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March 29, 2014

Ben Brust

Josh Gasser

Traevon Jackson

Frank Kaminsky

Bo Ryan


Wisconsin – 64
Arizona – 63

THE MODERATOR:  Coach, an opening statement?
COACH RYAN:  Well, thank you.  I'm extremely proud.  It's always about the players and what they went through to get to this point and to be able to feel the way they do now.  We hope it continues, but we also know how life can be.  So it should always be about the players, but I'm going to get one comment in.  Today would have been my dad's 90th birthday.  I just thought I'd throw that in.

Q.  So what's that mean to you to do it on your dad's birthday?
COACH RYAN:  Well, he was always about the kids that he helped mentor growing up, and you know, that's why I do it.  We talked about this before when people were asking questions, including yourself, about the relationship, to be able to see the faces of these guys, to see the genuine excitement.  I can remember some of the great teams that he had of kids and their first championships and how they acted and just the joy.  These guys have had some others, but that's all I wanted to see.  Then to see the fans, to see everybody so proud.  I hope nothing happens on State Street tonight because these guys have on their cell phones some unbelievable pictures.  Everybody be safe out there, and hopefully we still have a lot more in us.

Q.  Coach Ryan, at what point did you think that this could be the team that could take you to the Final Four?
COACH RYAN:  Believe it or not, there were some things that happened on our trip to Canada.  We went 4‑1, but I saw some things.  We lost our whole front line at graduation.  We had to replace the front line and the guard play was solidified by the addition of Josh Gasser coming back from his surgery.  I think Josh's work ethic to the rehabilitation was really key, plus Ben had somebody to talk to then as long as Josh was around.  So Ben has a lot of energy, so he and Josh share a lot of energy.
But I just thought our freshmen, Nigel Hayes did some things where I just kind of knew he's going to help us, and Bronson and the other freshmen, Vitto and Jordan and the other guys, Riley.  They're not that far behind in helping us, and the walk‑on, Aaron.  I just felt something good.
But the one thing I wasn't going to do is I was a lot tougher on this group than I was on last year's group.  I just wasn't going to accept them not understanding that they could be pretty good.

Q.  For the players, definitely Frank, but anybody else who wants to add to this, could you explain the type of joy you're feeling and how much joy you're feeling?
FRANK KAMINSKY:  I can't explain it, actually.  This is like nothing else I've ever felt before.  We've all played basketball our whole lives and we've all dreamed of going to the Final Four.  To actually accomplish that is something I can't put into words.  But we all know we still have a lot of basketball left.  We've got 40 more minutes.  We're going to enjoy this now, but this is business.  We want a national championship now.  We have made it to the opportunity to get there, so why not go get it.
TRAEVON JACKSON:  Yeah, I just think that it's amazing, man.  God is good.  Just blessed to be in this situation, blessed to have the teammates that keep believing.  That was a great game on both ends of the floor.  It's just hard to explain.  We're definitely excited we get another opportunity to go play again.  I'm just ready to rest up and enjoy right now and then move on.
JOSH GASSER:  Yeah, definitely.  I mean, you don't get many opportunities to make a Final Four.  So we had it right there in front of us, and we wanted to do anything in our power to make it happen.  Arizona's a great team, but we were just able to make one more play than them.  Once that buzzer sounded, it was just an unbelievable feeling.  Very fortunate to be a part of this team.
BEN BRUST:  Yeah, it's a very special thing to be able to do it with my teammates here and for Coach Ryan and being my senior year.  I really enjoyed coming back from Milwaukee and putting on my jersey for practice Monday, and I'm very proud to say I can do that again.  I think we've taken this whole process as two‑game tournaments.  We've won two tournaments, now we've got to win the next tournament.

Q.  Ben, can you just describe what Arizona‑‑ the night Frank had and especially when Arizona kind of took your other guys out of it?  And Frank, if you could put your night into words?
BEN BRUST:  Yeah, Arizona's a very tough team.  You don't get three‑four with luck.  You do it with talent, and hard work, and execution.  They're a great team.  When we have a guy like Frank who is just such a dual threat, really can finish on the inside and step out from the outside, it really helps open up things for all of us.  He's a beast and I'm very proud of him.  I'm looking forward to going back to work with these guys on Monday.
FRANK KAMINSKY:  Yeah, just wanted to do anything I could to make sure that we won that basketball game.  I personally wanted it really bad.  I know every person on our team wanted it really bad and we all wanted to do it for each other.  So I was able to chip in my part, but it was a team effort out there tonight.

