The sports world is fresh off a three week long celebration of college basketball, witnessing Duke University win their fifth championship in program history. A great game that went down to the wire, featuring two #1 seeds for just the seventh time since going to a field of 64. A Championship game that included two of the top big men in the country in Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky. And yet what was the big story today, somewhat overshadowing the win…Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan’s press conference. That’s right not the winning coach, but the coach on the losing end. Bo Ryan went from being a possible Championship coach to the Championship Crybaby.
There were two points to be taken from Ryan’s press conference after the game; and yes I know it was moments after a tough loss but he is a coach and has had hundreds of such press conferences to know how to control emotions. Ryan first criticized the officiating in the game and then took aim at his opponents, Duke.
“You just have to be able to handle all the hands and the checking. There was more body contact in this game than any game we’ve played all year, and I just feel sorry for my guys that all of a sudden a game was like that. I think they had a…they’re struggling with that a little bit.” – Bo Ryan on officiating
“You just have to be able to handle all the hands and the checking. There was more body contact in this game than any game we’ve played all year, and I just feel sorry for my guys that all of a sudden a game was like that. I think they had a…they’re struggling with that a little bit.” – Bo Ryan on Duke
While Ryan may have some right to question the officials in the game, they did not lose the game for Wisconsin. There were two obvious miscalls by the officials, missing the out of bounds under the basket play and the tip ball out of bonds. But those are two moments in a 40 minute game full of moments. Including a game in which Ryan and his team had a nine point lead with 13-minutes remaining. It was less to do with the officials more to do with say Sam Dekker, your streaky sharp shooter, going 0-for-6 from three-point range.
First on the officials, yes Duke did have double the free-throw attempts. And Wisconsin which had averaged only 12 fouls committed during the season were called for 13 second-half fouls. However did Ryan comment at halftime when Duke was called for seven fouls and Wisconsin just two? Besides the issue with more free-throw attempts and called fouls is always a fool’s argument. Anyone that watched the game noticed when Duke had success it was when they attacked the basket. Duke used its athleticism to get to the hoop, where obviously their aggressive nature leads to more fouls called.
In addition the Wisconsin offense is more of a half-court, slow tempo style that uses screens and cuts near the basket; not conducive to drawing fouls. And in fact this was not out of the ordinary called game by officials during Duke games this tournament. During the season Duke had a 40-percent free-throw rate (according to Ken Pomeroy). However once Duke hit the Sweet 16, they became more aggressive and upped their free-throw rat to 50-percent. A team that is playing well often uses their advantages. Duke realized the athleticism of their young players benefited them and they took advantage of it, driving to the hole and drawing fouls when they got there.
So Ryan was a sore loser by blaming the officials, as bad as that is it is nothing new; we have seen coaches and players do that before. Where Ryan’s true childish act took an even worse turn was when he made his comments about Duke. Saying that he doesn’t do “rent-a-players” or one-and-done players is an absolute joke. While it is true his program has not had the players that jump right to the NBA. And sure he may like building a team by coaching them up over a period of time. Heck, I even feel that one-and-done players have hurt both the college and professional game. But does anyone believe he would not accept a McDonald’s All-American player, an Okafor type, that could carry him to a title? Just because he is unable to bring in the NBA ready type player to Wisconsin does not mean he should take a shot at schools that can. And if you want to play the “not fair” card Coach Ryan, what about Coach K having to limit his players to those who meet the strict academic standards at Duke University?
Coach Ryan has done a great job building his program, taking them to two straight Final Fours. But to criticize the officials and blame them for a loss when you had a nine-point lead late in the game, and too act like you are a better program for the type of players you sign, cries out sore loser. And now the entire country has seen what Big Ten fans already knew, Ryan may be a great coach but he is a great crybaby.