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Matt Langel is in his 10th season as the Colgate University Men’s Basketball Head Coach. Langel is already the second winningest head coach in Colgate men’s basketball history. His career record stands at 139-151, including an 81-73 mark in league play.
Langel is the three-time defending Patriot League Coach of the Year (2018, 2019, 2020). He has led Colgate to back-to-back Patriot League regular season championships and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2019.
Langel came to Colgate after spending five seasons as an assistant coach at Temple University (2006-11) under the tutelage of legendary coach Fran Dunphy. He was also a two-year member of Dunphy’s Penn staff and helped guide his alma mater to consecutive Ivy League championships.
A 2000 graduate of Penn’s Wharton School of Business, Langel helped lead the Quakers to two Ivy League titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances during his four-year playing career (1996-2000). He is a member of the 1,000-point club with 1,191 points. After graduating from Penn Langel played overseas in Switzerland, France, Germany, & Holland.
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Get ready to take some notes as you listen to this episode with Matt Langel, Men’s Basketball Head Coach at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.
What We Discuss with Matt Langel
- Growing up in the same neighborhood in Philadelphia where Ron Jaworski, Bobby Jones, and Doug Collins lived
- His Dad, who was an attorney, represented Doug Collins
- Many of his friends were the children of professional athletes
- One of his first basketball memories, sitting in the locker room with Michael Jordan after a Bulls-Sixers when Doug Collins was coaching
- Gaining an understanding that pro athletes and coaches are real people
- “The better your son or daughter does in school, the more marketable they are as an athlete.”
- Why kids need exposure to as many quality coaches as possible
- “If you want kids who are going to be coachable in your own program, find kids that were coachable in their previous program.”
- Why a 2-3 zone is bad for youth basketball players
- In recruiting, “The more data points that you can have in evaluating a young person the better informed decision you can make for you and for them.”
- First steps in evaluating a potential recruit – academics and film
- Watching for the intangibles in addition to basketball skills
- There are no more secrets in recruiting anymore the information on players is out there if you want to find it
- Why kids should pay more attention to getting better and helping their teams win than all the noise on social media
- The importance of remembering to be in the moment
- Why he chose to play his college basketball at Penn
- On playing at Penn – “The balance and the time management and the physical and mental exhaustion of trying to push yourself to be the very best that you can be.”
- Learning how hard you had to work to be successful from his Dad
- Comparing running a college basketball program to running a business
- His memories of “Black Tuesday” and how that drove him as a player
- His tryout with the Seattle Supersonics
- Some of his experiences playing in Europe
- Getting his first coaching opportunity as the third assistant on Coach Fran Dunphy’s staff back at Penn
- The influence of Coach Dunphy on his career and his life
- “First and foremost, it’s a players game.”
- “If you don’t care deeply about those players and show them and treat them as such then you’re not going to be able to help them achieve individually and collectively what you’d like them to do.”
- “You need those parents to feel like they’re handing over their child to somebody that’s going to take good care of them and be responsible for them.”
- The integration of families into the program
- Advice from Coach Dunphy on interviewing – “The most important thing in this recruiting process is not that you fool anybody, it’s that you go there and you always be yourself and you present who you are, what you believe in, and what you would do.”
- The challenge of developing a winning tradition at Colgate when he first got the job
- Seeing signs that it could happen in his fourth year on the job
- The importance of staff continuity to Colgate’s success
- Why Colgate has been a great place to coach and raise his family
- Adapting youR style of play to fit your personnel
- The value of filming practice and learning from film
- Why he lets his assistants have a hand in everything to help prepare them to become head coaches
- Trying to control the feeling that he could always do more to prepare
- Learning from comes from a variety of places, there are so many ways to improve as a coach
- His Boomerang action against switches that was named by Fran Fraschilla
- There is never a time when basketball feels like work
- Thinking about how to continue improving the Colgate Basketball Experience
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THANKS, MATT LANGEL
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TRANSCRIPT FOR MATT LANGEL – COLGATE UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 415
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike here with my cohost Jason Sunkle, and tonight we are pleased to welcome to the podcast, the head men’s basketball coach at Colgate University, Matt Langel. Matt, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.
Matt Langel: [00:00:13] I appreciate you guys having me
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:16] Excited to have you on be able to dig into all the things that you’ve been able to do in the game, both as a player, as an assistant coach, and as a head coach, want to go back in time to when you were a kid, tell us a little bit about some of your first experiences with the game of basketball.
What made you fall in love with the game when you were just a young kid?
Matt Langel: [00:00:34] Yeah, a long time ago now, but the game has certainly been good to me. I grew up in suburban New Jersey, across the bridge from Philadelphia. My father was an attorney in the city. I played every sport, soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring and whatever camp my parents could get me into in the summertime. So I really basketball wasn’t a main focus. And in fact, I probably played it the [00:01:00] least of all the sports I played as a young kid, but an interesting situation in that the development, the neighborhood that I grew up in when my father was a young attorney, he moved our family to this neighborhood.
And it just so happened to be that it was also where a number of the professional Philadelphia athletes had lived. So Ron Jaworski was the quarterback of the Eagles and Bobby Jones was now hall of fame basketball player for the Sixers and Doug Collins, the player and coach and analyst lived in the neighborhood.
So the moms all became friends. And then the kids, obviously, because of the moms became friends and were around each other. So my childhood growing up, my closest friends, their dads were all professional athletes. So and then you cross that with my dad’s law firm also represented a number of the franchises.
And then this was at a time where athletes didn’t have agents. And so in [00:02:00] getting to know them as friends they said, Hey John, who’s my father. Do you think we should have somebody looking at our contracts? It used to be that professional players said okay.
Here, what you’re going to pay me to play, I’ll do it. And so they started to form that relationship. So from a young age, I had a little bit different perspective of sports in general and, and certainly basketball as my dad represented Doug Collins for a long time, just behind the scenes.
So you asked me for one of my first memories, it’s going to the Bulls Sixers game and sitting in the locker room after the game with Michael Jordan when I was a little kid. So you know, I was really fortunate at a young age to be exposed to a high level and kind of recognize that those were real people not just superheroes and that sports was something that you could do for, for a long time and for life.
Mike Klinzing: [00:02:55] Did you realize that how unique that situation was when you [00:03:00] were a kid, did you have a recognition of it or was it just kind of, this is my existence. This is just the way it is?
Matt Langel: [00:03:05] It was a little bit of both. I mean, you certainly when you’re when your mom and dad are going to a bunch of games, you recognize that not everybody’s mom and dad are going to games here Two or three times a week, and that you’re getting the chance to meet 76ers on your birthday.
And those kinds of things that not everybody does that, but it also was kind of the way of life. Meaning like my friends, the kids I went to school with or rode bikes with or played wiffle ball, or went swimming at their house their dads were real people and not just the person that you watched on television.
So it was kind of an interesting perspective on sports that not many young people get to have.
Mike Klinzing: [00:03:50] Yeah. No question about that. How do you think that influenced you maybe later, as you look back on it now as an adult, how do you think your [00:04:00] experience was different? Or was it changed at all in terms of how you approached sports growing up and when you started to take maybe basketball more seriously?
Matt Langel: [00:04:09] Yeah. So it’s, two-fold, one when you start to take it seriously at an early age, you get to see what serious is. And how much time and blood and sweat and tears and energy, not just the athlete puts into it, but their entire family. And also how it affects their life.
You know, I remember Doug Collins getting fired from the Chicago Bulls and his daughter, Kelly was and still is one of my best friends and married one of my college teammates. And, just the devastation of your life being upended. So you know, Philadelphia is a huge sports town professional sports diehard fans.
