Cleat Geeks

An Era of Wisconsin Basketball Ends

Bo_RyanTuesday night following the Badgers nondescript 64-49 over Texas A&M Corpus Christy an era of Wisconsin Basketball came to an end as head Coach Bo Ryan announced his retirement effective immediately.

The Badgers are a rebuilding program currently replacing two first round NBA draft picks and three total NBA players in addition to a couple other contributing seniors that departed following last season. The Badgers current record this season reflects such rebuilding with the team having a 7-5 record and having lost to two of the other Division I programs in the state in UWM and Marquette. Ryan had announced this season would be his last in the spring before backtracking on that when the season began. So the future of Bo Ryan as the Wisconsin basketball coach was uncertain. Until Ryan took the podium following Tuesday night’s game and basically turned a postgame press conference into a retirement press conference. Thereby ending one of the greatest college coaching careers in the state of Wisconsin and in the entire country. During the time that Ryan was coaching at Madison my love of college basketball in general went from casual to die hard level largely because his Badgers were college basketball in its purest form.

Bo-Ryanfinal4But Ryan cut his teeth in college basketball long before his days at Madison. The likely one day Hall of Fame career of Bo Ryan began way back in 1984-1985 at a Division three school in Wisconsin at UW Platteville. Ryan posted a 9-17 season in his first season at Platteville. In additional time at Platteville, UWM, and UW Ryan would spend another 30 years coaching but he would never again experience a losing season. Ryan would win four national championships at Platteville between 1984 and 1999. There have been three undefeated teams in the history of NCAA division three basketball. Ryan is responsible for two of them at Platteville. Following his time at Platteville Ryan was named the head coach at UW Milwaukee. While he was only there for two seasons, Ryan led the Panthers to their first back to back winning seasons in the span of a decade and the program saw a 161% increase in home attendance during his coaching tenure.

Ryan was named the head coach at Wisconsin prior to the 2001 season. The numbers that he would proceed to accumulate over the next 14 seasons will no doubt get him put in the college basketball hall of fame one day. Ryan never finished lower than a tie for fourth in the big ten standings. Prior to Ryan arrival at Wisconsin, the Badgers qualified for the NCAA tournament seven times in school history. Ryan took that number and tripled it to 21 by leading the Badgers to the NCAA tournament in all of his seasons as coach. Also during Ryan’s time at Wisconsin the Badgers have the 11th most wins among any Division I program. Also Wisconsin has the best record among big ten teams in big ten games over Ryan’s tenure as coach. Ryan retires having taken the program to tremendous heights taking the Badgers to back to back final fours culminating in last season’s run the national championship. Last year’s team won 36 games, over 90% of their games, and finished the season ranked third in the country. All of those are school bests for Wisconsin.

GregGardRyan has always prided his programs on strong defense. Ryan’s 1996-97 team at Platteville allowed a division three record low 47.5 points per game. Ryan took a strong defense to Wisconsin as well. The Badgers have ranked number one in division one in scoring defense on two occasions in the last nine seasons and in the top 12 in eight of the last nine seasons. Since Ryan took over as the Badgers coach they have allowed 59 points per game. That is also the lowest among any team in division I. Ryan leaves with an overall record of 747-223. The 747 wins rank him 25th best among all NCAA coaches over all divisions. He is the all-time winningest coach at Wisconsin with 364 wins.

Greg Gard will take over as the Badgers interim coach for the remainder of the season. Gard has been an assistant on Ryan’s staff for much of his coaching career. He will coach his first game Wednesday night against UWGB at the Kohl Center. That is the final non-conference game for the Badgers who will open Big Ten play next week.

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