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Matt Langel, Colgate Men's Basketball Head Coach

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
March 13, 2023 8:37 pm

Matt Langel, Colgate Men's Basketball Head Coach

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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March 13, 2023 8:37 pm

Matt Langel joined Zach to discuss his emotions after making the NCAA Tournament and if he feels disrespected by being a No.15 seed. 


We continue this exact Yelp show coast-to-coast on CBS Sports Radio NCAA tournament is here. Colgate is back in the big dance after winning the Patriot League once again and posting a 26-8 record. Let's head out to the guest line right now and welcome to the head coach of Colgate.

They have a game first round NCAA tournament Thursday against number two seed Texas at 725 p.m. Eastern. And now joining us is coach Matt Langel. Coach, appreciate the time. Congratulations. Dancing once again. How you been? Doing great. Doing great. Thanks for having us.

Well, I appreciate you coming on. So this team was at one point on the year six and seven. You guys have only lost one game since then. How did you guys turn it around this year?

Well, I think there's a couple things. One, the group has been great. Obviously, we didn't get the results in the non-conference that we had always hoped for. I think some of it was the challenging schedule that we played. Had a couple close games with some good teams early in the season as everybody is still trying to find their way. But again, the group didn't kind of hang their hat on losses or disappointment or whatever the emotion that you get when you're not winning is.

They kind of stuck to the grindstone. I credit the leadership of the group, the experience, the veterans. Just kind of said, hey, stick with this. It's a long season. We know really to get where we want to go, we've got to do well in the conference.

So that's what we did. We strung together a bunch to start conference play. Had one small hiccup there and then they kind of refocused and got back together to win 17 games in any conference.

It's hard to do. So really proud of our group then to step up and win three in the playoffs to get us back to March Madness. It's a pretty cool thing. Coach, when you won the Patriot League once again and you're walking off the court at the conclusion of your conference tournament, just what was going through your head? I like to just sit back for a second and pause and watch the joy and the raw emotion of the players, of their families. Again, this group, a couple guys chose to come back when they didn't have to. They probably could have gone elsewhere.

They set out to continue to do something special and to see the joy and again, their raw emotion when they see individuals in a group achieve that. It's pretty neat to be their coach and watch that happen. Matt Lengel here with us. So when you got to Colgate, you guys have not made an NCAA tournament since 1997. Now it's been four times under your tutelage since 2019. Everyone talks about culture, Coach. When you got there back in 2011 to where we are now, just what is it specifically about this group that really, and also the culture you've been where you guys have made this such a well-oiled machine?

You always have to credit the players first, especially in this latest run. We've now had three players of the year, some multiple first team all-league guys, a couple rookie of the league guys, a couple guys who probably should have been rookie of the year. They were on really good teams, so maybe their statistics were just not quite what they could have been because they were around older really good players. Before that, I go back to year four when we hadn't quite gotten over the hump. We didn't get over the hump in that year, but I think the culture was in place. We finished second place in the regular season and got upset in the semifinals. I think that although we took a step back as we graduated some veteran guys the next couple years, I think that work had been done to shut the tone for what it takes to compete for a championship and to be in the hunt. Obviously these last handful of years, things have broken our way. We've had a really good record.

We've won convincingly. The guys have really banded together, but I think I reflect back to that first four years with a lot of hard work and those guys who were a part of that. We didn't necessarily get to cut down the net or go to the NCAA tournament. I really am thankful for those coaches and those groups that helped set the path for where we are now.

Was any of the culture altered? Did you make any big time adjustments or was it just staying in the course and knowing what you learned was eventually going to work? I only ever played for and worked for one person, so I only really know what I know. We just set that day-by-day mentality of keep trying to get better, maximize who you can be as a person, reach for your potential as a player, but never making it about you individually. It's always got to be about the team and the group because that's what makes teams special. You get to be one individual on a group, on a team of 15 guys. That's always been the charge, just to try and always get better and never settle for wherever we are, whether that was last place at the very beginning or now sitting atop the table.

You can never be satisfied in this thing. You've always got to be working to get better, be better, and make it better for others. Coach Matt Langley, I know dump well being at Temple Island. I actually did a few basketball camps with a former college teammate of yours in Mike Jordan back to your days at Penn.

You guys went to a few NCAA tournaments. How does that feeling compare and contrast as a player and then beat in the head honcho seat? Nothing is like being a player.

This is a player's game. You put in as a player, not that coaches don't work tirelessly, but literally the blood and sweat equity that players put in. To get over that hump with your teammates, with your roommates like we were able to do and be a part of March Madness and get to play on those biggest stages, obviously, is really special. To do it as a coach, I think it's rewarding in a different space. You work really hard to put a program in position to do that, to hope that it happens for the kids. The staff that we have had has worked incredibly hard for these opportunities.

When you get to this moment, not that you stop working ever, you do try and enjoy it and recognize the enjoyment that others are getting from having this experience. Matt Langley here with us, head coach of Colgate. They'll play Texas coming up on Thursday in the NCAA tournament. You look at the last three years in the conference, Coach, records of 11-1, 16-2, 17-1. What are you most proud about about the way that your teams have not only been able to navigate but dominate the Patriot League? I'm proud of how they continue to learn and grow. We went from the most veteran part of this group experience losing in the championship game. Since then, they've really worked hard and not forgotten what that tastes like. Regardless of the level of success we have, they've done a really good job of learning, growing, and changing. When you go from being the hunter to being the hunted and for having teams on your non-conference schedule, sometimes leagues and conferences that are thought of as a higher level celebrate when they beat you on their own court, there's growth in that. I'm really proud of this group for never settling, for always working, for never getting too high or too low.

Obviously, all that they've accomplished is remarkable, but the group and the individuals that they are is really what I'm most proud of. The last two years you were a 14 seed. This is the most conference wins that you've had at Colgate and the most wins you've had in a regular season. There are different circumstances going back to the 2020-2021 year, but you were all disappointed when you found out you guys were only a 15 seed? I don't think there's any disappointment in being in the NCAA tournament and seeing your institution team pop up on that board. Coming out of our conference, a 1-bit league like it is, some of the teams didn't have a lot of successes, but you're going to play a really good team.

One of the top teams in the country. These games, I don't think you can get too caught up in the seed line. It's more about can you identify how to play a competitive game and can your group find some ways and some teams to win a few minutes at a time over the course of time. We've been able to do that whether it was 15 seed against Tennessee the first time we win or 14 like you said the last couple times. We've been able to be competitive and be in those games.

I think that's what this group is focusing on. What are the details that it's going to take to play well, to play our best so that we can have a chance to be in the game. Coach, maybe I'm making too much of this, but in recent history we saw UMBC as a 16 take down Virginia. In the last two years, we saw two 15 seeds in St. Peters and also Oral Roberts take down Kentucky and Ohio State respectively.

I know you guys focus probably on yourself, but it's tough to ignore the recent history. Does that at all give your guys more confidence that you could get the job done coming up on Thursday? Again, I think we have a veteran group, an experienced group, some guys that are in their fourth, in a couple cases, 50th play. I think that they're aware. They follow the game. They love the game. They're students of the game. They know what has happened historically and what can happen.

They also know their own experiences. They know that they feel like they were really close against Tennessee, that we got a great lead against Arkansas and didn't manage the game we needed to to keep that lead, that we had our chances before Johnny Davis took over the game late last year in Milwaukee when we were playing Wisconsin in a tough environment. So I think they have their own confidence about what they've been able to do in addition to knowing what the other teams have been able to do over the years who sit on their seed line. From a coaching standpoint, we all know the circumstances that made Rodney Terry take over as the coach at Texas. Just what has really impressed you, what he's been able to do with this group this year?

Just how committed they are to one another. I think anytime teams and individuals go through difficult circumstances and adversity, how you come out of that speaks to your character and your resolve. I think obviously they have great experience on their coaching staff. They have guys who have been around winning and done it a lot of different ways.

I think their players, it's also a testament to their players that have come from a lot of different places. They've been at different schools. Their journeys have all been a different path to get them there to Texas, but they seem to have a common mission. They've been champions now of the Big 12. There's no better conference in the country this year. They've been able to figure out what it takes.

There's balance. They've set their egos, if there are any, aside and are doing what it takes to win basketball games and compete for a championship. It's just been really impressive how amidst the adversity and the circumstances that they face, they've been together as they have. Injury and different guys stepping up that are a really well-balanced team is impressive. Coach Matt Lengel, before we let you run, is it all surreal that whenever this run ends, you'll wrap up your tall season as the coach of Colgate? Yeah, it's going by fast. I can't believe we watch our children grow up with our teams and the players move on. I'm so proud of the family atmosphere that we have and the environment that we've been able to create for young people and our coaches and their families.

I can't believe that it's a dozen years. With your success, your name does pop up in other jobs. How do you navigate that with your guys currently? Does that come up in conversation or not a distraction right now? Yeah, for us it's not a distraction. Again, I think we have great relationships with our players.

They're all really focused on their opportunities at hand. I think for me and hopefully for them, it's flattering when that happens in the media that your name pops up because it's all the work that they've done and how they've positioned this program. But they know that my commitment is to them and this opportunity always to pour everything we have into helping them get as prepared as they can be for Thursday night. Well, coach, thank you for doing this.

Appreciate the time and good luck coming up Thursday against Texas. Alright, thanks for having me, guys. There's nothing better than feeling comfortable in your own shoes. And that doesn't mean flopping down on the couch with bunny slippers.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-13 22:30:22 / 2023-03-13 22:36:08 / 6

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