Pregame Quotes: St. John's vs. Rutgers

Feb. 1, 2011

- St. John’s Head Coach Steve Lavin
On Justin Brownlee’s left thumb injury:
“Yesterday he was just getting it looked at and examined. So today after he goes through practice, we’ll have a much better idea in terms of feedback.”

On the degree to which Brownlee will be able to play with the injury:
“At this point, we’re just speculating until I see him go up and down with it. But in theory, professional athletes and college athletes have had similar injuries. There’s varying degrees, obviously. But to comment on it now, it’s just all speculation. But once I see it, I’ll be able to give you more feedback after I see him go up and down for a little bit.”

On Rutgers’ strong play of late:
“This will be our toughest game of the year to this point. Obviously moving forward there’s going to be more challenging games and that’s the nature of coaching. But this will be our toughest game of the year because of their style of play, their quickness, their athleticism, the way Mike Rice has them playing at a fever pitch. I think they are playing harder than anybody in the BIG EAST right now.”

On the Rutgers-Pitt game:
“Yes, I got to see some of the Pitt game. (Mike Rice) does some interesting things in terms of switching and trapping that’s kind of unique from any other school in the BIG EAST. They play with a toughness and a bravado and a brass-knuckles style that is a reflection of their coach. That’s why he’s had success at every level. He comes from a basketball family and he’s one of the rising stars in the business. It’s no secret. So he has Rutgers on pace to become a BIG EAST power. So we’re aware that they’re coming in and this will be our toughest challenge of the year to this point.”



On having a BIG EAST and local rival like Rutgers to face between the Duke and UCLA games helps prevent a “trap game” scenario:
“In our case we’d lost five of six and clearly playing this rugged stretch of game hasn’t allowed us to overlook anybody to be overconfident or complacent because we’ve just gotten beaten up game after game. I don’t think that the concern is the trap game aspect. It’s that Rutgers is on the rise and their athleticism and their quickness and style of play is so unique with the trapping and the switching and this feverish pitch that Mike Rice has this team playing at, makes them a threat to anybody, let alone a team that’s had the struggles that we’ve had, dropping five of six before our game against Duke.”

On if there are similarities between Rutgers and St. John’s this year:
“There’s some differences in the styles. But you can see his personality. His team is a reflection of his personality. He’s fiery. He’s probably one of the most competitive coaches that I’ve seen in my career. And that’s coming across and that’s why he’s got Rutgers on the rise and they’re a threat to every school in the BIG EAST.”

On if St. John’s tough practice before the Duke game was the difference for the win:
“No, there’s all different theories on it. But to me, it was more the seven prior games against Top 25 opponents sent the table for our breakthrough against Duke. It’s unprecedented in the history of college basketball. I don’t think that any team has ever played eight consecutive opponents that were ranked in the Top 25. So I think our training and our journey being as arduous as it’s been led to a breakthrough on a number of fronts because our team is maturing and developing through this challenging season, in terms of our schedule. No doubt, it’s 19,500 at home, in The Garden, on national TV and against the defending national champion. Against Notre Dame we played really well in The Garden as well. Georgetown, we played really well in The Garden. With that said, I think our practices are really valuable and they’re part of it. It’s your game and practice experiences that give you the opportunity to improve. Whether we’re in here watching file with our kids or whether we’re going through a walkthrough the day of the game or whether it’s a tough practice the day before the game, sometimes you have to modify that. You have back off and it’s about getting the mental confidence, getting the swagger up because they’re kind of fragile through that stretch of losing five out of six. Sometimes it’s using kid gloves and providing some encouragement for them during a stretch when they need some encouragement. Then there’s other times where it’s putting a fire under their fanny and ripping them. So I think it’s a feel as you go through a season with your team and the personality and makeup that they have. And then you adjust accordingly.”

Senior Guard Paris Horne
On if this is the most excited the team has been in his career:
“Probably not the most excited. It felt great to beat Duke. We figured that we could do it on our last year, and we really wanted this game. When the coaches came in, they were talking about this game in the summer. We were prepared for it. But now we have a good Rutgers team that is coming in hungry. They just played Pittsburgh tough. They are a rival to us, and they beat us last year. We know we have to focus and get ready for them.”

On if the most recent practice was less intense than last Friday’s physical practice:
“It was more intense. This game is probably more important than the Duke game. It’s a conference game, and we have struggling a little and going up and down in the conference. We know that Rutgers is a tough opponent, so we can’t take them lightly.”

On the team’s remaining schedule:
“We always feel like we could beat any given team on any day. We just have to come in with that mindset every time and stick together no matter what. We feel like we can finish our schedule very well and that we could win every game.”

Senior Guard Malik Boothe
On what its been like trying to focus on Rutgers after the win over Duke:
“Like Coach said after the game, we only had two hours to celebrate. After that, it was time to get our minds set for Rutgers. It was a great win, but we have to get ready for the next game, which will be the most important game of the year.”

On the feeling of having the fan support at Madison Square Garden:
“It felt great. Coming in here we wanted to revive St. John’s basketball and get the Garden rocking again. It took us a little while and as this year has gone on more and more fans have come out to support us. It’s a great feeling.”

On getting mentally ready for Rutgers tomorrow:
“I don’t think it’s going to be hard for us to find energy amongst ourselves. The seniors all remember that they beat us last year in a game that we feel like we shouldn’t have lost. That’s enough motivation to get us going.”

On why it’s one of the biggest games of the season:
“It’s the biggest game of the season because it’s the next game on the schedule.”

Freshman Forward Dwayne Polee II
On seeing what it’s like when St. John’s takes over the Garden:
“It was a good experience to see how our fans are very supportive and to know that even though we went through some down times that they were still behind us in this big game was something we really needed.”

On what the lesson has been over the past week:
“Just keeping our heads up. There are going to be some peaks and valleys, but just stay working hard and keep looking at the positives.”

On what it’s going to take to continue the current flow at St. John’s:
“Our defense leads into our offense so when we play good defense it’s going to lead to a lot of transition points. That’s really what we need. We need to get out and run a bit more.”


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