It's fitting that Will Ryan made his Division I head coaching debut at Williams Arena on Wednesday night.
Ryan's father, Bo, for 15 seasons with rival Wisconsin was public enemy No. 1 inside of the arena where his Badgers competed in the Border Battle against the Gophers.
The 42-year-old Ryan led Wisconsin-Green Bay to face Richard Pitino's Gophers in their season openers Wednesday. And no, Bo wasn't there.
"No question there are some interesting memories there," said Will Ryan, who coached at Division II Wheeling University in West Virginia last year. "My mom and dad have a winter home in California outside of Palm Springs. It's absolutely gorgeous. You can't blame him if he doesn't come back."
Ryan grew up in Platteville, Wis., and played at Wisconsin-Platteville for his father and won Division III national titles in 1998 and 1999. He finished his college career playing for Bruce Pearl at Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2001-02.
Will Ryan learned a great deal as an assistant on Saul Phillips' staff at North Dakota State and Ohio (2007-19). Still, his main inspiration comes from his father. Will Ryan joined the Badgers staff right after playing in college. His roles included graduate assistant, video coordinator, and director of basketball from 2002-07.
Green Bay has nine true and redshirt freshmen combined this season. So Ryan focuses on fundamentals, like his dad always would. Playing his father's old rival Gophers, he put what he learned to the test as well.
"It was only natural that I chose to follow in his footsteps," Ryan said. "I've embraced that. I wouldn't be where I'm at today if I didn't learn most of what I've learned over the years through him."
Curry starts opener
The Gophers' frontcourt added some experience to the lineup for the season opener Wednesday with redshirt senior Eric Curry getting his first start since the 2018-19 season.
Curry, a 6-9 Memphis native, has recovered from his third surgery and second major knee injury in his career. He missed last season following a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Pitino's starting lineup had Curry and 7-foot Drake transfer Liam Robbins in the frontcourt, along with Marcus Carr, Gabe Kalscheur and Both Gach in the backcourt.
Gach and Robbins are transfers who received waivers approved by the NCAA to play immediately this season. Carr and Kalscheur are returning starters from last season.
Reserve guards out
Freshman guard David Mutaf and sophomore guard Tre' Williams both were in street clothes and out for Wednesday's opener for undisclosed reasons.
Mutaf, a 6-5 Turkey native, was part of the 2019 recruiting class that included four-star prospect Jamal Mashburn Jr. and 6-10 Chicago native Martice Mitchell, who were making their Gophers debut Wednesday.