2017 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship
Maryland Postgame Quotes
JOHN TILLMAN: I think having been on the other side, I think the first thing I want to do is obviously congratulate Ohio State on a great season. What a great team. We knew we had our hands full today, and we certainly did. Nick and his staff and that team, they're a great team.
Obviously having lost to them the first time, we knew how good they were. We knew we were going to have to play our best game to have a chance to win. So, I want to tip my hat to them. Obviously, it speaks to the Big Ten and how hard that conference was this year. So, I know they're going to be -- obviously, their future is super bright.
Obviously, very proud of the guys up here, but just our team. Just kind of trying to reflect back. It really hasn't sunk in, but all they've done since August, given where we were last year and having been in this spot and losing a heartbreaker, there was a couple different ways we could go, and we could have let last year's loss basically impact this year. And I think it speaks to the leadership of this group and their ability to kind of put things behind them and move forward to give us a chance this year.
I'm proud of their efforts. It was certainly a team win. Wasn't pretty, but I'm certainly proud of how hard they played, and that's been a staple. I'm happy for our state, our school, our students, our alums. Especially the alums, having waited so long. I think that was a big thing that motivated us was to try to bring a championship back for them, but also living in the moment, knowing that this was their time. I'll kind of leave it at that.
Obviously, jump back in, but couldn't be happier for these guys. Like I said, after what happened last year, for them to be back up here speaks to their character and how hard they worked and what a true team and how unselfish they are.
Q. Colin, after the game you guys got to share a moment with the fans behind the benches. Can you kind of describe what that was like for you?
COLIN HEACOCK: It was special. Kind of like Coach Tillman said, we went out there today, we were playing, and we saw a lot of alums. Coming in here as freshmen, a lot of those older guys helped us and made us comfortable. So, kind of what they started. It felt great just to finish it and share that moment with them and just for all the fans out there.
Q. Tim, you guys were able to hold Ohio State to scoreless stretches of almost 24 minutes and 15 minutes at different points in the game. What do you think was key to that, frankly, dominance on their attack?
TIM MULLER: I think we just did what we always do. We just played fundamental Maryland defense. You've got these two guys on the end, Isaiah and Nick controlling the D-mid stop, and we didn't try to do anything we don't normally try to do. And Garino and Austin giving us a lot of possession time was definitely pretty helpful, allowing us to be fresh on our side so when the ball came down we could play up speed if we wanted to.
Q. Colin, the second midfield stepped up today, especially Adam DiMillo. Describe how impactful that second midfield was today?
COLIN HEACOCK: Yeah, I mean, having them go out there and be aggressive, a lot of the credit goes to the scout defense. Day-in and day-out they gave us a great look.
Coach Reppert, all the preparation he does for us really helps us. And today Adam DiMillo, Ben Chisolm, Ethan, they really stepped up big and helped us a lot.
Q. Isaiah, what does it say about your coach's character? He's talked about the character of you guys to keep coming back, but what's it say about the character of your coach to get you guys back here?
ISAIAH DAVIS-ALLEN: Well, you know, like Coach Tillman is topnotch. Obviously, this whole team starts at the top with Coach Tillman. It goes down to Coach Conry and Coach Reppert, but our coaches are topnotch in our eyes. They did an awesome job all week.
Q. Any of you guys can answer this, but in terms of when they came back and I guess it was 8-6, and there was maybe that late-game push they were trying to make, what was the difference in being able to suppress that and come up with the stop in the end? How is that different than in year's past on this stage?
PLAYER: I think we've been there all year. We've been in those spots all year. That's something that we focused on is just finishing. We love it. We embrace it. We knew it wasn't going to be easy, and when we were running out there with two minutes left and we had to make a stop.
We were all smiling at each other like this is where we've been. This is where we want to be. We always pride ourselves on defense at Maryland, and we really wouldn't want it any other way.
Q. Colin and Tim, when you guys came here with your class, it was really like the first building block to this championship. Just describe that journey from that moment to now. What do you think the key was for your class particularly to lead this group to this title?
