Quote Center: DePaul Postgame vs. St. John's

Big East Conference Men's Basketball Tournament

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Dave Leitao

Max Strus

Eli Cain

DePaul Blue Demons

St. John's - 82, DePaul - 74

THE MODERATOR: DePaul is here. Max Strus, Coach Dave Leitao, Eli Cain.

DAVE LEITAO: Opening statement: I give credit to St. John's. I kind of figured the game to be, after you play somebody twice, who becomes the most aggressive. I thought that their game plan was effective and our response to it wasn't like it needed to be for enough consistency to get what we wanted as opposed to settling for things. As most teams go, when there's not a ton of offensive success, it kind of spills over to defense. I thought our defense had some mental and physical lapses that gave them the kind of confidence that allowed them to play more aggressive offense and more aggressive defense. So I give them credit.

In a Big East Tournament, like any tournament, you got to do those things. You've got to do whatever is necessary to win and advance, and I thought they did a good job with that.

Q. Max, can you describe what it was like going against Simon today?
MAX STRUS: Yeah, I think they did a great job. They had a great game plan. They executed very well. He's a good defender and shut me down today.

Q. Eli, you had a dominant first half in terms of scoring. What were some things that you saw from them in the second half that was in contrast to what you saw in the first half?
ELI CAIN: I think their game plan was pretty much the same. They were setting off certain guys, trying to deny Max the ball, trying to deny me the ball. I think in the first half I just got a lane on rip-throughs and things like that, and I made a lot of free throws. I think that's what contributed to me getting the points in the first half.

Q. Coach, it's always the same, it's hard beating a team three times. What were some of the adjustments that you hadn't seen?
DAVE LEITAO: I think they took a page from our last game in there helping and doubling in the post, which no secret that our post-game has been an effective weapon for us. They were in help defense on guys in the perimeter, and our understanding, even going back two games ago, was just, when you have that, you've got to increase your ball movement, and I don't know that we did that enough times. So in a game of chess, they made a move, and we didn't do a good job executing our move.

Q. Coach, you had a pair of big second halves in the first two games.
DAVE LEITAO: I didn't hear what you said.

Q. You had a big pair of second halves the first two times you played. Why do you think you weren't able to do that today?
DAVE LEITAO: First, we weren't getting the kind of stops that allow us to get out and get some easy opportunities. Against any team, it's a higher percentage of an opportunity to score against defense before it's set. We were taking the ball out, out of the net, or stoppage of play more than we needed to because they were scoring. And then like I said, I don't know that we had the combination of really good ball movement and crisp offense like we needed to.

Q. Question for both Eli and Max: This is the first time in 12 years DePaul has at least finished -- not losing season. What's your legacy going to be as you leave the program?
ELI CAIN: Well, first off, I don't know if we're done playing. So I don't think our, quote, unquote, legacy is over. But if we were done today, I think we did -- this season personally, I think we shifted the coaching to a more positive direction. Coaches did a really good job of bringing some guys in for the future. So the program is in really good hands going forward.

But me as a four-year senior and Max as a three-year senior, along with Femi, I think we did a pretty good job of getting over that hump, as you would say, 12, 15 years, whatever it was. So I think that's that.

Q. Max, you too.
MAX STRUS: Yeah, I'm looking forward to keep playing.

Q. One more question for Coach: Next year, what should we expect from the team?
DAVE LEITAO: That is a very, very -- I can't see that far. I mean, it's March 13, and as Eli said, we're just -- we got to understand what just happened tonight and figure out what happens tomorrow and the next day. Other than when you take time to make recruiting calls, I can't piece anything together like that right now.

Joseph Jarzynka