With Sky-High Expectations, Bo Ryan Not Changing a Thing


Last year the Wisconsin Badgers had a run to remember, making it to the Final Four for the first time since 2000 and being one possession away from making it to the national championship game. This season, the Badgers return virtually every player from that team and face some lofty expectations to get back to the Final Four. But with all the hype and fanfare throw at this team, it has not changed head coach Bo Ryan and the way he approaches the 2014-15 season.

Wisconsin comes in as the No. 4 ranked team in the coaches poll. They are the unanimous pick to win the Big Ten. Frank Kaminsky was a unanimous selection for the All-Big Ten team and teammate Sam Dekker was also selected to the team as well. Kaminsky was also named as the preseason Player of the Year in the conference.

All of that is great and as a Badger fan you can’t help but to be very excited for the season to start. But coach Ryan isn’t too concerned about expectations hurting this team.

"But as far as the expectations and everything else, most of the players that are playing in the Big Ten played in high schools where their teams were targeted, where their teams were marked. So I think they’re kind of used to that kind of attention to where it doesn’t affect how hard they know they need to work. What I’ve seen so far in practice is they’re practicing the same way they have those couple years you mentioned under the radar, so to speak. They’re practicing every bit as hard as that, if not more."

What Ryan is saying is very true about today’s game. With all the AAU teams and recruiting becoming more and more popular, a lot of these kids in high school have lofty expectations and are very scrutinized. Thanks to the internet, you can watch almost every player’s highlights any time you want. These highly touted players are very well-known and opposing team’s are looking for the chance to shut them down every time they take the court.

But it’s a different monster in college, especially with the Big Ten being on the nation’s best conferences and the fans are more passionate about their team as ever. Expectation’s are as high as ever to succeed and get a national championship. Regardless, coming up through high school and competitive AAU teams have prepared most of these players more so now than they did years ago.

Ryan also knows that trying to return to the Final Four this year will not change how he approaches this season.

"I’ve always approached every season the same way, this being my 43rd in this profession. You can’t possibly think that I woke up this fall thinking, oh, wow, I’m going to do something different this year. We’re not. The coaching staff isn’t. The players are the ones that put a lot of time in the off season. The returning players, they’re hoping that pays off, and that’s all you can do. You can prepare, you train, you take care of business in the classroom, you put yourself in a position to be successful, and then let’s play."

There’s a reason why Bo Ryan is one of the best coaches in the game today. He has been the most consistent coach in the Big Ten, finishing no worse than fourth in conference. Even when his team has flown well under the radar, they find a way to exceed what may be low expectations.

This season is a different animal. The expectations are as high as they have ever been this year. I’ve said throughout the offseason that the greatest opponent the Badgers will face will not be one single team. It will be meeting, and then exceeding the lofty expectations that have been set for this squad. For most, it would be a daunting challenge. For a Bo Ryan team however, they will be ready for the challenges that lie ahead.

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