PREGAME QUOTES: St. John’s vs. Marquette

Feb. 9, 2018

St. John’s Head Coach Chris Mullin


On Shamorie Ponds:

“I think he’s moving better. Creating better separation, could be physical I don’t know about that, but he’s definitely getting separation, some blow-bys, free runs to the hoop, and he’s making good decisions about when to score and when to [make plays].”


On how the team has stayed even-keeled during the losing streak:

“I don’t think it’s possible to get ahead of yourselves when you’re getting your head beat in. As far as how we handled it, even-keeled is the ultimate goal, but it doesn’t mean that after the game you aren’t down. You have to come back, and that’s what we did. The fact of the matter is we played pretty good basketball, not well enough [to win] and not very different in the wins [versus Duke and at Villanova]. I know there’s a sense that there’s something else there, but even in the Villanova game we missed three dead layups. We probably would have won by 11 or 13. We missed them, but we got it back somehow. In the game of basketball, layups and free throws matter. Getting them is important, but most important is finishing them. It’s not always just at the end of the game. They all add up [over the course of the game]. Through that period of time [11-straight losses] we would watch film, and that’s what we saw. It wasn’t like we were editing the film to put fake stuff in there, it’s what we saw. That helped a little bit, but we still have to go out there and do it. There’s nothing more important than positive reinforcement with wins. That’s the most important thing.”




On Shamorie Ponds averaging nearly 30 points per game against top teams:

“He’s played well the whole time here, he really has. … In those games he has played better, maybe more efficient. I just look at his decision making and the balance of when to score and when to [make plays]. That’s the big thing. In games, the player has to do that. When you are in the middle of a game, you can’t yell out ‘Pass’ or ‘Shoot’ when the guy is driving. That’s part of the momentum of the game, part of the experience, part of playing with teammates, and you need some continuity. When Shamorie gets to the rim, it’s not about him just getting separation. His teammates are in the right place to not allow a help defender to get there. All of those things matter. We need him to do that, but the other four guys on the team have to be synchronized and understand what we are doing. We are getting a little better at that.”


On Ponds adjusting to becoming both a scorer and a playmaker:

“That’s the essence of basketball, when to pass and when to shoot on offense. That makes a good player. People call it shot selection, but it’s also the most basic thing. That’s what the good players know what to do, when to pass and when to shoot. He’s gotten better at it. He’s always been pretty good at it, but I think he’s gotten better at it. It all starts with being aggressive. Getting downhill, getting runs to the rim, and not pulling up early to bail the defense out. I think the way we start the game is important, and I think the way he starts the game is important. I think the games that he’s really been hot; you’ve seen him get early runs to the rim. If there’s a switch, he’ll get by the guy and get to the rim. That sets everything else up. I don’t think that’s a secret, but when he plays really well you see when that’s there.”


Redshirt junior forward Tariq Owens


On the last five days after victories over Duke and Villanova:

“Last five days have been crazy. It feels good because we have been working towards this. To get that support from the fan base like coming back from Villanova and having people outside and coming into the gym to show love is really good. It’s been a rough stretch that we have had, so for people to come out and show their support really feels good.”


On being concerned about a letdown:

“Coach [Mullin] hasn’t talked about a letdown. In my opinion, what can be more of a letdown than 11-straight losses. We came into conference play good, but we lost 11-straight games which is a letdown in itself. We beat Duke, who was ranked No. 4 and Villanova, who was ranked No. 1 in the country, but at the end of the day its one conference win that we have. It’s a great win, we lived in the moment, but it went and is gone and now we have to take on Marquette who is a really good team. They have really good guards so now it’s on to the next challenge. There’s not much talk of a letdown, we are just fighting to get the next win.”


Redshirt sophomore guard Justin Simon


On the emotions over the last two wins:

“Just happy, we have proved to ourselves that we are capable of winning those types of games. I think we have lost every way that we can whether it be missed free throws, turnovers or defensive breakdowns. We have been through that and have proved to ourselves that we can win those types of games versus any team in the country.”


On Shamorie Ponds going to the gym and his recent play:

“I think we all have times like that where we need to be isolated and work on our own game. Tariq was just in the gym, guys get in there all the time to just get that feel back of the game. [Shamorie Ponds] has been amazing on both ends. Defending at a high-level, offensively he’s scoring the ball in many ways and is helping us out a lot. He’s one of the best guards in the BIG EAST.”



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