Pregame Quotes: St. John's vs. 10/9 Connecticut

Feb. 9, 2011

St. John's Head Coach Steve Lavin

On the matchup against UConn:
"They are the ninth ranked team in the country. Naturally, they have some built-in advantages. Their guard play is as impressive as anyone that we've played to this point in the year. They've got tremendous guards, but the real challenge for us will be containing their backcourt."

On the rising play of the UConn players:
"In particular Jeremy Lamb is confident. Each week you are seeing his play elevated. He's a great complement to (Kemba) Walker. They're getting a better sense for each other. I think early Kemba Walker was carrying the team on his back single handedly, but since conference play has started you've seen an effort by the Huskies to have a more balanced approach and yet they still want to play through Kemba because he's as gifted a guard as there is in the country. I can see an effort being made to try and have a more balanced attack, playing through the bigs and to share some of that responsibility with Lamb as well."

On the matchup of Dwight Hardy against Kemba Walker:
"First you have to be mindful of the tendency of competitive people to naturally get caught up in the individual battle. If you have an awareness of it then if it comes up over the course of the game you can say the right thing and give the direction to get it back on track to being UConn against St. John's and away from the individual battle. Yet, there is the game within the game and that's healthy as long as it does not detract from the overall game plan and objectives that our team has in trying to win the game. It's a fine line and I think it's a feel. Whether it's in a rivalry game, a backyard brawl or a matchup of individual players in the post or out top on the perimeter you want to use any motivational factor as fuel as long as it doesn't take away from the overall approach as a team."

On the play of Justin Brownlee and his hand against UCLA:
"It was more a collective thing. Paris (Horne), D.J. Kennedy and (Justin) Brownlee combing 4-for-24 from the field was hard for us to overcome when you look at some of the other factors that emerged this past weekend at UCLA."

On Dwight Hardy's play against UCLA:
"It was a breakthrough performance. It doesn't surprise me because he's had some big games. It was a dominating performance. I think, with Dwight, we're seeing a player that's continuing to build new dimensions into his game. The combination of his speed and playmaking and the fact that we were able to open the floor some for him with the high single pick and roll helped. We were able to do that with Malik Boothe in the second half and we were more productive when we went to the high pick and roll and let Boothe and Hardy play off of that. They were able to create shots for themselves and their teammates. I think Hardy's has a tremendous ability to break down defenses off the bounce and then read the second line of defense. If they don't come up the he's stopping and popping and taking the shot but if they do come up or pinch him from the wings he's kicking and making the good reads to find his teammates. I would say decision making, he's always been able to shoot and score, and now he's even better at playmaking and decision making. He's adding those dimensions to his game as the season goes along."

On the game plan against UConn:
"We're going to wait and see. The thing about running isolation is that it's better to run at the end of the clock, end of halves or end of games. I think that utilizing good spacing and some ball screening across the boards as we come down the stretch will be something we look to do, not necessarily against UConn, but as we move forward. The high ball screen is an important part of our offensive attack."

Senior Forward Justin Burrell

On if UConn is more of a perimeter team this season:
"I don't think this matchup will be different like that. No matter how much you say that you are an outside team, you still have to go through the paint at some point in time. It could be a post entry pass, a dribble entry or an offensive rebound. They are still going to do those things, no matter how outside-oriented they are."

On the difficulty of the next four games:
"You see a tough stretch. I think we have a great stretch and a great opportunity. We are fortunate to have UConn and Pitt at home. I think we play pretty well at Madison Square Garden. I'm excited to have those teams at our Garden, and then go out to face Cincinnati and Marquette. It's an exciting stretch."

Senior Guard Paris Horne

On UConn playing through Kemba Walker:
"Kemba is the focal point of the team and he's playing with a lot of confidence. We're just going to try to take a lot of touches from him and stop him in transition. Their guard play is pretty good, so if we slow their guard play down then we have a shot at them. With Kemba, you know that he is going to hit shots. He's a great player and he's been working on that all summer. He's going to get to the basket at times, but when you're playing defense you can't give up on your schemes or your pride. It's about having pride and trying to get a stop."

Senior Guard Dwight Hardy

On playing against Kemba Walker in summer league:
"The game was intense. We are both from the Bronx. It was just two good players going at each other and it was entertaining to watch."

On how both players' games have developed since they last played in summer league:
"He has become a better shooter. He was always a fast point guard and good penetrator. He was able to score in the lane, but his mid-range and outside shooting have improved. As far as myself, my ability to take it to the hole has improved. I'm known as a shooter, so me being able to get to the basket is one of my improvements."




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