TIM MULLER: Yeah, we're a close group. We do everything with each other. I don't know if there's a weekend that we're not spending time with each other, and tons in the locker room. So that's what we want to do here. We want to build unity.
Obviously, the past year has been rough, but we knew as seniors that we had to come together this year and bring it together for us to get this National Championship. I think it just speaks about the rest of these guys and just the type of players that we are at Maryland.
COLIN HEACOCK: Yeah, he kind of said it, but just the camaraderie we have as a team, whether it's seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen, we're all pretty close off the field, so I think we carry that on to the field. So, we always trust in one another, and so we're always there to have each other's back.
Q. Tim, can you talk about after facing another talented attack in Denver, you guys almost did the same thing against Ohio State. What particularly was working for you guys as a close unit?
TIM MULLER: Just playing our Maryland defense, like I said, just being fundamental. We don't go out there and try to make plays happen, like Coach Conry says, they just happen if we play our fundamental defense. Guys like Nick Brozowski had a great game. He had a lot of ground balls and he had some close turnovers. Curtis Corley, Bryce Young, they all played fundamental defense. They didn't try to do anything special. I think that's just how Maryland always is, and that's what we try to keep up here.
Q. Coach, you talked about the scars your team has picked up over the last few years as something you can use as motivation. This season do all those scars make this sweeter?
JOHN TILLMAN: Yeah, what Dan's referring to, when guys lose games or things don't go well or we make mistakes, we talk about those being teachable moments. But the kind of scars that you have -- and like we kind of look at the scars as opportunities to learn, but also, we're proud of our scars sometimes. And we reflect back on if you have a scar, something good didn't happen, you don't forget it. You learn from it, and hopefully that's something you can grow from. We don't run away from that.
We lose a game, and we don't do something well, we talk about it, like, hey, we can't go back and do that again. We own it, and hopefully it's something we don't do again.
So, you know, it's kind of a weird dynamic, candidly. I hadn't thought a ton about it until people were like, Oh, this is your third straight one. And the fact that our kids were -- and Nick Mannis is always comfortable, which is amazing. They were pretty comfortable, you know, just even throughout the year. They were pretty confident, and they just would never back down to challenges. We'd push them. We'd get after them, and they just never back down. Knowing that if they fell short, they would have had four years of getting close, but never getting there. It never came up. We never dwelled on it, we didn't focus on it. We just tried to be the best team we could be. Again, if we did something wrong in the year or last year, it was like, okay, we can't do that again.
Again, not just for -- but, hey, remember last year, like we've got to do this better. And I actually thought we did a better job this weekend than we have over the last couple of years, and I think that helped us too.
Q. It seemed like you guys had a lot of success attacking from behind the cage today, especially isolating from the short stick and kind of dodging from there. What did you see? Was that part of the game plan? Thoughts on that regard?
JOHN TILLMAN: You know, quietly who had a real big game for us was Dylan Maltz, and that son of a gun, thank God, he's graduating because I can say this. I've been on him about shooting left-handed for three years, and he's been fighting me on it at times. Even his dad has been chiming in. The son of a gun scores a couple left-handed this weekend. So, you know, it's funny how sometimes that happens.
But I thought Dylan, because they put a short stick on him allowed us to pick with him, but also dodge from behind with him. We had a little success early with some big little picks from behind. So, we felt like we would do that.
And candidly we kind of had to go to that because Matt and Colin weren't winning match-ups and that's a credit to Ohio State, their close guys. We just couldn't get much leverage on them. The ball was dying on their sticks. So, we felt like maybe using some pick action might get them free, and we could kind of work off -- if they tried to stay with match-ups, we could throw back. Or if we could get leverage, we could circle the ball and attack in front.
Q. Coach, Matt Rambo, when he came here from LaSalle, was a finisher, and he slowly developed his passing skills and became an all-around player. Describe how important Matt Rambo was to this program and especially to the offense even as a senior leader.
JOHN TILLMAN: Sometimes you get the right guy at the right time and certainly for us Matt came in at a perfect time. We graduated some attack men and we needed somebody. We needed a few guys that could come in and play right away. Matt physically just the way he's built was ready to play basically the day he walked on campus. Just a little stronger than your typical freshman.
