Pregame Quotes: St. John's vs. Duke

Jan. 29, 2011

- Head Coach Steve Lavin
On when how he came to know Mike Kryzewski:
“It started while writing letters in college and corresponding and then attending different clinics and then going back to their campus for coaching seminars that they held. He’s just someone that I’ne turned to at different intersections throughout my career for advice. As a sounding board, it doesn’t get much better than him in terms of the direction. He would give you his insights and his instincts were always really good. Then we played and obviously going against each other through the years. There was the Jimmy V Foundation and there’s a number of different ways. But he’s someone that I have great respect for.” “When I was in college I wrote letters to (Bobby) Knight, (Gene) Keady, Kryzewski. Defense was an area of the game I was really interested in and those were the three best defensive coaches in the country and three that I really from afar admired. Because I wanted to get into the coaching business, I thought I’d ask them for their direction and their advice and the steps I should take if I wanted to someday walk in their shoes in terms of coaching at a Division I level. Those three were highly successful head coaches. They won with their defense and just represented all of the things as a young aspiring coach that you look up to.”

On what he has said to the team over the past few days to bounce back from the Georgetown loss:
“Watching film, we had a couple of things. One was opportunity just because from then to Duke, Rutgers and UCLA in a seven-day stretch, it was a rare opportunity when you have two non-conference intersectional games like this in late January and early February with a BIG EAST game in between. Really we just focused on what a great opportunity it was in a short period of time to be able to play three opponents like that, to have an important conference game and bookend it around Duke and UCLA. In terms of storied programs and Los Angeles-New York and national television games and then a really important one in between in terms of conference standings in Rutgers. But we watched on film clearly some areas that we want to get better in and that we need to amplify. Yesterday we went to work. It was a heavy workload day that totaled probably five hours between our weights and video and practice.”



On the concerns of the team following the Georgetown loss:
“As people are aware, as you get deeper into the season, the significance of every game is big. But comparative to other times in the season or comparative to past teams that I’ve coached, it’s all still within the realm of another workday with a challenging stretch of games. It doesn’t make for the best copy or exciting quote, but every game is big. It’s our eighth consecutive game against a Top-25 team and then you got Rutgers in between and then you go to UCLA. But I haven’t sensed in terms of my players of this big dramatic change other than we had a great day of practice yesterday. I was really impressed with their concentration and today was good as well.”>

Sophomore Guard Malik Stith
On if the intensity level in practice has improved since the Georgetown loss:
“Yes. It’s been two hard practices. We had a ‘buster’ yesterday. Usually we practice for about two or two and a half hours. Yesterday we went for about three or a little over three hours. The intensity was at a high level the whole time and I think we got away from that. When we went 3-0 in the BIG EAST, I thought we had so much intensity in those three games. We watched film on Georgetown and I think we didn’t have intensity for 40 minutes. I think we’re the type of team that we need that intensity to put ourselves in positions to win ballgames.”

On who pointed out that the level of play last week against Georgetown was not who the team is:
“The coaches brought it to our attention and as we watched film it showed itself. We just felt that we’re not putting ourselves in positions to win. We’re a way better basketball team than what we’ve shown in some of these losses that we’ve had. So we just brought it among ourselves to just leave everything on the court. We’ve got 10 seniors so we don’t want to regret anything.”

On the toll taken from facing eight straight Top-25 teams:
“Physically it’s tough. You’ve got eight Top-25 teams, not to mention that to me this is the best conference in college basketball. It takes a toll on your body. You’ve got to make sure that you’re resting and dealing with these hard practices we’re having. Mentally, I think it wears on you a little bit, but at this level you’ve got to be able to overcome those certain things and just come out and perform.”

Senior Forward Justin Burrell
On if the team had conversations about what’s been lacking:
“I spoke with Dwight (Hardy) a little bit, just trying to figure out what it is. Before, we used to just feel like we weren’t doing things needed in order to be in situations to win ballgames. Now it’s just like we’re looking at ourselves. We’re not making the plays needed. We’re not getting the stops needed. We’re not getting the effort needed. We really just put a lot of ownership into doing the right things in order to win these games. We’re definitely trying to get a grasp on it right now in order to win this game because this would be a great game for us to start a movement or a win streak.”

