Bo Ryan is an intense coach on the sidelines. He rarely sits in his chair, instead preferring to urge his players on either from a catcher’s crouch or during a back-and-forth pace that would rival any expecting father in a hospital maternity ward. Ryan’s sideline animation may make him seem reactionary and impatient with his players, but after Tuesday’s 59-53 win over the No. 10 Florida Gators it is clear that everything Ryan does is patiently and carefully calculated to put his team in the best possible chance to win.
Case in point: Traevon Jackson, the No. 20 Wisconsin Badgers‘ starting point guard, had struggled throughout the game. He committed five turnovers against the Gators’ pressure defense and also looked sluggish on defense, allowing sharpshooter Michael Frazier II to get open looks for the Gators as the Badgers trailed 16-4 at the outset. But, to both Ryan and Jackson’s credit, they stayed patient and confidently kept their eyes on the prize.
Jackson had a turnover, committed a foul, and had another turnover midway through the second half, and Bo Ryan stuck with him. Jackson then had back-to-back turnovers five minutes later with Wisconsin leading by eight, and the Gators quickly cut the lead to five. Bo Ryan patiently stuck with him. Then, with under 40 seconds left and Badgers clinging to a three point lead after Florida’s Patric Young made a free throw, Jackson found the ball in his hands. Ryan didn’t call a time out and replace Jackson; instead, he let the junior take matters into his own hands. After the game, Ryan said of Jackson: ‘He’s been in so many tough situations that I wasn’t trading him those last five minutes.” Ryan’s patience paid off, as usual.
Jackson ran the offense and got the ball back with ten seconds left and the shot clock winding down. Despite a 3-for-9 shooting performance to that point, Jackson didn’t rush his move or worry about missing a shot. He coolly pulled up at the free throw line and sank a shot to ice the game. Late game heroics are becoming commonplace for Jackson; he splashed game-winners against the then No. 14 Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Penn State Nittany Lions last season. His latest exploit led ESPN analyst Dan Dakich to proclaim that Jackson is the most clutch player in college basketball. Few can argue after Jackson’s patient approach led to his latest big shot at the end of a game.
Overall, Tuesday night’s game proved that Wisconsin has a player and coach who have high levels of confidence during a game’s most critical junctures because they are patient throughout the course of the game, and that bodes well for the Badgers this season.