate him or know everything that he's accomplished?
BEN BRUST: Yeah. It's very special to be a part of that, and I think the number 700 just shows if you're getting that many wins, you're doing a lot of things right. As players we'd be smart to listen to a guy who has won that many games because he's successful for a reason. You don't get 700 wins with luck. He's doing something right, and, you know, Coach doesn't care what other people think. He's the type of guy who wants to get stuff done and get it done the right way, and we're just looking to continue what we can do.
JOSH GASSER: Yeah, 700 wins is just ridiculous. Like Ben said, I'm just honored to be a part of that, even a really small chunk of that. To help out in any way. Just shows the consistency of him year in and year out. He's always been successful, no matter how guys leave or coming in, what type of roster he has. He's always successful. And I think consistency is probably the best part about him.
FRANK KAMINSKY: Also, I think he's got the system that's worked for him and he's recruited people into his system and good people who he's always had a good Staff around him and they've always been there for him and he's been a great coach through all of that. And I think when you have a system like this that works and you can keep going with it, you'll be successful and get 700 wins like that, it's a great accomplish.
Q. Ben and Josh, when you guys went through that stretch of losing five of six, how did that help you mentally getting ready for this point, going through that adversity and still fighting through to get a two-seed and getting you mentally prepared for a tournament run?
BEN BRUST: Yeah, I think we did a good job of rebounding from that, but when we were -- during that stretch, I think we did an even better job of staying together and sticking together. And this group has stayed tight and didn't shy away from each other at all. I think that kind of brought us through that and is going to help us during this stretch right now.
JOSH GASSER: Yeah. Losing five of six is never fun, but before that we were 16-0, feeling pretty darn good about ourselves and kind of thinking we're on top of the world, can't be beat. Really, when you win 16 games, you think you're doing everything perfect, but there's a lot of things we were doing wrong. Sometimes losing a couple games can get your head back on track and realize you can learn more from a loss than a win sometimes. I think we were able to learn a lot about ourselves especially defensively, and I think that's where the growth has come with our team.
Q. Ben, last couple years Wisconsin basketball has kind of been known as control the tempo, slow pace. This year's team, when you've had to, you've been able to score in the '80s, '90s, even over 100 in one game. What's different about this year's team that allowed you guys do that might have been different from the past?
BEN BRUST: We're not changing too much, but it definitely helps having guys like Frank who can go inside and outside, guys like Nigel coming off the bench to give a good inside presence. That opens up a lot for all the guys who put out there, because every guy -- I don't want to say this to be mean to Nigel, other than Nigel can really step out and shoot the 3. So it does help to have an inside presence and be able to kick it out. Trae has done a good job of controlling of the tempo. If he sees the opportunity to run, we'll do that.
Ultimately when it's March, everyone is going to bring it. So got to get stops and then got to try to put the ball in the hole. Simple game, but whoever does it best will advance.
Q. Looking at your schedule, specifically beginning of the season playing against a lot of teams that are in the tournament now, specifically the one-seeds, has that tough schedule prepared you guys for this tournament or is it just the score or it's 0-0 going in here, the record?
JOSH GASSER: It is a brand new year, obviously, but definitely you play in the grueling season of Big Ten, playing road games at Michigan and a bunch of other teams, I could go on and on, and then you challenge us a tough nine conference schedule, you're definitely prepared for everything. We've been through a lot as a team. We've played everyone anywhere so -- like I said, it's a brand new season. All that stuff, we learn from it but it's kind of a start over, refresher now.
I think we can take some things in the past but also we've got to be ready for what's to come.
BEN BRUST: If you look at where we started, we played a lot of games in different places. We played neutral site game to start off the year against Saint John's team from the East. We played conference champions early on at home and also we played Green Bay on the road. We played all these different types of games and again some high seeded teams now.
So you got to use all that of what you've been through. But as Josh said, you got to take what you can from that, but also remember that you got to move on and stay focused for this new season that we have and it's getting ready for American.
FRANK KAMINSKY: We've been prepared with a lot of different scenarios in games, too. We've been up in games with big lead where we have to maintain it. That there's been games where little bit of lead. There's games we've been behind and step on the gas and come back. All the games in the conference and non-conference schedule has really prepared us for what we can see in the tournament.
Q. Nigel Hayes, what has he brought to the team as a freshman and how do you see him contributing on the court and the team chemistry?
BEN BRUST: Nigel has done a good job of coming off the bench and bringing spark and energy. Makes a lot of positive plays, whether it be defensively getting a hand on some balls, or offensively when we touch the post with Nigel, usually good things happen. He can make a pass out of there. He'll get fouled or he'll score and get fouled. Pretty much when we're touching Nigel, lot of good things are happening. It's good to have some good energy off the bench.
JOSH GASSER: Nigel is a beast. Anytime he gets the ball something good happens, usually. As a freshman that's just a rare trait. I don't think he realizes how good he can be sometimes, but yeah, on the court everyone sees what he does. Off the court he's a great personality, fits in great with us. Fun guy to be around, funny. Pretty much everything you want in a teammate, he is.
