With an important win in Saskatchewan in the books, sophomore transition player Bryan Cole returned to Atlanta, where he lives during the NLL season, charged up over the Georgia Swarm’s recent victory and playoff push. Before the Swarm’s last two games of the season, Georgia takes one last bye weekend. It will then welcome the Vancouver Stealth and travel north to play the final game of the regular season against the New England Black Wolves. The University of Maryland alum is raring to finish the season strong, get back into the postseason, and make a push with his teammates to repeat as World Champions.
Cole is one of the 10 Swarm players to have played in all 16 games, and his defensive prowess this season is complimented by his offensive production in transition. Cole has 13 points (5G, 8A), including two shorthand goals, 86 loose balls (third most on the Swarm) and 12 caused turnovers so far this season.
During the week off from action, Cole talked about what it’s like living in Atlanta with Swarm assistant captain Shayne Jackson, how he defines his role on the floor, what improvements he has seen from the Swarm throughout the season, and who he wants to have his back in a fight:
This is your first season living in Georgia, rooming with Shayne. What’s the experience been like?
It’s been really good. We’ve been coaching at Pace Academy, been doing some individual lessons, and then obviously playing with the Swarm. Just kind of day-to-day getting to drive through Atlanta and drive through Buckhead, it’s been a pretty cool experience. Shayne and I climbed Stone Mountain. We’ve been down to the BeltLine to experience the city and the kinds of things it has to offer. We had the opportunity to go to a Hawks game and met Baze (Kent Bazemore) from the Hawks, so that was a pretty cool experience. It’s been a lot on the go at all times and then trying to learn the city and balance the lacrosse and traveling at the same time.
Is Pace Academy your first coaching gig?
I’ve coached in the past. I’ve coached with EDGE (EDGE Lacrosse) and I’ve done some individual lessons, things like that, but this is my first time coaching full-time with a team. So, getting to see the development, start to finish, that’s been the best part, and the most gratifying thing for me is seeing how far along these kids have come in just three months now.
How are you feeling about the Swarm’s season so far?
I think we’re playing really well. I think we’re starting to hit our stride here just before playoffs. We’ve made a really strong playoff push. If we can battle for a couple wins in our last two games, it would really, really help us in the standings. At the start of the season, we struggled a little bit just kind of finding our identity, and now that the season’s progressed, we’ve built a lot more trust, and that comes with spending some weekends together as a team. Kind of getting everything back together and organizing yourself week in and week out as to what’s working and what’s not working and be making adjustments on the fly. I think the team spending a lot of time together and coming together has made the difference in our season so far.
Narrowing that focus, how do you feel you specifically are doing in your sophomore season?
I feel like I’m doing well. I feel that I’m playing really well with my teammates on and off the floor. There’s some veteran guys back there, including our goalie, right where it all starts. I try to rely on my teammates to help me get through the possessions. I feel like I’ve been playing pretty solid so far throughout the season. I’m really excited for the last two games, so hopefully we can get into the playoffs and really make a push again.
How do you see your role on the floor, more as a defensive guy or a transition player?
I don’t really look that deep into it. I’m listed, I guess, as transition, but we take care of defense first. If that means staying in and playing all 30 seconds then getting the ball out, that’s what we got to do. I try to take the transition opportunities as they arise. We’ve got a pretty fast, athletic defense. When the ball starts to shoot up the floor, if I see an opportunity, I’ll take it. The coaches have been very trusting of me and given me the green light to go sometimes. I’m kind of starting to feel my way out in the transition game. I don’t know if I would specify it so much to a certain type of role, but I feel like we’ve been doing a really good job this year of just taking care of defense first and just taking that opportunity as it comes at the back end.
When I spoke with (Mike) Poulin after the Calgary win earlier this season, he touched on the team’s conditioning at the beginning of the season. With the Saskatchewan win, do you feel like everyone’s conditioning is back on point?
Yeah, I feel like at the start of the season it’s a little bit of conditioning but also decision making when you do get tired late in those games. I feel like we’ve worked those wrinkles out, and now that our conditioning is in peak form now, our decision making is getting better, our communication on defense is getting better, and just overall, I feel like everyone’s just a little more focused, a little more intense with their training during the week. I would even say the excitement, right, because you have the buzz for the playoffs. We can see that we’re in the hunt, and the energy level when we arrive for the weekends is high. Guys are ready to go and ready to get on the floor and make the magic happen.
This bye week must be a little difficult with the excitement level you have and having to watch the East unfold without the Swarm playing this weekend.
Yeah. It was really, really nice to get a good win out in Saskatchewan, especially under the circumstances that had previously happened out there. I feel like with the Humboldt situation, there was a lot more than just lacrosse we were playing for. Getting that win out there was really nice, but the bye weekend is what it is. There’s nothing we can do about the schedule. The only thing we can do and focus on as players is what we do, prepare the same way as if we had a game this weekend. That means watching film and preparing in the weight room and your conditioning still as if you do still have a game, right, cause you can’t take any days off.
Favorite hangout spot in Atlanta?
In Atlanta would be around the BeltLine. Nice looking at all the artwork and hitting the shops around there.
If there was a different sport you could be a star in, what would it be?
Favorite cheat day treat?
Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream.
Best lacrosse memory?
Winning the World Championship with the Swarm.
If you were to get in a fight, who on the team would you want backing you up?
That’s a good question … Probably Kiel Matisz. He’s a big fella.