On if some of the recent losses have damaged the team’s confidence at all:
“Fortunately, it does not because in all of those games, we understand what we’ve done wrong. I can go down the list and tell you. Syracuse game – we didn’t bring energy. Notre Dame game – we were flat, we didn’t come out aggressive, we didn’t play how we play. Cincinnati game – we shot ourselves in the foot with free throws. Louisville – we just didn’t take care of the ball; we turned the ball over 25 times. That’s not who we are. Every turnover, the statistic is I believe 1.33 points or something like that. Then we have free throws and a missed free throw is a half a turnover. So those kinds of things are all on us. In the Cincinnati game, we played some of the best defense that we had played in a long time. We just weren’t able to make free thows”

On if he sees the Duke game as make-or-break and if .500 in the BIG EAST is where he wants to be in:
“.500 is not the position we want to be in. we know, we’re way better team than .500 and we’re a way better team than 4-5. We definitely want to go out and win these nonconference games to show that we can play basketball at a high level. We definitely want to go out and win our conference games because we know we’re better than 4-5.”

On prospects of playing Duke in Madison Square Garden on national television before a sellout crowd:
“I talk about it all the time – college basketball at the highest level. It doesn’t get any higher than Duke at Madison Square Garden on CBS.”

On if he believes players taking accountability and ownership for poor play in the losses has brought up the intensity:
“I do. Yesterday we were here a total of five hours. We were I here by ourselves in the beginning – coaches weren’t here – getting up shots and just working out. Then we came in, we lifted our weights and did the things we needed to do in the weight room. Then we watched film and then we went onto the court and had a great practice. We literally were fighting for every play, every ball, every rebound. A couple of guys walking around the locker room got fat lips or hit in the face. A couple of guys have got sore knees, gotten their knees chopped going for box-out drills. Then we came out today and followed up on what we did yesterday and really really tried to get back to being an aggressive and physical team like we are. We can’t fake and be things that we’re not. This is who we are. We can’t go out and take a play or two off in basketball games and think we’re going to win. That’s not who St. John’s is. We have to go out and complete every play, fight every play and do the things needed to do that we do.”

On how the team has felt about taking ownership of their play and the results:
“Everybody agrees. It’s kind of hard to take criticism sometimes. But we’re in a situation where you have to. So nobody’s been defensive or anything like that. But people don’t always recognize it right away. That’s why we talk and we communicate the way we do and watch film in order to see that you make changes in order to help our team. There’s no way anybody’s going to automatically just change and become something that they’re not. You have to take steps. So if I change three percent by the end of the season, I made the team three percent better. If we get everybody across the line to change three percent, then that’s a big change for the whole team. We can definitely go out and get some wins that we wouldn’t have gotten if we didn’t make those changes.”

Senior Guard Dwight Hardy
On if there was a players-only meeting following the Georgetown game:
“Technically we haven’t had a players-only meeting with all of the players within one room. There’s been communication between different groups with different guys talking about what we need to do in order to be successful for the rest of the season. But I think even though we didn’t have this meeting, today and yesterday in practice I just think we were all on the same page. I just think that everybody’s opinions about how we need to step up is finally starting to hit on everybody. Tomorrow’s a great opportunity for us to show the world that we’re a great team and we can compete at a high level with everybody. We’ve just got to come out and play hard for 40 minutes and you never know what will happen.”

On what the message to the team was following the Georgetown loss:
“Intensity. Last game, when we saw the tape, we looked like zombies out there. We know that’s not how we play and everybody just felt bad about how we played and how we represented St. John’s. We can’t do that any more. Under no circumstances, we can’t come out like that. If we do, then we’re going to get killed. I don’t know how to put it into simpler words. We just can’t come out and play like that.”


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