Quote Center: St. John's Postgame vs. Oregon State


St. John's Head Coach Chris Mullin

On his team's confidence following the opening win at AdvoCare Invitational:
"Today was a tough game for us because the effort was there, for the most part we played the right way, not turning it over, playing solid defense, but we were just struggling on offense. That's a game we never win last year. I kept telling them in the huddles to just hang in there and don't let the lack of shot making discourage your energy and defensive effort. We just hung in there and got a little spur at the end. Kassoum [Yakwe] coming in and making six free throws...I think that energized him, but he did that himself. Then he started feeling good and started playing great defense. A game like this is important for them because it's important to not rely on your offense. At some point in the game there's a point where you can either separate or pull together, and they came together and got it done."

On generating points off turnovers:
"We really rely on our training and pride ourselves on not rising up to the occasion. We train to play 40 minutes of pressure defense, be active, be energetic, and we feel that's going to wear down our opponents over the long haul. Our guards did a great job of putting pressure on the opposing team's guards and making it tough...at the right time they were able to get their steals and force turnovers. The other part to that is making sure that the weak side isn't open and we are pressuring the ball."

On not allowing the opponent to be comfortable:
"All day, no doubt. To us, that's the most important thing...to present yourself as soon as the game starts and showing that it's going to be an all-night thing. We are going to compete all night, make it tough, make you feel uncomfortable, pressure the ball, and when those turnovers happen we want to let them know that we are going to be there all night."

On lack of offensive rhythm through five games:
"This season through five games we haven't seen Shamorie [Ponds] find his rhythm offensively. He's had some tremendous stat lines, but the lack of offensive rhythm has really affected him. We did a good job as a team, however, to not let how the game was going affect what we were trying to do. We just hung in there and were fortunate enough that it turned offensively for us. We got some turnovers, made some shots, and just got a little rhythm going."

On gaining experience through wins like Thursday's:
"It's nice when you see that maturity, and you get a win from it. When things are looking sideways, that's what you go through to get here. A guy like Kassoum [Yakwe] is a junior now so he's had some good experience under his belt, so he has some different reference points to fall back on, and with Justin [Simon] and Marvin [Clark II] being out there, two guys we didn't have last year, they were able to build off their own experiences. I think it's a little more than experience, but we are a little more mature group. With that comes the ability to remain focused and not get off-kilter."

On forcing turnovers by stepping into the passing lanes:
"We had our routine scout by watching film, and defensively we try to put them in positions where they know what's coming and how we want to play it. With our guards, we give them some freedom if they get a feel of a long or sloppy pass that they can go get. We want to apply pressure, be smart, and at the right time be aggressive...but that's a feel thing. You can't really tell a guy whether to go or not...you have to pressure the ball in backcourt and be a pest all night. Let that produce the turnovers, rather than always just going for steals."

Redshirt sophomore guard Marcus LoVett

On anchored the final eight minutes of the game:
"I think personally it was just our defense. We always stayed together throughout the game, even if we were up or down...I think we just communicated well and stuck with each other.

On what was working to spark the run in the second half:
"We were just trying to win the point-guard battle overall. That's what we try to do each and every game. We practice real hard and compete against each real hard, so I think that just carries over to the game for us."

On winning the opening game at the AdvoCare Invitational:
"It's a big stepping stone for us overall. I just think our coaches prepared us so well for this game, and we executed on everything that they told us to do."

On the impact of Kassoum Yakwe:
"To have K [Kassoum Yakwe] going/rolling is great. We need K because he's one of our energy guys that we need, and we know that he has to run for us, box out, and do other things that we need him to do, but he played really well today and we are going to continue to keep seeing that from him."

On reactions from the bench during the large, second-half run:
"We just got hyped. To see Kassoum or any of our teammates make a big play for us...we're always happy for them. Things like that are things that we are going to continue to keep doing."

Sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds

On the final eight minutes of the game:
"I think we stepped it up defensively as a unit and we just came together. We were down, but even with eight minutes left we knew it wasn't over. We knew we had enough fight in us to get the job done."

On what was working to spark the run in the second half:
"We feel like if the guards set the tone, then we are setting the tone for the entire game. I feel like if we come out there hungry and with a dog mentality, it changes the whole game."

On winning the opening game at the AdvoCare Invitational:
"I feel like this is major for us. This is a big win for us. I believe that last year we wouldn't have been able to pull a game off like that, so I feel like this is a big step towards what we want to accomplish."

On the impact of Kassoum Yakwe:
"I feel like if Kassoum plays that way, we can play with any team in the country. With his energy and his effort...he's just a motor for us. He's real fast and athletic."

On reactions from the bench during the large, second-half run:
"That dunk by Kassoum was definitely the turning point of the game. I feel like that dunk just changed the way that they [Oregon State] saw us, and I think we rattled our opponent with that dunk."

Joseph Jarzynka