Bo Ryan ‘a pretty lucky guy’ to be on verge of 300 wins at Wisconsin
MADISON, Wis. — The way Bo Ryan sees it, he’s “a
pretty lucky guy” to be one victory from achieving another milestone in
his coaching career. Of course, it takes more than luck to reach the cusp of
300 wins at one school.
It also requires being a pretty good coach.
Only eight other coaches have won at least 300 games at a
Big Ten school. Ryan, whose Wisconsin record is 299-113, can become the ninth
when No. 8 Wisconsin (8-0) travels to face Virginia (7-1) at 6 p.m. CT
Wednesday in Charlottesville, Va., as part of the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Among the eight coaches already in the 300-win club, only
Indiana’s Bobby Knight (.734) has a better winning percentage than Ryan (.726).
The other coaches are: Purdue’s Gene Keady and Ward Lambert, Michigan State’s
Tom Izzo and Jud Heathcote, Illinios’ Lou Henson and Harry Combes and Indiana’s
Ryan is no stranger to accomplishing the 300-win mark at one
program. He went 353-76 (.823 winning percentage) as a coach at Division III
UW-Platteville. But achieving such a feat at a Division I program like
Wisconsin will be particularly meaningful for him.
“I got the job when I was older here at 53,” Ryan,
65, said Monday during his weekly news conference. “How many guys get a
chance to be in this position of a school like Wisconsin at 53? I’m living the
dream. You know, I’m a pretty lucky guy. I’m not afraid to admit it.
“So if there’s a number attached to it, I can go back
and think of 50, 100, 150 and think of games and think of the players and the
plays that they made, how tough they were, and all those types of memories and
what they’re doing now, what a lot of the players are doing now that added to
that total of 299 to this point.
“If and when the 300th comes, it will be like anything
else — like when people have anniversaries. You think about the first time.
You think about halfway in between. You think about all the things that have
transpired. So I’m a pretty lucky guy.”
In a unique twist, Ryan will coach against Virginia’s Tony
Bennett, who was an assistant coach at Wisconsin with Ryan’s first team in
2001-02. Back on Nov. 23, 2001, Ryan earned the first of his victories when
Wisconsin defeated Hawaii-Hilo 78-62.
“I remember Coach’s system starting to take hold,”
Bennett said Monday. “We were running the swing. I remember that
Bennett noted his most significant memory from Ryan’s first
season at Wisconsin was when the Badgers found a way to knock off in-state rival
and 14th-ranked Marquette, 86-73, at the Kohl Center just one month later.
“I don’t want to say coming out party,” Bennett
said. “But we played Marquette at home in that first year against a very
good Marquette team and really took it to them. I remember just hurting them in
a bunch of different ways. I thought that was a significant statement of how
this program was going to be continually established and how we were going to
“Three-hundred wins in that short amount of time is
Badgers move up: Wisconsin climbed two spots to No. 8 in the
latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll, released Monday. It marks the highest the
Badgers have been ranked since coming in at No. 6 to end the 2007-08 season.
Wisconsin also moved up two spots in the coaches poll to No. 9.
The Badgers won both games last week to capture the Cancun
Challenge championship, beating Saint Louis 63-57 and West Virginia 70-63.
Sophomore forward Sam Dekker earned tournament most valuable player honors
after posting his first career double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds in
the title game. Point guard Traevon Jackson also earned all-tournament honors
after averaging 11.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.
Wisconsin’s 8-0 start to the season is the best since UW
opened the 1993-94 season 11-0 under coach Stu Jackson.
Ryan was asked if this was the best team he’d ever had at
“I never compare teams,” he said. “You can’t
do that because each year is different. Sometimes, if you look at schedules,
sometimes they play into your favor to a certain point, and sometimes they
don’t. But I thought we played good teams and we played pretty well, but it’s early yet. It’s like, you know, you
bring up we’re 8-0, but, oh, by the way, you have Virginia and Marquette this
“I know all our weaknesses, and I know some of our
strengths, and I’m still looking for more strengths. So I’m probably not the
guy to ever ask those kinds of questions to.”
Ryan on Bennett: Bennett has an especially intimate knowledge
of Wisconsin’s patented swing offense, and Virginia’s overall style of play —
defensive toughness, smart offensive possessions — does mirror some of the
Badgers’ style over the years. Despite those similarities, Ryan said Bennett
had developed his own personality as a coach since his days on the Wisconsin
sideline next to Ryan.
“He’s his own basketball guy,” Ryan said.
“Tony knows how the game is played before he was an assistant with me, and
he’s even smarter now that he’s had a chance to do this. That’s where you
really get to be better as a coach. You get to do things on your own because
the buck stops here. And Tony’s welcomed that challenge and done it pretty
Last season, Bennett’s Virginia team knocked off Wisconsin
60-54 at the Kohl Center.
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