I think what really helped him, I think we talked about this last week, those guys took a lot of lumps in '13 -- or excuse me, in '14. It was kind of Michael Chanenchuck, and a couple juniors and a lot of freshmen. Timmy Rotanz was playing a lot back then, Colin was playing a lot back then, Matt was playing a lot back then.
In the semifinal game against Notre Dame we had four freshmen on offense at one time. I can remember that game. Every time we came down, it was a different guy turning the ball over, and I think they were a little bit nervous.
Obviously, those guys were so much more poised today, and they were a big part of what we did today. Matt is a guy that works really hard. Matt is a prideful guy. He loves competition. You know, sometimes he gets a little stubborn, so do I, and that leads to some interesting moments. But he knows I love him, and I know he loves me, so I like that sometimes. He will fight you a little bit because he is passionate. I think his poise and the fact he is so positive now when things aren't going well is a true show to his maturity.
Because you're right, his game has evolved. It was always there. I think it just got brought out by being around really good players and being around guys like Coach Reppert.
Q. When the clock hit zero, what was that moment like for you? What did you do in that moment? You said that you guys did some things differently this weekend, can you elaborate?
JOHN TILLMAN: Sure. It really hasn't sunk in yet. In kind of quiet moments just being transparent, I remember two years ago being in here and I think we were adjacent to Denver's locker room, and I remember being up here with Matt Dunn and a couple other guys. We could hear them celebrating, and it just, man, it just kind of ripped your heart out. Our kids were in tears and all that. Sometimes you reflect on those things. It hasn't really hit. Obviously, hugged the coaches and our staff.
And some of our staff is in here. We just have -- our coaching staff sacrifices so much. Just Christian Brown's in here, and our athletic director, Kevin Anderson, we have so many people that help us do what we do that people don't know about. So, hug them, thank them. I think that's really the first thing that I thought of.
I think what we did differently, there was a big advantage this year to our hotel being right here. Because I can remember back in 2012 here, we stayed up in Boston, and it was a long way to go. And I remember I think the semis on Saturday were even later. I thought we played Duke in the second game, and it was a little bit later. Our kids got back pretty late. And it is such a quick turnaround to get ready to play a really good team in less than 48 hours. Even the conference tournaments, a lot of times you're playing at 3:00 and 5:00, or 5:00 and 7:00, and then you're playing the championship at night too.
So it is a quick turnaround even for us playing that later game and then we're back to 1 o'clock. So, we got back a little sooner. We actually met on Saturday night.
It helped both teams candidly to not only have played them once but played them twice. Scouting report was already done. We had film cut off. We were prepared. So, we got together Saturday night and just kind of reviewed and went back to Ohio State.
A lot of times if you've played a second game, by the time you get back, the kids are exhausted. You don't know how much they can retain. And I think this group wasn't just satisfied winning Saturday. It meant a lot to them to win. Denver's a really good team. But you could see there was a little bit more, okay, we came here for more mentality versus some other years, because it is special to get here and win that semifinal. You hope they're excited. So.
I think starting that preparation Saturday night was big for us. We really started getting into like the ice baths and all that quicker this year. Some guys got IVs right after the game.
We had more video and more stuff prepared for breakfast on Sunday. Just, again, on Sunday, being here, we went over and did all of our media and we were in and out in an hour. It gave so much more time to be able to prepare for the game, so that was huge for us. We were able to watch film several times because we had man-up, man-down meetings; we have face-off meetings; we have offense; we have defense. So, we have a lot of things to get through.
Ohio State is so good on special teams, their man-up is phenomenal, obviously, Jake Withers is really good. So, we've got to get those units together, and you don't have much time. You also want to get them off their feet and get them mentally rested. So, you're trying to balance all of that, and I think the proximity thing was huge for us.
Q. T.D. Irwin, Trevor Baptiste, and Jake Withers, and today you actually won the face-off battle against Jake Withers. Talk about your coach, Mr. Mattes, and your team of face-off guys. Also, I'd like to know are you on the recruiting trail tomorrow with Charles?