I always, I never had that experience in that perspective because I knew the families and the people. You know, that we’re [00:05:00] affected by the result of the outcome where fans are only interested in their team winning the championship. And so for me, sports has always been a great passion, a super fun way to spend your time and go on a journey with the other group of people and all those things that sports can be.
But it also is just a game. I think some people think that Putting an advertisement on a billboard for somebody to be fired is what’s wrong with that. And I grew up with a totally different perspective because you saw how wives and sons and daughters and children are affected by the reality of the profession.
Mike Klinzing: [00:05:49] When you think about that from a coaching perspective. And I guess when I hear you talking about that, I think of some of the issues that we have with the way the system is set up [00:06:00] today. And it’s probably always been this way, but I think it’s just easier to see now than it was before in terms of parents being involved in, or maybe overly involved in their kids’ sporting lives.
Whereas I think you’re a couple of years younger than me, but I think we’re sort of, of the same generation where my parents came to games and watched games, but they didn’t necessarily get involved in my playing career. Whereas now we know that in a lot of cases, parents are very, very involved in their kid’s playing careers.
So how do you as a college coach, what advice would you have for maybe the parent of a high school player in terms of some things that they could do to help their child in their quest to play college basketball and conversely, something not to do that might hurt them in their quest to play college basketball.
So that’s a loaded question. I understand.
Matt Langel: [00:06:55] It is. It’s a little bit of a loaded question, but I mean, I won’t advise [00:07:00] other people I’ll try and use myself as an example. So, I have my wife and I, my wife played division one college basketball as well. And our kids, they love sports.
And so we decided that in addition to doing well in school and that’d be my first recommendation for any parent is the better your son or daughter does in school. The more marketable they are as an athlete. And so those who are going to go on and be professional they’re so elite, and it’s such a small percentage, but for everybody else, if you can combine athletics with academics, you can really create opportunities for yourself or your children can have opportunities that other people wouldn’t get. So that’s our priority and being parents I would advise trying to expose them to as many quality coaches. Because we felt so fortunate that we were exposed to, [00:08:00] not necessarily the brightest lights and the biggest events, but just quality men and women that would help our children learn the game.
And then once you’ve got one of those situations, you just kind of have to sit back and watch and cheer and support. But you certainly can’t hover over every situation and anytime adversity hits, that’s a huge part of finding success in athletics and in life is dealing with adversity.
So the first time our daughter doesn’t play a lot, we’re not going to find a new team. You kind of deal with it and learn how that feels and what you have to do to work through it. But I think in today’s day and age, everybody’s looking for the home run and the perfect fit and the value of quality coaching and then trusting those people that your children are with has kind of gone by the wayside.
Mike Klinzing: [00:08:53] Yeah. I would agree with that. How do you evaluate, or what do you look for when you’re trying to find a quality coach or a [00:09:00] quality program for your kids? I’m just curious, what are some of the markers that you look for that help you to determine, Hey, This coach is somebody that I want my kids around, that I want them learning from.
Matt Langel: [00:09:11] Yeah. I mean, it’s not just our family, but it’s also in recruiting you try and find those coaches. And if you want kids who are going to be coachable in your own program, if you can find kids that were coachable in their previous program. And so as you, identify strong coaches that don’t really make it about them in the process that how they, how they coach on the sidelines and that they seem to value educating the players and not just the result of winning the competition and that they’re exposing them to learning the game. And again, not just a recipe, that’s going to help them win in that moment.
But development, like a skill development and team [00:10:00] development you watch young basketball players and a lot of coaches stick their teams in 2-3 zone. Well, that may help them win that game on that Saturday afternoon. But I don’t know if it really helps the young players understand defensive principles and help defense and man to man and the basics and the fundamentals of the game.
I’m huge on fundamentals when it comes to basketball, catching and passing and pivoting and spacing and dribbling and shooting and all those things. So whatever the sport is, really we try and find skill development people who are committed to the process and people who are committed to the kids. They want one practice every two weeks isn’t going to get it done. If you’re going to be a successful individual or a successful team.
Mike Klinzing: [00:10:51] Absolutely. So how do you balance out when you’re recruiting? How do you balance what you see in a player [00:11:00] when they’re playing with their high school team versus what you see in them when they’re playing in the summer with their AAU team, are you looking for similar things, different things, just how do you approach that?
And both in terms of what you see from the player and maybe what you’re looking for from. The coach in those different areas.
Matt Langel: [00:11:18] Yeah. I think that our philosophy when it comes to recruiting and really any decision-making that you have to do in our position as coaching. And you have to decide who you’re going to recruit, who you aren’t going to recruit, who you’re going to offer scholarship to, what the order of priorities is going to be. Information is power, and so the more data points that you can have in evaluating a young person the better informed decision you can make that’s for you and for them. If you see them play one game in a up and down AAU game where they happen to make seven\ three pointers and you say, Oh, they’re a perfect fit.
Well, that’s one [00:12:00] data point on the spectrum of things. So we try not to do that. The more times we can see them, the more varied environments you can see them in, the better chance you get to be able to see what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are.
How they interact with different coaches, different officials, different opponents all those things go into ultimately trying to find the right fit for your program and that your program is going to be the right fit for that kid. I mean, you may think that that hey’re the best fit for you, but if you’re also not the best fit for them, it’s probably not going to work out.
Mike Klinzing: [00:12:45] Yeah, I think there’s definitely something to be said for both sides, finding a mutual fit, that’s going to be beneficial to both sides. And obviously you got to find a fit with more than just the basketball program and the coach, but you also have to find a fit with the school. And clearly there at Colgate, the [00:13:00] academic side of it is something that you have to take into consideration in order to be able to have players come into your program when you’re putting together your first initial list of players that you’re going to recruit. What does that process look like in terms of, identifying the guys that you really want to go out and put time into to try and see if they have an interest in coming to Colgate.
Matt Langel: [00:13:21] Yeah, we’ve developed it over time. We’re in year 10 now. So it’s kind of a multifaceted process to figure out just what you said, where you’re going to spend your time. Like there’s, there’s no secret about Colgate is in a pretty remote place here in central New York we’re four, four and a half hours from every major metropolitan area.
So to make a trip for, for an individual is significant. So we try and again, when you talked about the academics, that’s usually the first piece of things. They could be our favorite player in [00:14:00] the history of basketball and nobody else liked them.
So they, they had no other division one, but if it’s not an academic fit for them to be able to have success in our environment, then we’re wasting their time and ours. If we don’t cross that hurdle first. So I would say that’s usually one of the first things. And then we use film a lot.
You’re going to be able to get out in the non high school periods and see multiple kids. But over the course of the year, you can’t just go we’d like to have our staff at practice all the time. So you can’t in a non pandemic year. You can’t just go watch a high school game in the afternoon.
And be at practice. So we try and identify on film if their style of play, if what they do as a ballplayer fits what our needs are in that given year. And then you cast out the net and you make introduction calls and you communicate via social media every other, which way with them and the people that are close to [00:15:00] them and try and find out some of those intangibles that we just talked about of what kind of a teammate are, they are a few, if you’ve known coaches in their league or in their area, how do coaches of opponents perceive them. And when you’re watching the film, you’re not just watching how they dribble and pass and shoot, but how do they react when a call doesn’t go their way or they miss a shot or their teammate misses a shot, are they kind of like throwing their hands up in the air. Like, why did you shoot that shot? Or are they there to support their teammate in a difficult time. So you watch all those things. And then as the process continues, you kind of get a sense of interest levels and what kids are thinking about.
And then you just keep moving forward and it sometimes just whittles itself down as you go through that process,
Mike Klinzing: [00:15:54] How has the ability to use film in recruiting changed since [00:16:00] the beginning of your career. Obviously we all know that the ease of being able to have access to film is huge, but just how has that impacted college basketball recruiting in your mind from when you started back as an assistant at Penn to what you’re doing now?
Matt Langel: [00:16:15] Highlight types are always highlight tapes, right? So whether it was a VHS tape that you got in the mail, or an MP4 file that you can download, everybody looks good in their highlights, that has not changed. I think that the biggest thing about it is you can get so much, there’s no secrets anymore.
I think that there’s nobody that plays in this remote area and coaches are outworking other coaches to find hidden gems. Are there guys who are under recruited? Absolutely. Are there guys who are over recruited? Of course. But the information is there for anybody that wants to get it, you don’t have to have been in this business for [00:17:00] 25 years and, and have dozens and dozens of relationships to be able to get the film and evaluate a kid and be able to find a player that you like to be able to recruit.
So I think that is a good thing in some ways. And then in others, I think it’s a challenge. It’s creating an environment that, look in 1996, when I was a senior in high school, it’s so happened that there was a guy named Kobe Bryant who was across the bridge.
And so I knew how good a player really could be. But if Kobe Bryant had been from California or Texas or, or Michigan, I wouldn’t have known who he was because that information wasn’t disseminated everywhere a kid turned. So I think that it’s created a unique situation.
That’s a challenge for a lot of these young people, because there’s so many distractions out there. And instead of just kind of [00:18:00] worrying about their own little bubble and getting better and helping their teams win, I think there’s, there’s all this noise out there.
Mike Klinzing: [00:18:09] Yeah. I agree with you a hundred percent on that, Matt. I think one of the things that. You see, you see it in youth basketball, I’m sure you see it in high school basketball, and I’m sure that you feel sort of the repercussions of this in college. Basketball is just, I feel like in so many cases that kids are kind of bypassing almost their high school career in terms of just being able to enjoy it and focusing on trying to win.
And as you said, improve and get better and everybody’s chasing this scholarship. Pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, instead of just being in the moment. And I think so many kids miss out on what, again, I don’t know what your high school experience was like, but my high school experience was fantastic.
As a, as a high school basketball player, there was nothing better. And for me to like try to fast forward through that, just to be able to get to a college experience. Would have been [00:19:00] a shame. And yet I see a lot of kids, a lot of kids who just don’t, they don’t take the time to enjoy what they have in front of them and their high school players, or even in their summary.
You, because there’s so. Caught up and I got to get this done. I got to get, make sure that I play in this. Well, I got to score this many points because I want to be noticed by colleges. And I think he made a great point, just that, Hey, you gotta, you gotta be, you gotta be in the moment and enjoy what you’re doing and just really focus on yourself and getting better.
And the end result will take care of itself.
Matt Langel: [00:19:29] Yeah, I couldn’t agree more with that comment. I mean, we very much preach process. And that you’re on this journey and the best chance to have successes to stay in the moment, to prepare yourself the very best you can, to work the hardest you can, and then to enjoy that moment that you’re in. I share with our team and try and have as many others, people who have had experiences share with the team. I remember when I was 12 years old playing little league [00:20:00] baseball, I certainly remember my high school career and some of those games.
I mean, they’re some of the finest times of your life. And I don’t think it’s just coaches, just players that are struggling with that. I think that young coaches in today’s day and age there’s so many avenues to try and accelerate your career, to get to this job, to that job, from high school to college or go into the pros or whatever it may be.
I think that far too often and it’s not the best modeling for young people. If you’re in coaching to help young people, you’re not modeling the behavior that you want. If you’re always angling and networking and not that it’s not critically important to the profession but the concept of being in the moment with so much [00:21:00] noise and distraction and information and access to everything that’s going on in the world of basketball It can be a challenge.
Mike Klinzing: [00:21:09] Yeah, it really is crazy. So let’s, you mentioned back when you were a high school player, let’s go back in time and talk a little bit about what your recruitment was like and how you ended up choosing to go to Penn. Tell me a little bit about that process. So
Matt Langel: [00:21:23] I grew up going to a private school in New Jersey and when I was a sophomore in high school you know, in part, because of athletics, it was an important part of my life and there was maybe going to be a chance there.
I was showing signs of maybe being able to play sports in college. And so we made the decision to go from the small private school to a larger public school during my sophomore year. And so sophomore to junior year, I started having some success in basketball and was kind of gravitating just, I was enjoying it, probably the most of the other sports I was playing. So I started really focusing, [00:22:00] on basketball. We had a successful junior season and recruiting back then in the mid nineties, it really didn’t start until the summer after your junior year, there was no advanced recruiting or not nearly as much I should say, as there is now.
So you know, schools, academics was important to my family, so it was important to me. I’d always worked really hard to do well in school. So some of those high academic schools were paying attention and starting to recruit me. And so we had went through the process and the Ivy league schools were appealing, again, I grew up in suburban Philadelphia on the New Jersey side. And so being close to home. Penn and Princeton had dominated the Ivy league for a long stretch and visited some of the schools and entertained some [00:23:00] scholarships schools, but ultimately it came down to those two schools.
Penn and Princeton we’re going to graduate a number of guys who were incredible players. Jerome Allen was drafted in the NBA and went on to have a hugely successful professional career. Matt Maloney same thing. Ira Bowman, who’s now coaching in at Auburn, it was a year after them.
So a lot of guys were exiting their programs. So there was going to be a seemingly significant opportunity for a guard like myself to go in there and maybe earn some minutes early in my career. It was right across the bridge. You had the big five, which growing up in the Philadelphia area of St Joe’s and Temple and Villanova, Penn, Drexel in the area, just the basketball You know, going to games at the Palestra, it was just at the end of the day seemed like the best fit for me.
Mike Klinzing: [00:23:53] So when you get there, what’s the adjustment, like both basketball wise and academic wise for you?
[00:24:00] Matt Langel: [00:24:00] I mean, yeah, academics, I would say the biggest adjustment going to the school like that was when I worked my hardest in high school, I could always compete with the smartest people in whatever the class was.
Not that I was the smartest in the class, but I could kind of be on their level, so to speak and when I went to Penn, the Wharton school of business, it was like these people, I have no chance of being at their level. If I studied all that and I don’t have all hours of the day to study because I want to try and be a good ballplayer too.
And that requires not just doing what Coach Dunphy and the staff was asking me to do for them. You know, two plus hours, but to be in the gym at some other point in the day and take care of your body and all those things. So balancing everything and being on your own and having those social responsibilities and decisions to make, it can be somewhat overwhelming.
[00:25:00] And for me, I wouldn’t say it was overwhelming, but I remember it was exhausting. And just falling asleep laying on your bed with your economics book on your chest. Those are memories that stick with you forever. Just the balance and the time management and the physical and mental exhaustion of trying to push yourself to be the very best that you can be.
Mike Klinzing: [00:25:24] Absolutely. When you’re trying to Excel in multiple areas. Then, obviously that becomes a huge challenge. You know, you think about an an ordinary average student and who’s at one of those schools and obviously it’s still challenging academically, but then you throw the rigors of division one basketball on top of that.
And now you’re looking at yeah, a lot of days where you probably fall asleep with that book. You know, that book on your chest, without question, when you went into. School. What was it that you wanted to study? What did you think you wanted to do? Did you have an idea or were you kind of undecided or where, where was your head in terms of what you wanted to do when you graduated?
[00:26:00] When you first got to Penn?
Matt Langel: [00:26:01] Yeah, I had no idea. And to be honest, guys, I still have no idea.
Mike Klinzing: [00:26:06] It’s funny you say that Matt, because I tell people that all the time, like kids who I teach or whatever my own kids. Be like, I don’t know what I want to do. I like, look I’m 50. I still don’t know what I want to do.
So I can totally relate to that sentiment.
Matt Langel: [00:26:20] Well, and I think that it’s relevant to talk about that my father worked like crazy for his profession. I mean, he would be there all the time in our games, but I remember him coming to a high school game, going back to the house and he’d go be going back to the office, there weren’t laptops and cell phones and working remotely in that capacity.
But so I knew how hard you had to work to be successful at whatever you wanted to do. But I also knew he loved his work. Like he was he was motivated by his colleagues, had an enjoyment of the courtroom, of the competition [00:27:00] pride in representing his clients to the best of his ability and them being pleased with the work that he and his lawyers were doing.
So I knew that I wanted that. And so whatever it is I was going to do, ultimately I wanted to have that basketball had become that for me. And I tried to figure out what I wanted to study, I did go to the school of business. And to be honest, I’m thankful that I did, because in so many ways I run my own small company now as a basketball coach. I have to manage a budget.
I have employees, the way of upper management and coaches and lower men worker, employees and players, basically that are trying to execute the task at hand. I’ve got to raise fundraising and market the program and recruiting. And so there’s so many parts of business that applied to my job every day.
[00:28:00] I tell our guys all the time, basketball may not be your profession for the rest of your life, but find something that you love to do as much as you love to play basketball. Because again, when you’re in the moment and you’re enjoying it. Not that it’s always going to be easy, but that you enjoy it.
That’s when you’re going to do your very best.
Mike Klinzing: [00:28:19] Yeah. I think that’s really, really an important thing. When you look at advice that you can give to young people. No, you hear often, Hey, follow your passion. But I think really what you’re saying is you, if you enjoy what you do, that you’re going to work a lot harder at it.
I know that speaks truth in my life and in the people that are closest to me. When you have something in front of you that you like to do, that you love to do. That you enjoy doing that’s when you tend to do your best work. And I think that’s a great piece of advice for any young person out there. Who’s trying to figure out what they want to do.
If you could just kind of follow that simple mantra of, Hey, find something that you love to do, and then you’re going to work really hard at it. And that’s how you ultimately end up having [00:29:00] success. Let’s talk a little bit about your high, I’m sorry. Your college playing career. Give me one or two highlights that stand out for you from your time as a player at Penn.
Matt Langel: [00:29:09] Yeah. There’s one obviously making the NCAA tournament. I mean every, every team when you get together in the fall, I don’t care, even if you’re trying to win the national championship and you’re at Kentucky or Duke or Kansas you want to be representing your school and your program and your conference in the NCAA tournament.
So certainly my junior and senior year winning the conference and going to the NCAA tournament we’re absolutely highlights of those experiences single games, we played a game against Temple university. My junior year Pepe Sanchez was on the team, had a fantastic career.
They had just beaten, I think number four, Michigan state and they were ranked, I believe in the top 10. And it was Pepe was, was heard and a guy [00:30:00] named Lynn Greer was playing and another extraordinary player and it was a packed Palestra. And we found a way to upset them.
And so the fans stormed the court and it just made for great memories and a great experience. The other one that sticks out and it has some lore at Penn, certainly within the Ivy league and in Philadelphia, they at Penn it’s called black Tuesday. We were up, I believe 33 to nine.
And Princeton played a somewhat slow style in the second half of the game. So it was a crazy lead that we had and they were defending champions. We had not beat them in my two years as a career. And so they not only came all the way back. I missed a shot at the buzzer to win the game.
And so it it’s a great memory in that it was an absolute low point. And then we were devastated as a group but going through that together and [00:31:00] the leadership of the senior group and that the guys that were a year older, we just kept together and kept plugging away at the task at hand. And so we won the next seven games, I think.
We won the conference championship that year and then kind of took that into my senior year and we won 14 straight that next year. So Everybody thinks of that as such a down moment of like, Oh man, that was one of the worst games ever to lose that lead. And it was embarrassing or everything, but for us that went through it, I think it was a moment that we had to go through together in order to eventually be champions.
And so it’s not just the highs that you remember and that and that you feel good about it. Sometimes those low points that you learn valuable lessons and helped you get to eventual successes.
Mike Klinzing: [00:31:51] I always say that a lot of times the losses are the ones that stick with you more vividly. Anyway, I think that obviously big wins stick [00:32:00] with you too.
But for me, I know a lot of times, especially when you think about trying to be a winning player, you hope that you win more than you lose. And so it tends to be that those losses stick with you and, and provide maybe more vivid memories. So when you get done and you’re looking around for, what am I going to do?
You get an opportunity to go and play professionally. So just talk a little bit about. The experience that you had professionally, where you ended up playing, and then we can, I got a couple of standard questions that I’d like to throw at people who played overseas. So I’ll get to those, but just kind of give us just sort of the journey that you went through after graduation to continue your playing career.
Matt Langel: [00:32:43] Yeah, there’s a lot of different stops along the way, but just the way we talked a lot earlier about young people wanting to skip steps and kind of get to the ultimate goal. And again, I was lucky to have coaches and mentors who kind of [00:33:00] just helped me realize that if you just focus on getting a little bit better every step of the way, then you can keep going.
And so for me, that was it and I fell in love with the game, decided I wanted to play in college, just keep working. I got to college and through college, I was able to work and grow enough as a player that I could be thought of well in the city of Philadelphia, which is a pretty good level.
So then you you’re out of college and you’re starting all over again on the bottom rung. And so it was rookie free agent camp for me that summer Seattle Supersonics, I didn’t make it much more than two days before they said, Hey, Matt, thanks for your time. But you’re, you’re not going to be a supersonic.
So you know, this waiting and bouncing around, I went to Belfast Ireland. In August of that summer, I got injured. So I was home again for a number of weeks, recovering from a slight knee injury. I went to Switzerland in this process, my [00:34:00] mother’s family Tree is Italian. So I was going through the process of applying for citizenship to get a passport, which would allow me to play as at the time it was called a bondsman player.
Countries were limited at that time to maybe two American players. So my value as an Italian player would be more in other countries that came through. When I was in Switzerland, I went to France, which was pretty high level. We had a couple of guys on the team who had been in the NBA spent some time there and so for the better part of four years bounced around, two full seasons in the Netherlands, a little bit of time in Germany, a little bit of time in Italy. I would see a lot of places in the world and learn a lot of things and certainly have some trends and memories and experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Mike Klinzing: [00:34:50] All right. So first question I have is what’s your favorite place that. You played in, lived in while you’re [00:35:00] over there. What’s something that sticks out in your mind, just from a geographical standpoint or a culture standpoint. What place was your favorite or maybe your one or two favorites?
Matt Langel: [00:35:09] Yeah, I would say my favorite and again, it’s just, it goes back to my favorite was I lived in a town called nine Megan in the Eastern part of the Netherlands bordering Germany and the reason it was so great was because of the success that the team has had. I was on, it was an incredible group of guys that got along well, I’m still in touch with today and so because of those experiences and memories, this was my favorite place. I lived in Geneva, Switzerland, which was one of the great cities of the world. The experience for me was difficult. And so I, I don’t recall fondly you know, in my time in one of the, yeah, one of the great cities of this world and Yeah, well, [00:36:00] just a story about Holland, like in Europe, in general.
A lot of the homes in Holland have glass windows in the front of the house. And so I remember going home from this one day, I was walking back to the place I was living. And there was nobody anywhere like on the, out on the streets, like it was like, you could I had no idea what was going on.
And then as I’m walking in every window, the same thing is on the television and the. National soccer team. The Netherlands national soccer team was playing a game and literally everybody in the whole town. And I’m assuming every other town, were sitting at their house watching the soccer.
And so going back to Switzerland that. Part of the deal of my contract was I got to eat dinner at this sporting club every night in the sporting club. You know, Switzerland’s a neutral country, the sporting club was Italian, and so they supported event this. [00:37:00] And so anytime there was an event, this game, all the men came back to it and they’re smoking their cigarettes and drinking their wine and they put a big projector and it was dead silent other than they’re whistling and yelling at the game. But the culture of soccer or football It was something I had never experienced before.
And I know that everybody says that it’s the global sport, but to see how it was literally part of the fabric of anybody’s life you didn’t just have to be a sports fan. But you knew it soccer and you watch soccer because it was also part of your culture.
Mike Klinzing: [00:37:41] Yeah, it’s incredible.
I think that sometimes here in the United States, we think we have fanatical fans. And then you hear some of the stories from Europe, whether it’s with basketball or this case was soccer and you see a whole different level of passion, sometimes passion that goes over the top. So my other question that I always ask anybody who plays overseas is what’s your [00:38:00] craziest.
Overseas basketball scores because at least one that you can tell on the podcast.
Matt Langel: [00:38:05] Yeah, no, it does. I was playing in Holland, we were good enough to represent Holland in this other competition. And we were in Latvia. And so we pull in and just the difference between obviously when you live in the United States, you’ve seen neighborhoods where there’s all million dollar homes and you’ve driven through, or been a part of poverty stricken Parts of town, very rarely.
Would you see one right next to the other? And so when we were invents bills, it’s the middle of the winter and it’s freezing cold and there’s tons of snow. And as we’re driving in, it’s just like the, the economic disparity right on top of each other was just astounding to me.
And [00:39:00] so we go to the hotel and. I mean, I call it a hotel, but it’s not a hotel. It was like a house. And every room was different and it was just really weird. Food was basically inedible, but you needed to eat something or you not play the game very well. And I’m sure that was part of the strategy of the town to give the opponents no good food. And so you go into the convenience store across the way and, you’re trying to find some chips or something that’s gonna hold you over. And like they had open freezer box and in the freezer box, there was just like, you had your Brown paper bag and you’d like, get a handful of French fries or a handful of chicken nuggets, like not packaged you just take them and put them in another Brown bag.
And so I’m just thinking to myself, this is just a crazy life that I’ve never, never experienced anywhere. And then we went in the game and like you could [00:40:00] barely see above the baskets because this gym was full of smoke. And so it’s just an environment that you’re saying, okay, we basically have no chance to win this game here, with all the circumstances, there’s no way it’s going to be a fair game. And so let’s do the very best we can and see if we can beat them at our place, which we were able to do a few weeks later.
Mike Klinzing: [00:40:25] It’s just amazing to me, those kinds of stories. And I think back to, I’m always amazed when I look at old time pictures of the NBA, you see like that fog, that’s hanging above the court and you know, it’s just, it really is amazing when you think about the advances.
That we’ve made in terms of just athlete recovery and nutrition and health and. Sports science and everything that goes along with that, it’s just, it’s really, really incredible how far we’ve come in those areas. And clearly in some places in Europe, still there I’m sure that those things that you [00:41:00] just described are still going on quite frequently over there, but here we’ve, we’ve definitely advanced in and just gone in a different direction.
And I think that. It’s been good for the game, obviously good for the players who play it and puts us all in a much better and healthier situation. And there’s just, we’re just much more aware of it. It’s kind of crazy again, when you think back in time to just the way players took care of, or didn’t take care of their body compared to what we do with players today, it’s really, it’s really a big change.
So I wanted to ask you, and I know just from doing a little reading about you, that you. You didn’t necessarily know growing up that you were going to end up in coaching. So tell us the story of how the opportunity to get into coaching came to be. And just when it struck you that, Hey, coaching might be something that I need to do as a profession.
Matt Langel: [00:41:57] Well, I mean, as I was playing, when you’re a player [00:42:00] professional in Europe and you’re not breaking the bank, but you’re making enough to get by. You start to think about like there’s going to be a time where this is going to come to a close and I’m not going to have made enough money to retire and do nothing for the rest of my life.
So, well what, what are you going to do? So I would spend some time in the summer at Penn training. And I had a few conversations with coach Dunphy. There was a time when they were in season and he said, Hey, we’re playing Yale and Brown next weekend. Why don’t you take some film on Yale?
And, and don’t watch it from a player’s perspective watch it from a coach’s perspective. And here’s our last game against Yale try and make some notes what we did good. And what we. Didn’t do good. And what Yale does good. And what we can maybe try and do to get an advantage against them.
And so I did that and it was somewhat interesting to me. I didn’t know, again, from what I shared earlier, you [00:43:00] know, with friends family, friends being in coaching, I knew how taxing it could be, how difficult it could be on a family, how you get fired, you move, how unstable, it could be. So I had some reservation but I also, again had never found anything other than the game of basketball that I really had a passion for. It never seemed like work. So I started to spend some time thinking and then when I eventually retired from playing, I was supposed to go to Italy and August came, that deal fell through.
And so when the deal fell through, it also happened, they’d be the exact same time that Coach Dunphy had an opening on his staff. And so we talked about it and he said, Hey, look, if you want to do this, you can get started doing this. And you know, if a playing opportunity comes up, don’t worry about it.
You can go play again. And, and I won’t feel [00:44:00] bad anyway about it. So I did that and I started coaching. And at the time at Penn. Yeah, I was still the third assistant coaches is a voluntary spot. So again, I had made a little bit of money playing. I lived at my parents’ house, but I really wanted to do it like a full-time job.
A lot of guys that had done that job before had jobs during the day or here and there, and then would come in and work when they could or come to practice. But I wanted to do it full time. So I dove right in and we started and I was pretty, pretty lucky to be a part of some really good teams.
My first two seasons, not because I know anything that was going on, but the rest of the coaching staff and the players, we won two championships in two years and they replaced coach Chaney at temple and took me with him and five years, five years and four championships later, I got a chance at a young age to be a head coach. So feel really fortunate for how that this part of the [00:45:00] profession has certainly worked out for me.
Mike Klinzing: [00:45:02] Absolutely. All right. So let me ask you, how did the relationship change with coach Dunphy? Because obviously when you play for somebody it’s different than being a member of their coaching staff.
So how did you, and he sort of navigate that and what did you, what did you feel when you first got hired on as a member of the coaching staff?
Matt Langel: [00:45:24] Well, I mean, obviously he was a huge impact act on my life. You know, probably other than my mother and my father he helped me figure out who I was going to be as a man and in good times and bad times he was there to teach the game of basketball, but teach about life.
And so when I had a chance to go back and work for him, a huge amount of pride and responsibility here’s, you get a chance to be an assistant coach at a program that not too long ago, [00:46:00] you are a part of, and you helped win help the program win championships.
And so chance as a coach to continue to be a part of that legacy, help continue to move the program forward. So you know that was how I went into it. You know, as a coach and you’re, you’re trying to learn a lot as a young coach it’s a little bit more.
More easy as an assistant coach to ask coach Duffy questions. Then as a player when you’re a player you listen and then you try and do what the coaches ask at least back then you didn’t say, well, why aren’t we right, exactly. A little different.
Mike Klinzing: [00:46:41] little different than, than it is now probably.
Matt Langel: [00:46:44] But as an assistant he asked more questions. And so I would say that was the biggest thing, not only of coach Dunphy, but of the other coaches you’re working with to try and learn as much as you could so that you could help the [00:47:00] players and maybe offer some thoughts and perspective at times for the rest of the coaching staff.
Mike Klinzing: [00:47:05] What were some things that you learned along the way as an assistant at those two programs that you took with you that you still feel are impactful in what you do today as a head coach at Colgate?
Matt Langel: [00:47:19] Yeah, first and foremost, it’s a players game, you don’t get to call there’s no huddle before every play.
You don’t get to call the pitch or whatever from the dugout that no, you’ve got to prepare in practice. You’ve got to help your team get ready and practice to play the game. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have some influence in the game by changing defense and making some substitutions and calling time outs and trying to help position the guys for success. But basketball for sure is a player’s game. And so your job is to help the players and there’s a lot of different ways to do it. [00:48:00] But at the end of the day the coaches charge is to help the players find ways at success as a group. And so you’re working with them over the course of a number of months. And you want to be your very best at the end of those months, compared to the beginning or the middle. And so there’s a, there’s a lot of different methodologies and you tweak things and you steal things and you change things as you go.
But that has to be at the forefront of what you’re doing. And if you don’t care deeply about those players and show them and treat them as such then you’re not going to be able to help them achieve individually and collectively what you’d like them to do.
Mike Klinzing: [00:48:50] How do you build that relationship day in and day out with the kids who are part of your program?
What does that look like for you both in terms of maybe how you do [00:49:00] it formally and informally to build the kind of relationship that you feel like you need to have in order to. Be able to coach them hard and get the best out of them.
Matt Langel: [00:49:09] I mean, it’s a little bit of coach speak, but you have to work hard at relationships.
And so it starts in the recruiting process and wherever they’re coming from, you need those people to feel like they’re handing over their child to somebody that’s going to take good care of them and be responsible for them. And I tell parents all the time, look, we’re not going to tuck your son in the bed at night and make sure he brushes teeth.
But we have his best interest. And so if we’re going to say that, then we need to execute on that. And so for me, like again, in a non pandemic year, My children know everybody on our team. And the players all know the wives of the coaching staffs, and it’s not uncommon for the children of the coaches to be on a road trip and, [00:50:00] and to be hanging out with the guys.
And I think that when family is important to you and you model that then and you’ve recruited guys who feel the same way and whose family who value their families, then they become trusting that even when you disagree with them or are showing them tough love and demanding more of them, they can respond in a manner that they’re gonna know that you’re speaking the truth and that they trust you and that they’re gonna in more cases than not give everything they have to try and do their very best.
Mike Klinzing: [00:50:37] I think that integration with family and your basketball program, I’ve heard so many coaches share that with us on the podcast, both from the high school and the college level that my family has to be a part of what I’m doing because otherwise it’s just. As you said right off the top, the amount of time that you’ve seen throughout your life [00:51:00] coaches put in that if you’re not integrating your family into your program, the amount of family time that you have clearly during the season is it can be, can be very small.
Simply because again, as basketball coaches, we all know how wrapped up and how important the game is to us while we’re in it. And I think the more you can incorporate your family, whether that’s having your kids shoot around after practice or having family on road trips or whatever it might be. I think a lot of successful coaches have adopted that philosophy.
I want to look back at. When you first get the job at Colgate, what do you remember about the interview process and what that was like and how you prepared going into the interview to become the head coach there?
Matt Langel: [00:51:46] I don’t remember a whole lot to be honest with you. My brother had studied here. He graduated in 2004, so I knew Colgate a little bit.
I knew some of the ins and outs of the institution of what makes it a unique [00:52:00] place in this size of school and the type of education. So I was able to kind of share that perspective and how had it been for my brother and how that could match up with my personality and my coaching philosophy and the types of individuals I thought could be successful here.
What I do remember is Coach Dunphy’s advice going into the interview process. You talked to so many people and they said, well, you gotta have a plan for your first hundred days. And you’ve got to have a packet of how you’re going to recruit and what your material looked like.
And a section of X’s and O’s and what you’ve done, and player development. You’ve got to have all that ready. And so I asked coach Dunphy, who was super successful at a variety of different schools. I said, do I need to have a packet? Like when I go on this interview, do I need to read off it?
And he said, are you a packet type of guy? And I [00:53:00] said, well, what do you mean, am I packet type of guy? And he says, well when you do recruiting presentations, is that what you gravitate towards? Is that your best mode of presentation? And I said, nah, I’m not a packet type of guy.
Like I’d rather have conversation and see where things go. And he said the most important thing in this recruiting process is not that you fool anybody is that you go there and you always be yourself and you present who you are, what you believe in and what you would do.
And if it’s the right fit, then you’ll be the next coach. And if it’s not the right fit, then you don’t want to be the next coach anyway. So I’ll always remember that conversation and that piece of information. And I share with our guys all the time. You should never change who you are, you’re going to grow, you are going to develop? But at the core, you always need to be yourself and not try and be somebody different.
[00:54:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:54:00] So once you get the job, how does that philosophy magnets manifest itself in you building your program? What was your vision for what you wanted to do? And what were the initial challenges that you had to overcome in order to start to build the type of program that you wanted, and that you’ve been able to put together to this point?
Matt Langel: [00:54:21] Well, I was a little naive in that the only two college basketball programs, I’ve been a program for the University of Pennsylvania and temple university. And I don’t know what the stats are today, but they’re two of the winningest programs in the history of the sport. And so in that there were certain, you know there’s a rich history and, and strong tradition, connected in over 5 generations of players.
And so that’s kind of a living and breathing thing. And at Colgate, we just don’t have that. That’s not part of what Colgate basketball has been about over [00:55:00] the decades. So It was a challenge for me to figure out how to kind of develop that and grow that and nurture that and instill that in the guys who were here already and the guys who were gonna come here and develop that over time.
And it just takes time and it was just a process. And so in addition to getting guys to understand how we wanted them to play the game and share the ball and what the offense was going to look like and what the defense was going to look like. It also talked about how you live your life and how when you’re going to do whatever it is that you’re going to do, you represent not just yourself, but everybody else in this room.
And everybody else who’s been in this room that came before you and, and the opportunity for those who are going to come [00:56:00] after you. And so over time as you develop that and a number of guys started to find some successes in that. And in addition to recruiting your own guys who you feel like are going to do well in that environment, then.
And it all slowly started to come together.
Mike Klinzing: [00:56:16] How long did it take before you felt like again, I’m sure you never feel like you haven’t completely conquered, but how long did it take till you felt like, Hey, we’re starting, I’m starting to see the things that I want to see to be able to create the program that I want to create?
Matt Langel: [00:56:32] Yeah, it’s interesting. I’ve talked to people before and I think I’m now working for my third athletics director in my 10 years here at Colgate and feel great that Colgate has continued to support us. I mean just looking back over it quickly, like.
We won eight games, 11 games, 13 games, at a lot of schools [00:57:00] that that would have been enough. You don’t get any more chances after that. And I think for me, the big one was that fourth year, we got upset at home in the semifinals of the conference tournament, but we did win 12 conference games and I think we finished second place that year.
So you, you saw some signs that you could build and you could get a little bit older and you could have a team that was going to compete for the championship, but was it ever going to happen? No. And then because that group was a little bit older, we did take a slight step back the following year.
And but I think there was that year for affirming that it could be done and that we kind of, but we’re going to have to start back over and do it again. And in the next cycle, we were able to kind of get over the hump.
Mike Klinzing: [00:57:56] What’s something that when you look back at the [00:58:00] beginning, that first year or two compare to where you are now, what’s something that you feel like as a head coach you’ve improved upon individually yourself, from where you started.
Matt Langel: [00:58:12] Oh, I mean everything. Everything like there’s not an area where I would say that I’ve stayed the same. And then I haven’t been able to improve, I mean game management. Recruiting our staff continuity that we’ve been able to have. I mean in 10 years now have only had to have we had one assistant coach and just our first year before he got a chance to go back to his high school Alma mater and be the head coach.
But, you know other than that, we’ve now just had another coaching change after this last year, but I’ve had one guy with me for 10 years. Another guy was with me for seven years. Another guy was with me for eight of the first nine years. So we’ve had a lot of staff continuity [00:59:00] and I think that that’s a big part of it.
When you’re able to have a group of guys that you trust and know, and you’re able to grow together, and when I first started, not only had I never been a head coach, we had never worked together before, or coached any of the players before. So that whole process of improving and growing and adding to the program and just being better teachers and basketball coaches and continuing to learn your school better, the alumni and the fans and everything that goes into a basketball program, I think we’re way better off at it now than, than we were when we started.
Mike Klinzing: [00:59:44] One of the things that you talked about earlier was just. Having the ability to focus on what’s in front of you and enjoy that moment and just being happy with where you are and not necessarily chasing the neck next [01:00:00] job and networking.
And so for you having been at Colgate for almost 10 years now, when you look at what. Opportunities are present there for you to be able to build the type of program that you want to build. What is it about Colgate that makes it so special? That’s made you stay there for that long, because clearly as you start to build a program, there are always other opportunities and things that could potentially be out there.
So what about it is the right fit for you, your family, and for the type of program that you want to build?
Matt Langel: [01:00:37] Yeah. I mean, you touched on it this quick. I mean, my family is the most important thing, so I have three children and I’m able to drop them off at school at eight o’clock in the morning.
And for the first two years that I lived here, I didn’t have a car because I didn’t need one. I live a mile from the office and I could ride my bicycle or get a ride or walk in the snow, [01:01:00] if that was the case. And so I love that in the Helter Skelter of our profession and the highs and the lows of competition that my family can be close.
I don’t have to commute in. They’re very much a part of what’s going on. The other piece of that is Colgate university’s an institution of 3000 students. So you’re the town and the concept of the village of Hamilton where we live and the town wouldn’t be here.
It wouldn’t be what it is, if it wasn’t for the institution that employs me. And so there’s, there’s that marriage and that relationship that just makes for a really unique and special place to raise a young family, again with a 12 year old daughter, a ten-year-old son and six year old son Oh, we feel really good about the life that they’re getting to live and the experiences that they have because of where we are and what we do
Mike Klinzing: [01:01:57] All right. Let’s. [01:02:00] Jump ahead into some basketball related questions. And I guess we’re going to kind of keep in mind here that we’re conducting this interview during the pandemic. So things that we’re talking about may or may not be relevant in the moment, but just in a normal, under normal circumstances as you’re.
Preparing for your season and you’re starting to put together a practice plan for whether it’s day to day, or just looking at what you want to accomplish with your team over the course of the season. What does your planning process look like overall for the season as you’re kind of heading into what you’re going to do, and then maybe dive a little bit deeper into like day to day.
What does practice planning look like for you and your staff?
Matt Langel: [01:02:45] Yeah, it’s a good question. I mean, I think as we sit down as a staff and going into a season I mentioned earlier, it’s a players game. So do we have things that we value? Certainly, I mean, you look at the stats that we’ve [01:03:00] shipped.
We shoot a lot of three point shots. But that changes over time. And when we’ve had some centers who have shot threes, we’ve had some centers who have not shot threes. You know, we had a point guard and in our first four years who, he was an all defensive team guy, but he was not a three-point shooter.
So I think. That on both ends of the ball. As you start big picture, you say, okay, who do we have? Who’s returning? who did we lose? Within the concepts of what we’re probably never going to change. You know, not that it’s the right way. We just believe when everybody’s involved on offense, they feel better about the game and about themselves.
And when you feel better, you do better. So we’re not an ISO type stand around and watch one guy in one given moment play. So within that framework what are going to be some things that these guys are going to be able to use [01:04:00] You know, if you’ve got a couple of good pick and roll players, well, you need to implement some ball screen actions.
If you don’t have guys who are great at pick and roll, maybe you’re going to use some more dribble handoffs and some pass and chase and some different things that off as when and same things on defense. I mean there’ve been years where we have more length and maybe we’re going to use the 1-3-1 zone as our secondary defense.
If we have some more speed and quickness and athleticism, and maybe we’ll be able to extend our man to man beyond the three-point line. So just again, big picture trying to figure out what are going to be some things that we’re going to try and start the foundation for this group because no two groups are ever the exact same.
And then from there as you’re in the nitty gritty. You’re trying to balance on a day to day basis. I mean, we always dribble, we always pass. We [01:05:00] always shoot. Those are three things that we’re always going to do, and we always shell drill. But then aside from that are you installing some half-court offense?
Are you working on your secondary defense? Do you need to get in your press break? Do you need more competition in that practice to get the guys up and down and get after it a little bit more? Or do you need some more drill work on your different ball screen, actions? whatever it is that you’re working on.
So kind of just sit down and bounce ideas off of each other, and obviously the longer you do it, the more the more things you’ve developed and tweaked and changed and the more drills. And so when you recognize that now our team needs to work on transition defense. Well, okay. Here’s, here’s six things that we’ve done over the last 10 years to focus on transition defense.
Let’s, let’s pick one of those out of the hat and see if it can help us today.
Mike Klinzing: [01:05:55] Do you film practice?
Matt Langel: [01:05:57] Yes. Yes. We film [01:06:00] practice. And you know, obviously early in the season, when you’re trying to learn more about your team and figure things out you’re going to watch more of the practice film as you get into games and preparation and breakdowns you may only watch certain segments of that practice as opposed to the whole thing.
Mike Klinzing: [01:06:15] What’s it look like when you’re scouting an opponent who does the initial scout for your program and then how much of. Tape or how much tape are you watching on a particular opponent in season? Let’s say it’s a conference opponent.
Matt Langel: [01:06:29] Yeah. Conference games are the most important. And you know, in a normal season, you’ve got the non-conference to start to figure out not only about your own team, but, what maybe a common opponent for your conference that you’ve both the both played to watch that I’m a believer we don’t.
All our assistant coaches. They’re not all the same, but they share responsibility. So we don’t have an offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator. I like all of our assistants to be [01:07:00] doing all of those things because they all aspire to be head coaches. So I want them to be getting experience in all areas of the job, but so those responsibilities are divided up. One of the assistants they’ll have the game, they’ll have been watching it, watching the opponent for a couple of weeks in advance. We’ll probably sit down and go over that or early on as soon as it becomes the next game on the schedule we’ll sit down and I’ll pick their brains or their brain on some thoughts, some keys to the game.
I usually ask them to have what they think would be a good game for me to watch. I typically like to watch the last couple of games that that team has played if we’ve played them before, I like to watch that game. But yeah, it’s a lot of tape. And, again, the more you do it, the more efficient you get at watching the tape and trying to find what you’re looking for and what you need to pay attention to and worry [01:08:00] about as far as the other team’s strengths.
What you may try and take advantage of if they have any weaknesses.
Mike Klinzing: [01:08:06] When during your day, do you like to watch tape? Are you a late night tape guy? You watch it in the office during, during the morning hours. When do you typically watch tapers? It just vary depending upon what’s going on on a given day.
Matt Langel: [01:08:17] It varies.
All, I mean, there are phases where you can, I mean, nighttime is, Oh when you’re not sleeping, you can always go watch more film. It’s also though, it’s one, it’s one of the things that’s really hard about coaching for me. As a player, as a student or whatever you could, you could usually put your work in and then be done and feel like, okay, you’re very well-prepared as a coach in recruiting and scouting and game preparation there, you could always do more.
And so that for me, I would probably say the number one thing I’ve adjusted to the best of my career is figuring out what’s the right [01:09:00] amount and putting it away at that point and saying, you know what, we’re prepared. I’ve done all the work I can do on this area.
And even though somebody else, somewhere else might be watching more tape or making more recruiting phone calls. I’m confident and comfortable that this is right for us. And go from there.
Mike Klinzing: [01:09:23] No, that makes total sense. I, I know we’ve had a couple coaches on that we’ve had conversations with about just the fact that it’s so easy now to be able to access and then watch video compared to the VCR era.
And so you think about trying to watch tape during the VCR era and between rewinding and over rewinding and missing the play and doing all that. Like there’s just the amount of time that it took to be able to see things sort of precluded you from watching five, six, seven, eight games, because.
It was just so tedious. Whereas now you can pull up so many [01:10:00] clips and it’s so easy to be able to watch that we’ve talked to a number of coaches that they’re like, yeah, you have to be very careful not to overdo it or do overkill. And I think it’s a great point that you made for coaches out there that look, you have to.
Get to a point where you’re comfortable with your level of preparation and understand that there’s probably a very, very limited marginal gain for spending another two or three hours. Once you get to that point where you feel like you’re comfortable with the knowledge that you have of your upcoming opponent,
Matt Langel: [01:10:28] I agree.A hundred percent. All right. Right.
Mike Klinzing: [01:10:32] So how do you go about when you’re trying to grow in your career and you’re trying to improve, where are the places or people or things that you go to try to improve yourself as a coach? Are you going to coaching mentors like Coach Dunphy. Are you going to books?
Are you going to video? Are you watching other programs? Are you watching NBA games to try to pick stuff up? Where do you [01:11:00] go to try to learn and improve yourself as well?
Matt Langel: [01:11:02] all of the above. I thank you. You try and listen to podcasts and leadership and coaches in your sport, coaches, not in your sport, coaches who you know well coaches who you don’t know well, I think any chance you get to ask questions you know, that I’m a big believer that pretty much everything we’ve done, we’ve stolen it or the concept from somebody somewhere. And so I think that you’re always adding from anywhere that you can, I mean there’s leadership of companies of business of you know, you talk to.
Childhood educators about what the next generation that you’re not even dealing with, that we’re not even dealing with, but what are, how are that, how has that group learning best? And just any, anything that [01:12:00] applies to the job of coaching, you’re constantly looking for other ways.
Yeah. Do we steal plays off of TV or off a video? Absolutely. but it works vice versa. I mean, we have an action that we use against switching teams who switch against us. And, we didn’t have a name for it. We just kind of did it.
We said, you pass it over here, you pass it back over here. And then I was watching social media and coach Fran Fraschilla had clipped our play. And he was saying that this is called the boomerang. And so we started calling it the boomerang.
Mike Klinzing: [01:12:40] now gave it a name like
Matt Langel: [01:12:42] we were doing it.
I’m sure he thought we had a name for it too, but we didn’t. And so you just, if you’re open to growth and progress and you’re concentrated on your process, then you’re constantly. [01:13:00] finding something that’s going to help you do better.
Mike Klinzing: [01:13:04] That’s so true. I think if you have a growth mindset that, and you’re actively seeking to try to get better, especially nowadays, there’s so much information out there that you can find and that you can take from. And I think it’s the danger that we just talked about in terms of watching film too, that it’s almost overkill.
You have to, you have to probably be selective about where you put your attention and really focus in on one particular aspect of your growth or your improvement, or it’s easy to be. Overwhelmed. I want to wrap up with one final question for you. It’s a two-parter and part one is what is the biggest challenge that you have going forward?
And we’re going to exclude the pandemic because everybody obviously it’s a huge challenge. We were all we’re all. Eventually we hope gonna make it through this. So pandemic aside, what’s the biggest challenge that you have in front of you. And then number two. What is your biggest joy of being the head men’s basketball coach at Colgate?
When you get up [01:14:00] out of bed in the morning, what’s the thing that puts a huge smile on your face. As you go into the office to get your day started. Yeah.
Matt Langel: [01:14:07] So the second one for me is that it’s never work, you know? I mean, again, our guys went home and when we’re recording this, we’re in a little bit of a quarantine state.
We’re allowed to work out with them, but in small groups. And so for the staff, it’s like it’s 20 hours of workouts because we have so many different groups that are not allowed to interact over the course of a day. Now, obviously that’s not every coach being there for 20 hours.
Right. But there’s not a day where it feels like work. Do you wake up? And you say, okay man, I, I can’t, I can’t believe I got to go to the office today or how many more days till Friday. So I have my weekend free of work responsibilities, not one day in 10 years. Have there been some really difficult times and some times when I feel like it’s [01:15:00] is gonna be daunting to get to, or that you may not be able to get to where you thought you were going to get to.
With the season or a team or whatever it may be. Absolutely. But never, is there a day where you’re dreading the work that you’re doing? And so for me, every individual deserves to find a job, a work that they feel that way about because it’s great. The biggest challenge, I think for me and for us right now, I mean when we just two straight years we set the school record for most wins in a season.
So the expectations for our program are at an all time high. And so how do you keep growing? How do you keep improving? And that doesn’t mean win more games. But how do you keep making the experience better? The program better? You know, the, the student athletes that are going to come and play [01:16:00] here in five years.
How do you make it better for them? And so I think as you’re when you’ve got a lot of, a lot of, a lot of room to grow, it’s sometimes can be easier to grow. Then when you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re closer to Closer to the ceiling of what the, what the program can be and what you can do to, to find new ways to continue to improve and you know, maximize what you’re, what you’re doing.
Mike Klinzing: [01:16:28] I think making it sustainable when you’re at the top already, and you’re continuing to try to keep it there. And as you said, to be able to improve the experience and just to stay on top, once you’re on top. Then you got to look for new ways to be able to grow and improve and keep the program where it is and continue to grow it in many, many different ways.
Before we get out. Matt, I want to give you a chance to share how people can find out more about your program, how they can reach out to you, get in touch with you, maybe share your social media, and then I’ll jump back in [01:17:00] and wrap up the episode.
Matt Langel: [01:17:02] Yeah, go Colgateraiders.com is our website. I mean we’re on Twitter and Instagram and although I have those things, I don’t use them that much.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s also on the website. I’d love to hear from people to try and help as many people as we can with whatever it is. They’re looking for a bit of basketball or coaching profession or what have you,
Mike Klinzing: [01:17:33] Matt, we cannot thank you enough for taking almost an hour and a half of your time tonight to jump on and share the story of your journey with us and to provide some knowledge out there for coaches.
So again, we really appreciate you taking that time and to everyone out there. Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.