FRANK KAMINSKY: He's done a great job of just playing with confidence and swagger, going out there and bringing energy off the bench and sometimes completely taking over a game, and when we needed him to, so he stepped in a lot of different ways this season.
THE MODERATOR: Frank, Josh and Ben, thank you. Good luck.
Coach, great to see you again. Maybe an opening remark or two and then we'll take questions, please.
COACH BO RYAN: Well, I've said so many times I'm proud of our guys and the fact that they accomplished what they did over the whole season. If you look at our record and all the different factors there involved in seeding and everything else, I think they deserved to be here, and now we got the make something happen when we we're here.
Somebody mentioned 0-0. Yeah, there aren't any records coming into the NCAA Tournament, it's all -- you got 40 minutes. That's all you're guaranteed. Do you want 240 minutes? Well, you got to earn those, too. So, we're happy to be here and can't wait to get started.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Bo, it's been a couple days. Has the fact that you've got 700 wins sunk in? And when you started out in coaching, would you ever imagine getting -- becoming a member of that club?
COACH BO RYAN: No. Maybe some of the other people in the room have heard this, but, you know, I was an economics major in college. Was a good enough player to get drafted by the Army in 1969 (laughter). It took a little while, didn't it?
And while I was in the service, I realized how much I missed athletics, team sports. I had been playing since I was a kid on a team in football, baseball, basketball every year, and my dad had coached kids for 40 years, not receiving a penny. Did it because he wanted to try to help them and have a childhood different than his when he grew up.
So I decided to coach and teach. I had to go back and get my teaching certification. When you say 700 wins, I did not get into teaching and coaching for the number of wins, for the money, for the -- it was a passion for trying to help young people. And I started in junior high school in 1972, right outside of Philadelphia in Chester, at Brookhaven Junior High School.
Then things have just moved on from there. But 700, that seems like a high number. Jokingly my first response when I was asked in a post-game interview, I said because I'm old. I never received more text messages or e-mails in all my coaching career than I did after that, and it was 50/50.
Some people said, "yeah, you are," and the other 50 said, "hey, you're not old." So I must be somewhere in the middle. But lot of good players, lot of good assistants, lot of great fans, like of great administrators, and just all of it coming together and putting a lot of numbers on the left-hand side is a fun achievement. But it's fun because I think back to the very first game that I coached at UW Plattville in 1984. And every game since then still there's a memory there somewhere, and it's a nice feeling, but the feeling is because of all the people that you've had a chance to touch.
Q. Coach, when the team is going through that stretch of losing five of six, do you feel like they came out of that, did you see that they came out of that maybe had a tougher team mentally, bonded together in that moment and helped for that run at the end?
COACH BO RYAN: Again, I'm going to say it this way, and you might want to dwell on this for awhile. If you take our 16 games in the Big Ten, shuffle them up and put them out in some other order, we could have been 12-6, no matter how you sliced it. The teams that we played when we took those bumps were playing well. We weren't shooting it that well. We went through a little slump. But the teams that beat us were good teams. And I mean Northwestern was playing as well as anybody in the country when they came into our place. They had won three, four in a row. They went through a stretch.
You know, in losing on the road to a couple teams, Ohio State was playing pretty well, playing real well at that time against us.
So, they didn't fray, they didn't tear apart. They stayed together because they knew that if we did certain things, and you could tell that from the video sessions, if we do these certain things, we're going to get it back. And then to win eight of the last ten and get back on that way, we lost to two pretty good teams Boca Raton, and then Nebraska at Nebraska, and Michigan State when they had everybody healthy in the Big Ten Tournament. So now we start the third season.
Q. What challenges does American present to your team and what have you seen when you watch them on tape?
COACH BO RYAN: American Magazine?
Q. American University.
COACH BO RYAN: Coach Brennan has done a great job of installing his offensive philosophy. Anytime -- you can always tell if somebody can coach and teach based upon how players read and react to the vision that a coach has. He played in the Princeton system. I coached against Princeton-type high school teams in the '70's back in Pennsylvania because of Petey Carril being from Pennsylvania and having coached high school in Pennsylvania before he went to Princeton and there were a lot of disciples back then when I was coaching.
So, now I see his team running it and it's obvious he played in the system, knows how to teach -- knowing the reads is one thing. Teaching people to use them and to understand them, that's the next level. He's definitely got his players at that next level. They run that offense better than just about every other teams.
Coach Carmody had some teams that ran it well overall, I would say American runs it better than any team I've seen. And one of my first games was at the Palestra was seeing Bill Bradley, but I think van Breda Kolff was coaching then, right? So I didn't see the Princeton offense as a youngster when I went to the Palestra, but I did see it later on and some of the people who running it in the '70's in Pennsylvania.
Q. You've never been one to jump at the next best thing or the -- the latest thing, whether it's a school or a system of play. What taught you that early in your career that you stick with what works?
