Quote Center: St. John's Postgame vs. No. 4/5 Duke


St. John's Head Coach Chris Mullin...

On breaking the team's losing streak at The Garden: "We would have taken [a win] anywhere]. It was a very similar game, but we did a few more detailed things better. Not great, but better. We got a few clean rebounds after stops. To me, honestly, it feels much better to win of course, but it feels very similar to all these games that we've played. ... I started to find myself saying the same thing over and over again [after games]. So to turn it around against one of the storied programs in college basketball is great. ... It was more important for our players to get that taste back in their mouths. I'm proud because I don't think they just said the right thing, I think they felt it. It was apparent. You can't say you're close when you're not. That would be lying. There were some things that we cleaned up here and there, and the old saying in sports, the ball bounces our way. There have been shots in other games where we've had better looks or we've played better defense, but that's the bounce of the ball sometimes. I'm happy for these guys, they needed it as bad as anything."

On the team's performance in the final minutes:
"I think we had better shot selection for the most part. We still made mistakes. We were up four and still left a shooter open in transition. [There was] miscommunication but it didn't carry over to the next play. We got back and made something positive happen. Again, we're up two and make 1-of-2 [at the free-throw line] to go up three, and we've been in that situation before. Like I said, it felt like all those other games, it really did. It feels much better to come out on top, but it really wasn't that different to me. I've been telling you guys, you think I'm crazy, but we've been right there in all of these games. I think it's just good for our guys to get that feeling. There's nothing like a win to make you feel better. Thank God January is over."

On whether this was an "old school" win:
"Well, the old days of the BIG EAST are so far gone. I can't even remember yesterday. The Garden was rocking, no question. Duke has that brand, they bring them in. Of course, Coach K is class. He's a legendary coach. I was glad our guys stepped up to the challenge of not only a great team, but on the biggest stage. It's nice to do that."

On the defensive game plan:
"We did some work yesterday on our defensive schemes. For the most part, we did a good job. Those were probably the two best big guys we've played as a tandem. I thought overall Tariq [Owens] did a wonderful job, we doubled well and our backside rotations were good. For the most part, we did a decent job on the boards. The defense did a nice job."

On the big shot by Shamorie Ponds late in the shot clock:
"It was probably the biggest play of the game, no question. It's one of the plays that we run from baseline out of bounds. Much like breaking the press, we want the ball in his hands. Sometimes he doesn't get it if they double him, but I thought we ran that to perfection. We set some good screens, Shamorie worked his way for the shot, and it was the biggest shot of the [day], no question. Sometimes Shamorie does that early in the game, you don't like that shot, but at five seconds you just have to get a good look. He had it going [today]. He just had a feel and was moving really well to back guys off and create space. ... I thought he got in there and made some nice passes too to mix up being an aggressive scorer and being a playmaker."

On the team's defense creating offense:
"It's what we've been waiting for. I thought tonight we did a better job of scoring off our defense. Our defense has been able to get stops and force turnovers, but we haven't capitalized in transition. That's something that I think we should be really good at and we did a good job last game and even better today. I thought we got stops, got the ball up the floor, and saw what's out there."

On limiting the Duke frontcourt:
"They're so talented. They can bury you deep in the box, use both hands and are very talented down there, and can also step out. [Marvin] Bagley can play out to the three, use isolations, use both hands, so we tried a few different ways of attacking them defensively. They still had good games, but we just didn't get dominated. I think the biggest thing was that we didn't get in foul trouble. That was a concern coming in."

On Marcus LoVett:
"I think the first thing he has to do is figure out his medical situation and then everything will fall into place. That's always been my main concern."

Redshirt junior forward Tariq Owens...

On the victory over Duke:
"The month of January was rough for us. Coach [Mullin] never stopped preaching to us and we stayed in the gym and it finally paid off. We have been there so many times and I can't tell you how many games we lost by five points, but it came down to the little things. We had some mistakes at the end but we kept going through it."

On maintaining composure at the end of the game:
"There's never a point in any game when guys think this is where it's about to go wrong. We lose games because we make mental mistakes and it's on us. It's the things we do each game. ... This game we locked in and knocked down the free throws and got the loose balls and rebounds we needed to. All those things hurt us before and we learned from our experiences. We can't let the same things beat us twice"

On the team's mindset going into the second half:
"At the half Coach [Mullin] did not tell us anything different from what he usually tells us. ... One possession at a time. He made an emphasis we were right there, they were up at the half and we had to come out and make a statement and set the tone in the second half. As a team as a whole, we came in and hit them in the mouth and knocked them off balance. We kept our foot down and didn't let them regain the lead. We stayed composed and did what we had to do to get the win."

On snapping the losing streak:
"Confidence, our team never lost their confidence. No one hung their head, there was never a lack of talent, it was just mental mistakes we made coming down the stretch. This game we made an emphasis and at every timeout we talked out not making mental mistakes."

On beating Duke at Madison Square Garden:
"Every game we have something to prove. We are playing Duke and it's not easy. We always have something to prove, it's a big game, Coach Krzyzewski and Coach Mullin, it's a really big game, but it's no different than any other game that we play."

Sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds...

On the victory over Duke:
"We just stayed composed. We never broke or folded. We just stuck with our game plan and went into every game knowing we could win. The mindset was the same, we just tried to go out there and break the ice and today we did. We are happy but we can't stop here, we have to keep pushing.

On going small against Duke:
"That was the game plan to get their bigs involved in the pick-and-roll. There was a lot of foul trouble on each side and we were trying to get them out of the game."

On keeping the game under control:
"We stayed composed. We have been down that road before and didn't want to let the game slip away from us. We had a lead, they cut into it but we stayed composed."

On moving forward:
"It's big to just get a win on the board, we can start fresh. We had a tough three-game stretch and it was great to get our confidence at an all-time high."

On the clutch 3-pointer near the end of the game:
"The shot clock was winding down and Coach [Mullin] wanted me to curl up for a screen to try to take the shot. I was confident to take it and it went in."

Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski...

On the game:
"The very first thing, congratulations to Chris [Mullin] and his team. They've been very involved in a lot of really close games in the conference. I know it's been frustrating for them, but they came out and they were the better team today. [Shamorie] Ponds was terrific, but also they play with an enthusiasm and a togetherness that I'm sure they liked. It was tough for us to defend them. I thought they made us look bad, but we made ourselves look bad. We didn't play -- we did not play basketball the first 32 minutes worthy of our program and we had blank faces. We didn't talk. We were like five individuals out there, and it was disgusting really, and no matter what we said nothing worked with our team, until the last eight minutes, then we had a chance to win. We came in prepared, you don't look at records, you look at who you're playing, and we looked at them and said, `hey they're good, they're good,' and we had to defend them that way and we didn't."

Joseph Jarzynka