COACH RYAN: Good to finally get down here early in the morning. We played last night. So if I look a little tired, I'm trying to rally. We actually played a pretty good program, a pretty good school, in our exhibition game last night, played UW Platteville. That was interesting.
Matt Painter asked me out there who I was rooting for during the game. That's my opening statement. I'm sticking to it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. There's been a lot of talk to a lot of the coaches about the new defensive rules and the rules shifting and the rule changes and with teams like you and Ohio State that have been known to play good defense, how do you think the rules will affect you? Will they be positive for your team? Do they have to change something that they do in practice on a daily basis? Will they affect you at all?
COACH RYAN: Well, I think you gotta give some credit to my colleagues and our profession; that most of us were teachers, which is how we got into coaching. So if a rule is made, you teach to the rule.
So if there are adjustments to be made to the three-point line and to the arc to other things in the game, whether it's a five-second count here ten-second count there, you know, there's a lot of things that we've had to deal with as coaches over the years. So this is another aspect that we'll only know once we get a bigger sample size. We can't go by maybe one exhibition or maybe you have a crew in from somewhere and they decide this is how I'm going to call the game.
I think we need more samples and just teach to the rule. So if you're not allowed to put your hands on a player, then don't put your hands on a player.
If you're not allowed to, as a guy, gathers for the shot -- the one thing in the rule says an airborne player who has picked up the ball. Well, the airborne player, if you look at the examples that they showed us, he wasn't airborne yet. There was still a foot or two on the floor, but as you gather the ball and then go up into your shot, if the defensive player cannot move to get into a line of defense as a help player, then you're going to have to either get quicker players or teach them through repetition how to anticipate a little bit better and also work on your own ball defense so that the initial defender doesn't get beaten.
It's easier said than done. But I really can't respond to how it's going to play out as I'm talking to a former player of ours who plays in the NBA who said, Coach, I hear you have new rules, but did you ever see the NBA playoffs? Like, do they call the rules the same way in the NBA playoffs that they did during the regular season? I don't know. Because I don't coach in that league.
But the key will be: Are we going to be consistent all the way through the year on how, because we're going to teach to the rule. So if you're teaching to it and practicing it, you just hope that it's the same all the way throughout the season. That's all I'm hoping for.
Q. Looks like your nonconference schedule is loaded with a lot of big name opponents. Is that something you're eager for or a little wary of?
COACH RYAN: When you say "big names," like a lot of letters in the names? (Laughter).
I miss us not golfing, by the way. We have a very tough nonconference schedule. And to start, it is very difficult. And I've had a long talk with our scheduler. But it's the way it plays out. So we'll be tested early and often. Strength of schedule will not be a problem.
And if it's not the youngest team we've ever had since I've been there, it's close. We're trying to get old in a hurry. We will play a lot of teams that are used to winning, teams that are used to being on the left-hand side when the score comes out. So you hope that -- I've always been big on preparing for whatever conference, whatever league I'm coaching in, and get ready for the Big Ten. So I'm sure that the opponents that we're playing nonconference will give us the test that we need, and how we respond to them, we'll see.
Q. Tom Izzo said earlier you guys shared a little breakfast earlier. Wondering if you can tell us how that went and maybe some thoughts on his team this year?
COACH RYAN: I ate scrambled eggs. I watched him, he ate the potatoes and bacon. I didn't know if it was a Northern Michigan thing or what.
But, you know, we shared some different stories about some of the issues that have been brought up. And Tom and I have been around quite a bit, being the two guys still in the league from 2001-2002 season. So we've seen things. I was an assistant in '76. He said he was '83 in the Big Ten.
So we've been around this league for a long time. And we've seen a lot of things. So what he did say was he missed me at the meeting because with us playing, he said because it was a real calm meeting. He said there wasn't a lot of discussion about things. I didn't know what he meant by that. (Laughter).
No, he did say they talked over a few things. I don't know if he shared those with you. But we know we're talking about injuries. We're talking about his player and our player coming back from knee surgery, how long it takes, how well you perform, things like that.
So it's on us, all of a sudden here it is, exhibition games and the real games and the season's here. So, yeah, it was good to share some time with him this morning, because during this time we're all moving around different places so you don't get a chance to talk that much.
Q. A year ago you were excited about Josh as a point guard and all the progress he made and then the next day he was injured.
COACH RYAN: You were sitting right back there and you're the one that asked me a question about him. So I'm not going to answer anything about Josh Gasser with you. No, go ahead.
Q. How do you anticipate using him and how is his health progressing?
COACH RYAN: The fact that Trae Jackson did a lot of nice things by the time the season was over, if you step back and look in at his performance, he really did some good things for us that maybe wasn't expected simply because of lack of experience.
So Josh had to sit on the sidelines and watch that. And he was very happy for Trae. So right now I'm using Josh more as a wing, but still also as the point, because he has the leadership ability and the capability of being a good ball handler.
But when you're coming back from surgery such as his, the explosiveness sometimes, whether it's consciously or subconsciously, we're not sure. So we've been limiting the minutes, during the Canadian trip, in practice. He's pretty much now expected and is told and he feels he wants, he's ready to go through every drill all the time just like everybody else.
And I think that's a big mental hurdle to get over for a player that's had an injury like that, that now, when he comes, he knows: Coach doesn't have to say, okay, Josh, you've done the number of possessions that the trainer wants you to do or the doctor wants you to do. Now he can pretty much do all that.
Now it's a matter of that confidence on a drive, the confidence on a sharp cut. And he knows he's not the only one that's ever had the injury. But he also knows he's the only one that can really mentally overcome any blocks, any mental blocks that he has about his physical ability. But he looks like he's ready.
I think Trae getting that experience at handling the ball and running the team a little bit, I think that's going to help us going into this year, because our front line will be so young.
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