Jeff Dowtin, Cyril Langevine and David Cox met with the media Tuesday to discuss the Wednesday matchup with Dayton and senior night festivities.
On what senior night will be like: It means everything to me. This family, fans - they welcomed me with open arms and I love these guys to death. Definitely a bittersweet moment. Hopefully, I won’t shed no tears. I’m going to try to stay strong. But definitely emotional for me.
On the game: It’s our Super Bowl. Backs against the wall. We need a big win. We’ve been working so hard all season. We deserve this one.
On what comes to mind when he thinks of the Ryan Center: Joy, excitement, love. The moments I’ve been here, it’s everything.
On Dayton's win streak: Definitely hard to win ballgames. Winning 16 in a row is tremendous.
On lessons from the first matchup: Can’t start off the game slow. Got to jump out on them early, got to be aggressive from the jump, can’t wait for the second half. From the first time we go out there, just go, right from the jump.
On the message since the St. Louis loss: Just take everything in and enjoy it. We’ve been working hard this whole year, so we deserve a lot. We’ve got to go out there and take it - don’t put so much pressure on your shoulders, don’t be nervous, just go out there, be free, be loose and just play. We know how to play the game of basketball. Just got to go out there and do it.
On the chance for a big win: It’s a big moment right here. Tremendous opportunity for us. We’re excited. I can’t wait.
On senior night: Last one. It’s another game for me, but it’s a big day for me overall, senior day. Playing the No. 3 team in the nation. Just got to go out there and play basketball . . . It’s my last game here on this court. I’ve put a lot of time and effort on this court. It’s going to be great to be honored, have everyone here that supported me for four years. I’m just going to go out there and play basketball.
On the game: I think every game is a must-win. Obviously, you can’t win every game, but this win is very big for us. Coach Cox did a good job getting us ready. I know I’m ready. Just going to go out there, have fun and compete.
On memories of the Ryan Center: A lot. Ups and downs. My first two years were up, last year was down. This year, it’s going pretty well. We just want to finish it out strong. Shoutout to the Ryan Center for having me.
On games he remembers: College of Charleston, my sophomore year - that really gave me the confidence and the belief in myself to become the player I am today. Just going out there and competing every possession, having fun.
On the message this week: It’s all about your mental. If your mental is strong, you can do anything. Your body might be aching. You play through it. It’s all about your mental. If your mental is strong, you can deal with it.
On his shoulder: I feel great. Played 40 minutes, first time ever. Healthy and feeling good. Just can’t wait to get out there tomorrow.
On the crowd: I’m happy that we have the crowd that we have. I hope tomorrow they pack the arena because we’re going to need it. Shoutout to the crowd, shoutout to the Rhody Ruckus. They’ve been huge this year, helping us with our success. I hope the Ryan Center is packed.
On Dayton: They’re number three. If we win this, it would be a big win for us. Hopefully, lock us in the tournament. But it’s just another game. Every day coach Cox talks about going on to the next game. There’s a lot of basketball left to be played, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.
On slow starts: Gotta stop doing that. As you can see, every time we do that, it don’t turn out so well. Came in with a different gameplan, what we’re going to do to stop them in transition and stuff like that. You guys will see what we worked on. We’re just going to go out there and play basketball. If it don’t go our way, we worked on it, the man above had other plans.
On senior night: Bittersweet. There’s excitement about the game, obviously. Big opportunity for us playing a top 10 team, another conference game. Dayton is showing no kinks in the armor. Obviously, prior to the game we’ll be honoring our seniors, senior managers, as well. Jeff and Cyril have been so important and so valuable to this program, establishing the culture, establishing the winning. They’re two high character guys. I hope that our fans come out and support and truly show their appreciation for what these guys have meant to this program.
On what his message will be to the seniors: I don’t know. They’re two different individuals. I’ll be honest - I’ll be a little emotional as well just because of my relationship with those guys and what they’ve meant to this program. We’ll kind of wing it tomorrow. We’ll probably do another group hug - you all are invited. And then we’ll go try to win a big game.
On memories of Langevine and Dowtin: Right off the bat, I think of both of them as young fellas. Cyril, in the Oregon game, when he had to come in for an injured Hassan and he played like a man-child against a group of men. That game sticks out to me. And then, the other NCAA Tournament game against Creighton for Jeff, when he came up with the 21 points. Nobody thought that was coming. He really stepped up and showed a lot of composure, and he’s kind of rode that wave since then.
On whether the game is a must-win: I would say so in regards to our hopes for the NCAA Tournament, but it’s not the only way. Yes, it’s a very important game, but it’s not the only way in. We still have the Atlantic 10 tournament. Just a PSA to everybody - we’re 20-8, 12-4. We haven’t died. We lost against some pretty tough competition, at Davidson, at Dayton and St. Louis has 21 wins. I would encourage the Rhody faithful to stay strong and encourage these young men to come out here and continue to fight.
On the defeat to St. Louis: Obviously, it was a tough loss, a disappointing loss, just in the manner in which we were kind of physically beat up. We hadn’t been physically beat up like that throughout the year, and we’ve played some big boys, whether it was Providence, West Virginia, Alabama, even LSU. Dayton’s beaten [St. Louis] twice. Therefore, I can expect the physicality level to be on a whole new level. Obviously, we’ve played them once, we know what to expect - the pace, the athleticism, the physicality. We’re going to have to play at an extremely high level tomorrow to win this game. Bu this is what it’s all about. We’re excited about the opportunity to have a top-10 team visiting us here at a place we love, that’s been so good to us.
On lessons from the first meeting: Let’s have a better start. We’ll begin there. We have to come in ready to play. The first four minutes of that game, it felt like an ambush of sorts. They were waiting for us and ready for us, and we didn’t respond well to that at all. We have to be ready for them from the beginning of the game. That’s kind of where they get their momentum, that’s kind of where they get their extraordinary confidence. We’ve got to be ready.
On Dayton's streak: Extremely difficult. You have to an abundance of talent, which they do. You have to have some luck, and they’ve been fortunate here and there. And you have to have great coaching, which they have.
On defendingWhen Obi has the ball, it’s almost like all the attention is on him because he’s so good. Obviously, he’s a facilitator as well. But you want to put your best defender on him, particularly when it matters the most. So Cyril will get that matchup for a large chunk of tomorrow’s game.