Bo Ryan: Turnovers low because Badgers have ‘guys that care’

Badgers head coach Bo Ryan said the reason his team leads the nation in fewest turnovers per game is because players "understand the value of each possession."

Mary Langenfeld/Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan spoke with the media Monday morning on the Big Ten’s weekly coaches teleconference ahead of the Badgers’ game against Northwestern.

Ryan discussed why his team leads the nation in fewest turnovers committed, the play of point guard Traevon Jackson and Wisconsin’s defensive performance this season.

Here is part of the transcript from Ryan’s conference call:

Q: Why does Wisconsin once again lead the nation in fewest turnovers per game (8.25)?

A: I just think having guys that care. Guys that understand the value of each possession. They’re pretty smart guys. And I might mention it a few times during practice every day. That might have some effect on it, I guess. Because it gets emphasized, not just talked about. And every coach will tell you that. It’s what you emphasize. It’s a tribute to the way they play.

Badgers 72, Boilermakers 58

Q: What are your thoughts on Traevon’s ability to get his own offense and distribute?

A: He’s done a pretty good job. He’s also had some rough spots, (and) that’s one way of learning. He’s a guy that’s going to compete every day. Really hates to lose at anything. But the things that he’s still learning is when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em, so to speak, on shot selection and some of the decisions. Once he makes a move to the basket, he’s been very aggressive that way and done some good things. And he still has some of those edges I was talking about that he’s working out, but he’s a smart guy, too, that understands the game and understands what he needs to do. So he’ll keep getting better.

Q: Northwestern has several guys that play heavy minutes. Are you aware of that when you play a team in that situation?

A: No. I don’t think it changes that. We’ve gone years where we’ve had guys do really heavy minutes. The Jordan Taylors, Krabbenhofts and Landrys and guys like that. The conditioning nowadays, the media timeouts, and all the timeouts and delays that there are in the game, there’s an awful lot of recovery time. I would think that in the past five, 10 years, teams that have guys who are going to get a lot of minutes actually get a break.

Because how many games don’t have officials going to the monitor anymore? Even those timeouts that are 30 seconds are supposed to be not full. By the time everybody comes out of the huddle and everybody meanders back onto the court, that’s a lot of down time. My answer to you would be I don’t think it’s as detrimental as it was a decade or more ago. I think now players do get a lot of time to recover. So we really don’t have that in a game plan for specific individuals, no.

Q: What were your impressions of how your team defended Saturday against Purdue?

A: I think we didn’t change anything. We just got some better action-reaction defensively to certain things that Purdue was trying to do. But sometimes the team you’re playing has an off night shooting, too, and you don’t want to get carried away thinking, ‘Oh boy did we play great defense?’ No, I broke the film down and we found some teaching points.

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But I just thought after what happened Wednesday night, us not getting back until 3 in the morning because of what happened on our trip to Minnesota. We didn’t practice the next day. We went fairly easy on Friday. When I say fairly, we didn’t go as long. We always go hard. I thought we had our legs and our lungs were pretty good. I thought we moved pretty well. So I’m glad we took that day off on Thursday. I thought it helped us defensively.

Q: Is this team scoring points but playing less defense?

A: What I’d like to tell you is that it’s a setup. I can’t even go there. Defensively, we’ve played better some nights and on par with some of our better defensive teams in the past. But I think offensively what has happened is because we have so many options. When I say so many, where maybe it was two or three guys scoring, I think five or six guys now can score for us from a lot of different positions. So offensively that’s made us pretty efficient. And then on defense, what has happened is the defense has gone the other way because we’re playing from behind. So the numbers get higher.

The possessions get to be played out less, say, on a shot clock. So when you’re playing from behind, some teams are better at that than others. I wouldn’t say that we’ve shown that we’re a great come-from-behind team. The only one was maybe Iowa. And some other short deficits, being down five or something in the nonconference. But that’s been part of the reason why we’ve given up more points. But I think our scoring ability has led to us getting some more possessions on offense, which means it also allows for some more possession for us to have to play defensively. And if you’re not playing well defensively, the numbers go up. So we’ve had a couple games where we’ve struggled.

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