Pregame Quotes: St. John's vs. UNC-Asheville

Dec. 20, 2012

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Head Coach Steve Lavin

On expectations for Jamal Branch in his Red Storm debut:

“The luxury of being able to rotate D’Angelo [Harrison], Phil [Greene IV]and Jamal will allow us to distribute the minutes more equally, get a quick blow here and there and we can have more balance. We also have the luxury of being able to play the three of them together in stretches, which will be a good look for us, both with our full-court pressure and pushing the ball and playing at a quicker tempo on offense.”

“Jamal brings the ability to create off the bounce and distribute the ball to his teammates. He can be a very disruptive defender when applying pressure on our opponents. We have to create possessions by putting pressure on our opponents both in full court and in the half court. That’s where Jamal can really be helpful, it allows us to apply that pressure right after a score to be able to get up on opponents, speed them up and get them to turn the ball over or take quicker shots, allowing us to attack with our offense off of our defense.”

On Branch’s conditioning:

“Once he starts getting his feet wet in games, I’ll have a better sense of [his conditioning]. I’m sure there’s going to be an adjustment period. When you’ve been out a year, whether it’s coming off an injury or sitting out as he has, there’s going to be a period of transition where you adjust to the speed of the game and the conditions of live competition versus practice. He’s a good place after going against D’Angelo and Phil every day in practice.”

On competition between Harrison, Greene IV and Branch:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow night, the three of them play together in stretches because it’s such a good look for us. I want to get them some minutes together, but also rotate the three of them so that they’re fresher coming down the stretch at the end of the game.”

“The team as a whole gets along really well and to this point we haven’t had anyone that’s been sulking about their minutes. Everyone’s had at least one start under their belt in terms of the rotation of nine and with our group, since we go ten deep, there’s no need to get caught up in the minutes and how they’re going to be distributed or who’s going to start. It’s about being ready when called upon to add value, produce and make contributions and that’s all you can really focus on. The strength of this team is our depth, length, quickness and skill and what we want to do is put those things into play in the most effective manner to win games.”

Sophomore forward Amir Garrett

On the final game of the non-conference schedule:

“We need to work on our rotations in our defense and our rebounding. This last game before conference play is very good for us, so we can see where we are at going into January and BIG EAST play.”

On what advice he can give to Jamal Branch in his midseason debut:

“I know he’s going to be very excited, but he’s handled it well. You can’t even tell because it’s just like another game to him. I told him to come in and be ready to play.”

Sophomore guard Jamal Branch

On his emotions going into his first game:

“I’m definitely excited. It’s been a full year since I’ve played now. Just watching the team has given me a great experience, and I’m ready to get things started. I just have to go out and give it my all; 110 percent effort.”

On his role with the team:

“My role is going to be as a true point guard and the leader on the floor. I need to be an extension of the coach on the floor.”

On playing minutes with Phil Greene IV:

“Coach [Lavin] actually talked to me about it, and he thinks it will be a great idea. Even playing the three guards, D’Angelo, Phil and I, together would be great. We all know the positions, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he threw us all out there at once.”

On the progression of the backcourt:

“All of us have gotten better over the last year. It starts in practice where all three of us push each other and get better. Now we just have to see how well we do.”

On the strengths of his game:

“I enjoy being the lead general on the floor, helping my teammates and being an extension of coach on the floor both offensively and defensively. I grew up watching my favorite players Allen Iverson and T.J. Ford and heard those guys talking about how you have to be a lead general at the point guard position. That has stuck with me ever since.”

On the challenges of playing in his first game:

“I’ve been through that stage last year at A&M. Last year I was in the same position, and I just learned from it and know what to do now.”

Freshman forward JaKarr Sampson

On Jamal Branch:

“He’s been huge practicing with the second group and making them better. Whenever he’s on the court, everyone gets better because he can find people and put them in good situations. He’ll direct people and tell them where they need to be and what he wants them to do. He gets us into our offense.”

On the emergence of Chris Obekpa:

“One thing about Chris is that he’s very humble. He doesn’t stay in the past and focus on any big games he had, such as the 11 blocks against Fordham. He moves onto the next game and wants to keep getting better. I saw him make a block against St. Francis where he jumped, turned, let the guy get by him and then smacked it off the glass and that was the most amazing block I’ve seen him do this year. There are a lot of moments where I say to myself ‘What in the world?’ There are a lot of moments like that.”




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