In a shocking announcement, the man who has coached the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team for the past 14 seasons has announced that he will be retiring after the 2015-16 season. Ryan is without question the best coach that the Wisconsin basketball program has seen, and he will be leaving a legacy behind that most coaches can only dream of.
While never winning a NCAA championship, Ryan’s squads participated in the NCAA March Madness tournament in each of the 14 seasons that Ryan was at the helm. Prior to Ryan, Wisconsin had participated in only seven tournaments in its history. Ryan led the team to back-to-back Final Four’s, including a heartbreaking loss in the national championship game against Duke this past season that. If the Badgers had beaten Duke, it would have been the ultimate team vs individuals’ triumph. Like most top-tier programs, Duke has opened its arms whole heartedly to the one and done players of this era. Players who play one year for Wisconsin and leave for the pros have never been, and will never be, displaying Badger red. That is because Bo Ryan believes in building well-rounded men as well as professional basketball players.
At the collegiate level, Ryan has amassed 740 victories against only 228 losses. His four championships and 373 victories at University of Wisconsin-Platteville should not, and cannot be ignored. Ryan brought an unmatched intelligence to the game of basketball. His swing offense helped keep overmatched Badger squads in games and in championship contention when the talent level would suggest otherwise. Recruiting mostly in-state players from Wisconsin, which is far from a high school basketball powerhouse, Ryan created a contender literally every year that he was in power.
Ryan hopes that the Badgers will turn to his longtime assistant, and expected successor, Greg Gard to help keep up the level of competitiveness that the state of Wisconsin has grown to expect from its main collegiate basketball program. Gard, who is a Wisconsin native and attended UW-Platteville, began coaching under Ryan in 1993 but did not become the assistant head coach until 2008.
The one knock against Ryan had always been, until two seasons ago, that he had never coached a team to the final four at the division one level. Now the knock is that he has never won a NCAA championship at the D-1 level. Claiming that Bo Ryan doesn’t deserve to be considered one of the best NCAA basketball coaches of all time because he never won a D-1 championship is like saying that Dan Marino doesn’t deserve to be considered one of the best quarterbacks of all time because of his lack of a Super Bowl ring.
After leading his team to the final four for the first time in 2014, and following that up with leading his team to the championship game for the first time in 2015, Badger fans can only hope that he follows that up with a miracle championship team in his final season. Except nobody expects the team this season to win a championship; that hope faded when Sam Dekker entered the NBA draft. Without star players Frank Kaminsky or Dekker, hopes for this team have to rest with winning a big ten championship and having a decent showing in the NCAA tournament.
Bo Ryan is one of the best coaches of all time, period. End of discussion. When Ryan walks away from the game of basketball after this season, we will lose a great teacher, a great coach, a great mentor, and a great man.
Thank you, Coach Ryan.