JOHN TILLMAN: You know, Chris does an awesome job for us. Being a face-off coach, it's almost like being a pitching coach. If you've never pitched, you don't really know some of the nuances or batting coach. So, Chris knows so much more just because he is a professional player.
He works for the face-off academy, that's what he does. So, he can see things a lot of us can't. So not only during the game making adjustments, every game we go in with a plan and then we make some adjustments, and then you have subtle adjustments with who you want to go with and what they're going to do.
Chris and I watched a lot of film together. I listen a lot just because I think he really knows what he's doing. And the old saying, my friend John Stanbrook always says, the strength of a wolf is the pack. Those four guys Alex Giovinco, Will Bonaparte, Jon Garino and Austin (Henningsen) battle each other every day. We kind of -- I think towards the middle of the year when we weren't doing well, we philosophically changed and we actually went harder in practice with those guys. It's almost like in football where you're going with just pads, like shoulder pads on, we went full pads and those guys got after each other and we dialed up the intensity. Then we started two-poling more, and I think that's really helped us down the stretch.
Obviously, John did such a good job today, that we actually went away from the two pole because we wanted to be a little bit more protected on the back end. But I think the last time we played Ohio State, we really needed those poles.
I thought you saw that on Saturday, like Matt Neufeldt was phenomenal. I think he had six ground balls. I though Nick Brozowski had his best game ever today, Boston guy, coming back home.
So I think it's always been obviously 3-on-3, 10-on-10 with us. But I think Chris and those four deserve a lot of credit. I'm sure they'll deflect it to the wing guys, but, man, they've really busted their butt. I don't think we're here without Chris, for sure.
We'll probably get after the recruiting pretty soon. Definitely. I feel like we're behind a little bit, but that's okay.
Q. Coach Tillman, you've had one of the more, I guess, incredible journeys as a coach. Can you just talk about the last three years? Maybe talk about the last three years. I know you're a guy that puts a lot of pressure on yourself, so I'm interested in knowing how you've evolved. How do you think you've changed as a coach in the last three or four years?
JOHN TILLMAN: It's an interesting question. I guess I never, for me personally, focus on the end result. Obviously, you hear it. And we do a lot of Nick Saban-type stuff. You know, we really focus on the process. We feel like the outcome is a byproduct of what you do every day.
So like it is such -- I know most of you have heard this before, but it is such, when you get to the championship, it's so hard to see your kids sad, but also when you get to the weekend, and you either lose in the semis or finals, you're lucky to be there.
You know, I was talking to a couple guys before, like they were great coaches like Bob Shillinglaw who just retired. He's been there 40 years and never won a championship, but he's a great coach, great person. So you're kind of like, you're proud of the kids to get to championship weekend because it means a lot for our school and our alum to be here, but you're also disappointed that you got so close and you weren't able to get it done. So you kind of go back, and go, All right, what could we do different? So you're always reflecting back and looking at what can we do better?
We've certainly got a look at every aspect of the program. But we talked to the kids a lot. I think with this group especially, and in the last few years as well, we're really trusting in our players. If Isaiah goes, Coach, we need to back off on practice and go shorter, we go shorter. If the guys want to do some different things, then we do it.
Candidly, one thing that the guys have been doing, which I actually kind of like is -- midway through the year, I think another big change was Nick Mannis. Nick Mannis was playing pole at the beginning of the year and end of the year playing close because Matt got hurt. So we had Nick playing pole, and then right around, right after Villanova we switched Nick to short stick, and we got so much better defensively because Nick's been here five years and he's really smart. We've played better since then.
But then at that point, it brought on this huge speaker on the back of the bus. I would say early on 90% of the music was horrific, but they loved it. I couldn't understand any of it, but it's gotten much better. It became kind of their thing. These guys are a loose group. They work really hard. They're, obviously, you can see how hard they play. But their thing was like this speaker thing. They hook up their phones and they just start cranking tunes. It kept them loose.
It's funny, we were playing somebody and the coach was like, We're ready.
