Quote Center: St. John's Postgame vs. No. 6/6 Xavier


St. John's Head Coach Chris Mullin…

On the overall feeling following the game:

"Again, this has been somewhat like Groundhog Day, but you also have to analyze the game. Pretty identical stats. ... I told [our team] what you just said, that was the No. 6 team in the country and just have to hang in there. I know we keep saying that, but that's the deal. They will and they have. That's also been proven too."

On if it's easy to keep the team's spirit up:

"I wouldn't say it's easy. It's job number one though. I wouldn't say it's easy, but it's the way that we conduct ourselves through wins and losses. That's consistent. To me, it's really important right now, it has been this last month, that the way we handle this is the most important thing. … I think they have done a good job with that process, but it's something that I take very seriously because I think it's important. They understand all the good things that they are doing, that they feel good about themselves, and last time I was here we talked about losing basketball games in this fashion and not being losers. Being consistent with your effort, being accountable with your actions, all of us, and I think when you do that, you learn a lot about yourself. I think they are all valuable lessons. Doesn't make it easy at all, but this is what we are dealing with now. I think it's important that we deal with it together and do it openly and honestly. When we get to the other side, we will look back and be proud of ourselves. I'm proud of the way they are playing. It's just about getting that W, and that's what we are going to keep working towards."

On the three-point defense:

"I thought we scrambled much better on defense in the second half. We both made eight threes. Overall, the second effort was better defensively. They missed a few open ones and so did we. That's the bounce of the ball."

On whether it's hard to believe that St. John's is 0-11 in the BIG EAST:

"Yeah. ... They know that they're right there. There's no disputing that. It's not up for debate. Again, tonight two possessions. That's exactly what we're dealing with. That's where we're at."

On if there's a common denominator in all the losses:

"There's been different things on each night. Minus three of those games, ironically it's a five-point differential. I don't think that means anything, but the one thing I would say is that we've had a hard time having five guys going [in the same game]. Like tonight, we had three guys going and our margin of error is pretty low. We've had a hard time having four or five guys click on the same night. We played seven guys tonight, so our margin of error is pretty small."

On if the offense is becoming too reliant on Shamorie Ponds:

"We distribute the ball-handling duties to Justin [Simon] quite a bit, and most of the time what we're doing is collapsing the defense and looking for options. Marvin [Clark II] got great looks tonight, Bashir [Ahmed] came back after having a tough first half with fouls, so stuff is out there. I thought tonight we got a little stagnant. I didn't think that Justin was as aggressive as he was last time we played [Xavier], Tariq [Owens] was in foul trouble, and if you were going to say that Tariq and Justin were going to combine for three points, I wouldn't think that it would be a close game. There are reasons for our foul trouble, but if you look back on certain nights we haven't had five guys clicking. If you told me that Tariq was going to have zero and Justin only three, I didn't think we'd be in the game. That's a plus, but also somewhat puzzling."

Redshirt junior forward Marvin Clark II…

On handling the emotional recent games:

"Just hanging in there and trying to continue being a family. We are in this together and the only way we are going to overcome it is together. We are just hanging in there being tough and trying to persevere. At the end of the day everything I've been through win, lose or draw I always think back what I've been through in my life and put into perspective."

On message to the rest of the players after the game:

"I just told the guys keep our heads up. When the game ends the way it did or as hard as we fought for those 40 minutes against the No. 6 team in the country all we can do is walk away with our heads high. … I told them at the end of the game it was something that we could control and that was free throws. We missed a few of those and if we have made a few of those we keep that lead. Overall, I told them keep their heads up and stay positive."

On playing with Shamorie Ponds:

"He's one of the best players that I have ever played with and it's great playing with him for me as a shooter. He draws a lot of attention and I get a lot of open shots. He's an unselfish player, great playmaker, we are both lefties and it's been great playing with him, I enjoy it night in and night out."

On the atmosphere and coming up just short:

"Of course it's disappointing because we want to win, but I'm not disappointed, we played very hard and it's as well as a game we can play against them defensively. ... It's tough to lose, but we have to keep our heads high against the No. 6 team in the country."

Sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds…

On handling the emotional recent games:

"We are just trying to stay positive and have the right mindset. Day in and day out there is nothing else to hold our head about, so we just have to stay positive."

On facing Xavier's defense:

"I just try to stay aggressive and let the game come to me and not force anything. Start with just finding my teammates and getting open looks and just finishing, playing inside out."

On falling to 0-11 in the BIG EAST:

"I don't think we can believe it, but I mean there's nothing we can do about it. We just have to go into each and every game knowing we can win. Even with our record, we have to take it one game at a time and try to break the ice. We have Duke on Saturday and we have to try to get it done at the Garden."

Xavier Head Coach Chris Mack...

On the game:

"Life in the BIG EAST. Tough team, I know [St. John's] record doesn't show that, and I know that they are going through some things, but a tough matchup for us. We didn't play particularly well, but I thought that St. John's had a lot to do with that. They hit you with quickness on both ends of the floor. We lost way too many possessions through turnovers that result in Ponds, Simon, or whoever going the other way for two points. Give St. John's credit, they pressured us and turned us over. I thought in the end, Kerem [Kanter] made two huge plays. We knew it would be a tough game, and we didn't have inkling that it wasn't going to be a tough game. We expected that coming in. We had a couple of plays that could have broken it to eight or nine in our advantage, but St. John's fought and made some great plays."

On St. John's:

"You sort of throw last Saturday's game at Butler out the window. We knew that we would face a much-better test than they gave Butler. You look at when [St. John's] played Villanova, that tough game against Georgetown where the kid throws in a 3-pointer, and not to mention their best playmaker [Marcus LoVett] goes out for the rest of the year. They're going to beat some teams, and I'm just glad that we don't have to play them a third time during the regular season because it very well could be us. That might be the best 0-11 team I've ever seen anywhere in a conference period."

Joseph Jarzynka