HAMILTON, N.Y. -- Matt Langel doesn't know what to make of his new job just yet. It's safe to say he likes it a lot so far.
"It's an indescribable feeling to get that call. I haven't had time to think or feel what it's like to be a head coach," a smiling Langel said Thursday after he was introduced as the men's basketball coach at Colgate. "There's so many calls to return, an environment to get used to, new players to get to know and recruiting to do and a staff to put together. I'm sure I will at some point this summer, but right now we've got a lot of work to do. I can't wait to get started. I'm really looking forward to building this thing step by step."
The 33-year-old Langel, an assistant at Temple the past five seasons under Fran Dunphy, was hired Monday. He replaces Emmett Davis, who was released from his contract in mid-March after finishing the season 7-23 overall and 4-10 in the Patriot League.
The 51-year-old Davis, who replaced the late Jack Bruen in 1998, was 165-212 in 13 seasons and had five losing seasons in the past six.
In 2004, Colgate became the next to last school in the Patriot League to begin awarding athletic scholarships, and the 2007-08 team was the first to have a senior class with scholarship players.
When success remained fleeting at best, it became time for a change.
"Coach Davis was a terrific guy, a great family guy," Colgate athletic director David Roach said. "He did a lot for the community, he did a lot for Colgate, but we wanted to have some more success than we've had."
Roach said he had more than 100 applicants, but the search committee quickly focused on Langel, an Ivy League star at Pennsylvania.
"We want our student-athletes to have a real positive experience, and I think a degree of success needs to be there for it to be a real positive experience," Roach said. "We would love to see every student-athlete who comes to Colgate receive their diploma with a hand that has a championship ring on it. If we could do that once every three or four years, then I think you're successful."
The Raiders enjoyed stunning success in the mid-'90s when Adonal Foyle was the man in the middle. Foyle averaged 20.4 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.6 blocks a game in his three-year career at Colgate, leading the 1996 team to its second straight Patriot League title and NCAA berth before leaving for the NBA.
Davis had his moments, too. He led the Raiders to the Patriot League Championship game in 2008, tying a school record for wins in a season with 18. The phone in Davis' office was ringing off the hook as scores of former players called with congratulations.
Colgate lost to top-seeded American University for the league title, and things haven't been the same since.
Still, the Raiders have been competitive -- they lost seven games last season by five points or fewer. They lose only guard Joe Hoban to graduation.
"We didn't win a lot of games last year, but we were in a lot of games, a lot of close games that maybe could have changed things a bit more," Langel said. "I'm excited about the group coming back. With a little bit of improvement and a little bit of energy that I think they're showing and excitement about kind of a clean slate that they'll get with me, I think we can do well."
It's already a lot better than it was a month ago.
"It's been difficult without a coach," said junior center Nick Pascale of nearby DeWitt, N.Y. "It's been five or six weeks now since we got back from spring break. We've been lifting and playing pickup, but instructional work, which we usually do in the spring -- we haven't been doing much. Now that we have a new head coach, it brings new energy to the team. We're all excited. We're really ready to get going.
"We have an experienced, veteran team," Pascale said. "We only have one senior graduating, so with this new coach and new energy, we really think this [2011-12] could be our year."
Colgate has a reputation for academic excellence, something Langel understands very well since his brother graduated from the small liberal arts school in central New York.
"When a guy makes a commitment to come to a university like this, he's accepting the challenge to be a student-athlete in the truest sense of the word," Langel said. "That fact that he's getting a scholarship that another student may have to pay upwards of $52,000 is a great achievement of its own. With it comes a great responsiblity -- your performance in the classroom is critical."