Big East Tournament Quote Center: St. John's Postgame 3/7/18

Big East Conference Men's Basketball Tournament

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Chris Mullin

Justin Simon

Shamorie Ponds

St. John's Red Storm

St. John's - 88, Georgetown - 77

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Coach, Shamorie or Justin.

Q. Could you talk about Run TMC and you guys had five players in double digits. Just talk about like sharing the basketball and scoring.
COACH MULLIN: We practiced -- a lot of our sets have multiple options and it's up to Justin and Shamorie to make the right reads. They've done a great job of that all year. Exceptional in the second half. I thought their command of the reads and the command of their teammates was exceptional and sharing the ball, being unselfish.

Q. Coach, what did you do differently in this game that you didn't in the other two games against Georgetown?
COACH MULLIN: All the games have been really close games and ironically or not they really shot the three ball against us and they had nine at halftime. I thought our defense was much better in the second half.

I thought the first half, they got too many open looks, too many walk-in 3s. No resistance. I thought we were fortunate to be only down 6 at halftime. And I thought our defense picked up in the second half and offensively we kind of got moving. And, like I said, Justin and Shamorie really dictated the flow of the game.

Q. Shamorie, does this kind of have a different feel than it did last year? You won the Big East opener last year, but it was a close game. You needed a stop late and you came back the next day at noon and obviously Villanova took it to you. But does this feel different? Do you feel like maybe this is a team that can make some noise here?
SHAMORIE PONDS: I mean, for sure, most definitely. I think except for a couple of games, each and every game we showed that we can compete with anybody in the country. Our mindset going into the Big East Tournament was one game at a time. We know we can do it.

Q. Shamorie what's that TMC hat mean to you?
SHAMORIE PONDS: I support my coaches. If it's dumb, it's us. So, Run TMC. (Laughter).

Q. Coach, in the second half, your team held the Hoyas to just shooting 25.8 percent on the floor. What adjustments did you make at halftime?
COACH MULLIN: I think we really just got more aggressive. I thought Marvin pressed up on Derrickson more beyond the 3-point line. I thought Tariq put more pressure on, and Lamar did a good job on Govan. They just were getting easy looks.

And the other part of that I thought Justin and Shamorie contained the ball better. They were getting some blow-bys which were opening up those 3-point shots. They guarded the ball better, kept the guards out of the paint and made them shoot contested 2s.

At halftime I tried everything -- we played zone and full-court press and we just weren't playing defense. And they flipped the switch at halftime and did a much better job.

Q. Chris, yesterday you told us that anything can happen if you just go ahead and win the first game. I assume that's probably going to be the message you continue to preach from here until noon tomorrow?
COACH MULLIN: Yeah, I mean I just told them the biggest thing right now is to get some rest. Eat a good meal. Get some rest. When you're playing a team for the third time there's less preparation you have to do, everyone knows the personnel. We know what kind of game either team's going to play. Everyone knows each other's inside and out personnel, game plans and things like that.

Xavier is one of the most physical teams, I think, in the league offensively and defensively. We'll get on that a little bit tonight and do a little quick little film in the morning and be ready to go.

Q. You've been in Patrick's position before obviously in your first year back at your alma mater. Could you speak to the job he's done with this team, especially maybe to developing the young guards or the young guys you've seen this year?
COACH MULLIN: Yeah, Patrick -- look, I've known him for about 30 years or so, more than that, probably -- but he's the same person he was when I first met him. And his work ethic, his discipline, that's going to carry over to anything he does. Obviously he did that as a player. He did it as an assistant coach in the NBA for many years.

I think he's done a tremendous job in his first year, not only record-wise, but I think the way they play, the type of team. To me it resembles him, they're aggressive, unselfish, they work hard and he's very demanding. That's who he is.

Q. Shamorie, how soon were you able to realize that you would be healthy enough to play, and how did you feel during the game? Was the ab issue at all a problem for you?
SHAMORIE PONDS: Right before the game I was feeling good. It didn't give me no pain or anything. I wasn't paying no mind to it. I played through it.

Q. Justin, after hitting that beautiful alley-oop and then setting off with Tariq, did you feel that was the turning point in that second half?
JUSTIN SIMON: I mean, that definitely gave the team a little spark. We fed off that and went on a little run. And the second half, like Coach said, we just stepped up defensively and just got more aggressive and rebounded the ball.

Q. Chris, how much of a difference -- the defense second half to first half, how much of a difference was it just to have Justin out there the whole time? You look at his line -- 16 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, four steals -- seems like he impacts the game so many different ways?
COACH MULLIN: He has all year. Anytime we want to run Shamorie and Justin in the thick of it on offense and defense -- yeah, he picked up a quick two fouls. Definitely had an impact on our first half. Like I said, it was one of the other reasons I thought we were fortunate to be only down six points at halftime.

But it's also a tough situation coming off and not playing minutes and not really getting any rhythm. I thought he and Marvin did a great job. I thought they struggled in the first half but came out and really played a great second half.

Q. From the first possession you guys doubled Derrickson pretty hard down there, tried to run him off the block. Even though he shot the ball well from 3, was the plan just for him to make it one dimensional and make him a shooter?
COACH MULLIN: Yeah, both he and Govan, we started off doubling them, and then it wasn't working too well. We were not aggressive on our rotation. So we went away from it.

So the first half, like I said, they got whatever they wanted. We kind of went back to just traditional straight up man-to-man, put the pressure on our guys to guard their guy and they did so.

Q. What does it mean, to go back to Patrick, does it mean anything special to you to have beaten him now as a coach for the first time?
COACH MULLIN: Not really. Like I said, those two games were, you know, just toss-ups. So not for any -- I don't really look at it as a coaching matchup, I don't. I know I'd rather coach against him than play against him. It's a lot easier on my body.

Q. Along those same lines, Chris, what was it like emotionally to see him across at the other bench? And just did you flashback a little bit to '84 or '85 and when you guys made this league so great?
COACH MULLIN: Probably the biggest difference is we're friends now, and we weren't then at all. So we didn't even talk. We'll goof around here and there. I think we both understand, you try and prepare our guys the best we can and then give them all the tools that they can have so they can go out and perform well.

I want my guys to perform well, feel good about their games and win. That's what I want for them. So we try to do all that out in practice.

When the game starts, yeah, we're going to make adjustments and do some things in timeouts but the players are going to dictate. We know that better than anybody, Patrick and I.

The one difference is we'll goof around a little bit. There was no goofing when I played against him -- I saw today he took his tie off during the game. I said, what are you doing? He said he was getting hot. So...

Joseph Jarzynka