JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As Cornell blew by Wisconsin in Sunday’s second round match-up, Big Red forward Ryan Wittman and his 24-point performance was the focus of much attention afterward.
Another Ryan, though — Wisconsin’s freshman forward Ryan Evans — played well when called upon due to foul trouble for the Badgers’ starters.
In 27 minutes, Evans scored 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting while pulling down six rebounds, dishing out three assists and grabbing two steals.
After the game, The Badger Herald sat down with Evans at his locker to discuss his play, the Badgers’ recent stretch of games, Cornell’s big man and what lies ahead for the team.
Badger Herald: It’s been about 20 minutes since the game ended, and you’ve had some time to think about it. How are you feeling now as you sit in the locker room after losing to Cornell?
Ryan Evans: You just wish you could always do more. It’s tough. They got going on a run, and you just wish you could do more. It’s just disappointing.
BH: With Keaton Nankivil sitting out much of the game due to foul trouble, you saw a lot of minutes, probably more than you would otherwise. What was it like being out there today in this type of game?
RE: I just tried to bring what I had. I just tried to go out there and rebound and just contribute. That’s the main thing. It was tough. They were real hot, and it’s tough to guard that kind of team.
BH: In the game, you scored 11 points, which tied a career-high for you. You said you wish you could do more, but overall were you happy with the way you played?
RE: No, no, no. I’m not happy unless we win the game. You could have 20 points, but if you don’t win the game, it’s useless. It’s a tough one, but we’re going to start the offseason in a couple days here. I’m looking forward to next season.
BH: Entering the postseason, your team appeared to be playing at its best at the right time. But since then, you guys have not played the same. What do you think has been the difference in three postseason games?
RE: We stumbled a little bit in the Big Ten tournament and that took away from our momentum. But we’re going to look forward to next season. For our seniors, it’s going to be tough for them, but they had a good run.
BH: You mentioned Cornell was a tough team to defend against. What was the hardest part about playing defense against a team like that?
RE: The toughest thing was just keeping a hand up. We played pretty tough defense, but they made tough shots. A team gets on a roll like that, you can’t stop them. We had a game like this that reminds me of this one — the Green Bay game earlier this season.
No matter what you do, when you let a team build momentum like that, it’s hard to take it away.
BH: At 7-feet tall, Jeff Foote of Cornell was one of the tallest players you’ve had to defend this season. What was it like being out there against a guy that’s six inches taller than you?
RE: I held him like one time I think. He’s a big strong kid. You’ve got to deny him the ball, but he’s a tough kid, and I think he could go a long way in this sport.
BH: As ugly as this game is, there has to be plenty of teaching points for Coach Ryan. What can you personally take away from a game and a loss like this?
RE: You can learn so much. You can take away so much from this type of game. Just looking at our seniors’ last run, for me, it makes me want to work that much harder this offseason and come back next year and just being a better player.
BH: So, would you say the mentality is much the same now as it was immediately following the second round loss to Xavier a year ago?
RE: Yeah, most definitely. It doesn’t change. But for me, I’ve played this year, and it burned me up that much more to be out there on the floor and take a loss like that. So, I just want to get back to work.