Bo Ryan coached in the Final Four in each of the last two years. But this year? This year, he’s played a lot of golf.
“Well, it’s four days a week and I’m getting 18 in,” the recently retired Ryan joked on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “But no, it’s an experience. When you’ve done it for 43 years where every day was accounted for – and now you wake up in the morning, relax, do the crossword puzzle, have a cup of coffee, (it’s nice). But boy, when Friday, Saturday and Sunday comes around, it’s tough.”
Ryan was known for producing tough, disciplined players who played team-first basketball. That wasn’t always easy, especially when players that young typically want to play loose and free and express their individuality. Ryan, to his credit, somehow found a balance between letting his players be themselves while also being regimented and unselfish.
It’s a lesson Ryan learned over a half century ago, one that he never forgot.
“1963, I’m playing at Chester High School in Chester, Pennsylvania,” Ryan began. “I make a behind-the-back pass to a teammate for a lay-up. I didn’t think about it. I just did it naturally. I go over (to the sideline) at the next timeout. I have no idea what my coach is going to say to me. He just puts his hand behind the back of my neck, leans into me and says, ‘That’s fine. But it better get there.’ So I was able to have some individuality, but what he was saying was, there’s also the responsibility of making sure your team has a chance to be successful by making a good pass. And you got to remember: In ’62-63, there weren’t a lot of people making behind-the-back passes. . . . So I let guys play. In 2014, we led the nation in scoring average in the NCAA Tournament.”
Looking ahead to this weekend, Ryan believes North Carolina and Oklahoma will be playing Monday night, but he’s just excited to watch good basketball.
“It’s just so much fun to be now a fan – to be a fan,” Ryan reiterated in disbelief. “That’s what I get to do now – and I love it. And plus, I’m never wrong as a fan.”