Quote Center: Hoophall Miami Invitational (Chris Mullin/SJU)



On participating in the Hoophall Miami Invitational:


“The Hall of Fame has been a great advocate and partner for us. We played at Mohegan Sun and out in L.A. last year, so we really love the association and the help that they give us booking games. This is another great event and we feel privileged to be involved in it. It’s a great trip for us to Miami. I think our fans will love coming down to watch the game. I feel like it’s a world-class event the way it’s run. We’re really looking forward to the weekend in Miami.”


On the leadership of his experienced players:


“We’re really excited about our team. … We feel that this is the year for us to really take it to the next step. The adverse situations we’ve been through will pay dividends this year. With Shamorie Ponds, Justin Simon, Marvin Clark II, and Mustapha Heron, we have four guys that have played a lot of major college basketball minutes and have had some success. Those four guys will lead us. It’s an exciting time for us.”


On the growth of Shamorie Ponds:


“Shamorie [Ponds] can obviously score a lot of points. He’s scored the most points ever here at St. John’s in two seasons. We look for him to continue to score the ball, that’s his gift. He also averaged five assists last year, so I think his playmaking ability will shine more with better players around him. I’ve been on him about being more efficient. He keeps scoring the ball, but of course he can be a little bit better with shot selection and overall efficiency.”


On the team’s defensive skills:


“We were one of the best defensive teams in the country last year. … We just didn’t rebound the ball. So that’s really our main focus and to maintain that defensive presence, both full-court and half-court as well as transition defense. We’ve put a huge emphasis during the offseason and preseason on defensive rebounding. We really want to keep applying pressure, making team’s uncomfortable, and limit other teams to just one shot per possession. Defensively, we have a team that can switch a lot. We have a lineup also that can play kind of conventionally and have our bigs stay home. We’ve been working on a lot of different defensive sets. I think as the season moves along, we should keep getting better at all of them.”


On the team’s goals and defining success for this season:


“I think everyone, all of the players, they understand that this is our best group. I think they feel accountable and responsible for the outcome of games. When you go through three tough seasons that alone is motivation to really have a winning season. Expectations and hype have always existed and I’ve always approached that. It’s what we do each and every day to turn hype and expectation into reality. That’s really where our mindset is at.”


On what it means to be a Hall of Famer:


“It’s something that I never even thought was a reality. ... To have that happen twice is just incredible. To be a part of that elite group of people and players involved with the game of basketball, it’s a special honor. There’s a comradery and kinship that exists and it’s really nice to have that distinction, being partners with all of those men and women. It’s a select group and it kind of dates you a little bit. I really can’t believe how long I’ve been involved in the game of basketball. It just shows you how enjoyable and fun it is because I’m still doing it. It’s a game that’s brought a lot of joy to my life and the biggest thing is the people that I’ve been able to be associated with and maintain friendships with. That’s what really comes to mind, the relationships I’ve had for 35-40 years.”

Joseph Jarzynka