Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'It was time'

Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan announces his retirement after Tuesday’s game.

AP

Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan announces his retirement after Tuesday’s game.

At his postgame news conference Tuesday night after Wisconsin's 64-49 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, coach Bo Ryan checked the night's stat sheet. He spoke for a minute about the game. Then Wisconsin's all-time winningest basketball coach announced his immediate retirement.

Ryan's own stat sheet contains mainly highlights. He won more than 75 percent of his games, for 747 victories over more than three decades coaching Division III Wisconsin-Platteville, then Milwaukee, and finally Wisconsin. In 14 full seasons at Wisconsin, his teams reached the NCAA tournament 14 times. The program had made the tournament only seven times previously, yet he got the Badgers to the tournament's second weekend seven times.

Ryan's best record was last season's 36-4, culminating in a hard-fought loss to Duke in the national championship game, but perhaps more impressive is that his worst record, in his first season, was 19-13. He had the highest conference winning percentage in Big Ten history.

But the most astounding stat might be Ryan's home record, at Madison's Kohl Center: 211-22, or .906. Good programs should win more than five in 10 games at home. Winning more than nine in 10 is all but unheard-of. Entering this season, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo's home record was .894. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's was .887.

Explaining his decision to retire, Ryan, 67, cited "energy level," saying, "I enjoy doing it, and the thing was, I felt it was time."

The Badgers have struggled this year after two straight seasons when they made the Final Four. Having lost Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker to the first round of the NBA draft, the Badgers are 7-5, with recent home losses to Marquette and Milwaukee.

Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said in a statement Tuesday night that Ryan "led our program to the most successful era in school history." Earlier this year, he was named a Hall of Fame finalist.

Ryan's home record is a telling achievement. For four decades, Ryan has essentially been Wisconsin basketball. Like Johnny Appleseed, Ryan was born in the East — in a blue-collar suburb of Philadelphia — and headed west, planting seeds as he went. He took over tiny Platteville in 1984 and won four national championships there. He helped rebuild Milwaukee. And he catapulted the Badgers from the ho-hum into the national elite.

Many of the state's junior highs and high schools run Ryan's trademark's swing offense, as though already grooming Ryan's players; Showalter is the son of a former successful high school coach in Germantown. Platteville's head coach, Jeff Gard, is a Ryan alum. Milwaukee's head coach, Rob Jeter, is a Ryan alum. And now the interim coach at Wisconsin is Greg Gard, Jeff's brother and a 23-year veteran of Ryan's coaching staffs.

Therein lies the stated reasoning behind the abruptness of Ryan's departure. Last spring, after the Badgers' loss to Duke, Ryan expressed a Hamlet-esque indecision about whether to hang it up, and in the statement he finally released, in late June, he said he planned to retire after this season. He was explicit that he wished for Gard — whom a couple months before he credited for devising the game plan that toppled previously undefeated Kentucky in the national semifinals — to be Wisconsin's next coach.

"It's no secret, and every head coach would like their top assistant to be the coach," Ryan said Tuesday night.

Keeping Gard, who has been associate head coach since before the 2008-09 season, would make sense from a if-it's-not-broke-don't-fix-it standpoint. But it would not be out of character for Wisconsin to look elsewhere. It took two job openings for former athletic director Pat Richter to hire Ryan in 2001, including after a courtship of the coach Rick Majerus.

And Alvarez, himself the winningest coach in a Wisconsin team's history — the football team — has hired three football coaches in his 10 years as athletic director (though one was, yes, his former assistant, Bret Bielema). The first suspect for Ryan's successor outside Gard is Tony Bennett, the coach of No. 8 Virginia and the son of retired coach Dick Bennett, who began the Badgers' resurgence in 1995, a few years later leading them to their first Final Four since 1941.

True to form, Ryan began his farewell news conference not by diving into his announcement but by noting that games around finals can always be difficult and then praising his team, saying, "Our guys found themselves, ended up doing some things. Protected the lead, got to the free throw line."

What, after all, could be more important than attempting 31 free throws?

"I was extremely proud of them," Ryan said. New York Times

'It was time' 12/16/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 4:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Twice the talent: IMG football expands to two teams this fall

    Footballpreps

    BRADENTON — When IMG Academy fielded its first varsity football team in 2013, there were 78 players on the roster. Since then, the roster has nearly doubled. With no junior varsity it was difficult for some to find playing time, and players do not come to IMG to sit the bench.

    The solution? Start another …

    Tre'von Riggins is a 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive lineman who transferred from Lakewood High to IMG Academy in Bradenton.
  2. Rays power way to 5-1 win over Orioles on eve of crucial road trip

    The Heater

    St. PETERSBURG — The Rays didn't get many hits in the early going Wednesday, but they got a couple that went a long way and that was enough to beat the Orioles, 5-1.

    Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) hugs catcher Jesus Sucre (45) after Souza's solo home run in the seventh inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  3. 'That's not me': Jaguars' Dante Fowler apologizes for arrest

    Blogs

    Former Lakewood High and Gators star Dante Fowler, now a defensive end with the Jacksonville Jaguars, spoke Wednesday for the first time since his arrest in St. Petersburg last week, apologizing to his team and fans.

    Dante Fowler faces misdemeanor charges of simple battery and criminal mischief from his arrest, and entered a written plea of "not guilty" on Tuesday.
  4. Bucs' Josh Huff has DUI citation dismissed, attorney says

    Blogs

    Bucs receiver Josh Huff continues to resolve the legal issues that cost him a job with the Eagles last year, as the DUI citation against him was dismissed Tuesday, according to his attorney.

    Bucs receiver Josh Huff makes a first-down catch against the Saints, one of three games he played in for Tampa Bay last season.
  5. HomeTeam 100: Players 21-30

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA - Jesuit linebacker Anthony Nelson will help lead the Tigers into the 2017 season. Taken 5-17-17 by Scott Purks