Quote Center: St. John's Postgame @ No. 1/1 Villanova
COURTESY OF ST. JOHN’S RED STORM ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE
St. John's Head Coach Chris Mullinâ€¦
On beating No. 4/5 Duke and No. 1/1 Villanova:
"If you've seen our [previous BIG EAST] games, they are very similar to tonight's. Once again at the end, we made some plays that needed to be made. All of the games we lost were very similar. Some things just didn't go our way. More importantly, Shamorie [Ponds] and his teammates were mentally strong, always kept coming back, [were] accountable, watching the film, and learning from it. When we do that, good things will happen. When [losing] happens 11 times in a row, it's hard. But we looked at it transparently and saw what's going on, we felt good about it, we stayed together, and gave good things a chance to happen."
On what it means to the program to win:
"Again, you may think I'm crazy, but every single game I think we're going to win. Since I was 10 years old, that's how I approach each and every game. I never walk into a game thinking that we have no chance. Then the game unfolds and you deal with it how it unfolds. These are huge wins, but more importantly for the players, I think it's a testament to their perseverance, unselfishness with each other, their confidence, and I'm just happy for them. I'm happy for the players."
On the Villanova/St. John's rivalry:
"To me, it's a rivalry and always will be. There's a tremendous amount of respect, and I'm very good friends with a lot of ex-players [from Villanova], Ed Pinckney, Dwayne McClain, and John Pinone are guys that I've talked to over these years, so there's much respect. â€¦ I missed a free throw [against Villanova] and Pinone threw a half-court shot in. I've told these guys stories because I remember all the games we lost. The wins, I don't really remember. You also learn from [the losses]. I'm proud of the players because they keep coming back, working, and staying positive through basketball adversity. We have a nice chunk of the season left, and I think that we can do some damage. Their perseverance the last two games has paid off."
On making the "winning plays" in the final moments:
"I think sometimes it's a free throw that puts you up four instead of three. â€¦ But I think it's more about our defense. Our defense has been phenomenal, but we also have made stops and got rebounds. Tonight, we won the rebounding battle by one, 35-34. â€¦ I think our rebounding his picked up to match our defensive intensity, and I think we've been a little more efficient offensively. Maybe a little better shot selection too, but you have to make the shots. I thought the last game [against Duke], we made two impossible shots, both Shamorie's [Ponds] and Bashir's [Ahmed]. Sometimes that's the difference. A lot of times that's the difference."
On the 3-point defense:
"It's always a combination. I thought they had some good looks that they missed, but we were definitely conscious of it. They killed us last time from three. I think the last time we played, we only made one and they made 13, and somehow we were only down by four points with two minutes left. I don't know mathematically how that worked out, but they are the most-efficient offensive team in the country. We were very conscious of it, but I think it's always a combination of things. I thought they had some good looks that they missed, but we were very aware of that."
Sophomore guard Shamorie Pondsâ€¦
On the mentality heading into the two wins over No. 4/5 Duke and No. 1/1 Villanova:
"Even through our losses, we always stick together. We go into every game knowing that we can win, and that's just our mindset. The 11 games we've lost, a lot of them have been really close, so limiting that margin of error gives up a good shot of competing with anyone in the country."
On matching up well with Villanova:
"We just stick to coach's game plan. He has a great game plan. We just stuck with it all night and got the W."
On what it feels like to beat No. 1/1 Villanova on the road:
"It's big. It gave us all the little confidence that we need to finish the regular season. Now, we can't go backwards. We have to keep going up and up."
On defeating two top-5 teams in back-to-back games:
"It's big for the University, and it's also big for us. I feel like it will give us the little spark that we need going into the rest of the season. Two-huge wins. We've never lost the confidence, but no one wants to go through the losing. I feel like we stayed together, but we weren't getting the outcomes that we wanted. If we stayed together, it would eventually fall through."
On why the team stayed together:
"We all felt like a team. I don't think anyone here is 'Me, me, me,' it's a 'We thing' here. It's either us, or no one."
On the mentality of the huddle when Villanova was making its run:
"We've been down that road before, and we were trying to not make the same mistakes. Coach [Mullin] was telling us to stay composed and to keep fighting."
Redshirt junior forward Marvin Clark IIâ€¦
On the feeling after beating No. 4/5 Duke and No. 1/1 Villanova:
"Ecstatic, just ecstatic, but at the same time, we've known who we are the whole season. We know that we can play with anyone in the country. It's definitely ecstatic and a relief that finally some things are bouncing our way, and we are getting hot at the right time."
On making "winning plays":
"It's just a learning process. It's been a redundant learning process, but I think the guys want to salvage something out of this season and we know that we are not out of it yet. We are still in the hunt. For me, I knew that I owed [our team] a game. When we played [Villanova] at home, I played horrible, didn't really get to play much against Duke, so I wanted to come in, play hard, and do what I was supposed to do for this team."
On the late, and-one play:
"I got blocked [on the previous attempt], but we ran our same press break and I was wide open. I think that speaks volumes about our team. The trust we have in each other. [Justin] Simon went right back to me, and got an and-one layup. When I think about this game, I just think about when I was a sophomore at Michigan State and the plays I helped make to help us advance in the NCAA Tournament. That's what I get back to, and that's what I have to do for this team.