Another era appeals to Philly native Ryan

64, a Chester High graduate, was a Big Five fan. ELISE AMENDOLA / Associated Press
64, a Chester High graduate, was a Big Five fan. ELISE AMENDOLA / Associated Press (Bo Ryan,)
Posted: March 22, 2012

BOSTON - It never takes much prompting to get Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan reveling in his Philly roots during the NCAA tournament. Wednesday, it took only a news conference moderator to say, "Coach, would you like to start by giving us a little opening statement?"

"Well, having grown up in the Philadelphia area, Boston was always the other guys . . ." Ryan said. The 64-year-old later added, "I'm so old that really there was only one game on a week, and a lot of times it was the Philadelphia Warriors and the Celtics, or the Philadelphia 76ers and the Celtics."

The Chester High graduate, who grew up in Aston, returned to talking about Philadelphia when he was asked about going up against Syracuse's 2-3 zone Thursday in the NCAA East Regional at TD Garden.

"As a kid, I'm watching Jack Kraft, Jack Ramsay," Ryan said, double-dribbling for a second when he said "Hal Litwack . . ." but he instantly knew that wasn't right. "Coach Litwack at Temple. You talk about zones, and you go to the Palestra and you're 10 years old, 11, 12 years old, and you're watching ball movement and body movement. Those guys were so good in how they taught and how they cut and how they used skip passes."

Ryan also noted his years of coaching at Division III Wisconsin-Platteville, where he won four national titles. He didn't see the athletes he will face Thursday, "but the great experience was coaching Division III and going against all these chess players - there isn't anything that we didn't see in Division III."

Asked about the difficulty in keeping distractions at bay - a Syracuse question - Ryan deflected the question by going old-school.

"I don't know all the things that go on because I'm so challenged," Ryan said. "No Facebook, no Twitter-Twatter, whatever the other thing is . . . and I don't go on the computer to look at things. So somebody will have to fill me in on what's going on at Syracuse because I really don't know."

And if Wisconsin wins Thursday, count on a cheesesteak reference from the coach stationed in dairy country.

Contact Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489 or or on Twitter @Jensenoffcampus. Read his "Off Campus'' columns at

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