Postgame Quotes: 15/15 St. John's 72, South Florida 56

March 6, 2011

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St. John’s Head Coach Steve Lavin

Opening Statement:
“Just really pleased…our staff is so pleased for our seniors to be able to finish their careers at St. John’s on a high note with a regular season victory at Carnesecca (Arena). This is so unusual because as far as we know it’s the first time in the history of college basketball there has ever been 10 seniors and I doubt that there will ever be 10 seniors in the future either. Just the odds of it, the mathematical probabilities are staggering. I don’t think they keep track of it in terms of research at ESPN or the NCAA, but if you just think how it could ever happen again it’s up there with unicorns and Halley’s Comet if it does come back around. So just so pleased as a group they could experience going out with a victory in front of the students and their family and friends and a number of basketball fans that have an appreciation for St. John’s.”

On how this 20-win season compares to his previous six:
“This one is just so unique… it’s always difficult comparing teams and players in particular positions, but this journey with the Johnnies in our inaugural season with the staff has been a real pleasure, an honor, a privilege, to participate in. That’s what I tried to express to them during shoot-around, before the game and at the end of the game was that we were privileged to have the opportunity to coach such a wonderful group of young people who have experienced a breakthrough and the thrill of success at a very high level of college basketball. 20 wins is always a nice benchmark, but to finish in third place in the BIG EAST, when it’s the best conference in America, and arguably the best season in the history of the conference… because it looks as though 10 possibly 11 viable candidates, which would be record-breaking, will participate in the NCAA field.”

On what it means to him when the players say “it’s nice but we’re not done yet”:
“Our message throughout these last five weeks or in this run of 9-of-11 was to not be satisfied, to keep the hard edge, and continue to revisit or remain connected to the essentials that have lead to our success. There’s been less focus on the winning, it’s not so much the winning, but more the approach or the attitude that we take to each game... Which will in turn enhance the probabilities or percentages of winning basketball games. So we’ve stayed on that mantra of the stuff you guys are tired of hearing. But now we’re moving on to the single-elimination game format of the season both in the BIG EAST Tournament and ultimately in the NCAA Tournament.”

St. John’s Senior Guard Malik Boothe

On the overall emotion of the Senior Night win:
“It’s touching for us. The fans stuck with us through the first three years and it was rough for us. I think for us to have a season like we’re having right now is something we deserve and also something that they (the fans) deserve.”

On what a 20-win season means to him:
“Normally 20 wins means that you’re going to the NCAA Tournament and I think that’s somewhere we wanted to get the team to. That 20 wins in the regular season… I think that’s something no St. John’s team has done since 2000. And for us to be that unit where we had those tough stretches throughout our first three years and for us to rebuild the way we did I think that’s special for us.”

St. John’s Senior Forward Sean Evans

On the overall emotion of the Senior Night win:
“It was a whirlwind of emotion. A lot of ups and downs… you kind of reflect on what you’ve been through and accomplished throughout our years here. It was a moment to remember and a moment I think none of us will forget. It was a great experience for all of us.”

On if he would rather play Seton Hall or Rutgers in the second round of the BIG EAST Tournament:
“We have to prepare for both teams. Both teams are good basketball teams so we’ll prepare for both of them and whoever we get we’ll be ready.”

On if the last 10 minutes was a matter of channeling the emotion of the night or putting it aside:
“I think it’s a little bit of both. You have to push certain emotions to the side. I think it was a lot of emotion towards it being our last game in Carnesecca (Arena) and our families being there… that was one part of the emotion that we had to put aside. And channeling the emotion of we’re here to win a basketball game, we’re here to play a basketball game. We just had to separate the two. I think it was a combination of both in the beginning of the game and that was a problem for us. After we separated our emotion I think we did alright.”

On if the postgame celebration was a message of there’s still unfinished business ahead:
“We’ll celebrate now, but we’ve got a lot more to handle… it’s not over. We just kind of took that moment in and enjoyed it, but we’ve got to get back to work first thing when we come to practice and get ready for the next game.”

St. John’s Senior Guard Paris Horne

On the overall emotion of the Senior Night win:
“It was just a great moment. Since freshman coming in its been tough for us…. We’ve been battling, the ups and downs, and just going through everything and then with Coach (Norm Roberts) leaving that was tough for us, but this senior year is very special. Just to have all of us together and be like brothers… it felt good to end with a win.”

On why it was so tough to break away from USF tonight:
“It was tough because there was a lot of emotion in the game. Playing in front of our families, our friends… this is the last game in Carnesecca (Arena). We all want to play good. It was a wacky game for us… we were excited, but we were trying to play within our system and not overdo things. Once the second half came I think we settled down and got into the flow of our style of play and we were able to impose our will.”

On if the last 10 minutes was a matter of channeling the emotion of the night or putting it aside:
“I think it was channeling it. A lot of emotion comes with the game, but we were able to channel it and that emotion to our advantage. We picked it up on defense… pressuring, rotating, talking, rebounding and that helped us get out in transition once we got stops and we were able to score and convert. I think that’s how we were able to uphold the lead.”

USF Head Coach Stan Heath

Opening Statement:
“We played well in the first half. We did the things we wanted to do. We executed well. We did a good job in having ball movement, spacing and really getting shots and attacking their defense. In the second half, a good team like St. John’s, they’re gong to make runs. I thought we held off the initial part of that run well and we were within two or three points late into the game at the seven-minute mark. I thought the big play was a turnover that we had against their press when we came out of a timeout. I thought that play which gave them another score; we never were able to get that momentum back.”

On the difference in the game:
“It goes back to how we played in the first half and how we didn’t play in the second half. We had ball movement. The ball went side to side and went inside and out. In the second half, St. John’s applied more of a defensive pressure and we saw more of our guys dribbling the basketball with their head down, dribbling into trouble. We ended up taking a lot more difficult shots than we took in the first half because of the lack of ball movement.”

On the upcoming BIG EAST Tournament:
“I think now we’re matched up against Villanova. So every team that you face is a little different and you got to get ready for their style of play. We just have to handle teams that get up in us and make sure we’re stronger with the basketball so that they don’t take us out of what we want to do.”




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