Cyrll Langevine, Jeff Dowtin, Fatts Russell and David Cox met with the media to talk Wednesday's win over Fordham, bumps and bruises, and Sunday's matchup with St. Louis.
On how he's feeling: Just a little banged up. Going to get back, take it day by day, get stronger, and that’s really it.
On if he would have played if it were a postseason game: That’s a tough one. I wasn’t feeling so well with my arm. I’m better now. Just going to take it day by day. The guys need me out there. Obviously, last night I couldn’t do it. I was happy they held it down and came away with the W.
On if he'll play Sunday: Most definitely. Hoping to go back out there and play with the guys and hopefully get the dub.
On if it was tough to watch the Fordham game: Most definitely. Was it tough for y’all to watch? I’m just ready to go back out there Sunday and hopefully come away with a W.
On what he does that's missing when he's out: Rebound, control the inside basically. Just do what I got to do to help my team at the defensive end. At the offensive end, let everything else flow.
On fighting through injuries: We’re built for this. We’re built, man. We’ve built for four years so we’ve just got to keep on pushing. Whatever hits us, whatver comes at us, we’re ready.
On St. Louis: They’re very physical. Coach talks about it a lot - they’re one of the most physical teams in the conference. But we’re Rhode Island. We’re built for anything. That’s how I look at it. We’re just going to go out there and play basketball.
On ignoring postseason talk: For me personally, just got to be built. You can’t go out there on social media, listen to what the media says. The media always going to try to portray something that it’s not. But we’re getting older, the group of guys is getting older, I’m getting older and it’s just how you handle it. For me, I think I’ve grown up and handled it well.
On being in the conversation: Madness is the biggest tournament. Just to be in the mix for that, getting back there, is great.
On how he's feeling: Feeling better. Taking it day by day. Getting treatment. Doing a lot of things to get my body feeling good.
On what would have happened with a loss: We definitely would have felt a little mad, a little distraught. We’re going to do whatever we can do to keep playing, whether you’re hurt or not.
On returning to the Ryan Center: Definitely excited to get back and play in front of our home crowd. We miss playing in front of them. The energy is going to crazy Sunday. It’s going to be great.
On reminders from the Fordham game: You definitely can’t take any team for granted, any game for granted. On any given day, any team can step on the court and win. You’ve got to take every game seriously. You can’t overlook anybody.
On escpaing with a win: It definitely was a relief. That’s a tough place to play. That bus ride is kind of long. It was a relief to get that win.
On Jacob Toppin's game-winning free throws: The little pup is starting to grow up a little bit. He made some big plays down the stretch. You can see he’s starting to feel a lot more comfortable and things are getting easier for him.
On Tyrese Martin: He just keeps being aggressive, rebounding. If he keeps doing what he’s doing, everything is going to fall into place.
On battling through bumps and bruises: Once you start the game, all that goes away. You’ve just got to focus on winning. At the end of the day, all the banged-up bruises and all that other stuff is just temporary. We’ve got to go out there, stay focused and try to get these wins in the last couple of games.
On Jacob Toppin: He reminds me of myself when I was a freshman - really confident. That’s just who he is. He’s a really confident guy. He believes in himself a lot.
On the Fordham game: We were kind of in the huddle, like, ‘We’re about to mess everything up.’ After we won, everybody was just happy. To survive without two of our seniors that were banged up, it was kind of a confidence boost, especially for our freshmen. Mekhi played good, Jacob played good.
On Tyrese Martin: He’s always been a major factor for our team, but [Wednesday], he was a monster. Honestly, I thought he was going to get like 30 and 20. He’s been a monster, all season too. I’ve got tremendous confidence in him. First of all, he’s one of my best friends. To see him get success, I was happy.
On how physical St. Louis is: I’d say they’re close to the top in the country. They’re a really physical team - kind of like bully ball so we have to be ready for that and match their physicality.
On Cyril Langevine: He’s got to stop taking vet days, man. He’s scaring me a little bit.
