My love of Bo Ryan is well known. It was the reason this blog was started. Over the past few weeks I have been questioning if I am becoming a polygamist with my basketball coaches. After Maryland, I'm falling for this guy. This lead me to think about Bo, and what lead me to fall in love the first time.
Bo's kids played entertaining basketball. They played hard on defense. They played efficient offense that forced the ball into the low post as much as possible (first through the swing and later through more iso). They scrapped for every loose ball. The players got better every year. These are all things I like about basketball, but most of all, they won. That's what makes a great coach. It's not so much how they win, but that they win.
If UW had hired a coach like Shaka Smart instead of Bo, and he had the same success with fast athletic recruits, I doubt I would have cared about any of the other reasons I liked Bo's teams. Winning is the biggest thing in sports (with the caveat that they have to be as clean as is needed to satisfy the NCAA, whatever clean means anymore). Bo figured out how to win better than any coach in Big Ten History, and he did it at a school that had never seen sustained success at that level.
So do I love Greg Gard? We'll see. His players are getting better and better as the season goes on. They play hard on defense and are routinely forcing the ball into the post with success. They have scrappers getting on the floor for loose balls. They have become fun to watch, but the proof is in the winning. Beating #2 on the road certainly helps his cause, but will he keep it up? My impression after 13 games is that he will.
He is certainly giving me hope that UW can sustain the success that Bo had here. Maybe not to the level that Bo did, but if he even gets close he will be one of the greatest coaches of all time. I remember when Barry retired and I thought that UW had probably hit the high mark they could reach. Then Bielema went to 3 consecutive Rose Bowls. Maybe Gard will take UW to new levels too. Here's hoping for the start of a love story for the ages.....