Postgame Quotes: St. John's 69, Wagner 61

Dec. 1, 2010

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St. John’s Head Men’s Basketball Coach Steve Lavin
Opening Statement:

"I first just wanted to compliment Wagner. I thought they came in with a good game plan. They played more zone than they have at any point this season. They did an excellent job with tempo and played with poise. When we made runs, they came back and answered. Clearly, Danny Hurley and his brother, assistant coach Bobby Hurley, have done a nice job of building a team that doesn’t have a lot of depth, but stays within striking distance with some timely shots, using the clock well and playing at different tempos. So I want to give them some credit, and then on the flipside, there are plenty of areas we need to improve on. In particular, free throw shooting. We left 14 potential points from the charity stripe that were wasted and we were 3-of-17 from long range. We have to improve in those two areas as well as our execution, which I think could have been more crisp. It was different things throughout the game, sometimes we weren’t as aggressive, we weren’t pushing the ball in transition, we started walking the ball up the court, which is not a good sign. Other times we were a little bit hesitant and stagnant offensively and the foul trouble really hurt us in terms of rotation and searching for combinations that we could stay with for a period of time. But the good news is we found a way to win, and considering the alternative, that’s a positive and we’ll take it."

On the changes in the starting lineup:
"What we did here tonight was kind of a combination of things. It was different with each change in the starting lineup. In some cases, it was just trying to send a message, put a little fire under the fanny in terms of attitudes and approach. In another case, it was a very minor, but still important team policy in terms of class attendance. Because in the long term, this university and our staff is really committed to the educational front and setting these kids up for the rest of their lives beyond basketball. Also, it was rewarding some kids that really played well. So it’s a combination of those three things."

On his impressions of the first seven games of the season:
"We’re a work in progress and it’s still a situation where I think our staff is getting a better sense and feel of their personnel and I think our players are getting a better feel for our system and style of play and just the way in which we conduct business as a coaching staff. It’s going to take some time. Relatively speaking, it’s still very early when you consider that we are just a couple days over eight months. And in terms of time with our team, it’s even more limited. We are at six weeks with this group in terms of full-time, with a full compliment of staff members and able to practice five or six days a week. So when you consider that, we’re right about where I figured we would be, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us."

On the half-court offense so far this season:
"There are stretches where we don’t have rhythm and offense is rhythm. We struggle at times, whether it’s pushing the ball initially, becoming stagnant on the half court and other times I feel we lose confidence and become hesitant. Hesitation on offense will kill you. You want your player aggressive, but also playing with a level of intelligence and making good decisions at high speeds and under tough conditions. There are times we kind of lack rhythm or cohesiveness and other times it’s confidence. We’re trying to navigate our way through those challenges. The one thing I am really pleased with is our low number of turnovers. We are consistently at 10 turnovers or less. If you can have 10 turnovers or less, now we get into conference play and some of those numbers may go north because of the competition, but it’s a good trait or characteristic because it means you’re getting more shots on the rim. That’s one of the real positives, even though we are struggling with our rhythm and confidence; we are taking care of the basketball."

On Dwight Hardy’s confidence:
"He’ll shoot his way out of it, but we do talk to him and want him confident and want him in the mindset that we talk to D.J. (Kennedy) about catching the ball the putting his eyes on the rim and think score first and have that aggressive mindset. We want him to have a homerun-hitters mentality. We’ve spoken to Dwight that we want him to keep locking and loading and hacking away and trying to hit from distance. But, there are also ways he can contribute when that’s not going by putting it on the deck and getting to the foul line and making late-game free throws. But we need him to keep locking and loading and getting the reps in practice and we’re going to keep going to him because we have confidence in him. He’ll breakout at some point, hopefully sooner than later."

Senior Forward Justin Brownlee
On coming off the bench:

“I just try to do what Coach says, stay aggressive at both ends and when I have openings, I try to attack and stay aggressive. I can see the court well and my teammates can set me up, so I take advantage of it.”

On stepping up as soon as he entered the game:
“Whenever I step on the court, I always want to play my hardest and play my best and stay aggressive. So it doesn’t matter if I start, come off the bench or don’t play at all. But whenever I step on the court, I’m going to play my hardest and be aggressive.”

Senior Guard/Forward D.J. Kennedy
On stepping up when Justin Brownlee picked up his fourth foul:

“I understand Coach wants me to, anytime I’m on the court or in the lineup, be aggressive. I felt that once Brownlee got in foul trouble, I looked a little more for my shots and stayed aggressive as Coach asked me to.”

On his confidence coming off his 20-point performance:
“I just want to do whatever it takes for my team to win. I think the biggest thing for me is just staying aggressive. That’s what Coach emphasizes every day at practice, every chance he gets to talk to me. Today, I really just had fun out there and stayed aggressive and played the game I know how to play.”

On bouncing back from his struggles against Arizona State:
“I take games like that really personal, as far as me. I feel like last game, my attitude and body language was horrible for the team and everybody. I definitely feel like Coach made the right decision and it kind of helped me out for this game. Sometimes there’s games like that. Not every game you’re going to have your game. I just feel like wasn’t in it mentally and it kind of showed in body language and that’s bad.”

On stepping up late to close out the game:
“We’re seniors. This is our fourth year, so we’ve got a lot of experience and it’s up to us as seniors to basically close out games like that. Give a lot of credit to Wagner, they didn’t come here to back down. So definitely I just feel like it on our part as seniors to end the game and that’s what we had to do – step up.”

Wagner Head Men's Basketball Coach Dan Hurley
Opening Statement:
“I think our guys played really hard. I’m not into moral victories. I felt like we were just hanging around, keeping things under eight points. I thought the team played their hearts out and I’m really proud of them.”

On competing with a BIG EAST team:
“We push our kids hard. We talked about just continuing to prepare and keep up the intensity of our practices, keep up the way we study, study the game and study our opponent. We’ll get our moment. We almost had a moment at Hofstra. We almost had a moment today and we already beat two really good teams on the road in Bucknell and Stony Brook. The guys believe in what we’re doing. We’re going to build a great program through player development, coaching them up every day and recruiting.”

On the outlook of the season:
“We set one goal for the year and that’s to qualify for our conference tournament. This is what we’re working towards and striving for. We’re using the non-conference schedule to get better and try to improve as a team. If we can keep that consistent energy and have that passion that we play with again and again, we’ll have a chance to accomplish our goal and will keep improving.”




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