On staying focused: I kind of ignore it, but social media nowadaways, people tag you so you’ll see it eventually. I’m kind of glad we’re on pace for that, but we’ve got a lot more work to do. We’ve got a couple more games left in the regular season and that could all go the drain if we don’t lock in and finish strong.
On Fordham: I think they’re a very well-coached team, I think they’re somehwat undervalued as a team. Obviously, we weren’t completely healthy. But yeah, it’s just good to get out of there with a victory.
On Cyril Langevine: He hadn’t practiced the days leading up to the game, but he’s done that a number of times this year. The kid’s a warrior. Nobody really knows his threshhold for pain like he does, so we all kind of assume he’ll just be OK. Sometime in the pregame, around 3 o’clock, the trainers informed me he probably wasn’t going to be a go. I still held out hope. Not till I arrived at the arena - I was hoping the arena might do a little something to him. But he did the right thing. We’ve got a top-notch training staff. Daniel Anthony is the best. It was right for him to sit out the game and luckily we were able to come through.
On Langevine's injury and recovery: It’s his right shoulder. At some point during the Davidson game - and I’m sure many other times during the year - somebody fell on it and then he fell on it. So it just became a bruise and he couldn’t take the pain anymore . . . He’s going to have to show that he can function, not just lifting his arm up but actually moving it around, offensively and defensively. And then the contact. We’ll have to test him for that.
On the matchup with St. Louis: St. Louis is a huge game. This is a team that we’re probably neck-and-neck with in regards to the NCAA race. They’ve had a heck of a season, they did a great job in the non-conference and they’ve been coming on strong lately. It’ll be a war in here on Sunday. That’s it - that’s our main focus right now.
On where the Billikens rank in terms of toughness: In the conference, I’d say one. That’s why we play a game like West Virginia, because it’ll be similar physicality, similar brand of ball.
On clinching a double-bye in the A-10 tournament: It’d be great. It would solidify our spot, obviously, as a top-four team in the conference, which is where we thought we would be coming into the year. So to actually get through the season and to get there would be monumental for us. It sets us up for a cleaner run in the A-10 tournament. Sunday, though. Can’t get past Sunday. That’s it.
On the remaining shcedule: Dayton here is obviously going to be a big-time game. But UMass at UMass, they’ve won three in a row, they’ve got the Rookie of the Year in the conference on their team. That’s going to be a bear as well. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to think about those next two games and just focus on St. Louis. It’s going to be a tough road.
On keeping the players focused: Messaging is very important from the staff. Not only is it what you say; sometimes, it’s what you don’t say. We don’t spend a lot of time talking about bracketology, what our NET is, the quadrant wins. We don’t do that. Every game is important, particularly in conference play, when we’re chasing a conference title. Obviously, some games are weighted a little heavier in regards to the NCAA Tournament, but I don’t get into those specifics with the guys. I’m sure they see it. I’m obviously very aware of it. So is the staff. The messaging, I think, is very important. And it’s been like that all year - the most important game is our next game.
On Tyrese Martin: That was huge from Tyrese yesterday. He’s turning into a stud right before our eyes, and I’m hoping Ram nation is really appreciating what he’s been able to do. He’s a sophomore and he’s playing like a seasoned veteran.
On the bench: Antwan, Jacob and Mekhi, I made the analogy up in our fishbowl today that, if this were Boy Scouts, they would have gotten their badges. They would become full Boy Scouts. Of if this was Sons of Anarchy, for any Sons of Anarchy fans, they would be been badged over - not just prospects anymore. They did it last night. They made it. I’m sure they already thought they were - ‘Hey, I thought we were wearing the jacket already.’ But last night, on the bus ride home, that’s all I could think about it - how proud I was of those guys to come through for us when we needed them to do it the most.
On what that meands going forward: It’ll be very important because we need all eight guys. It’s not a lot of depth but I think it’s enough. And I think the confidence that they’ve gotten from last night, it has to have them at a really high level. Jacob with the two free throws at the end, he’ll never forget that. Mekhi with the season-high 15 points. Antwan, I couldn’t take him off the floor. He was exhausted, but I couldn’t take him off the floor because his energy and his presence, particularly on the defensive end, was very important for us.