A hello and a goodbye in the world of Wisconsin basketball
Basketball is in the news, both with expected hellos and certain goodbyes.
Wisconsin will be better off with the hello, but the entire game of college basketball will be poorer for the goodbye.
The goodbye, of course, is due to the news that Bo Ryan is going to retire after next season as basketball coach of the University of Wisconsin.
For over 30 years, Ryan has been a head coach in this state, first at Platteville, then at UWM and finally at Wisconsin. Everywhere he has been, he's been a winner, with his crowning achievement last year when the Badgers beat a supposedly invincible Kentucky team to get to the final against Duke, which they lost.
But more than his success is the fact that Ryan may well have been the last of the breed of old-time coaches, a coach whose players were unlike the stars of almost every other team.
Ryan had teams that stuck around. Frank Kaminsky, who was the NCAA player of the year last season, came in as an unheralded freshman and worked his butt off to great success.
That's the Ryan way.
With him, everything took time. His teams played deliberate ball, until there was a cut or a roll or a shot. His teams were careful, leading the country year after year in the fewest turnovers. They played a rough, tough defense.
And they won, year after year after year.
Ryan is honest, and I've never heard him dodge a question. Not much flash to him, but he's kind of like that neighborhood kid who never took any crap from anybody.
In college basketball today, hardly anybody does it the Ryan way. Players come for a year or two and then head off to the NBA draft. Everybody wants to run fast and score a lot.
That's going to keep up, and for those of us who love something a little different, we are going to miss the hell out of Bo Ryan.
But while we say goodbye to Ryan, Wisconsin basketball fans should get ready to say hello to somebody new, somebody we have already heard about.
The NBA free agent derby began yesterday at midnight and, for the first time in a long while, the Milwaukee Bucks seem to be players – maybe not for the biggest names, like LaMarcus Aldridge or Kevin Love, but in the mix for other help.
The Bucks could benefit from a good and experienced center who can give them some help on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. And they could certainly use another shooter, something the team signaled when they drafted Rashad Vaughn and signed Greivis Vasquez from Toronto on draft night.
As for centers, the two many people were talking about were the Lopez brothers – Robin and Brook – who play for Portland and Brooklyn respectively. Both are 7-foot centers with seven years of experience. Brook gives you more on offense, but his health (foot problems) are a cause for caution. Robin isn't the offensive threat his brother is but probably has a better all-around game. However, the Bucks have emerged to be a serious threat to snag Detroit's Greg Monroe – and according to recent reports, they've even managed to sign him to a three year, $50 million deal.
Danny Green, a free agent guard from San Antonio, had also surfaced on the radar screen for the Bucks. At 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, Green had the kind of length the Bucks like, and he could play either guard position as well as small forward a little bit. However, Green reportedly resigned with the Spurs for four years and $45 million.
The next few days are going to be pretty interesting, watching how big the Bucks are willing to go to capture a free agent who can help push this team from owning the future to being the present.
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