As the days remaining in the 2009-10 basketball season wind down, there was a strong sense of nostalgia in head coach Bo Ryan’s weekly press conference.
In light of seniors Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes’ careers reaching their final stages, Ryan was asked about what kind of feedback his former players have given him on their memories with the team. Ryan emphasized a common theme in all of their answers.
They all admitted it took them years before they could really appreciate the effect being a Badger had on them.
“The truth is,” Ryan said, “Seniors… you won’t know much for another five, 10 years… And then that’s when it’ll hit them.”
Ryan attributes this delay, one he himself says to have experienced, to the overwhelming adjustment of leaving college for the real world.
“That’s the way I was when I got out of college,” Ryan said. “It’s amazing when I look back, and they will too, and like other players that have said to me over the years, you know those first three, four, five, six years I was out of college, I was busy doing my thing, trying to do this, trying to do that.”
Ryan also mentioned there were two things that stuck with his players from the day they graduated: The ever-present sound of his voice following them along with an appreciation for times they had been frustrated by Ryan’s criticism.
“They’ve got me everyday in their head,” Ryan said. “I’ve had so many guys say, ‘Coach, I find myself saying the things that you said to us.’ And I said, ‘Is that bad?’… ‘I never liked everything you said to us, but I find myself I have to say those things to the people that are working with me.
So you mean it’s not all bad that you’re critical and that you’re trying to help and that constructive criticism isn’t the end of the world?’”
Ryan added the most important part of receiving such criticism is his players understand everything he does is intended to help them in the long run.
With this reassurance, he believes the possibilities for their improvement are endless.
“The main thing is, ‘Do they know how you feel about them overall?’” Ryan said. “If people know you have their best interests at heart they will work so hard for you. They will overcome so many things whether it’s in basketball or anything in life.”
Ryan ended his response with a personal motto, saying, “Friends for life, but you can’t always be their buddy.”
Ryan also looked back on some of the lasting memories he’ll have of Bohannon and Hughes not just as players, but as leaders.
He alluded to the physical condition his team arrived in to begin the season as being one of the first signs of the two seniors’ leadership capacities.
“I think they talked amongst themselves in the summer,” Ryan said. “Because conditioning-wise our guys didn’t all of a sudden turn into Charles Atlas, but our guys are definitely stronger then they were last year. I thought they were in better shape when we started in September.
“That has to come from somewhere. And it isn’t always seniors, but those two definitely have led the way.”
Ryan also exuded confidence that his two leaders aren’t satisfied yet.
“They’ve seen some results; they want to see more,” Ryan said. “That’s why it’s tough on senior day talking about where we are. I think they have more in them.”