5 Questions with Princeton Head Coach Matt Madalon

Rotelli: Congrats on the huge win last weekend. What was the game plan you put in that worked so well against Hopkins?

Madalon: We had been really methodical up to that point, we were slow running our systems and then it just clicked and I was able to take the reigns off a little bit. We knew Hopkins was going to expect more of a slow-down game from us so we just tried to push tempo a little bit and we were lucky to get clicking early. If you watch us on tape in our first couple of games it had been a much slower, organized offensive approach. It was not like we were trying to play chaos transition, we were just looking to push a little earlier in the possession to see if we could take some chances and make sure that we were running the middle of the field. It was nothing too drastic, just a matter of us hitting a few shots and building a bunch of confidence.

Rotelli: Zach Currier seems like one of those guys who allows you guys to play fast. He is a throwback type of two way midfielder. He is facing off, playing offense, playing defense. Are there other guys like him in the country and are teams looking to get away from the specialization that has owned lacrosse in the current era?

Madalon: He is really special, he is a Canadian with a box and hockey background. He has to be one of the best ground ball guys in the game right now. He is impressive, to tell you the truth he is taking face offs due to a deficiency we have at the X. We are looking to find our groove as guys keep working and training. We know he can muck it up and we think that is a great look for the draw. For specialized guys like Baptiste and Kelly, they are so incredible at their craft, we would like to see more guys like that, we try and recruit very well rounded athletes and lacrosse players. We look for guys who do it all. We want to see guys play offense, defense, wings, man-up and man-down. The more that you can do, the more marketable you are.

Rotelli: What are you looking for in a player you are recruiting in terms of skill, athleticism and character. How do you define character by what you see on the field?

Madalon: I see character in how they listen to their coaches, how they respond to their teammates are all character benchmarks. Most of what I base my decisions on come from club and high school coaches’ recommendations. What we want in recruiting when it all shakes out are guys who play the game with a different intensity. We want guys who go harder than everyone, all the time, it is really hard to teach that. I can teach you a certain skill, but when you play the game that intense and with that much hustle and that fast so consistently you learn how to think the game at a different speed which make guys successful at the next level.

Rotelli: Do you have an approach to recruiting in the West? What advice do you have for prospective college athletes?

Madalon: There is no difference in our approach out West accept that the West is a little hard to get to at times, but we don’t see any more value on an East coast kid than we do a West coast kid. In this day and age, there is enough good coaching that the guys are receiving. Maybe 10 years ago we would hesitate on the West coast guy because the Long Island or Baltimore guy had a little more coaching and playing experience. We have to pick our battles in terms of what we want. My advice for recruits is to practice and train as much as you can. If you play 60-70 games a year that is a lot, you won't play that many games in your college career. I think that as long as guys are training and not specializing, unfortunately specialization has developed out West because all these kids couldn't get the exposure where an East Coast kid is playing Friday night football and then going to a recruiting event Saturday and Sunday, the West coast kid is quitting football or soccer to make sure he can make it out East. That’s the biggest trouble. If anything, once you are able to make a decision on a school and firm up a commitment, go right back to playing as many sports as you possibly can.

Rotelli: How important is playing back East in November for a West coast player?

Madalon: Every coach’s hand is forced. We have two recruiting pockets, the extensive recruiting in the Summer and then the short intense one in November. We personally would not care if it didn't exist, but because it does we have to take advantage of it. To think that players don't want to play out East in these November tournaments, I get it, but what if it earns you an opportunity to receive an offer to a school, or scholarship dollars for your family, I think it is important. I can't speak for the other coaches in D1 lacrosse, I don't know how much stock they put in it, but it seems that we always end up with a recruit or two out of the Fall.

Rotelli: What is the direction of the recruiting? With the new NCAA vote coming up restricting recruiting timelines will it align itself more with the Ivy League timetable?

Madalon: We would love for it to be later, as we would see guys matriculate academically. I think it is better for the student as well, it is difficult for these players and families to make these decisions as Freshmen in high school.

Rotelli: Do you think that it will happen?

Madalon: I am not sure, but I do know that the coaches will align themselves with whatever rules are in place. I would like to think that it will move in the direction of what is best for the student, and give them a little more time to make decisions, but I don’t know what that change looks like.

Rotelli: What separates winning and losing at your level and how do you train for that? What do you focus on in practice to separate yourself?

Madalon: I’m an old hockey guy, so we preach mistakes, the team that makes fewer mistakes is going to come out on top. We don’t want our guys playing uptight, though. We don't talk about winning and losing everyday but you see some of the most elite teams like one we lost to in Hofstra, or Hopkins or any team we are watching on film, they are all just very organized. They limit their mistakes and I think the best teams that end up on top really know how to win. They manage the clock, the manage game situation, they manage leads. There are a lot of good coaching staffs doing really good jobs and I think there are some really good players that are able to understand the time and tempo and how to win lacrosse games. If we limit our mistakes we are going to be good.

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About Matt Madalon:

Matt Madalon is in his first season as Head Coach of Princeton. He was honored by the IMLCA as the 2012 Division III Assistant Coach of the Year, and he also earned a master’s degree in management from Stevens.

He was also a two-time Division III All-America at Roanoke College. He was the 2005 Old Dominion Athletic Conference Player of the Year and two-time first-team All-ODAC selection, and he led Roanoke to the 2006 Division III Final Four.

About Chris Rotelli:

Chris Rotelli is the Founder of ADVNC Lacrosse, and Head Coach at Sacred Heart Prep. He was a 3X NCAA All American, 4X MLL All Star, Tewarraton Award Recipient, and a member of the Rhode Island Lacrosse Hall of Fame.