Q.  Frank, can you talk about what's behind the marked improvement from last year to this year?  And last year could you have ever pictured yourself at this point?
FRANK KAMINSKY:  Just working hard.  It's something I've always done.  I knew that this year there would be an opportunity for me to go out there and play a lot of minutes, and I just wanted to do, like I said, anything I could to be a big factor on this team.  My teammates did a great job of always involving me in things and wanting the best for me.  We all want the best for each other.  So it's‑‑ I really can't explain it.  It's just something more of an opportunity this year than in the past.  But I can't thank my teammates enough for helping me get through this.

Q.  Frank and Ben, did it feel like a heavyweight fight there in the overtime?  What did it feel like?  You guys were just trading baskets there back and forth there in the overtime until finally you guys were able to pull away.
BEN BRUST:  Yeah, in the overtime there was definitely some baskets being traded; but for us, there was something we can learn from it is we're getting them to miss the first one.  Then there were a couple times the air ball went into it.  But you've just got to clean up the glass.  If you work hard to get them to miss one, we've got to make sure that we clean it up.
But at the end of the day, we did what we needed to do.  Josh Gasser is tough as nails.  I knew coming into this game that he was going to be a big part of this win, whether he scored or didn't score, I knew he was going to contribute to helping us get this victory, and that charge at the end really helped.

Q.  Josh, can you take us through that last sequence?  It looked like you tried to make Johnson maybe veer out a little deeper than he wanted to, and that led to him not getting the shot off in time.
JOSH GASSER:  The last play you're talking?  Yeah, I mean, two seconds left, we knew he was probably going to get the ball in his hands and try to make a play.  He came off that double screen up top, and Trae ended up taking him from there.  I kind of followed closely behind because I knew he wasn't going to pass it with only two seconds on the clock.  We just tried to make it as tough as possible on him.  He's a tremendous player.  He's been doing it all year long.  He's a really fun player to guard.  It was a good battle out there, and fortunately, he didn't make a play there.

Q.  For any of the guys really, I guess we'll start with Ben, but so much of the focus nationally has been on schools like Florida, schools like Arizona, even within your conference, Michigan State and Michigan.  For those people that just haven't seen you guys play that much, what would you tell them to know about you when you get to Dallas next week?
BEN BRUST:  I mean, you know, we put in a lot of hard work throughout the year.  We played a lot of really good teams.  We played on the road.  We played at neutral sites, and we played at home all against top 25 teams in the country.  So we just know that we're going to go out there and battle.  At this point in March, when you get to the last four, whoever you play is playing well right now, and it's going to be a battle.  We're looking forward to that.
JOSH GASSER:  Yeah, we don't really care what other people necessarily think of us.  Our record, our wins I guess speaks for itself.  We've had, like Ben said, we've gone in and won in tough environments and played great competition all year long and done pretty well.  So what other people think doesn't really matter.  We know we've got something special inside this locker room, and we'll try to take advantage of it.
TRAEVON JACKSON:  Yeah, I just think that our team, we have this stigma about Wisconsin as a type of program or certain type of way that there's only one way we play.  I think this year we've broken a lot of barriers.  We've won in so many different ways, and we played against some really good teams.  I'm just proud of my teammates and how versatile we've been.  It's any given night and anybody.  We've just been really just on a run lately, and it's been fun to be a part of.
FRANK KAMINSKY:  They pretty much covered it all.

Q.  Traevon, I think you had the hand up against Nick Johnson on the shot at the buzzer.  Did you think you affected the shot?  Did you have time to think about this is it?  It's going to be win or lose on this shot right here?
TRAEVON JACKSON:  Well, I knew he was going to drive, and I'm so thankful that Frank was back‑‑ that was you in the back, right?  Yeah, Frank was sitting there at the rim helping, because I didn't want to foul him or touch him at all.  I didn't want to give the ref a chance.  He kind of beat me, and once Frank stepped up, I was like, it's helping us out.  That's why I think he didn't get the shot off.  Once I saw the buzzer go off and the ball still in his hands, I just knew it was over from there.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, gentlemen.  Congratulations.  Questions for Coach Ryan?