And I go, Why?
And they're like, Oh, my God. You can hear the music. They're good.
So Matt will tell you that they're really focused. It's funny, they have one song that I don't know why they picked it, but they love that song: Dire Straits, Money For Nothing. You could give me a million guesses, I would never guess that song. They love when the drum starts going, and it has the guitar riffs. So every road trip, every time we come back, every time before the game, that song comes on and they will not get sick of it and they just keep playing it. I don't know why that song. I actually like Dire Straits a lot, but it would not have been my first choice. But it's been pretty fun because for an old guy, like Young MC and things like, so I actually kind of like it. They have some Van Halen, things that I actually like better. So that's pretty cool. So they maybe humor the old guy.
I think when we won the championship, we won, and we left Columbus at 11:00 and we drove seven straight hours. Their goal was to just crank the music. It was like 3:30 in the morning, and they were still just cranking tunes. Eventually they gave in and fell asleep, which, thank God for all of us.
But that's kind of been like this cool thing. And I'm like all right. That's your thing. Go ahead. So I think trusting those guys, trusting your older players. Kind of knowing where that sweet spot was has really helped me.
I never really focused on like me. I'm lucky to have the job I have. It's a dream come true. I love coaching. I love working with young people. To me, it's about teaching. My mom was a teacher. To be at a storied place like Maryland, I thank my lucky stars every day.
I don't define how we're doing with winning or losing exclusively. Sure you want to win games, but we're doing some other good things. I sat up here last year and we talked about how well we're doing academically. We do a ton of community service. I'm proud of those guys. Every single one of our seniors just graduated. That is the stuff that's most important to me. But I feel like if we're doing all of the personal development and developing young people the right way, it leads to a championship, a winning mentality that carries over on the field. Not always, because you've got to have really good players. But when you get that combination, I think you have a chance.
That's probably, kind of working back to the other coaching styles, maybe sliding in a little bit more Dabo Swinney-type stuff. He's pretty loose with his guys. I think he lets his hair down.
I can't believe Heacock and Rambo remembered, but I made a bet with them that I'd get a tattoo if we won the championship, and they actually just brought it up. So secret's out. It may be the smallest tattoo in the history of tattoos. Can you get a tattoo on the bottom of your foot? I haven't figured it out. It's going to be small. And I'm always joking with those guys, because a lot of those guys have tattoos, and I'm like I would never do that. And I've got to follow through on my word.
I just can't believe those guys. They can't remember offensive plays and they remembered that. So, I figured I'd throw that out there.
Q. We sports people love numbers. The number you don't have to hear anymore going forward is 1975. Just what does that mean? What's that going to mean to your guys from this day on now?
JOHN TILLMAN: I try to candidly shield our kids from that. Our alums are awesome about that. You talk to our alums and it's about you guys right now. It's your team. We had our opportunity. So I'm really pleased that they don't load on that. Certainly we're not going to run away and hide from that. We haven't. We realize it's been a long time. We kind of embraced our paths and have drawn strength from those guys. We bring guys back all the time.
Dave Saunders, one of our alums was with us at dinner last night. So we get it. So I don't think those guys think too much about it, just because we don't bring up, hey, come on, guys it's been a long time. It's always been about them, this is their moment, this is their opportunity.
For me, yeah, I think about it a lot, because I see those guys and I see how passionate they are about Lacrosse. I see what Maryland Lacrosse has done for them, the guys that graduated 40 years ago, 30 years ago, the last couple years. We had a bunch of our alums from the last two years there. They were definitely having fun on Saturday based on the pictures I saw.
But this program means so much, and you are motivated to work hard because you know when you win it makes some people happy. Obviously, when you win a championship, no one has to talk about it anymore. I kind of always felt like we were relevant. We were getting there. We were close. It's not like we haven't been there. I understand you're defined sometimes by championships, but it's not like we weren't in the category. We've been at championship weekend, which means a lot. Certainly you want to get it done. But for them not to have to worry about that here, I think it means a lot to a lot of people. Less to our kids because we've kind of focused on just not dealing with it.