Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - September 5, 2013

Varsity is the free Official Online Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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H LUCAS AT LARGE BY MIKE LUCAS // UWBADGERS.COM Nothing easy about saying goodbye to Butch 12 e looked a little tired, he sounded a little sad. Understandably so. Last week, Bo Ryan traveled to Florida to say goodbye to his father, Butch; just like he had last December with his mother, Louise. Grateful for small favors in life, and death, he said, "The same thing happened with my mom. I got down there in time where we were still able to converse." Ryan, the 65-year-old Wisconsin basketball coach, returned to his Kohl Center office for a couple of days this week ― the equivalent of taking a deep breath ― before taking off for Chester, Pa. The visitation will be Thursday, the funeral will be Friday. Butch Ryan was 89. Even though Bo Ryan and his sister, Nancy, knew that their dad had touched a lot of lives, Bo admitted that "I can't believe how many people I've heard from" since Butch's passing last Friday. "Here's my line and I'm sticking to it," he said with an Irish twinkle in his eyes. "The reason that Butch wanted a visitation with an open casket is so all the former refs and umpires ― and all the opposing coaches and players ― could walk by and finally get the last word in." During their final visit together at a Fort Myers hospice, Bo Ryan said of Butch Ryan, "He was still able to tell a joke and that was important to him." So was the Final Four. Butch Ryan was a fixture in the hotel lobby ever since 1976 when // VARSITY September 5, 2013 Bo Ryan joined the Wisconsin coaching staff as an assistant. In 2012, he wasn't in good enough health to go to Houston; his only miss. "But he made '13 in Atlanta," Bo said. "The fact that he got to one more … '' His voice tailed off. There was no need to explain from the perspective of a father or a son. BO RYAN ALWAYS CREDITED BUTCH AND LOUISE "FOR CREATING AN ATMOSPHERE OF LEARNING THROUGH COMMON SENSE." •••• During the UW's exhibition swing through Canada ― five games in eight days at venues in Ottawa and Toronto ― there may have been occasion for Ryan to be distracted because of Butch's failing health. "In life you always have to be able to handle different things that come your way," Ryan said. "The fact that I'm older and have seen a lot of things, I can compartmentalize. "When it came time to get ready for those games, we got ready for those games. And when I needed to make some phone calls (to Florida), you just do what you have to do." The basketball trip was timely because Ryan has so many freshmen to introduce to his system. "They've got some things that they picked up and they will be reminded of when we do the drills when we get into normal fall practices," said Ryan, who's breaking in six first-year players. "They'll see why we're doing certain drills and it's going to be easier for them to understand. But the work won't be any easier. They still have to commit to it offensively and defensively." With a travel squad of 17, Ryan conceded it was difficult to balance the minutes in Canada. "Youth will be served, though, one way or another," he promised. "We have some speed, we have some length and we have some guys that want to make some statements on the court. "And they will have their opportunities in practices and (preseason) workouts. My job is to reward the people who can do the job. "We've been spending time already putting in some different things that we're going to do in practice to take advantage of what we've seen (during the exhibitions)." Nobody has gotten more out of their personnel in the Big Ten than Ryan, and that's why he will be looking to see "how we can make the guys a little better, how to accentuate some of the positives." Butch Ryan was known for the same things when he coached. He was a legend in Aston and Chester for his inspired work with young Pennsylvania kids in football, basketball and baseball. Bo Ryan always credited Butch and Louise "for creating an atmosphere of learning through common sense." It's no different today as he says goodbye and thank you, again.

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