Q.  So, did you feel like it took an earthquake to get you to the Final Four?
COACH RYAN:  Wow, I don't know if I mentioned this to this group, but I did say to Craig Sager at halftime that after the earthquake last night, you never know when it's your last game coaching or what's going to happen, so what I wanted to do was make sure that I got my game's worth of being involved early.  I think I was overly involved early because I have an opinion, everybody else has an opinion.  When you express your opinion, you need to do it maybe in a better way.
So I just was wound up for a lot of reasons, but mainly because you don't get these opportunities very often.  To be in that position, there are things that I thought I saw that might have been imaginary.  But you know how that can work on your mind.  So once we settled in, I thought our guys did a great job of, okay, now let's just play.  We weren't getting to the line.  We weren't doing some things that are very characteristic of us.  Then by the time we closed the half out, we started to get back to what we do.

Q.  Can you talk about the change that you've seen in Frank this season?  His numbers have really increased since last year.  What's been really‑‑ what's sparked this for him?
COACH RYAN:  Well, he's continued to work hard in the weight room.  He's continued to work on his conditioning and his diet.  You know, our guys are really into following the nutritional guides that have been given to him.  So his stamina has increased and he's growing into his body, mentally, physically, socially.  They tell me he's funnier that he used to be, and his eyes are more wide open now.  Last year I thought at times his eyes were closed, then I realized that's just his eyes.  If you see him sitting sometimes you think, oh, look, Frank's asleep.  He's not asleep.  But he's got that sleepy look.  But he's matured in every aspect because he's worked hard.

Q.  Does he still talk to himself?
COACH RYAN:  Not as much.  He's not as hard on himself as he used to be.

Q.  What was the discussion as you're waiting for the referees to have this long, never‑ending‑‑
COACH RYAN:  Good question.  If it's going to be that long, we're not about getting the ball.  So I didn't want to have to use a timeout, but we did have a possibility.  But as long as it took them, we said okay.  If it's their ball, here's what we're going to do.  Frank does this.  You protect the rim.
So as soon as they called it, did you see how quickly they wanted to get the ball to the guy on the sideline?  And our guys went right to their spots, did what they were supposed to do, forced a tough angle for the young man to get his shot off.  Mainly we spent most of it knowing that it wasn't going to be our ball.

Q.  Because it took so long?
COACH RYAN:  Yeah, but yet I've been given a thousand hits of what people in the country saw.  I guess they meant that they thought it was our ball.  I didn't say that.  The other people that are hitting my communication means.  I only have texting.  I don't have the other.

Q.  What happened to your piece of net, and how is it that Ben ended up with the whole net around the neck and not you?
COACH RYAN:  That's the secondary net.  That is the net from the other end that the staff and other people get to have a piece of.  They're divvying it up as we speak.

Q.  Where's yours?
COACH RYAN:  Patrick Herb has mine.  He has mine.  One time after a national championship I had the net around my neck, and I ran into the coach of the other team at the hotel, and you know what, I felt about this big.  You know, you really don't want to do that.  But I was just so excited.  It was honest.  Then I see him in the hotel and I have it, and I haven't done it since.

Q.  You mentioned or referred to the Twitter universe, and a lot of people were on people talking about maybe bad calls that were going against you.  Was there ever a point where you felt like this just wasn't going to be your night even though it seemed that‑‑
COACH RYAN:  Those first ten minutes I was very, very internally there was a lot of gnashing going on.  There was a lot of‑‑ then again, sometimes you can want it too much for your team.  I'm still the same guy that I was three hours ago before this game started and all that and all this about a coach has to do this or a coach has to do that.  I chuckle.  We are who we are as professionals.  We're teachers.  We're coaches.

Q.  The players expressed how happy they are by this win.  How long are you going to let them be happy before they have to start thinking about next Saturday's game?
COACH RYAN:  I think they'll handle it.  Few of them have played in state championship games in high school, and in college they've had a chance to be in some NCAA tournaments.  They know how quickly things can change.  They're realists in life.  They won't be‑‑ there is no fool's gold running around here, not while I'm around.  They'll be fine.  The rest is the most important thing.  Sometimes guys get so excited they don't sleep.  Like tonight, if they don't get to bed at a reasonable time, family is here, all of that, all of our energy and our rest habits and our sleep habits need to stay in tune with each other.  So hopefully we won't forget that.  Also, nutritionally we have to make sure we're taking care of our bodies.

Q.  Where were you in the hotel during the earthquake?
COACH RYAN:  Nineteenth floor of the hotel, because of the rollers these tall buildings are on now, it swayed for another minute, two minutes because of the way they engineer it.  Most of my players at Platteville, they were engineers, and I'll call them and say, how did they do this?  How did they put a building on rollers?  Does anybody here know?  No, you're journalists.  You're sports writers.  I know.  Anyhow, it was interesting.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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