COACH BO RYAN: I remember personal happiness, do you enjoy your environment, and I always tell young coaches when they're asking for advice, you know, take a job at a place where you can coach for five years or 50 years. Because if you take a job and you're always looking left, right, behind you, in front of you, if you're always looking in different directions, you're not going to do as good a job with the people who believed you in the first place and hired you.
So, if you're hired to do a job, for a nickel, give them a dime's worth. That's been my philosophy that I learned from my parents. I'm sure they learned from their parents. And to me, it's all about practicality. But, you know, you still have some fun. I'm old school, but we still have fun playing the game and I got some zingers. I got some one-liners I use every once in awhile to keep the guys loose. I'm not one of those guys to get caught up in fads or anything like that.
I think this is the same top I had in '04 when we played here against Richmond and Pittsburgh. I just thought about that when you asked about -- this might be the same one. I'm not sure.
Q. Where does Frank rank among most coachable players that you've ever come across? You talked to some of these old coaches, they all say how coachable he is. How did the light go on for him this year?
COACH BO RYAN: All the other coaches said he was coachable?
Q. Some of them did, yes?
COACH BO RYAN: Frank Kaminsky?
Q. Yes. Yes.
COACH BO RYAN: He's perceptive, he's smart. He sees more than you probably realize about the game. He understands the game. He knows it. Physically and mentally when are you taller than most people and your body is trying to -- you can't tell Frank Kaminsky he's not quite developed yet because he still wants to play the point because they let him in high school a little bit.
I don't know how he got to do that, but he can pass, he can do all that. He's developed so many different parts of his game because he cares. He wants to be the best player he can be and play on the best team that he could possibly play on.
So, even though sometimes you might not think he's listening, he gets in Frank's world, so to speak, he's listening because you can see it the next time out and can see it in the next possession. You can see it if you give him some constructive criticism. He's not going to be one of those guys that looks at you and goes, "Yeah, yeah, Coach, you're right, you're right."
He might look at you like, "Coach, do you know what you're talking about?" It's not a sarcastic look. It's just have you looked at Frank? Sometimes he has a face that looks like he really is somewhere else, but he's not. So I've learned not to interpret it that way. So, he is a good listener. He's a hard work worker, and you haven't seen the best of Frank Kaminsky yet. He's going to get even better over time.
Q. Bo, just curious how much stock you put in a lot of the offensive and defensive analytics that have become popular in the last couple years.
COACH BO RYAN: Well, I think it's good because I know people who have those types of minds need something to do, and that's a good channel. That's a good way to channel your love of numbers.
I think it's information that can be used like any other bits of information, and, you know, I don't know if you went back to all the national championship games or the NBA championship teams, I don't know how all that computes. But it's just the beginning. They'll be more and more. They'll be -- if a guy wore goggles and he played in 40 games, then he miss passes because he couldn't see peripherally as well as somebody else, they'll have a number for that. It's not because you have glasses on.
Q. Thank you.
COACH BO RYAN: You know what I mean. If he touched the ball in the paint 15 times, 13 times this happened. There's a lot of different ways to use information, but I've been using points per possession forever from the '70's.
Q. First of all, I was wondering if we could hear some of your one line zingers and also to the program's 16th trip here. I was wondering if you guys take the time to kind of, you know, enjoy some of the perks or smell the roses a little bit or it's strictly a business trip for you guys?
COACH BO RYAN: Well, business trip is not a good term to use because these young men have four years for the most part on their timeline where they get to do this. I've had a chance to do it more because I'm very fortunate.
So, I try to give them the opportunity to appreciate what their surroundings are, how fortunate they are to have used their hard work to get something. But this is part of the getting.
I use the term a lot, it's fun to want. Every season starts and that's -- I had to explain this the last time. Want, W-A-N-T. It's fun to want. As my parents always said. You got to have -- like what is it out there you would like to get? Every basketball player starts a season with the idea they want to be the last team standing and it's very difficult in basketball. Every high school kid, they want to win the state championship.
So we talk about the experience, we talk about making sure you understand that so-called fame is fleeting, meaning, okay, you're in the tournament, you're going to hear a lot of nice things said about you and the team and -- but you have to understand that American doesn't care. Your next opponent, it happens to be American. So what they want to do is they're trying to get to be as good as they can be tomorrow.
That's what we're trying to do.
The one-liners, I'm on at 8:00 tonight down at the -- no. With the players. It's like you see something happen and you say something and they go, "Coach, where did you get that from?" I got a guy that beats me, and old line is obviously the early bird catches the worm as we're done with our video session. Nigel always tries to beat me to the court. I said, "good, Nigel, the early bird catches the worm."
"Coach, the second mouse always gets the cheese." I never heard it (laughter).
I said, "All right, Nigel, you got one on me." What do you call about a hundred crows on a fence? A murder of crows. What do you call a hundred owls on a fence? Come on, you're with the New York Times. You're supposed to know that.
Q. Didn't realize were you talking to me.
COACH BO RYAN: I wasn't. Do you know what it is? It's a parliament. Geese everybody knows. Gaggle. Okay. That's enough. I'm not giving you any more. You're going to have to look up the rest of it.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you and good luck.
COACH BO RYAN: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports