Pregame Quotes: St. John's vs. DePaul

National blocks leader Chris Obekpa (right) and the Red Storm will go four their fifth-straight win on Wednesday.

Jan. 29, 2013

Head Coach Steve Lavin

On playing DePaul a second time:

“I think what’s fresh on our mind is the run they made [in the last meeting] to close it to three. We were fortunate to get enough stops and make some free throws to seal the deal. Going into that game, we had talked about the fact that their speed, quickness and athleticism is comparable to anyone in our conference. They’re as athletic as any team we face this year. They’ve struggled offensively, but they didn’t have any problem in the first half against us getting to the rim for layups, dunks and lobs over the top of our defense. They have two players, [Cleveland] Melvin - who is as impressive a prospect as we’ve faced in conference play because of his versatility - and Brandon Young, who we were effective at limiting. Overall, because of their athletic ability and because they closed the game so strongly against us, our team’s aware that we’ll have our hands full.”

On keeping the team grounded after a winning streak:

“It’s not hard with this group. I’ve had teams that were coming off a conference championship and were preseason ranked in the top-5 in the country. Those teams had kids up and down the roster who finished every year in Sweet 16s or Elite Eights. With those kinds of groups is where you concern yourself with complacency and overlooking an opponent. With this group, because they lost last year, just like with the team I inherited from Norm [Roberts], which had previously had no degree of success, the questions becomes how do you teach them to win, but also build that confidence that you need to win games. With all of our losses last year and our struggles this year, this team understands that it’s a tightrope in this league. If you don’t execute for 40 minutes, you’re in trouble.”

On helping a player who lets emotions get the best of him:

“It’s like parenting or managing people, you open lines of communication and hold them accountable for certain things. Sometimes it’s changing the starting lineup, benching someone, changing the lineup or for the second half. Sometimes it’s lighting a fire under them, and others it’s putting an arm around their shoulder. Sometimes it’s giving them something simple to work on, whether it’s an individual or a group, a collective objective. The most effective approach to teaching this group is having one or two collective objectives and sustaining a level of focus in those aspects of play.”

Freshman Forward Chris Obekpa

On why the team is winning:

“We’ve played more games together, we’re passing better and everybody’s playing their role now. We’re listening to the coaches and practicing hard, and it’s working out, we’re getting wins.”

On coming off the bench:

“I’ve started some games, but it doesn’t matter what time you go in, just go play. I get to sit back and see what’s going on in the game. It’s great, [Coach Lavin] is the coach, and whatever he says goes. He knows better than me, and whatever his plan is, that’s what’s best for the team.”

On his expectation from DePaul:

“We went to their house and disgraced them and won. We expect to them to come back here and try to do the same thing to prove a point. I know they’re coming full force, so we can’t just sit back and feel comfortable because it’s a home game.”

Sophomore guard/forward Amir Garrett

On the team’s play since the loss to Georgetown:

“A lot has changed. We learned we can’t play games like that. We had to bounce back and now we’ve just been taking it one game at a time.”

On what was learned from the first meeting with DePaul:

“It’s going to be an up-and-down game. DePaul is going to come out to play. They are a competitive team. We can’t look past them. We have to come out to play like it’s a big game.”

On how the coaching staff has kept the team focused:

“They tell us this league can go any way; just as easily we’ve found ourselves near the top, we could be at the bottom. The league is crazy with teams all having their ups and downs; you never know which way it’s going to go. They tell us to keep our heads and continue to take it one game at a time.”

Sophomore guard Phil Greene IV

On the pressure of playing close to home in the first game against DePaul:

“There wasn’t any added pressure. I’m used to playing in front of my family because I’ve done it before. It was just used getting used to the game and the situations.”

On facing DePaul for a second time:

“We played them earlier and beat them on their home floor. They want revenge and beat us on our home court. They have motivation, so we have to come out hard and not let that happen.”

On the growing maturity of the Red Storm:

“We are growing each and every game. We are all gelling with each other. The team is growing up very fast.”





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