PLATTEVILLE (WKOW) -- When Bo Ryan was first hired as Wisconsin's head basketball coach in 2001, it was almost as if he knew what he could achieve.
He said at the time, "People have expectations, we hope their expectations are met, but we have expectations also and the funny part about that is they might be higher than anybody else's in this room."
Ryan knew he could have success at Wisconsin because he was already a proven winner, winning 82% of his games in his 15 years as coach at UW-Platteville. Merrill Brunson and Beau Buchs both played under Ryan at UW-Platteville; both members of the 1998 and 1999 Division 3 National Title teams. Brunson says, "It's a system. I think he's just a master at putting people in position to be successful." Buchs adds, "I think we were a little bit spoiled to have Coach Ryan here at Platteville."
Together Ryan and his Pioneers won four national titles and he became the most successful Division 3 head coach in history. "It's just fun and if you cant have fun why do it? So we've just had a blast here," Ryan said during the 1999 season.
Eventually Ryan moved up to Division 1 and the triumphs translated to Wisconsin: Four Big Ten titles, 14 NCAA tournament appearances and now two trips to the Final Four. Brunson says, "I think anybody that played for him or was around his programs they're not real surprised."
More recently, Ryan said in a press conference, "When I finally got my opportunity you do your thing. At least someone believed in me."
Ryan made believers out of many as he's making another run at a national title. Buchs says, "I would never bet against Coach Ryan he's always going to have the fighters mentality and he's not going to back down to anybody and I think his guys have shown the same tenacity."
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