Ryan winning despite missing piece

Passing. Shooting. Dribbling. More passing. More dribbling. More shooting.

They do the same things. Again. And again. And again.

Without making a lot of noise.

"I noticed that, too, when I was here on my official visit," junior Traevon Jackson said. "Like 'Why is it so quiet?' It's actually gotten louder this year than ever. We know what it is that we need to do. Coach runs his program that way."

Every Wisconsin practice is an infomercial for basketball's basics.

And players don't scream at one another while they execute.

They occasionally argue. Kind of.

Jackson talks to freshman Jordan Hill about his assignment as they work on defense. But Hill objects to Jackson's tone, so he reminds him, with a politician's delivery, that "I'm on this team, too." Jackson nods.

Shouting match avoided.

"In the locker room, we all just get along so well," junior Josh Gasser said. "We have great team chemistry. Everyone on the court is just doing their job. Everyone is doing what they're asked. They're buying into their roles."

On the baseline, Ryan folds his arms and focuses on the action.

He's so animated when he's challenging officials from the sideline. He's so explosive when he questions calls. But in practice, he just stands there and whistles.

That swift sound alerts the Badgers that it's time for the next drill.

Chest passes, whistle. Defensive run-throughs, whistle. Layups, whistle.

Ryan speaks only when necessary. The culture of personal accountability and self-discipline has contributed to his collective achievements throughout his career.

The Badgers have never missed the NCAA tournament in his tenure, which began with the 2001-02 season. They've never finished below fourth in the Big Ten, either.

Ryan expects his players to police themselves and fix their individual kinks because they desire perfection, not because he constantly demands it.

So, he doesn't have to yell. The Badgers know the standard.

He employed the same principles when he was at UW-Platteville, where he won four Division III national championships, and at UW-Milwaukee, where he took an eight-win program and nearly doubled that tally the year he arrived.

"Coach doesn't have a lot of rules," said Joe Robinson, Ryan's former director of basketball operations at Wisconsin. "He's never had a curfew. He doesn't make a whole lot of team rules. There's no list of rules when they walk into the room. The fact that he gives them freedom and gives them trust, they don't really screw up very much."

Butch Ryan had the same effect on young men.

By day, he was a pipe fitter. But after work, Ryan said, he'd "grab a few slices of cheese" and go to the baseball diamond, football field or basketball courts near their hometown of Chester, Pa.

The mothers in the neighborhood always wanted their children to play for Butch Ryan because they came home tougher and more disciplined. Bo Ryan, who played multiple youth sports on his father's teams, did, too.

If they didn't get it right, they'd do it again.

And again.

And again.

"He was pretty serious, but a fun guy," Ryan said. "He could tell jokes with the best of them. He was always direct. There was never a question of what it was you were expected to do. People like that. Maybe more than some people realize. Kids are looking for direction, and he would give them that."

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