November 2, 2009

Ryan, Badgers set for exhibition season

MADISON - Wisconsin men's basketball head coach Bo Ryan was probably anticipating questions he was going to receive in regards to his team's upcoming exhibition schedule when he took the stage at the UW athletic department's Monday press conference.

Instead, the veteran coach was lobbed a question about a sporting event taking place on the east coast. You might have heard of it. The World Series.

As a Philadelphia native, Ryan discussed the methods he took in an effort to will the Phillies to victory in Sunday's game four loss to the New York Yankees.

"I tired about four different hats last night and three different shirts," Ryan said. "The towel right hand, the towel left hand. I wish I could have videoed all the things I tried to do yesterday to get that one. Every once in a while, as a coach, you just like to be a fan and just be a little crazy.

"If you could have seen this act last night. My wife went into the other room and started watching other shows."

With the UW hoops season in the middle of fall camp, Ryan doesn't really have any games that will actually count on the near horizon. While the exhibition season is just around the corner, and there is plenty to be had during that brief two-game schedule, Ryan still has a supreme interest in how the Phillies season will come to a close.

And he is willing to try anything superstitious to get Philadelphia back on track.

"I got a jacket from a player that played back in the 80's, a relief pitcher Froworth," Ryan said. "He was at UW-Milwaukee when I was there as an assistant. That didn't work. I tell you, last year's championship shirt didn't work. The Irish green shirt didn't work. The Irish green hat didn't work with the Phillies thing on it.

"Down 3-1, I don't know what to try next. I can't tell you. But boy, if they could, it would be something worth talking about."

On to actual business:

As mentioned above, the UW basketball team will see regular game action against Bemidji State Wednesday evening at the Kohl Center. The game will mark the first game setting, outside of intra-squad scrimmages, the Badgers will see.

"I watched a little bit of another team in the Big Ten playing a division two school or whatever," Ryan said. "It's about getting guys on the floor, looking at combinations, score, officials. You'll see some veteran officials. You get used to maybe any new rules or any points of emphasis.

Over the past few years, Ryan and the UW basketball program have moved toward playing actual college programs during the exhibition season. It used to be that the Badgers would play AAU or other various all-star teams that did little, if any, actual set offense or defensive plays.

"I kind of like the exhibition games because it took us so long to fight for them to get away from the AAU teams and for the exploitation that was taking place," Ryan said. "So playing college teams with the systems is still, to me, the best way to prepare for your season. That's why we do it."

Bo talks officiating:

There were several instances when Ryan was asked about added emphasis or changes in certain rules. And, as one may expect, Ryan had an opinion about several topics in regards to the theme.

One of the discussions taking place had to do with an arc in the lane that will determine whether a drive is called an offensive or defensive foul.

"I don't think a good official needs to have an arc to know the difference of being under the rim or not," Ryan said. "Are you seeing the whole play? It's still about getting it right on the play. If you're just looking at the feet, you're missing a whole lot of basketball."

Ryan also talked about offensive created contact in regards to jump shots.

"The rule has been for a long time that if the offensive player create the contact, it's either a no call or if you displace or bump back the defensive player it should be an offensive foul," Ryan said. "How many times have you seen it called?

"A guy can even jump straight up in the air if the offensive player goes into him-principle of verticality-How many times have you seen that called? Never. So, we'll see. We'll see what changes. I have faith though that they'll try."

Jared Berggren's length on the inside:

As one of the more intriguing players entering the 2009-2010 season, Jared Berggren has the potential to make a major impact inside for the Badgers. But, at this extremely early stage of the season, nobody, even Ryan himself, is sure how he will fit into the rotation.

Still, if the past is any indication with players of similar stature, there is definitely a luxury in having a lengthy frontcourt player like Berggren as an option.

"Did anybody ever say he's a great shot blocker?," Ryan said. "That term has not been used. But he is 6-foot-10 and he's fairly long. The way we teach defense, we're not a great shot-blocking team. We've had a guy like (Greg Stiemsma) who really used his body to send messages which is one of the reasons we led the nation in defense his senior year. We also had Brian Butch, a couple of bigs that kept people from getting to the rim.

"If Jared Berggren and these other guys just work hard every day and do some of the things these other players committed to, then he might be a pretty good defensive presence. It's so early that I can't put him in that category yet. He's fun to coach because he comes out everyday and works extremely hard. He's got a great start."

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