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Pregame Quotes: St. John's at Rutgers
 
 

Sampson is coming off his league-leading fourth BIG EAST Rookie of the Week honor of the season.

 
Sampson is coming off his league-leading fourth BIG EAST Rookie of the Week honor of the season.
 

Jan. 22, 2013



Head Coach Steve Lavin

On running last-second plays:

“What I’ve done my whole career is get in a two-man game [when the clock is running down]. At UCLA it was getting in a two-man game with J.R. Henderson and Toby Bailey, or my first year here it was Dwight Hardy and Justin Brownlee. It’s what I learned from Coach [Gene] Keady, it’s what I’ve learned from every coach I’ve ever worked for, and every day we work on that; it’s built in to what we do offensively.”

On how D'Angelo Harrison is evolving as a player as defenses focus on him:

“In three of our last four - against Rutgers, Notre Dame and then against DePaul - he played more mature basketball in terms of adding value without having to score. Then he hit timely shots and timely free throws, so his ability to score factored in to his well-rounded performance. There were so many other things that he’s done, including the eight rebounds against DePaul and the blocks against Notre Dame, so there are a lot of good things he’s done over this stretch. His willingness to make that extra pass is why we’re getting more balanced scoring so that we end up with four players in double figures against DePaul. Teams are loading up on him, and as these other kids develop we’re seeing their talents blossom and that’s helping us collectively.”

On if this group is poised to go on a run:

“I think big picture, I really like the direction of the program and the group of kids that we’re working with, but I’ve been in the business too long to get carried away with two, three or four consecutive wins, or on the other side consecutive losses. You just have to stay the course and keep on coaching. I’ve had teams [at UCLA] that were 4-8 in the PAC-10 and buried, then end up playing well and going to the Final Four after the team was counted out. I’ve had teams that had great starts that didn’t finish strong. It’s more that I like the group as a whole, I like working with them and I like the upside of this program.”

On closing out games after building big leads:

“Earlier in the year we let leads slip away and then we went south, like in the Murray State game or the UNC Asheville game, which ended up being losses. In conference play, teams have made runs and then we’ve countered with runs of our own, gotten a string of stops and then salted the victory away with key shots and free throws. You can see that there’s clearly progress from earlier in the year, where we would go south and lose. Now a team makes a run - because basketball is a game of runs - and we’re able to counterpunch with a run of our own to put it away.”

Sophomore guard D'Angelo Harrison

On the team’s second shot against Rutgers:

“We are excited for a second chance. They are one of our rivals and all the guys on this team are looking forward to playing them again. It’s going to be a tough game, but we’re going to be up for the challenge.”

On maintaining leads in the second half:

“We have to keep being aggressive even when we’re up. Against DePaul we should have extended the lead instead of allowing them to climb back. It’s a learning process for all of us and hopefully we won’t let that happen again.”

On contributing to the team beyond just scoring:

“Everybody likes to score, but I’ll do whatever it takes for us to win. Coach Lavin told me at the beginning of the season that there are nights where I’m going to have to score 20-plus points and other nights where I’ll have to do other things to help us win. I’ll do whatever I have to do for us to win: that’s my job description.”

Freshman forward JaKarr Sampson

On the team’s feelings about the last loss to Rutgers:

“We think about it a lot; especially myself because there were some shots I missed at the end I wish I could have back. Rutgers likes to switch screens, and I had a smaller guy on me a lot. There were shots I should have made that I missed, so I feel a part of the loss, but we’re all a part of the loss. We didn’t come out with mindset we needed; especially after the big win over Cincinnati, we should have been more focused.”

On the team building momentum heading into February:

“I feel like something special is about to happen. If you look at Coach Lavin’s resume, his team’s play well in February and March. That’s when his teams really start clicking and rolling. I feel like we have a really big run ahead of us.”


 

 

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