POSTGAME QUOTES: St. John's 61, Rutgers 59

Nov. 19, 2015

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St. John's Head Coach Chris Mullin...

On the team's performance against Rutgers:

"It was a total team effort. [Rutgers] is a big, physical, strong, athletic team. We told our team we had to rebound, which we did. Our turnovers were at 15, which is the right direction for us. Our defense is ahead of our offense. I thought we hung in there, stayed positive and gave ourselves a shot."

On Felix Balamou's impact on the game:

"[Felix] had seven assists and one turnover. That is huge at any level. He chipped in with eight points and played tremendous defense. He's our best perimeter defender. Credit to Felix for practicing really hard, staying ready and focused, and being able to transfer all of that work from practice to the game."

On Yankuba Sima's potential:

"Yankuba is consistent, poised, composed, and smart. His potential is way up there. Part of it has to do with his talent, but I do think his mental approach and IQ are key."

On what it means down the road for the young guys to win a close game:

"It's wonderful we won, but it's more about our mental approach. We've got a long way to go. We're building something so each experience is going to be valuable [for us] in the long run."

On the team's progression:

"We're focusing on each day, each film session, each shoot around, each practice to get better. We talk about [progression all the time], but more importantly we're doing it. We have goals each four minutes that we want to accomplish, and if we don't we try to fix it. Our timeouts are really focused on keeping a positive attitude."

Senior Guard Felix Balamou...

On what Mullin told the team when they were down 16 points:

"[He told us to] calm down. The game is going to come to us. Execute and stick to our fundamentals and we should be fine."

On his motivation to come back strong after being ineligible to begin the season:

"I'm humble thanks to my teammates, coaches and everybody at St. John's that has helped me throughout this process. I was mentally down, but St. John's is a family. It meant a lot to me. So today I just went out there and played [my game]."

Freshman Center Yankuba Sima...

On his mental approach:

"I just stayed focused on the defensive end. [I knew] we would not win the game on the offensive end so I locked up on defense and tried to block everything. I gave it 100 percent on every possession."

On facing premiere big men in Hawaii...

"I am ready to play against anybody. It doesn't matter if the guy is bigger or smaller than me. I am going to play my game, give it my best, and try to help the team win.

Rutgers Head Coach Eddie Jordan...

On the lack of offense down the stretch:

"We spread the floor, which was good for us at some points in the game so we stuck with it. They were going back from man to zone, but that wasn't the big issue. The big thing is that we couldn't make free throws down the stretch. We did enough to get to the line and we just didn't convert at the line, which fed into their momentum."

On the last two possessions of the game:

"When Bishop [Daniels} got the ball in the full court press, I think he must have forgotten the guy [Felix Balamou] was behind him. It was a gritty play by him, a gritty play. I told my team this, and I've never used this term in coaching before, but they out-hearted us. They had more grit, more determination and more will. That's always our game plan; we have to will our personality on the game. We like to get our pressure up, mix in the zone and change up our defenses, but down the stretch they had more will and determination than we did. That's why they got rebounds and we were not focused enough to make free throws. Our offense was good enough to get to the line but we just didn't convert."

Perimeter Defense:

"What did they shoot? 32 percent. That sounds pretty good to me. Whether it was in the perimeter or the post, we had a game plan and for the most part we followed through with it. We harassed [Federico] Mussini a little bit with the pick and rolls and we sustained our shows and sometimes trapped him. He's a good player, he's learning from Chris [Mullin] so he's going to learn about the game real quick. We wanted to keep him off balance with our defense so he wouldn't have a clear vision of attacking us."

On the impact of Felix Balamou down the stretch:

"Well you have to guard him. We were considering trapping him in the post but we never got to that point. He just out-willed us. St. John's did a good job and did what they had to do to get a victory, but we helped them. I'm not downgrading their win at all. I give them all the credit and Chris [Mullin] really does a great job, but we shot ourselves in the foot. Don't make free-throws and don't rebound, that's the name of the game."

On the last play of the game:

"The defense sort of corralled him to the sideline and he didn't have a clear vision or a clear lane, and I have to give the defense credit for that. He's trying to find a lane in just about six seconds or less, so it was enough time that if he had a clear lane and a straight line he could have made a play. But give St. John's credit, they loaded up on him on the strong side and he found Bishop, but too late."




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