Bo Ryan: Duke loss still 'stings'

ByAndy Katz via ESPN logo
Sunday, May 3, 2015

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsincoach Bo Ryan wasn't going to retire if the Badgers had held on to their nine-point lead against Dukein the national title game.

"I'm here at Wisconsin until I'm done coaching. We're going to be young next season and we will have a lot of work to do,'' Ryan said late Saturday night after his Coaches vs. Cancer gala at the Kohl Center grossed $1.2 million for cancer research.

Ryan's contract was rolled over last month to give him another year for five more seasons coaching the Badgers through the 2019-20 season.

Ryan, 67, had some Wisconsin fans wondering what he would do when he put his home on the market in Madison. But he explained to the fans in attendance Saturday that he and his wife, Kelly, were downsizing to a condo near the Kohl Center with their children grown and out of the house. Ryan ultimately sold his home to new Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst.

The back-to-back trips to the Final Four and the 71-64 win over previously undefeated Kentuckybefore losing 68-63 to Duke in the title game last month were unprecedented heights for a basketball program that hadn't won a title since 1941. But the loss to the Blue Devils, especially the manner in which the Badgers fell to Duke in a late surge, still hurts.

"Of course it stings,'' Ryan said. "The only people who don't understand what we went through are people who have never been in that position. To get to a national championship game and be on the left-hand side at the end, that's tough. It's disappointing. But there will be a lot more adversity in life, so we'll be OK.''

Ryan said he hasn't watched the national title game from start to finish. He said he has looked at an edited version of plays that the Badgers will need to work on for next season, referring to outtakes on how the Badgers were beaten off the dribble.

"If there is going to be more emphasis on offensive players going into defensive players and putting their head down, then we have to start doing it,'' Ryan said. "I've learned over the years in Division III or at UW Milwaukee or here to make sure whatever knocks you out of the tournament, you are teaching that the next year.

"If the defensive player establishes position, then it should be a no-call. I've already talked to a number of officials, and they're all over the board on this. Some feel there should be no contact. Some believe there can be a lot of contact, and some say let them play. As a teacher, I'm trying to find out what will help us out next year.''

Ryan said he anticipates the NCAA men's basketball rules committee will adopt the 30-second shot clock (down from 35) May 12-15 in Indianapolis.

"I'm fine with that,'' he said. "We had 24 seconds when we went to Canada in the summer [two years ago], and I coached with 30 when I had the USA Basketball team in Serbia. The players are fine with it. I do drills in practice where we have to get a shot off under 17 seconds.''

Ryan said the Badgers should be celebrated for their overall run to the Big Ten titles in the regular season and the tournament, a No. 1 seed, wins over brand names such as North Carolina and Arizona, and being the team that prevented Kentucky from going undefeated.

"The publicity and pressure that was on Kentucky, you have to give John [Calipari] and his guys an awful lot of credit to get to the point where they were undefeated,'' Ryan said. "For us to be able to be the ones to do it, we were the right team at the right time. Fortunately we had enough to get it done. It's probably because of the game the year before [when Kentucky beat Wisconsin on a late 3-pointer in the national semifinals in north Texas].''

The Badgers lost seniors Frank Kaminsky, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson and Duje Dukan as well as Sam Dekker, who declared early for the NBA draft. Wisconsin will rely heavily on returnees Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes, and reserves Vitto Brown and Zak Showalter. The staff said Saturday that the incoming freshmen -- forwards Alex Illikainen, Charlie Thomas and Khalil Iverson, and guard Brevin Pritzl -- are more physically ready to contribute but lack the experience needed to predict their production.

Ryan said he expects Maryland and then Indiana will be projected to win the Big Ten, but there is an expectation at Wisconsin that the Badgers will once again be in the mix for a top-five Big Ten finish with teams such as Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue.