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March 22, 2019

Matt Langel

Will Rayman

Jordan Burns

Columbus, Ohio

Tennessee - 77, Colgate - 70

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Colgate head coach Matt Langel and student-athletes Will Rayman and Jordan Burns. Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Jordan, what was it like to have the kind of game that you had on this kind of stage?
JORDAN BURNS: It feels great. We came into this game knowing how good we were as a team. And to be able to go out there and show people how good we really are was great.

Q. Will, what was the difference in the second half when you started to make a little bit of a run, came from a deficit, got back in front? What were the things that were working for Colgate at that point?
WILL RAYMAN: It was pretty much just sticking to the game plan and forcing them to take tough shots and getting rebounds. In the first half we let up way too many offensive rebounds and that kind of messed up the first half.

And the second half, we were getting those rebounds that we were missing the first half and we were making shots. We were swinging the ball. We were playing team basketball like we have for the past 11 games.

Q. This is a big place. Nationwide Arena is huge. It's not Hamilton. But the maroon you could visibly see. You could hear everybody. Were you aware that you had so much support in the stands, and of course watching at home, but right here in Ohio?
JORDAN BURNS: Definitely, we knew we had so much support. We have the best fans in the country. That's what we think. We pack out Cotterell Court as much as we can, and we love these guys, all the people that come out and watch us play. We definitely felt it tonight.

WILL RAYMAN: It's great to see all those people coming out. I only knew that the football team was going to be there, so to see that whole section full was really unbelievable. And we're a small school, but we have a lot of people that really care about the school. So it just shows.

Q. Jordan, I just talked to your dad in the concourse. Everyone's kind of looking toward next year already -- maybe a second back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearance like the '90s. Your thoughts on that?
JORDAN BURNS: Honestly, we're just going to get back to work after today. We're just going to get back in the gym, work hard for next season and we'll discuss goals and things at the end of the year.

Q. It looked like you guys were just enjoying it so much. Can you just talk about -- can you just explain the sheer joy factor of what that was like being out there today?
JORDAN BURNS: Yeah, of course. Our coaches at the time, playing with house money, and he was just saying just go out there, have fun, we have nothing to lose. It was great going out there with this big crowd and being able to stay in the game and almost winning the game. It was amazing.

We felt like coming into this game it was going to be a close one even though most people in the country didn't. So we expected this. So that's why we were really excited. And unfortunately we were unable to pull it off, but we had a great showing.

WILL RAYMAN: I mean, just personally I love playing basketball. I'm always happy when I'm playing. And I know we all do. That's why we do this every day. That's why we play at this level. Just like to be out there on the national stage, this is it.

Like this is what you dream about as a kid. This is what you watch on TV. This is the best stage to do it in. And we were just all having a really good time out there.

Q. Jordan, it seemed like earlier in the game they were talking to you while you were driving and moving around. What were they saying and what was it like to see it as the game went on?
JORDAN BURNS: The Tennessee players? I mean, that happens with a lot of schools. It's just talking, getting into the game and things. We're competitors out there. So guys on the other side, you want to try to get in each other's head. And it was fun. It was all fun and games. It's during the game, just during the flow.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
JORDAN BURNS: Just them. Nothing really drives me besides my team. They keep me driving regardless what anybody says.

Q. Jordan, growing up watching this thing and the "One Shining Moment" and the montage and all that, and obviously you're probably going to be a part of that, did you feel like you were going to have something special today? Did you wake up out of bed and think this is going to be it?
JORDAN BURNS: I felt like today was going to be a special day, definitely, with my dad being able to see me play for the first time in a while. So it was great having him here, having all my family here. So I definitely feel like today was a special day. And it was, obviously.

Q. Jordan, elaborate on the moment you had with your dad after the game. You climbed over the press row area there to enjoy a moment with your dad. Just tell us what that was like.
JORDAN BURNS: I haven't seen my dad in a couple months. My parents -- my mom and my brothers came up last week for the championship game. But he wasn't able to make it because of work. Just being able to see his face and give him a hug and tell him I love him was amazing.

Q. You were without one of your best players, some kind of eye issue. What kind of effect did that have on you guys?
JORDAN BURNS: Honestly it didn't have much of an effect. Everyone on our team is good enough to step up at any given time. We work for these moments, for guys being out and stuff. So we were ready. If he wasn't ready to play, another guy was going to step up and play tonight. And that's what happened tonight.

WILL RAYMAN: Exactly what he said.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement.

COACH LANGEL: Obviously a fantastic NCAA basketball game. I thought the venue was terrific. The hospitality has been unbelievable. I thought the fans and the energy in the building was everything you dreamed it could be.

Specific to the game, it kind of went as planned other than obviously your heart goes out to Rapolas. He woke up with a bout of pink eye this morning. It just wasn't happening.

You have a mix of emotions; you're proud of your team and happy that we fought so hard to make such an exciting game, but you're disappointed for the result. And your heart breaks for Rapolas, who without him we wouldn't be able to get there.

It speaks to the character and the makeup of the team I gets to coach and that's who they are. Jordan Burns missed five games with a pretty significant ankle injury and the guys just kept moving forward. And they kept getting better over the course of the season, and as a coach you want nothing more than that.

I gotta give Tennessee credit. They had all the pressure. Jordan joked that I said we were playing with house money. But we dealt with that pressure going into the end of the regular season and into our conference tournament. We have one chance to get here.

So as the game got tight and close, I thought Tennessee managed it really well. Obviously Schofield stepped up and made huge corner jump shots. It ends up being the difference in the game. We turned it over a couple more times than we would have liked and gave up a couple more offensive rebounds than we would have liked.

But for the most part we got to show who we are and what we can do and made some good plays to get some open shots and stepped up and knocked them down.

Q. Down 16 in the first half and then without the services of Rapolas Ivanauskas in the second half. To battle back and take the lead in the second half and battle all the way down the stretch, does anything surprise you about this team?
COACH LANGEL: No, you've been with us every step of the way. And I think you've seen the myriad of ways that this group has found a way to battle and compete and it's been different guys in different moments. And they do it together and they believe in one another.

Again, I've never coached a team that gives each other more high-5s than this group. We can do any shooting drill or be down 15 or up two or whatever, they're just constantly there for one another. So nothing surprises me.

Obviously I'm immensely proud of their effort, and I think part -- Rap couldn't see great and we stuck with him because he's a huge part of our team. But part of getting down was him being out there, he couldn't catch the ball clean, couldn't see great. And in some ways the group rallied behind him and for one another.

Q. For the first 36 minutes they took open 3s and for the most part didn't make them. And Bone hit one and Schofield hit three. How much of the kind of the result is just them bucking that trend?
COACH LANGEL: I think a lot of it. The game plan wasn't just let them shoot 3s, but obviously they dominate in the paint in the SEC, and they're number one in the country for a stint this season because of their ability to do what they do.

So we knew if we just kind of played them, didn't pack it in a little bit and change defenses and help and show them a crowd and give up hopefully some late-contested 3-point shots that our chances weren't great. So that was part of the game plan was to hope that they would miss enough for it to be close enough for us to steal, and give those guys credit.

Bone is -- he's a really talented guy, but he also runs his team. And I think he and Turner to combine nine assists, just two turnovers is a huge part of the game. And Schofield stepped up and made those shots, and Bone made a huge one, too.

Q. Was there a time during the game when you thought we could really pull this off? And secondly with Ivanauskas's eye issue, what did you do to try to -- was there anything you could do about it -- just pink eye and you have to hope his vision clears somehow?
COACH LANGEL: Our medical staff, they didn't think anybody thought it was going to be an issue. He had his glasses on all through the morning and he went to put his contacts in and he was just really struggling, struggling to get his contacts in to see.

I think they tried a variety of different things, medications and ice and cleaning the lenses and all those things. And just, in the second half he tried to warm up at halftime and just said he couldn't go.

I think the other question you asked was did I ever think we were going to get -- yeah, the whole time. As a coach that's what you think. Our staff worked like crazy since Sunday to try and prepare a plan that our guys could execute to win the game.

And so when you're down double figures, you're searching for things to do. And without Rap out there, we had to make some changes on the fly. But it also gave us some advantages because they had -- with forwards and centers on our guards. So it allowed us to drive a little bit more and create some passing lanes and some ball screens/switching opportunities that, to be honest, we don't usually use.

And our guys stepped up and played great. They played their hearts out and they made some shots. And again you're just trying to continue to hang in there, hang in there, hang in there, and hope that you can get enough stops and make enough shots down the stretch to steal a game like that.

Q. Eight years now at Colgate. You've taken these incremental steps: conference championship last year; you win the conference championship; you get here this year. Can you call it a program now and a new culture in Hamilton and at Colgate based on what's been going on and are you ready to make the next step now in another year?
COACH LANGEL: Yeah, I mean, our goal every step of the way -- I've been fortunate to have a staff with me most of that whole time. And we've got another assistant coach who played for us. So he's been with us most of the time, is we're just trying to constantly get better. And so that goes to every aspect of what we do, whether it's helping our players get better, our recruiting efforts, whatever it may be. I'm really proud of how Colgate and Hamilton rallied around. They're two really small communities. You're talking a couple thousand people.

And for them to show up here in Columbus like they were able to, it means a lot to me personally. I do feel good about the program we've built. And I told the seniors in our locker room, as they were exiting, they don't get to put the uniform on anymore, but they should be really proud and hopefully will be for some time of the program that they've helped build.

And I hope -- one of my goals when I got here was that Colgate basketball would become generational; that guys who wore the uniform in the '70s and '80s and '90s would want to know these guys, and these guys, as they move forward, would want to come back and follow the team and be a part of our program, because to me that's what makes it special.

Q. I don't know if bittersweet is the right word, but the moment for Jordan afterward, he fights to the end of the game, makes those two 3s, and if immediately goes to his family there. What was your kind of perspective on that moment and did you have a chance to kind of say anything to him?
COACH LANGEL: No. I didn't get to -- obviously you've been around our team for a few days here. Jordan's a talented individual. And he's driven in a lot of ways. And one of those things that drives him is his love for his family and their love for him.

I feel really good that I get to coach, not just Jordan, but a lot of guys who come from those backgrounds, who their families give them to us to be their Colgate basketball family for a little bit. And as important as that is to the guys on our team, their families are always number one. And I think that's the way life should be. Not everybody gets to have that opportunity. And it's special in Jordan. It's a big part of who he is.

But the same goes for just about everybody else on our team. So I feel very fortunate to coach guys like that who have those relationships and care so deeply about their loved ones.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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