Bo Ryan: RTC Big Ten’s Preseason Coach of the Year

Posted by Brendan Brody on November 12th, 2014

The only Big Ten team to reach last season’s Final Four has essentially the same team coming back this year. Wisconsin has potential All-Americans in senior Frank Kaminsky and junior Sam Dekker. They have two reliable seniors at the guard spots, one of whom (Josh Gasser) is in his fifth collegiate season and is one of the perimeter defenders in the country, the other of whom (Traevon Jackson) is a former bench player who has shined since given a chance to run the show. They also have two rising sophomores (Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig) who gained valuable experience during the run to Arlington last season. In addition to all that talent returning, Wisconsin still has its leader and basketball savant, Bo Ryan, leading the way. The veteran coach arguably has the most talent he’s ever had in Madison, which combined with his preparation and on-court acumen, leads us here at the Big Ten microsite to believe that he will be this season’s conference Coach of the Year.

Wisconsin and Coach Bo Ryan should be poised to make another deep March run this season. (AP)

Wisconsin and Coach Bo Ryan should be poised to make another deep March run this season. (AP)

This is not to say that it will be an easy award for Ryan to win. Anything less than a Big Ten championship this season will be viewed at as an underachievement. Given their revamped rosters, if Michigan State’s Tom Izzo or Michigan’s John Beilein can keep their teams among the top 10 or 15 teams nationally, or if a preseason middle-pack team like Minnesota or Illinois can make a substantial leap, Ryan could lose out even if he wins the league title.

Ryan’s system celebrates and values experience. If one of his teams returns a bounty of experience running his swing offense and has legitimate NBA talent on its roster, things usually turn out pretty well for Wisconsin. Since 2002, the Badgers have won 30 or more games in a season three times. In two of those years, the top seven players on those teams featured three seniors and two juniors among the rotation. Last year, Wisconsin’s 30-win team featured a core of only one senior, three juniors, a sophomore and two freshman. A fair argument is that last season’s Final Four team was actually a year away from dominance. Now they’ll have four seniors among their top seven (Kaminsky, Jackson, Gasser and Duje Dukan), as well as two potential lottery picks that will cause match-up problems for frontcourts all season.

Since he took the reins of the program in 2002, there has been only one time where Wisconsin failed to reach at least 10 conference wins — a 9-7 mark in 2005-06. With a loaded roster flanked by veterans coming off a one-point loss to Kentucky in the Final Four, there’s simply no reason other than a rash of injuries to predict anything less than a Big Ten championship for the Badgers. Because of this, it says here that Ryan will likely pick up his fourth conference Coach of the Year award by season’s end.

Brendan Brody (307 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his fourth season covering the Big Ten for RTC. Email him at, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.

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