Postgame Quotes: St. John's 78, Lehigh 73

Junior forward God'sgift Achiuwa led the Red Storm with 21 points on 6-of-6 shooting from the field and a 9-of-9 performance from the free throw line.
Nov. 9, 2011

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St. John's Head Coach Steve Lavin

Opening Statement:
"What I shared with the players was that I was proud of the poise they demonstrated and the determination to crawl back into the game and ultimately pull away to get the W. The good news is they demonstrated resiliency and determination to come back after being down more than double digits. I think it was 16 at some point. We also have to learn that we can't dig holes like this. We don't want that to become a trend or a pattern. Let's give Lehigh credit. They are a well-prepared, well-coached team with an excellent game plan. They got good looks against both our full court and our half-court zone defenses. Part of the reason we were down 16 was Lehigh came in with a solid game plan and executed well. You can clearly see they are well coached. But, from our stand point we have to get better at not digging these double-digit deficits. Obviously, as we move down the line, that will eventually catch up to you. Really proud of the way in which our kids came back, and yet we have to make a conservative effort to get out of the gates in a better manner."

On the emotion of returning to the sidelines:
"Our fans were great tonight and naturally, once you've been away for a period of time and you're able to come back home and join forces with your basketball family, it's a special night. It was good to be back, but when we're down 16, I was thinking maybe I should have waited until Sunday. Coach (Mike) Dunlap is the one that kind of nudged me to come back one game earlier than I was originally thinking. He just felt that tonight it would be important to be here and coach this game, and I trust his instincts and his feel - he's got a good pulse for the team and he's done an outstanding job as well as the rest of the staff in preparing our players for the rigors ahead. It was good to be back."

On why he came back this game:
"It was inevitable that I was going to return and so the thinking was the sooner we begin that transition the better. There is always going to be a challenging dimension to transition back with your team coming off a health issue as I had. Since I was going to do it on Sunday, what's the difference between three days was kind of the thinking. By about 3:30 this afternoon that logic won out."

On the toughness of being away from the team:
"You definitely miss the camaraderie with both the staff and the players, and the competition in the practice as well as the games. That was a challenging aspect, but you're also aware or mindful that nothing is more important than health. I was able to kind of temper some of that disappointment with really being focused on doing what the experts that I've worked closely with believed was in my best interest for the long haul."

Freshman Forward Moe Harkless

On the return of head coach Steve Lavin:
“It definitely surprised me, because we had no idea that he'd be there. When I saw him, I was actually in the training room getting taped. I jumped up and gave him a big hug, because I hadn't seen him in a while. It's a good feeling to have our coach back, and we didn't even have a clue that he'd be back today. We didn't know he was coming until after the first part of our warmup until we came in to have our pregame talk. We were waiting for Coach Dunlap and it was taking a long time, then all of the sudden Coach Lavin walks in. Everybody started getting really excited and happy, because it's a great feeling to have our coach back."

On the message to recruits about Coach Lavin’s health:
“For some recruits it might be a problem with players not knowing if the coach is going to be there when they get to the school. I think him coming back tonight gave recruits confidence that he’ll be here next year and for many years to come.”

On thoughts at halftime:
“We were all just trying to stick together, and try and figure out a way to come back, and keep fighting until the end of the game. We kept fighting, stayed resilient, and we won again.”

On first-half struggles:
“I just don’t think that we came out ready to play. Lehigh, they came out hitting a lot of shots, playing good defense, and they’re a really well-coached team, so it was tough for us. I think it has a little to do with the youth and us not being ready mentally every game. The second half, it showed that we have a lot of maturity, being able to fight through the whole game and not giving up. So I think if we just learn to come out stronger, we’ll do really well this year.”

Junior Forward God'sgift Achiuwa

On the return of head coach Steve Lavin:
“I was on the court shooting foul shots yesterday when he walked in. We were all so excited; we went to him and gave him big hugs because we were so surprised. He never told us he was coming to practice. I never knew he was going to coach today’s game, it was such a surprise seeing him, and we’re just glad to have our coach back with us.”

On getting directions from Lavin for the first time in a month:
“It wasn’t too different because I think Coach Dunlap has been coaching based on what he and Coach Lavin have been communicating before practice and after practice. I think the instructions are basically the same, just the voices are different. They tell us to run the same plays during the game. When Coach Dunlap was in, we were doing the same things now that Coach Lavin is back,”

On his perfect shooting night:
“In the last game we made a bet where I told them (his teammates) I wasn’t going to miss a foul shot, but I ended up missing two. In today’s game, I told them that I had been working on my foul shots and that I’m not going to miss today. After today’s game I said ‘see I told you guys I wasn’t going to miss any foul shots’.”

Lehigh Head Coach Dr. Brett Reed

Opening Statement:
"Tonight was a hard fought game. Give credit to St. John's for being a young team that was really able to maintain its poise during a tough stretch. We made shots early, we put ourselves in a position with a lead, we answered some calls, but unfortunately we were not able to execute as well as they were down the stretch. It continued in their attack mentality and ultimately led to a lot of their opportunities towards the end of the game."

On going six-straight possessions without a basket in the last three minutes:
"You certainly have to give St. John's credit because they have the ability with their length and athleticism to pressure the basketball and also get out in the passing lanes. However, many of those turnovers were unforced turnovers where we just lost our focus and our poise in those pressure situations. We made plays - especially for some players - that were uncharacteristic."

On the effect of St. John's Head Coach Steve Lavin's return to the team:

"They have a fantastic coaching staff from the assistant coaches to the leadership of Coach Lavin. I'm sure it was an inspiration for [St. John's] to have [Coach Lavin] on the sideline leading them, but that does not take anything away from the coaches that have led that program up until his return. The only comments I was able to exchange with him prior to the game were: `I wish you the best of health and I'm pleased to see you back on the sideline.' For any competitor, you relish the opportunity to play somebody when they're at their best and you also wish the best for all of your opponents. With the type of quality individual that [Coach Lavin] is, making sure that health is maintained really puts the game of basketball into perspective."




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