THE MODERATOR: Questions for the Wisconsin student‑athletes.
Q. Jared, can you tell me about the way Jordan Taylor maybe stepped back his game a little bit as far as scoring and brought along the three new front court players and how that worked out to get you guys to where you are now?
JARED BERGGREN: Yeah, I think that just shows part of what makes him a great player is he gets his teammates involved. He doesn't always have to do it by shooting the ball and scoring himself, but he can create plays and create opportunities for others. Really looks to get other guys involved.
When it comes down to it, we know that he can always score and make plays for himself as well. But he does a great job of getting everyone involved and facilitating that way.
Q. Jordan, in watching the Grizzlies, I assume that you've had a chance to watch some film on them by now. What jumps out at you?
JORDAN TAYLOR: They can stretch the floor. They've got a lot of shooters. They're pretty good defensively, especially Will Cherry. I know he won "Defensive Player of the Year" in his conference, so that obviously speaks volumes to what can he do on the defensive end. They're a talented team and deserve to be in the tournament.
Q. Jared, the last time Wisconsin was in this building it advanced to the Final Four. Do you think this building has some left over magic?
JARED BERGGREN: I hope so. I hope we can definitely carry over some of that good karma. Our coaches talked about it a little bit. Last time we played here there were good memories made here. We hope to make more good memories and advance to the next rounds.
Q. A number of national analysts have, for some reason, picked this game as a potential upset. How do you guys feel about that?
RYAN EVANS: We're not really looking into that kind of stuff too much. We understand that this team is a hot team. They haven't lost in a while, so we're definitely coming into this game just ready to play, not trying to be upset at all.
Q. Jordan, when Wisconsin was here in 2000, was that on your radar screen at all? I know you're from the Minneapolis area, so maybe it wasn't. But was that on your radar at all?
JORDAN TAYLOR: Not really, to be honest. I think Jon Bryant was on that team. But I think that's really the only guy I knew who was on that team. I think I was still cheering for the Gophers.
Q. Jordan, I asked your teammate about it. Can you tell me what your mindset was coming into the season knowing that you were a prolific scorer but if you didn't bring along your teammates, it wouldn't have been good for you guys. Can you just tell me what that was like?
JORDAN TAYLOR: Losing Jon and Keaton I kind of knew coming into the season a lot of teams were going to key on me early. But at the same time I knew we had a lot of guys who were talented and could put it in the hole just like Jon and Keaton did last year like Ryan and Jared have shown throughout the season, not just them, Rob, Ben, Josh. So we've got guys that can fill it up.
For me, it was just trying to not force anything and just play within myself and try to get good shots. On the scoring thing, any of us on our team could probably shoot 15 to 20 times a game if we wanted to, but that's probably not the best shot every time down. So it's just trying to stay efficient offensively and play unselfishly. That's what type of team we have.
Q. I know there's not a ton of connections between Montana and Wisconsin, but there is. Has Coach ever talked to you about Freddie Owens used to play for the Badgers back in the day?
RYAN EVANS: Yeah, he's definitely mentioned him. I think, in fact, that he applied for the assistant coach job at Wisconsin. So, yeah, he knows our stuff and we're aware of that. But we've always got new stuff, so we'll see what happens?
Q. Looking at Montana's bigs, what do you see when you look at those guys?
JARED BERGGREN: They're very versatile. They stretch the floor. They can shoot it, pick and pop stuff where you have to defend them on the perimeter and both put it on the floor a little bit and make some plays that way.
So they're versatile and very skilled. It's something we'll have to do a good job defensively of taking away their open looks on the perimeter and playing tough inside. We'll have our hands full, but we look forward to it.
Q. Ryan, can you talk about your season this year and how you've gone from a first‑time starter to over the last month or so being a very consistent scorer for this team?
RYAN EVANS: I think just the opportunity was there. But playing behind John last year was kind of difficult. I wanted to come in here this year and really help the team push forward. Scoring was a column that we needed a little bit of, and that's what I'm trying to do. It's been a good year so far, so just trying to keep it going?
Q. Jordan, how do you guys manage the tempo of the game to keep it as you wanted?
JORDAN TAYLOR: Stick to what we've been doing all year long. I know based on numbers or whatever it is, I think you could say everybody plays at a quicker tempo based on the possessions or whatever you want. But it's not like we're trying to slow it down or anything or are looking to drag out shot clock. We're just trying to get a good shot every time down.
So just stick to what we've been doing all year. It's been working for the most part. Obviously, we've things we need to improve on from this game from the season that we need to do better in this game to be able to win.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Ryan.
Q. Coach, could you tell me watching Montana on film, what kind of jumps out at you about their team?
COACH RYAN: I've known about their program here, especially the past couple years with Freddie Owens being an assistant coach there. Wayne does a great job with getting his guys to understand what he sees, what his vision is about basketball. To me, in coaching, that's the key. If your guys can't see the game the way that you do, it's really a lot of head‑butting going on.
But I watched this team, watched some early DVDs, some late DVDs, they're playing really well now. They all seem to be on the same page. So you have to give their staff credit, and the program credit for playing the game the way they think it should be played. That's key. More important than people realize.
Q. Can you just kind of compare Jordan's season last year with this year? His numbers are all down, but it's almost as if he had a conscious effort to get his teammates more involved and kind of subjugated his personal numbers a little bit?
COACH RYAN: I don't know if Ryan Howard and Pujols and all those guys, if they're down maybe 8 percentage points on their batting average and maybe five less home runs or whatever, you still don't want to be the pitcher that's pitching to them.
Sometimes you could make it really easy by saying he had two better bigs last year playing with them based on their numbers. No, I mean, you don't do that, because if you start compare and contrast, it's ‑‑ this is our team this year. This is how we play. This is what we've gone to.
Our strength is doing certain things, and Jordan is the one that led us down that path of finding our strengths.
I think numbers are one thing, but leadership and quality and what he brings in every other phase of the game might be down in certain statistics, but it certainly isn't down in what he's done to help make us a pretty good team, which put us here.
Q. When you play a team that will put some pressure on you defensively, how comforting is it to have a guy like Jordan?
COACH RYAN: It's extremely important. Some of the other guys have gotten a little bit better with handling that. In their league in watching them play a lot of teams, there seems to be a lot of what we had a couple years ago with a starting lineup that included three guards, Jason Bohannon, Trevon Hughes and Jordan Taylor.
So with their quickness at some positions, they can create some havoc, and you've just got to make sure your sight lines are correct. You're not putting yourself in a position where you're making tough passes. Your spacing has to be good. Ball fakes are important. A lot of times people that put pressure on will go for the first movement. Jordan is one of those guys that has seen a lot, and that's what we're hoping he'll continue to do if and when we do see pressure in the tournament.
Q. We all know how important or the importance you place on the point guard position. What does it take for a point guard to gain your trust, and at what point did Jordan do that?
COACH RYAN: We do some drills where we'll take 15 seconds on shot clock. I'll throw the ball to any one of the five guys, and we have some various ball screen and play actions that we do in case we haven't gotten a good shot by the time it's down to 12, 13, 14 seconds.
Jordan made plays early in his career during those drills, 5 versus 5 possessions, had the vision to find guys, could play off of our pick‑and‑pop guys, could play off our pick‑and‑roll guys and did it with confidence.
When do you that, you're obviously going to instill confidence in your teammates and playing with you. If you get open, he'll find you. That's really important for the point guard, and from the coach's standpoint, the possession is on the line, can you deliver? Not necessarily can you score, but can you make a play?
Q. Obviously this arena has good memories for the Wisconsin program. I know you weren't here in 2000. When you think of The Pit, what springs to your mind?
