Quote Center: St. John's Pregame vs. Rutgers


St. John’s Head Coach Chris Mullin…


On Sedee Keita:


“Injuries are a part of the game and now it’s about him and his well-being. The only thing you can do now is go to therapy and go from there. [With Sedee out] it will put an emphasis on our small lineup to be active, get team rebounds, and use our space and pace.”


On Marvin Clark II’s role being affected by the injury:


“We’ve played Marvin at the five [position] a lot. We’ve only played two games so far, first of all. When we play with our versatile, small lineup, we have to rebound the ball and be active, get deflections, and play to our strengths. We have to spread the floor out and put the other team in binds.”


On playing a small lineup against Rutgers:


“We have to go out there and dictate the tempo, play aggressive, and the biggest thing is rebounding the ball. We have to box out. We have guys capable of doing that. If they do, we’ll be in good shape.”


On team’s lack of size and rebounding without Sedee Keita in the lineup:


“There’s more to rebounding than just being big. I think we have the guys that can step in for [Sedee] Keita. I think if we use our quickness and box out, a lot of those plays can be over-the-back fouls with the right technique. I feel fine about that.”


On team chemistry:


“They’re just getting acclimated to each other. It just takes a little time. The guys are getting a good feel for each other.”


“Overall, our rhythm and our flow to the game, both defensively and offensively, is a little choppy. I think we play like that in the game. We played a good 20 minutes and in another 10 minute stint we have no rhythm. That’s what I’ve been seeing at practice.”


On the team’s development:


“We just started and it takes time for a team to develop. There’s a difference between having talent and being a team. We’re in that process. We have good IQ guys. We’ll be fine.”


On improvements he wants to see against Rutgers on Friday:


“A little more consistency. I think we got off to a great start on Friday. We had six assists, zero turnovers. We had a tough middle part of the game, but we regrouped and played well. Just consistency and being able to maintain that.”


On team’s ball movement on offense:


“I think in the middle part of the game, it got a little sticky. It’s not my philosophy. The game dictates when that happens. When it happens, we address it and move on.”


On his message to the team regarding Sedee Keita’s injury:


“Injuries happen. Guys get hurt. Like I said, it’s about getting better. … It’s about getting back, feeling good, getting in his therapy and getting back on the court. We have to deal with injuries when they come. There’s no controlling it. It happens all the time. It’s a part of sports.”


“I never want to see anyone get hurt. It doesn’t matter who it is. I feel bad for the kid. He’s gotta first go through that pain then have that surgery and go through the rehab process. The rehab process is sometimes grueling. That’s really where the focus is. He’ll be fine.”


On what he likes about having a small lineup on the floor:


“I think we can cause a lot of havoc, offensively and defensively. We have to make that happen by being aggressive, unselfish, making sure we run off our misses, keeping our turnovers down, and grabbing rebounds. I have confidence in these guys that they know how to play with each other and go out there and play a good game.”


St. John’s Red-shirt Senior Forward Marvin Clark II…


On the game against Rutgers:


“We’re just going into it like any other game. We’re going to prepare, work hard, get our game plan together, and we’ll be ready to go come Friday.”


On the importance of the game:


“It’ll be our first true road game, but in my eyes I don’t take anybody for granted. Anybody that’s playing at this level is here for a reason, so I try to go into every game with the respect that my opponent was recruited for a reason. That’s the mindset I take to.”


On the feeling after Bowling Green:


“We were definitely disappointed. As far as full game, as far as defensively. But a win is a win no matter how you get it. At the end of the day, it’s either you win or lose. We came out on the fortunate side with a win.”


On what Coach Mullin stressed after Bowling Green:

“He stressed the simple things. Really for our team, playing small. We have to really focus on the minor details. Really playing as a team both offensively and defensively.”


On Seedee Keita being out due to injury:


“He’s definitely one of our bigger bodies, so it’s something that we would love to have, but it doesn’t change the way we prepare and the way we’re going to come out and play on Friday.”


On playing the five in a smaller lineup:


“I think a smaller lineup, especially if we play together and play fast, I think having a smaller lineup is definitely an advantage. We have to gain rebounds, we have to play together defensively, we have to play together offensively. We have to be a cohesive unit if we’re going to play small.”


On playing as a cohesive unit:


“It’s definitely something that we’ve harped on and that we’ll continue to harp on. We’ve got a bunch of new guys, a new group essentially and the only way we’re going to get better is playing. So we can practice, you know, practice, practice, practice, but at the end of the day, when we step in between the lines is when we really have to get better.”


On playing as an undersized guy:


“I’m just going in with the mindset that I’m a basketball player, just be versatile. I still have that same mindset. Whatever coach asks of me, whatever he needs me to do, I’m going to go out there and play whatever position he needs me to. So that’s just my mindset. At the end of the day the game is changing and it’s really a positionless game. I’ve worked all summer and really my whole life towards being a complete basketball player. Whatever role coach needs me to play, whether it’s the five [position] on Friday, it is what it is, gotta get the job done.”


On going up against bigger guys:


“I’ve been doing it my whole life, honestly. I’ve been undersized at my position my whole life. It’s definitely different, but where I lack certain things, I have certain strengths and I’m completely confident in those strengths.”


“I’m a bigger guy as far as strength goes so I can hold my own. But I think the fact that I can space the floor out with my shot, you know, being able to put the ball on the floor, being able to pass, make certain plays, make certain reads. I think that’s really why stretching the floor is definitely a weapon that you can use against bigger guys.”


On the challenge of Rutgers:


“It’s our first true road test so it’s definitely an opportunity. Every game is a statement game, especially for our program. Coming off last year, we didn’t win anything, so going into this season every game is a statement game. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing Bowling Green or Rutgers. Rutgers is a big team, well-coached, and they have a lot of returners. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think we’ll definitely be ready to accept that challenge.”

Joseph Jarzynka