Quote Center: St. John's Postgame vs. Nebraska
St. John's Head Coach Chris Mullinâ€¦
On overall performance on Thursday:
"This was our biggest test to date on this early season, and it was definitely going to pose some huge challengesâ€¦particularly on things that we haven't done well in game situations, which are rebounding and defensive play. We did a good job on both, but I think the most important thing is that tonight was really the first time that I saw our defensive alertness, quickness, and athleticism really showed. I think part of it is just gaining confidence in each other. We've done okay in certain areas, but I think there has always been a reluctance to shrink the floor and help in the paint because they are worried about their guy, but tonight showed that we can be in help defense and recover because we are athletic and long enough to do that. I thought we played great defense, we rebounded the ball, and I thought we played so hard on defense that we almost looked a little jittery on offense. We really didn't get into a groove offensively, but our effort was tremendous."
On total rebounding effort:
"It has been an emphasis all summerâ€¦it's something that cost us games last year. A lot of times I don't think it was due to lack of effort. Sometimes it's technique and sometimes, as a coach I really hate to say this, but sometimes it's just a bad bounce. I do think that when you play better half-court defense, you are aligned the right way, and people are know where you are and where you are supposed to beâ€¦.you are more accountable. With that, you can carve space outâ€¦tonight was the best we've done that, and that's two things that we work on every single day. We really don't want to work on it every day, but we have to. We work on our half-court defense and we work on our rebounding every single day. We will continue to do that because that's something we need to do. I think our offense will come around, but if play defense and reboundâ€¦we are going to be in good shape."
On the athleticism of St. John's:
"Tonight is the first night I saw it on both sides of the ball. I've seen it in spurts on offenseâ€¦guys make tremendous plays. I've also seen it in spurts, individually, defensively. When we do it all together, especially on the defensive end, when you are covering groundâ€¦even when you make a mistake, you can cover up if we are playing with energy. I think you'll see more high-level stuff offensively because we share the ball so well. We have such a nice blend of talent. Each guy has strengths that can cover-up another player's weakness. It's a nice, little blend. I told them coming into the game tonightâ€¦when you play a big team, which I have done a lot over the course of my career, the two things you have to do are rebound and play with pace because that's your advantage. You have to put that imprint on the game. When they try to bury you in the post and throw a sloppy pass, you have to come up with all of those balls and you will win the game. I thought our activity on defense made the difference."
On the play of Tariq Owens on the defensive end:
"Tariq is one of our most-important players. The only reason I take him off the bench is because he can play any position. It doesn't matter if someone gets hurt or gets into foul trouble, he can go in and our lineup is fine. He's the anchor of our defense. His blocks are great because he's in the right placeâ€¦he's not drifting away, he's always in the help position and communicating. He does it all. To me, he makes everything go. He's also such a freak athleticallyâ€¦he can do almost everything."
On readiness of team following the big win over Nebraska:
"We can only play the game that we play. I thought tonight was a big challenge and a big testâ€¦I thought we did a good job. We have a lot of tough games coming up. We know what we have to do as a team, but I think tonight they believed it more with their actions. I don't know if we win a game like this last year. We didn't shoot the ball that well, so I don't know if last year our defense was at that level. I'm not even sure if it was even there a week ago. They have to prove it to themselves by playing in a close game. Your coach can tell you all you want about confidence, but you have to prove it to yourselfâ€¦and that's way more important than any drill, pep talk, or anything a coach can give you. Tonight was really the first time I felt like they knew what they were doing. We drilled it, talked about it, and shown film about it and tonight, for them, it fell together. Since I've been here, that's the best defense I've seen us play."
On keeping the foot on the gas throughout the entire game:
"We talked about that at halftime. I thought we came out, especially at the start of the half, we gave up an offensive rebound, got a stop, but then gave up an offensive put-back...we regrouped though and got back on track. We've had enough experiences like that to fall back on, but more importantly, we're really trying to train ourselves so it's not reacting to anythingâ€¦rather we are just flowing back into our training. We've been through this before, you've trained yourself, and you just get back to center. It's okay to get screwed up a little bit, but sometimes a timeout or a free throw allows for you to just get back to center. That takes experience. These guys have been around for a year-or-so, and it's starting to come around."
Redshirt sophomore guard Marcus LoVettâ€¦
On the team's performance:
"It changes a lot for us personally. What we did in this game is what we have been practicing all summer to get to this point. We executed even though we made mistakes at times, we picked each other up and kept communicating and listening to our coaches, that's how we came away with a victory."
On the environment of the arena:
"We knew coming into this game it was going to be a big one for our whole team and we wanted to come out with a lot of energy and I feel like we started and finished the game like that, but we have to appreciate our fans, they gave so much energy out there. To see the whole atmosphere of Carnesecca Arena it was beautiful to be in that environment and we plan on having more games like that."
Sophomore guard Shamorie Pondsâ€¦
On expectations moving forward:
"Every game we play helps to build up our confidence, every little step we take gives us belief in our minds. I feel that as the games go on even through losses, it is going to build us up and help make us stronger."
On winning this game:
"I feel like this game was a big test for us. It was our toughest game so far. It tested our heart, our defense and our communication; we really needed this win."
Nebraska Head Coach Tim Miles â€¦
On moving forward:
"The only good thing about basketball tonight is that we get the chance to strap it on again in three days. Sometimes you don't like the taste of your own blood, when you are out in elements like this you have to be tough as nails. We didn't rise to the occasion tonight and that's disappointing, but it's early in the year we have a lot of improvement ahead of us and I look forward to getting to it as soon as we can. "