COACH RYAN: 1983, my dad's sitting right next to me, and I'm not crying because Arizona State won, but Jim Valvano was my camp counselor in 1964 in the Pocono Mountains. I was rooting for Valvano. Probably never thought you'd get that as part of an answer. But my dad and I were sitting there and both rooting for NorthCarolina State at the time. If you're from Houston, I apologize. But that's what I remember.
Great basketball facility. Had good seats, you know. It wasn't in one of the big places. It was in a basketball venue, basketball atmosphere, really, really good atmosphere. That's what I remember.
Q. You were here?
COACH RYAN: Of course I was here in '83. Wasn't everybody by the time you ask them? I just couldn't believe that Jimmy couldn't find anybody to hug after the game. Why were they avoiding him? Yeah, my dad and I still talk about that.
Q. The Grizzlies obviously have a good point guard in Will Cherry, but he's a different style player than Jordan Taylor. What do you see in that match‑up there?
COACH RYAN: What do you mean? You're the one that says they're different styles, how do you mean?
Q. Cherry's quickness versus Taylor's more strength and ball control. Does that work?
COACH RYAN: I'm going to tell him you said that. You know, they both do really good things for their teams. Who is playing better than Montana right now as far as left‑hand side numbers, meaning in the winning column? And we've had some pretty good games where in our column they add up quickly when you're on a roll.
Both guys can do things for their teams. Both guys are used to winning. So there are similarities there.
Q. Let's go back to 2000 for a moment. As a proud native coach in that state, what do you remember about how the Ferber was in the state when Bucky got to that Final Four coming out of here and the hard‑nosed nature of that team?
COACH RYAN: I was in Milwaukee recruiting, getting ready for the next year and doing my job. When you say native, I'm from Chester, don't ever mistake that, Chester, Pennsylvania. Not that I wouldn't want to be from Wisconsin, because I would.
But I was doing my job, and then when they got to the Final Four, I hosted‑‑ my dad and I hosted‑‑ we go to all the Final Fours. That's why we happened to be in Albuquerque in '83 because it's our convention. We hosted a little get together for a bunch of the former players from Wisconsin when I was an assistant coach there. We invited ten. There might have been 400 that came to the room or stood outside it. There was a pep rally going on down on the floor.
But this is our guys' time. Those 15 players that will be out there in the red and white, this is their time. They hear different things, different places that we go. We'll play at a place, say Carolina. Well maybe not Carolina because I don't think we ever played there.
But you go to different places like Boise, Idaho. If we were to go back to Spokane, if we go to these different cities, there are a lot of thing that's pop up.
But these 15 guys, this is their moment. It's pretty important to them. So it's hard for me to say I don't know how to do that. I'm just trying to make this experience for them the best I can.
Q. Coach I wanted to talk a little more about Freddie and how it is for you to kind of match up with him now even though he's an assistant over there?
COACH RYAN: Have you ever been out anywhere with Freddie?
COACH RYAN: Meaning, did he ever pick up a tab? Okay, so that hasn't changed. Freddie Owens. Bought in early, tough defender, wasn't a great shooter, but he worked at it and became a very good Big Ten player. In his career, we broke Michigan State's 50‑something game win streak. He's the one that hit the winning basket against Tulsa. Devin Harris was too tired to go into overtime. So Devin drove, retreated and kicked the ball to Freddie for a three, rather than Devin make a two. So we didn't have to go into overtime.
They talk about that win last night, being down 16, the team was. We were down 13 with 2:59, 2:03, 2:04, it was somewhere around 3:00 minutes. Patrick, or one of you guys might have that exact. So making that kind of a comeback was pretty neat. And Freddie was the one that‑‑ as I told our local media, every time I go to work out in this room I have in my house, the picture of him making the shot and running to the other end of the court with his hands up, I have to look at that expression every time I go work out. So I see Freddie five times a week.
He's bald now. I told him one time he had a little different type of haircut, and he had made a few mistakes. I actually did tell him this. Freddie, I think that's a little too tight, and I think it's affecting the way you're thinking. Freddie had a different cut the next day and played well in the next game.
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