Quote Center: RV/RV St. John's Postgame vs. Creighton


St. John’s Head Coach Chris Mullin:


On LJ Figueroa’s play…

“I thought he played a great overall game. He’s been playing great for us. Obviously tonight with 16 points and 13 boards, he played an overall great game. It was a total team effort. He even made some beautiful passes towards the end when [Creighton] went into that zone.”


On the team’s defensive changes…

“Especially coming off of last game, we spent, we always do, a lot of time on our defense, our rebounding, playing the post. We do some different things. Last game, it got away from us. It was obvious and uncharacteristic for us and we watched it, drilled it in practice and more importantly, took action and were more effective in those two areas, and then kept everything else in place. Sometimes you emphasize what you struggle with then something else pops up. I think we guarded the ball well, the perimeter, guarded the post, and got rebounds. We put it all together.”


On the team bouncing back after two losses…

“No matter what happens in the game before, it is always important how you play in the next game. That starts with, if you have a day or two to prepare. We felt that way at Georgetown. We felt that way at Villanova. You are always going to feel that way, especially during conference play. It’s great to be prepared, but more important to follow through on the things that we thought that we needed to do to win, and I felt tonight, that everybody did their job.”


On Shamorie Ponds play and the team’s response to being outmatched by size…

“First off, Shamorie [Ponds] is one of the best players in the country. My coach, Coach Carnesecca, I speak to him often, I talked to him this morning, said that, “The only advice I have is to make sure that Shamorie plays.” … A huge difference with [Ponds] in the lineup. As far as size, you can be big and bad. We have good players and we rebounded a little differently, we play the post a little differently but it doesn’t mean we are at a disadvantage. I feel like we are at an advantage. I like our matchups. If we impose our will and have the right disposition then we have the advantage. I think you see that at every level. Being good is better than being big. If you’re big and good then that’s a problem, because there aren’t many of them around.”


On the Mustapha Heron turning the page on a rough first half…

“I think that is his experience, not only in basketball, but he is a mature young man. I think that it is really important. I told him after the game that I was proud of the way they all hung in there, being patient and letting the game come to them. Mustapha has a lot of skills. He has a lot of gifts. The biggest thing is that in the game of basketball, you just can’t do stuff, you have to let the flow of the game happen. So it takes a little maturity and a little experience. The first half wasn’t going his way, so I kept telling him, “It’s going to come, they are going to make an adjustment and you will be the one open, but you have to take care of the adjustments first.”


Junior guard Shamorie Ponds:


On how his back felt tonight…

“It’s getting better. It’s definitely getting better. I can’t put a number on it but it’s definitely getting close to 100%.”


On the slow start tonight and then turning it on…

“I was feeling the game out, trying to get my teammates involved, play in the motion, not trying to force anything and then coach told me it’s time to go.”


On how LJ plays the game…

“He brings it all for us. He can score. He defends. He rebounds. He brings energy. He gets the crowd involved. We can count on him a lot. He is a blessing. I don’t know where this team would be without him.”


On the stretches throughout the game and playing at a high level….

“The crowd feels it and the whole building feels. It just feels good. It feels like the way we are supposed to be playing. That’s the way we are going to keep playing as a team, as one. Just doing the game plan, listening to what coach says and just playing hard.”


Sophomore forward LJ Figueroa:


The team’s offense and what makes it hard to stop….

“We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, so that helps us out, having a good point guard like Shamorie [Ponds], he adjusts assignments we all know each other’s knacks and what we can and can’t do on the court so it all helps us out.”


On the difference in the team from the first 10-12 minutes to the team we saw in the second half….

“Teams go on runs, we have to stick together, they went on their little run and we stayed together and came together and did what we had to do.”


Creighton Head Coach Greg McDermott


On St. John’s…

“It's a hard matchup. There is a lot of versatility in their lineup. I thought Shamorie [Ponds] in the second half and their ability to get Mustapha [Heron] into post isolation really hurt us. On film, I was so impressed with [LJ Figueroa's] range. It's really hard to guard him six, seven, eight feet behind the three-point line. The space that he creates for a guy like Ponds to operate, and Shamorie did a great job finding [Figueroa] on the weak side. We're not the only ones that have had a hard time matching up with them. They have done a good job of that all season.”

Joseph Jarzynka